ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTOS BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Old world way: Chef crafts fine sausages and includes farmers in the process



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Chef Carter Light is enlivening Mainers’ meals, restaurant menus and grocery stores with sausages made with fresh ingredients and old-world techniques.

Developing fine sausages, marketed as Colvard & Company, was how Light pivoted his culinary career during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic led to the closure of his popular Southwest Harbor restaurant, Coda.

Incidentally, the name Colvard is a nod to his late grandfather, William Colvard.

“Although I love restaurants and I’ve been in them forever, this is more sustainable,” said Light, who lives in Trenton.

In his former restaurant, the chef converted a space that had been dedicated to liquor storage into a sausage-making facility.

Light learned how to make sausages at culinary school and the process appealed to him then as it does now.

“It was a way to transform throwaway products into something delicious,” he said.

The old-world method Light employs is grinding the meat twice.

“It is a time-consuming process for each batch, but we feel it is necessary to make a good product,” Light explained.

“We work with Maple Lane Farms in Charleston to help us find our pork.”

All of the sausages except for two chicken varieties are made with pork butt.

“We only use all-natural pork butts, it’s a more consistent quality product,” the chef said. “Moving forward, we are going to try and utilize more ‘whole hogs.’ We would do a specialty line and we could trace one batch of sausages to one specific hog.”

No matter what flavor profile you might be in the mood for, there’s a sausage to match it.

To note, all Colvard & Company sausages are gluten-free and contain just meat and herbs and spices — no fillers.

A crowd favorite is kielbasa featuring garlic, black pepper and marjoram.

Another in demand is the Spicy Fennel, which is the company’s version of a classic Italian sausage. Spicy Fennel is made with toasted fennel, garlic and red pepper flakes. “This sausage is equally delicious in spaghetti sauce or grilled with peppers and onions,” Light said.

In a Southwestern mood? Maybe you’d like to serve the Jalapeño Cheddar, which Light said is “the perfect balance of fresh jalapeño chiles and Cabot Mild Cheddar Cheese, complemented by lime zest, coriander and cilantro.”

Chicken Garlic and Thyme is an all-natural chicken sausage made with 100 percent chicken thighs. “We make this sausage with fresh lemon zest, whole garlic and dried thyme,” the chef said. “It is also sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free.”

The varieties include a Chorizo and a Sesame Sriracha.

“I start with thinking about flavor combinations that I am interested in,” Light said. “The Massaman Curry was developed because I wanted a sausage that reminded me of my favorite dishes. From there I make small 5-pound batches. After I mix each batch, I grill them and taste them. Then it is all about flavor. I keep mixing till I get something that tastes great.”

How should one cook sausages?

Light’s favorite method is to grill them over a wood fire.

However, should you not want to start a fire, perhaps it’s a sub-zero day or a blizzard, you also can cook sausage in a cast-iron skillet. Put a half a teaspoon of oil in the skillet and brown the sausage over medium heat. Then, put the skillet in a 350-degree oven F for 15 minutes.

Light said the company’s chicken sausages are great served with peppers, onions and sweet potatoes.

Maple Sage is the company’s version of a breakfast sausage with real maple syrup and dried sage.

However, the Maple Sage sausage is also great on a pizza, according to Fogtown Brewing Co. owner Jon Stein.
Stein and Light won a Mount Desert 365 grant last year, which they used to start a pizza business. And now, Light will be “co-packing” sausage for the brewery.

PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

“The dream is we give our spent grain to farmers to give to their pigs. Then when it’s time to slaughter, we give the meat to Colvard,” Stein said. Colvard will produce the finished product, which will be sold as Fogtown Beer Bratwurst and Sausage.

“So, it’s like a really full-circle process,” said Stein. A lot of the spent grains being fed to the hogs are grown in Maine — wheat, barley, spelt and oats — the brewer said. “A lot of them are grown in the County [Aroostook] and a lot of them are organic.”

Light is “a chef first,” so he’s not just throwing things together, Stein said. “He’s doing a well-balanced mix of spices and flavors. He’s just a really creative guy and a talented chef and adept/flexible manager and business owner.”
The Blue Hill Co-op is another customer of Colvard sausages. The co-op’s meat and seafood buyer Lynn Arnold said she varies the flavors she orders each week.

“Their products sell quite well here,” Arnold said. “I had 10 or so packages come in last week and they sold out in less than two days. Carter definitely has a sausage following. I particularly enjoy the Chicken Garlic and Thyme.”
Arnold makes small patties out of the chicken sausage or adds it to a bean kale soup.

There’s an increasing demand for Colvard & Company sausage.

When Light started, he was making 65 pounds of sausage a week. That’s up to 470 to 500 pounds of sausage a week now. “We need to do 10 times what we’re doing,” he said.

To that end, Light is about to start building a dedicated sausage manufacturing and co-packing facility off the Bucksport Road in Ellsworth. There will be space for the outsized equipment needed to keep up with the demand as well as to offer co-packing services for other businesses, including farms.

“Co-packing is a long process, but we will work with the individual farm to create a recipe that they are proud of,” Light said. “Not everyone wants to have a fennel sausage and breakfast link. So, we invite the farmer into the facility with me to go through the ‘creative process’ with me. It is a lot more fun that way. At the end of the day, the farmer raised the animal, and they should be involved in creating the product. Then we will work with them on creating their own label so they can sell it.”

PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Light will also be co-packing for other businesses. He’s ramping up his staff for the venture.

The Vermont native fell into the culinary world by way of the kitchen sink.

“I was a dishwasher from 15 on,” he said, adding that he wasn’t a fan of school. “I had a chef who smacked me into shape. I just kind of fell in love with it.”

He went to culinary school in New Hampshire and worked in restaurants in Wyoming and then Salt Lake City for several years.

You can find Colvard & Company sausages at many specialty food stores, including John Edwards Market, A&B Naturals, Acadia Provisions, the Blue Hill Co-op, Belfast Co-op, the Portland Food Co-op and several other shops down the coast and into southern Maine.

Cafe This Way in Bar Harbor has Colvard on the menu, as do Provender Kitchen + Bar in Ellsworth and The Nor’Easter Pound & Market in Mount Desert.

For more info, visit colvardsausages.com.

 

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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