Jess Pryles is a live-fire cook, author and self-proclaimed “total meat nerd” from Melbourne, who moved to Austin in 2015. Like many Texas transplants, she was hooked by the mythical barbecue that’s smoked low-and-slow across the state.
“I had my first taste of barbecue as a tourist because that’s what you do when you come to Texas,” Pryles tells InsideHook. “I absolutely loved it and wanted to learn more about how it was made, so I kept coming back and eating more barbecue. I fell in love with Texas at the same time. I was coming over twice a year, so I decided to make a whole new life.”
It’s been a whirlwind few years for Pryles, but her company started slowly and organically. Once settled in Austin, she began sharing recipes through social media and growing an engaged audience, which increasingly asked for ways to taste what she was cooking. So she put out her first seasoning, Black, which combined classic flavors of garlic and black pepper with activated charcoal. It was a hit and led to more seasonings and eventually to apparel, a cookbook, grilling tools and more.
“It started as an earnest, organic passion project,” says Pryles. “I cared about the flavors and the products more than just as a business. It helped with authenticity.”
This Subscription Box Features Sauces, Rubs and Swag From Texas’s Best BBQ JointsStarted by pitmaster Joe Zavala, the subscription also includes recipes and video Q&As
That same mindset drove the new sausage line. Pryles didn’t set out to make sausage — she just wanted to meet Ashli Blumenfeld of Fort Worth-based Standard Meat Company. Blumenfeld is co-president of the family-run business, which specializes in all things meat, from aging and processing to science-driven culinary work for restaurant clients.
“There aren’t a lot of women in the meat industry, and Ashli suggested I come by to say hi, just to connect,” says Pryles, who has a background in meat science. “I learned more about what they do, and the wheels started turning. I pitched H-E-B an idea for sausages. and they decided to give it a shot.”
When creating the new line of four sausages — Beef, Prime Rib, Tex Mex and Jalapeño Cheddar — Pryles was determined to honor her background and passion for live-fire cooking, which meant using real hardwood smoke rather than bottled smoke flavor. Standard Meat Company helped her make this goal a reality.
During flavor development, she leaned on her meat science bonafides and determined that brisket was the right choice for the all-beef sausage, and exactly how much prime rib to include in the prime rib sausages. During two R&D sessions for the jalapeño cheddar, she decided it needed more cheese, saying she’s “excited for people to experience peak umami.”
Pryles is still as enamored with barbecue today as she was during those first visits to Texas, and she considers it the state’s official pastime, noting that it takes a real commitment to put aside 16 hours to smoke a brisket. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend 16 hours every time you want to enjoy some good Texas meat.
“In most other cultures, including Australia, the idea of barbecue is a quick, 20-minute event where you cook some steaks or burgers,” she says. That’s where these sausages come into play.
Each pack has instructions for cooking over the stove, in the microwave or on the grill, so you’ve got options. But Pryle’s favorite method is to grill them over semi-direct heat.
“They get a great crispness to the all-natural casing,” she says. “It adds more texture, snap and char flavor.” What more could you want?
Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.