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SANDY - For eight decades, the only way to enjoy Colosimo's handmade perfectly spiced sausage was to take a drive to Magna - or have a friend willing to do it for you.
Fortunately for today's busy cooks, the state's best wurst is a whole lot easier to acquire.
Thank Paul, Larry and Joe Colosimo, the third generation of Colosimo brothers, who began selling six of their most popular sausages - mild Italian, spicy Italian, Polish, Cajun, Tuscan red wine and original bratwurst - in Associated Food stores along the Wasatch Front in December.
In 2004, hoping to entice a new generation of customers to buy this longtime Utah favorite, Colosimo's moved its primary location to a new market, deli and production facility at 8745 S. 700 East in Sandy.
And recently, the company embarked on a one-year, $250,000 advertising campaign. Many Utahns have probably already heard the radio ads or seen the irreverent billboards that boast "The Sausage Others Envy" and "Even Our Wurst Is the Best."
The increased exposure, says Paul Colosimo, will hopefully make Colosimo's the "sausage of choice" for Utah and the Intermountain West. Their biggest competitor is the national Johnsonville brand.
"In other large cities around the country, there is a second ethnic sausage maker in the marketplace," said Paul Colosimo. "But Utah hasn't really had that."
Colosimo's is perfectly situated to fill the niche.
According to family lore, Ralph Colosimo came to America in 1921 from Calabria, Italy, with little money in his pocket, but a recipe for mild Italian sausage in his head.
In the summer of 1923, he moved to Magna and opened a market on the corner of 9200 West and 2900 South where he sold his sausage to his Italian friends.
Years later his sons, Ernie and Gale, continued the tradition, opening the Standard Market a few blocks away, at 9009 W. 2700 South. (Colosimo sausage is still sold there.)
Tired of doing everything by hand, the brothers developed and patented a new sausage press - called the Colosimo press - that cut production times drastically and now is marketed all over the world.
Through the years, Gale Colosimo loved to tinker in the kitchen and ultimately created 35 different varieties of sausage: a bratwurst to satisfy his German customers, chorizo for Latino friends and lingui a for the Portuguese population.
The sausages have become a tradition at many Utah family gatherings from summer barbecues to Super Bowl parties. This week their Cajun flavored sausage will be a hot seller for Mardi Gras revelers.
Unlike other companies that use scraps and ends, Colosimo's has always used only boneless pork roast. Today, the meat is freshly ground at the new Sandy location in the state-of-the-art grinder and linking machines, said Paul Colosimo.
The store also boasts a delicatessen with Italian sandwiches and salads and a bustling take-and-bake business. Customers can buy several Italian specialties including pizzas, eggplant Parmesan, pasta and cannelloni. On a recent morning, mother Connie Colosimo was in the back kitchen making the store's popular lasagna with layers of sausage, ricotta and mozzarella cheese and Colosimo's homemade marinara sauce.
A friend introduced Nanette DiMino Westley to Colosimo's sausage more than 20 years ago. Since then, the Sandy resident insists on Colosimo's for her traditional Italian sausage rolls.
"We had friends who worked in Magna and would pick it up for us," said Westley. "It has such a good flavor and good texture and not a lot of fat."
Colosimo's natural bratwurst - with its hint of nutmeg and coriander - has been the top dog at Snowbird's Oktoberfest for several years.
Before the fall festival, Bruce Phillips, the executive banquet chef, holds a taste test of six or seven bratwurst to determine which one will be served.
"Colosimo's is the favorite every year," said Phillips. Last year Snowbird sold more than 8,000 bratwurst during its Oktoberfest celebrations.
The bratwurst is fresh - not precooked - "and the moistness and flavor shows through," he said.
Ken Rose, the owner-chef at Tiburon Fine Dining, uses Colosimo's spicy sausage, along with shrimp and grilled chicken, in his signature Tiburon fettuccine dish.
"I use it for two reasons," he explained. "First it's a quality locally made product. But on top of that, the Colosimos are nice guys."
Rose said even though Colosimo's has been around for decades, he still gets customers who have never heard of the Utah institution.
The Colosimos are expecting that to change.
"My uncle Ernie used to say if you make a good product people will beat a path to your door," said Paul Colosimo.
History says he was right.
Contact Kathy Stephenson at email@example.com or 801-257-8612. Send comments to
Here's where you can purchase Colosimo's sausage
* Alan's Super Save Market: 340 S. Main, Springville, 801-489-7111
* Acre's Market: 2645 N. Washington Blvd., North Ogden, 801-782-7800
* Bowman's Market: 326 N. Main St. Kaysville, 801-544-4215
* Colosimo's Market and Deli: 8745 S. 700 East, Sandy; 801-565-1265
* Colosimo's Standard Market: 9009 W. 2700 South, Magna; 801-250-1088
* Dan's Foods: several Utah locations
* Dick's Market: 350 E. Pages Lane, Centerville; 801-292-1431; 2280 Orchard Drive, Bountiful; 801-292-1432.
* Macey's Food & Drug: several Utah locations
* Peterson's Marketplace: 1777 W. 12600 South, Riverton, 801-254-0761
Colosimo's red beans
and rice with andouille sausage
1 pound red kidney beans, dried
2 to 3 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
5 to 6 cloves garlic, minced (or more to taste)
1 to 1 1/2 pounds andouille sausage, cubed (Colosimo's brand recommended)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 or 2 bay leaves
Hot sauce (Tabasco or Crystal brand recommended)
2 to 3 dashes Worchestershire sauce, or more to taste
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 tablespoons dried sweet basil
1 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
1 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoons celery seed
5 tablespoons sweet paprika
Long-grain white rice, cooked according to package directions
French bread, sliced
8 fresh Cajun sausage links, grilled or pan-fried, one link per person, optional
Cover the beans with water and soak overnight. The next day, drain and put fresh water in the pot to cover. Bring to a rolling boil. Make sure the beans remain covered or they will discolor and get hard. Boil 45 to 60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain.
Meanwhile, combine all the creole seasoning ingredients. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the onions, celery and bell pepper in the oil until the the onions are translucent. Add garlic and sauté 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the sautéed vegetables to the cooked and drained beans. Add the andouille sausage, thyme, bay leaves, hot sauce, Worchestershire sauce, salt and creole seasoning to taste. Add just enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook 2 to 3 hours until the mixture is creamy. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of pan. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
If you can, let the beans cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight. This extra time enhances the flavor.
To serve, reheat, adding a little bit of water to get the right consistency. Serve over white rice with French bread and a link of Cajun sausage.
Makes 8 servings.
- Colosimo's Sausage
Colosimo's slow cooker chili
2 pounds mild or hot Italian sausage, crumbled (Colosimo's brand recommended)
1 (12-ounce) can black beans, undrained
1 (12-ounce) can plain chili beans, undrained
1 (12-ounce) can kidney beans, undrained
1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce (Colosimo's brand recommended)
1 (12-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 3 medium tomatoes chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped, optional
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies, optional
2 tablespoons chili powder
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Sour cream, for garnish
Grated cheese, for garnish
In a large frying pan, brown the sausage until cooked through. Place in a slow cooker. Stir in all the beans and their liquid, the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, onions, green peppers, green chilies (if using) chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat up to 8 hours or on high heat for 4 hours. (This also can be cooked on the stove-top for several hours at a low simmer.)
Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream and shredded cheese.
Make 4 to 6 servings.
- Colosimo's Sausage