Forget Hot Dogs and Follow this Tailgating Recipe for Game-Ready Sausages

kosta kontogiannis half smoke sausage tailgating recipe grill barbecue
Photo by Alexander Raths
The Grand Cochon, which wrapped up in Chicago on October 1st, is a pork-lovers paradise where chefs from all over the country compete to capture all the delectable flavor of the “other white meat” while promoting the sustainability and safety of humane heritage farming. The result is a smorgasbord of mind-boggling meaty goodness, with renowned chefs showing off their skills in a battle of pure porky flavor.

Chef Kosta Kontogiannis of Kingbird Restaurant in Washington D.C.’s Watergate Hotel was one such competitor in this year’s Grand Cochon, and the hog-wild event got him thinking: Why spend tailgating season — a time for true celebration of all the heartiest, juiciest, drool-worthy nosh — settling for plain-old mystery-meat hot dogs? That’s when Chef Kontogiannis came up with his Half Smoke Sausage recipe, a twist on a local D.C. favorite that will have all your game day buddies begging for the details. It is similar to a hot dog, but is usually larger, spicier, and features more coarsely-ground meat. Traditionally, the sausages are made of a pork and beef blend and, after being smoked, are served with herbs, onion, and chili sauce.

You can find this game -ready tailgating recipe from Chef Kontogiannis below.

Half Smoke Sausage

Half Smoke Sausage recipe

Makes: 40 sausages

Total time: About two hours, plus overnight chilling



  • Wood Chips
  • 8 lb pork jowl (preferably a Berkshire breed pig )
  • 10 lb beef shoulder
  • 5 lb fat back (you may ask your local butcher for this!)
  • 3 lb ice cubes
  • 6 oz  Kosher salt
  • 6 oz Pink salt
  • 3 oz dextrose (you can find in the specialty aisle at grocery stores, such as Whole Foods Market)
  • 1 oz mace
  • 1 oz. ground white pepper
  • 1 oz dry ginger
  • 2 oz garlic powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz dry milk solid (you can also find in the specialty aisle)
  • 6 tsp chopped oregano
  • 0.5 tsp nutmeg
  • Pork casing (ask your local butcher shop for this)


  • Trim and cut your fat back and pork jowl into 1 inch cubes and place separately in two bowls. Cover the fat back with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Cover the pork jowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.
  • Cut the beef into 1 inch cubes and place in another bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate.
  • Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well so the spices are evenly distributed.
  • Next, add the fat back, beef, and pork into the bowl of spices and mix well. Set the bowl aside to chill for a few minutes, refrigerated. Keep the fat back, beef, and pork separated.
  • Set up your stand mixer with the medium grinder attachment and grind the fat back, followed by the pork and the beef, into the mixing bowl.
  • Use the mixer’s paddle attachment to continue mixing the sausage for 2 minutes on medium.
  • Stuff the mixture into the pork casing using the directions listed on the sausage press’ label and refrigerate.
  • Place wood chips in your smoker and build smoke in the chamber (follow directions based on your smoker manufacturer’s recommendations).
  • Smoke the sausages at 165 degrees Fahrenheit using a barbecue thermometer; remove once the internal temperature reads 155 degrees Fahrenheit and let rest for 15 minutes before covering in a refrigerated container.

The next day, cook the sausages in a cast iron pan or on the grill until cooked through (here are some tips on indoor grilling). Add your favorite condiments and enjoy!

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