Swedish potato sausage: 6-way food fight battle royale

December 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm (Gastro-Nominal, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Each December, the metro area consumes approximately 3-5 tons of potato sausage.  With a wide array of local meat markets blending and stuffing their own signature recipe, how is a hungry holiday reveler to know which variety to buy?

We decided to pit 6 local butchers against each other in a knock-down, drag-out fight for sausage supremacy.  The middle of the pack was pretty evenly matched, but one local shop distinguished itself from the rest…


Swedish potato sausage, or Potatiskorv, is a dish whose ingredient list reads exactly the same as a cliche used to describe no-frills unpretentiousness- “meat and potatoes”.  Unofficial history ascribes its creation to less-than-affluent Swedes who utilized their IKEA-esque ingenuity to stretch their limited supply of meat by mixing potatoes and onions into the blend and, over time, it has become a Christmas tradition amongst Scandinavian-Americans.

We used a uniform cooking method for all entries.  Each sausage spent 10-12 min. each side, in a pan at medium-high heat, half-submerged in water.  Then, the water was drained and replaced with sweet cream butter and each sausage was browned lightly on each side for a couple of minutes.

Eight taste-testers (half of whom had never before eaten potato sausage) blindly sampled each of the six entries and ranked them in order of preference; scoring each based on flavor, density, and texture of the filling and casing.

Our first place finisher…

#1:  Hackenmueller’s Meat Market

4159 Broadway Ave, Robbinsdale MN

This north metro meat market finished at or near the top of all 8 testers’ rankings.  The filling is finely ground and well-spiced- smoothly flavorful with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and unobtrusive casing. 

#2:  Kramarczuk’s Sausage Company

215 East Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis MN

After Hackenmueller’s, the next three entries scored nearly identically, but squeaking out a 2nd place finish was Kramarczuk’s.  This sausage is instantly identifiable as a Kramarczuk’s product for fans of this Twin Cities staple.  The same slightly sweet-smoky flavor that serves as hallmark for their Ukrainian sausages et al. inhabits the filling of their Swedish sausage.

#3:  Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts and Foods

1601 East Lake Street, Minneapolis MN

Probably the most obvious choice for many shoppers, Ingebretsen’s offering scored well with its unique blend of spices that pleased some testers more than others.  Most interestingly, the two tasters who were most familiar with potato sausage both ranked Ingebretsen’s at #1. 

#4:  Everett’s Foods & Meats

1833 East 38th Street Minneapolis, MN

This Powderhorn Park grocery delivered the thickest, fattest link.  It also was the only offering that came frozen.  The filling is coarse and chunky with spice somewhat like breakfast sausage.  While Everett’s did not rank first with any raters, it garnered a couple of 2nd place finishes.

#5:  Osseo Meat Market & Deli

334 County Road 81 Osseo, MN

This sausage was just too loosely packed and carried a blander flavor that most testers did not enjoy.  The flavor was one more of potato, leading to “boring” appearing on a couple of score sheets.  However, Osseo Meats did score one #1 ranking from one reviewer who stated “There’s something about the spices that leaves an aftertaste I really like.”

NOTE: In this picture, Osseo Meat’s sausage is darker than normal.  We purchased the sausage one day before the test and were instructed to place it in water in the refrigerator.  We did not realize they meant to completely soak it and, as a result, the fresh potatoes inside blackened somewhat.

#6:  Ready Meats

3550 Johnson Street Northeast Minneapolis, MN

Unfortunately, this North Minneapolis meat market’s sausage appeared at the bottom of 6 of the 8 reviewers’ rankings.  Ready Meats offering was found to be rather coarsely ground with a density so low and a casing so tough that the sausage was difficult to slice.  The pieces often fell apart, leaving mushy ground pork and a papery casing ring on the plate.  The filling, while never deemed unpleasant, was generally found to be too blandly unremarkable.

We wish to make clear that this contest was a taste test of only one of the many products offered by each establishment represented.  The results of this test are in no way meant to reflect upon any of the other products offered by any of the businesses.  Everyone excels at something- unfortunately for Osseo Meats and Ready Meats, potato sausage is not that thing.

Potato sausage fans:  What locally made Swedish potato sausage will you invite to your Christmas party this year?

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5 Comments

  1. Butterbean said,

    YUMMY!!!!!!

  2. Dad said,

    Great article,keep up the good work.

  3. Jack Mackinack said,

    Where is the Lutefisk competition???

    • vitajex said,

      With Lutefisk, I’d have to scour the globe to find 8 people willing to taste test.

      Most of the people I’ve met who eat lutefisk tend to try to get it down their throats and away from their tongues as quickly as possible.

      If we ever have a lutefisk competition though, I’ll be sure to send you an e-vite so you can suffer with the rest of us. 🙂

  4. vwinstead said,

    Those were some great meats. Now we’ll have to add potato sausage to our eating traditions!

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