When I walked up to the substantial brick building at 36 Main St. in Lisbon Falls and opened the heavy oak door, I knew I was about to be introduced to something very special.

Upon entering, I was surrounded by beautifully displayed condiments, wines, spices, cheeses and made-on-premise hams, slabs of bacon,  jerky, pepperoni, salami, bologna, creton, pork pies and hot dogs. Sparkling glass cases held rows and rows and rows of sausages with labels such as “Maine Good Morning,” “Cajun Andouille,” “Greek Loukaniko,” “Irish” and “Sicilian Wine & Cheese.”

Instantly enamored, I attempted to not get too distracted by the mouth-watering aroma of hickory- and apple-wood-infused meats, all smoked and cut on site. I felt as if I were on a world sausage tour, and began plotting which delicious treats would be traveling home with me. Better yet, I thought, just grab a fork and try everything right then and there.

Welcome to the world of Maurice Bonneau, a 75-year-old, second-generation meat-cutter who established his “Sausage Kitchen” in 1995 after retiring from his long-time job at the family business, Bonneau’s Market, a Lewiston institution. The charismatic businessman and his wife, Claudette, have grown their “retirement project” into a state-of-the-art, federally inspected food business that ships to customers all over North America and beyond.

Bonneau, the epitome of a Quebecois storyteller, as well as the picture of health, remarked, “I eat sausages every day! What we have here is an all-natural, vegetarian-fed, humanely raised and slaughtered, all muscle-meat product with no antibiotics and no growth hormones. The sausages have a fat content of no more than 15 percent, and are gluten- and preservative-free. I don’t do chemicals.”

The meat used in the sausages comes from duBreton Meats of Quebec. With the exception of the pork belly used for bacon, only pork shoulders are used. Bonneau added, “I’m proud of this product. Not only is it good, but it’s good for you. This is fast food, healthy food, without the guilt.”

The self-professed foodie, who keeps a copy of “The Complete Sausage Book” in his desk drawer, is not only passionate about his self-taught craft, but gives his family members and employees a lot of credit. “My dad always said, ‘Take the best from me and add your best, and you will succeed.’”

It’s clear Bonneau has not only done his dad proud, but has generously passed on his knowledge and passion about food to his sons, grandson and the staff he has hand-picked to work with him. With his “sausage bible” as his guide, Bonneau and his staff have developed recipes for more than 60 varieties of fresh and smoked sausages.

The newest development at the Sausage Kitchen is a Sausage of the Month, where new recipes are tried out on customers . Bonneau’s son, Andre, who works alongside his dad, said, “Most people tend to stick with the familiar, most popular items, such as Italian sausage or kielbasa. We cook up samples of the less-sought-after sausages and newer recipes to encourage people to try something different.”

As Maurice Bonneau showed off his gleaming work areas and rows of spices, I felt like I was talking to a man living his true calling. Bonneau believes so much in his products that he guarantees customers’ complete satisfaction or he will refund their money.

And he enthusiastically shares recipes that incorporate sausage and other ingredients, including fresh vegetables from the garden. “Sausages are fast food with none of the guilt!” he proclaimed.

Many more delicious recipes can be found at www.sausagekitchen.com.

Spicy won-ton cups

Makes approximately 3 dozen appetizers.

1 pound bulk chorizo sausage

2 medium carrots, finely shredded

1 medium onion, finely shredded

1 cup finely chopped sweet red and green peppers

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon butter, melted

At least 36 won-ton wrappers

Slices of cherry tomatoes, optional

In a large skillet or wok, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. (There is no need to drain the fat if you use a Sausage Kitchen product, says owner Maurice Bonneau.) Let cool. Melt butter. Press won-ton wrappers into mini-muffin pans and brush with melted butter. Bake wrappers at 350 degrees for 8 to 9 minutes until lightly browned. Combine remaining ingredients and spoon mixture into muffin cups. Bake 5 to 7 minutes longer or until heated through. Garnish with tomatoes if desired.

Zucchini boats

Serves 4

1 pound lean bulk sausage meat

1 bunch scallions, sliced

1/4 cup pine nuts, optional

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon lemon zest

4 zucchini (about 8 ounces each)

1-3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 10-ounce box of couscous

2/3 cup plain yogurt

1 cup tomatoes, chopped

1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, leaving the drippings in the pan. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the pan, if needed, and cook the scallions, pine nuts and garlic for 3 minutes. Stir in the zest, season with salt and pepper, and add to bowl with the sausage. Cut a 1/4-inch-thick lengthwise slice from each zucchini. Scoop out and discard seeds, creating four 1/4-thick “boats.” Arrange the zucchini in a baking dish and fill each with the sausage mixture. Pour 1/2 cup into bottom of the dish, cover with foil and bake until the zucchini are tender, about 30 minutes. Bring the remaining 1 and 1/4 cup of stock to a boil in a sauce pan. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir in couscous. Cover, turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and keep warm. Divide the couscous and zucchini boats among 4 plates. Top with yogurt, tomatoes and cucumber. Sprinkle with parsley.

Maurice Bonneau’s Sausage Kitchen

36 Main St.

Lisbon Falls

Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

353-5503


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