The packaging is efficient but a bit unappetizing. CNET/Brian Cooley
Impossible’s new sausage moves beyond pre-formed breakfast patties to make a mean plant-based Bolognese.
Burgers are the icons of the plant-based food movement, but sausage may be its sleeper hit. Impossible Foods just announced its second sausage product, moving well beyond the breakfast-orientation of Impossible Sausage Made From Plants that launched in June 2020.
The new Impossible Sausage is a bulk ground format available in either savory or spicy versions that speak to use in recipes as opposed to the original sausage that is pre-formed and breakfast-centric.
I received a sample of the spicy version and my first instinct was to use it in a vegan sausage Bolognese, a dish I’ve made with crumbled pieces of Beyond Meat’s excellent hot Italian sausage links. But I’ve always wanted to perfect it with bulk ground sausage. The new Impossible Sausage comes in one of those crimp-sealed 14 ounce sealed plastic tubes that don’t spell “appetizing” to me and the product inside was much wetter than I expected, but my impressions turned positive once I got it into a hot pan.
The uncooked Impossible Sausage surprised me with its uncooked texture. It’s much wetter than any raw animal sausage I’ve ever cooked with. CNET/Brian Cooley
The aroma, browning and “tightening” of the texture was spot-on as it cooked and, critically for sausage in any dish I care about, a generous and richly colored render accumulated in the pan. Introducing onions and mushrooms to that created a convincing base for my Bolognese.
All my reservations about Impossible Sausages texture vanished as I cooked it: Browning and tightening were perhaps the best I’ve encountered yet in a plant-based meat. CNET/Brian Cooley
As the rest of the dish came together, the sausage played its role nicely. (I went about 3/4 of a cup shy on tomato puree and liquid that would have allowed it to be more of a sauce and less of a stew, but that’s on me.) The chewiness was just right and even though I took no unusual steps in cooking this prelaunch sample, it never became too chewy or overly browned, as plant-based meats can do.
The new Impossible Sausage remained tastily in sync with the rest of a traditional dish. CNET/Brian Cooley
Here’s what’s interesting: The ingredient list of “spicy” Impossible Sausage seems to play shortstop between Italian and Mexican flavors, featuring garlic, chili flakes, cayenne and, to my palate, a good dose of oregano. I didn’t try it in enchiladas, but it seems like it would be as natural to me as a Bolognese.
Impossible makes the usual plant-based show of health attributes with this product, touting 7 grams of protein in each raw 2 ounces and no cholesterol. There’s 47% and 43% less total fat and saturated fat respectively “compared to the leading pork ground sausage.” All of that’s laudable but feels less critical in sausage compared to burgers due to the wide array of sausage formulations out there. Instead, this is a product that you’ll want to try simply because it cooks up well and tastes great, without the odd bits of gristle and such that can turn animal sausage into something you don’t want to spend too much time analyzing while chewing.
If anything,and draw my attention to Impossible’s claims that its Sausage uses 79% less water and 41% less land than sausage made from pigs.
Gone are the days when major new plant-based meats were hard to find and having them in your fridge was evidence of a certain shopping savvy: The new impossible Sausage is launching at such exotic outlets as Kroger, Safeway, Wegman’s and Albertsons.
The tipping point for plant-based meats is similar to the one for electric cars: It’ll come when the product performs as well or better, costs the same or less and is as convenient to integrate into one’s life. At a suggested price of $5.99, the cost is still a hurdle but not the stark one that faced the earliest plant-based burgers, and the other two factors look like they’ve sorted themselves out.