Just in time for the 2009 grilling season, Smart Chicken has a new line of sausage products hitting supermarket shelves. Having enjoyed their cuts of fresh air-chilled chicken, I decided to give Smart Chicken’s Sweet Italian Sausage a try. While my Wisconsin-born husband is partial to Johnsonville links, I am always on the lookout for a great tasting, healthier alternative.
These chicken sausage links are certainly lower in fat–just 7 grams total. Only 2 grams of those are saturated fat. Pork Italian sausage, with 22 fat grams overall, contains 9 saturated fat grams per serving,according to the Daily Plate, and that’s just for one grilled link. Compared to pork, I favor turkey Italian sausages, which have only 3 grams of saturated fat per link, 8 grams of fat in all after cooking. So in the fat department, Smart Chicken’s Italian sausages still win as the lowest.
Flavor and Ingredients
But what about flavor? For me, fatty sausages are not that enjoyable. What matters is the seasoning and moisture. Smart Chicken’s Sweet Italian sausages were more spicy than sweet. Reading the seasonings on the label helped explain why. Fennel, black pepper, red pepper, paprika and sugar were the seasonings listed. While it is commendable that they did not add corn syrup, I felt some sweetness and complexity were missing in the spice department. My favorite turkey Italian sausages have a superior blend of spices, though the label does not reveal precisely what they are. Thus in terms of flavor, Smart Chicken’s sweet Italian sausage was not as aromatic or moist as I was hoping it would be.
Still, if you are a very health-conscious person, Smart Chicken sausages are certainly worth trying. They are made without corn syrup, have no MSG in the list of ingredients (though “natural flavoring” is included), and are among of the lowest fat options available.
The peppery flavor of the sweet Italian sausage could suit your taste buds better that it did mine. But if you are fussy about your Italian seasonings, turkey or pork sweet Italian sausage may be a better bet than this chicken version. Nevertheless, I hope to try some of the other varieties of new sausages from Smart Chicken to see how they compare to this first sampling.
A Good Concept
I appreciate a poultry producer with a more natural, humane approach to farming. According to the label, Smart Chicken products are from poultry raised on “free roam farms.” The company website further explains how its midwest location was chosen to reduce its carbon footprint, since grain supplies are near the farms. So it is worth it to continue to sample the three other varieties of new Smart Chicken sausages, which I found affordably priced at only $3.00 each (presumably an introductory price to attract new customers). The spinach and feta, smokey cheddar, or herb and roasted garlic sausages are guaranteed to be healthy; I hope they will better match our family’s preferences for taste.
The Daily Plate, LLC. Calories in Honeysuckle White Sweet Italian Sausage. The Daily Plate website, 2009.
The Daily Plate, LLC. Calories in Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage. The Daily Plate website, 2009.
Smart Chicken. Smart Chicken: Going Green. Smart Chicken website, 2009.