Sausage o' the Irish

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with bangers and back bacon

The British and the Irish have never been the best of friends.

But they share indisputable culinary common ground–available locally in the form of bangers and bacon by Chicago-based Spencer's Jolly Posh British and Irish Foods.

Britain-born Nick Spencer left a career in big business to bring the flavors of his childhood to the Midwest. Accordingly, his bangers are faithful renditions of the sausages found on the British and Irish isles–soft, gently spiced links made with finely ground pork and a hint of breadcrumbs.

His traditional bangers are flavored with ginger and nutmeg; an herbed version is laced with sage and thyme. The recipe for another classic of the region, back bacon, comes courtesy of a pig-farming friend in Yorkshire. In true British-Irish style, it's dry-cured and made with the loin rather than the belly.

For a celebratory St. Patrick's Day meal, pick up the bacon ($6) and six-packs of bangers ($7) at Provenance Food and Wine, Sunset Foods, Gepperth's, Schaefer's and Olivia's, or on Sundays at the Logan Square winter market. Or taste them on the table at Blokes & Birds, Bangers & Lace and Galway Arms.

Spencer's next native-meat project is black pudding, aka blood sausage studded with oats and onion–a critical part of a proper British-Irish breakfast.