Phillip's BBQ, Woody's BBQ, Dr. Hogly Wogly's, Robin's Woodfire BBQ, and Spring Street Smokehouse; what do all these L.A. barbecue joints have in common? They all serve hot links imported from the same iron-gated takeout window just west of Crenshaw: a tiny, Cajun-style butcher shop that is probably one of the best kept BBQ secrets in the city.
Pete's Louisiana Style Hot Links is all but indistinguishable except for a sign over it's Jefferson Boulevard storefront that reads "Links Made Fresh Daily Since 1949." Step thorough an outer black metal grate and you'll find yourself looking into a sprawling stainless steel kitchen, which if you come early enough, will be filled a kind of raw energy that feels like a bizarre mix of Sweeney Todd and Willy Wonka. Tubs of brick red ground meat, seasoned with handfuls of what we can only imagine to be a well-kept Cajun secret, are squeezed into casings and twisted into long chains of plump little sausages. Arrive any later though, and the kitchen is entirely spotless, with no clue of the sacrificial morning ritual that occurred earlier.
Pete's sells two varieties, chicken and beef, at varying levels of spiciness (there's an unconfirmed rumor that pork boudin is a rotating special). You can only buy them raw, of course, and when you order attendant will pop into the walk-in fridge and emerge with a plastic baggie filled with hot links made that morning. Pete's also sells barbecue sauce made by Texas Barbecue King, a restaurant just north of downtown. It's a thick, muddy sauce heavy on the garlic and molasses. It also happens to pair perfectly with the earthy cayenne-and-cumin heat of the hot links.
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Once home, toss them onto a grill, or if you're so equipped, a barrel smoker, and let them sizzle until the outer casing is slightly charred and blistered. Next, slice them open so they lie flat on the grill and cook for a few more minutes. Be cautious of spurting hot meat juices. Heat up some barbecue sauce in a small saucepan and ladle over the hot links.
The results are awe-inspiring. We prefer the denser heft of the beef link, but the chicken link is equally as moist. The casing snaps with a noticeable pop, a welcome sound to any sausage connoisseur. It's not surprising, then, to find out that Pete's enjoys something a cult following (one man behind us lugging a cooler full of links mentioned that he travels here from Idaho). The price, a paltry $3.67 per pound, sweetens the deal only further.
We've already taken a page from our friend from Idaho and began to stock up for the coming months. Sure summer may be waning, but is there really any inappropriate time for a hot link?