This series has been a long time coming. I’ve been fascinated by hot guts [sausage] since first venturing to Texas in the early 90’s. I’ve made dozens of barbecue runs out into the country since then driving out from Austin with brisket and hot guts on my mind.
Unfortunately, the tradition of putting a good bit of chile-based heat in the sausage mix is dying out. Before it’s gone altogether let’s discuss the current state of Central Texas Hot Guts.
The long and storied traditon of hot guts stretches all the way back to 1882 in Elgin, Texas when William Moon began selling meat door to door out of a horse drawn wagon.
His motto was “Butchered Today-Delivered Today.”
After four years of this hard labor he grew weary of the grind of daily delivery and opened up a storefront in downtown Elgin in 1886.
This is reportedly the birthplace of the Texas Hot Guts; the Southside Market.
Mr Moon owned this business until 1908 when he sold it to Lee Wilson.When he wasn’t purveying meat Mr. Wilson was becoming famous for his Wednesday night poker games. They must have been rowdy affairs as they’re still a topic for discussion in Elgin seventy plus years later.
Lee Wilson owned the business til 1942 when he sold out to Jerry Stach, Monroe Stabeno, and Charlie and Van Zimmerhanzel.
In 1948 Jerry Stach bought out his partners and brought in his brother Edwin. These two men ran the market for twenty years til 1968 when Ernest Bracewell took over.
In the arc and timeline of Central Texas Hot Guts, perhaps no moment and no man hold more importance than Bracewell and what happened in 1972.
This was when the original hot guts recipe was altered, the heat removed and the modern era of mild, middle of the road sausage was introduced.
A changing of the guard if you will. Speaking on sausage, Ernest Bracewell: “It’s been around a long time, and lots of people have eaten it, and lots of people like the taste. It was always called a “hot sausage,” and I found out the reason is that it was served hot back in the early days, like on Fridays and Saturdays when the farmers would all come to market. That’s where it really got the name “hot sausage.” We’ve had to cool it down because not everybody can eat the extra-hot version.”
While it’s true you can’t walk into Southside Market and get a plate of fresh off the smoker Texas Hot Guts in their original form, you can walk next door to the meat market and buy the originals from the refrigerator case and take them home and throw them on the grill.
From 1886 til 1992 the business was clarion in its vision as far as being an old school meat market. You bought meat by the pound, it was placed on butcher paper and you were asked if you wanted pickles and onions.
In 1992 Elgin Texas gasped as one day the barbecue house started selling beans and potato salad to go with the barbecue.
The wheels turn.
The huge facility that houses Southside Market now produces and sells somewhere in the neighborhood of two million pounds of sausage a year.
By official state legislative decree, Elgin is the Sausage Capital of Texas.1212 Hwy 290 Elgin, TX 78621