No waffles were harmed in the making of the Chicken & Waffles flavor, but the butchers of JM Stock Provisions could have fooled us; the essence of those absent, fluffy syrup sponges somehow shines through with hints of fried chicken and hot sauce in this chicken- and pork-based sausage, just one of Stock’s creative meat concoctions.
The clever Charlottesville-based team is breaking new ground in sausage, making its butcher case at Richmond’s Harvest Grocery + Supply home to some of the most inventive bangers in the city.
“We do the classics, and we do them well,” says Stock co-owner James Lum III. “You’re always going to see them in the case, but we get bored, and we like coming up with fun, new, sometimes quirky, sometimes crazy, sometimes stoner-y varieties. It keeps it interesting.”
This is where Lum and Stock co-owner Matthew Greene get their kicks. At The Meat Hook in New York City’s Brooklyn borough, where both developed their appreciation for butchering, the running joke was turning everyone’s favorite sandwiches into sausage — Cuban, cheese-steak and bánh mì variations ensued. In 2013, Lum and Greene returned to their home state of Virginia to open JM Stock Provisions, and soon afterward, Harvest Grocery + Supply owner Hunter Hopcroft approached the pair about expanding their operation to his Richmond store.
Now, shoppers in the River City can enjoy frequently rotating flavors like Cajun Boudin — evoking the Bayou with paprika, scallions and bay — or Thai Curry, in which coconut milk steeped with lemongrass joins a laundry list of spices and Thai basil. The more adventurous can try the Pizza Party sausage — with San Marzano tomatoes, plus cubed mozzarella to create that stringy pull you get when grabbing your favorite slice — or a Big Mac sausage made with, you guessed it, all the ingredients of a McDonald’s Big Mac.
“We take a dish or food that we like, and we try to transform it into a sausage,” says Alex Import, Stock’s general manager, though he acknowledges that there’s a balance to it. Too many ingredients keep the meat from binding properly and must either be tweaked to achieve a smoother texture, or scrapped altogether. Such was the case with the failed K-Pop, a Korean-inspired sausage. (They can’t all be winners.)
At Stock, the creative process is part of the fun, and its links — both traditional and experimental — are here to stay. “People love sausage,” says Lum.