Eat This

Kuby's Sausage House at 8 a.m.: It's Never Too Early for Encased Meat

It's 8 a.m., and it smells deliciously of cooked meats, fresh bread, and sausages. It wasn't my nose alone that brought me here at this hour, though; Kuby's was first and most-often mentioned when I asked around for places to purchase sausages in Dallas.

Inside the store-cum-restaurant on Snider Plaza, I meet up with Karl Kuby, patriarch of this 50-year-old Dallas institution, his son, and his Master Butcher. A few diners occupy seats inside the attached restaurant section, slurping coffee and chewing on "King Ludwig" sandwiches, a more rustic version of the traditional eggs Benedict.

"I just wanted to sell some cooked sausages and sandwiches to SMU students and professors, get them familiar with German food," Karl Kuby explains, waving at the tables. "It spiraled out from there."

Between familiar bratwursts and polish sausages, Kuby's serves some of the more exotic variants indeed. Raw steak tartare on a bun for breakfast? Common in Germany and Austria, yet relatively unheard of in the United States. Kuby relates the story of one professor who came to the restaurant every day, trying a new sandwich. "When he finally arrived at the steak tartare he sent it back, asking if we could cook it a little longer," he laughs.

Kuby, who came to America in 1956 following a career as a professional soccer player for one of Germany's top clubs, comes from a long history of butchers. His ancestors have owned butcher shops in Kaiserslautern since 1728. Located in the West of Germany near the French border, Kaiserslautern is surrounded by some of Europe's most beautiful forests and hunting areas.

"When I came to the United States and worked for a butcher, I saw people bring in their deer and have it cut up with a saw, just in four pieces. I thought I could do that better," he tells me. And so Kuby's was born. Today, one full shift is devoted to breaking down and processing wild game meat during the season.

Not much else has changed since the days of Kuby's Kaiserslautern days. Volume, he explains, has increased. And better tools are used. But the seasonings and attention to detail aren't that much different than those used almost 300 years ago. And it shows in the taste. These definitely aren't your average supermarket sausages.

There's the weisswurst. It's nourishment, fun and hangover cure in a casing. If chicken soup is the Jewish penicillin, weisswurst is Germany's aspirin and Alka-Seltzer rolled in one. A distant cousin of the French "boudin blanc," it is traditionally not sold after noon and best enjoyed with a glass of beer, pretzel and mustard during "brotzeit", the German traditional second breakfast at 10:30 in the morning. Tradition also dictates that the sausage is not cut into pieces but merely sliced open and liberated from its casing using one's fingers.

For a day's worth of noshing, we recommend the "Landjaeger," smoked and dried ground venison or beef invented in the late 16th century to feed the German gendarmes during their often week-long treks around the countryside in search of tax evaders and fugitives.

It's European jerky. And very tasty.

To try something new at lunch, leberkaese might be just what the doctor ordered. Literally translated "livercheese," you might be surprised (and happy) to hear that neither liver nor cheese is used in the making of this dish. Its name derives from "leben" and "kas," "life" and "loaf," the loaf that gives life. Heat in a skillet, crack an egg sunny side up over it, and slide onto a slice of bread or toast, and it's almost like you're in Munich or Berlin.

But you should probably just experiment. Get something you never heard of, ask the staff how to cook it, and enjoy your trip into European artisan butchery.