Late Thursday night I was sitting at the dining table attempting to work on some writing projects on my laptop but was filled with frustration because it just wasn’t working out. I looked up to see that Hubby had come into the kitchen and was cooking a skillet full of Earl Campbell sausage. Although that may sound strange to some, it’s a common occurrence at our house. He loves Earl Campbell and he loves Earl Campbell sausage.
Picking up on my frustration, he asked me what was wrong. I told him that I had to come up with a food page for the Sunday paper and had nothing. Everything had either fallen through or not panned out.
“Can you do a page about Earl Campbell sausage?” he asked. I laughed, but he was serious. At that late stage in the game, it started to seem like a possibility. None of my other ideas had worked out.
So I don’t know if you’d call this a punt or a Hail Mary, but that’s the explanation behind why this week’s food page is about Earl Campbell sausage.
In the event any of you have been living on a deserted island the last 40 years or so, here’s some background.
Campbell is a former NFL running back for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. Known for his aggressive, punishing running style and ability to break tackles, he gained recognition as one of the greatest running backs in college football history and one of the best power running backs in NFL history.
Hubby has followed and admired Campbell since “the Tyler Rose” first came on the scene at Darrell K. Royal Stadium. A Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Texas, he was drafted first overall by the Houston Oilers in 1978.
Campbell was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2019, he was named to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
In 1990, he founded Earl Campbell Meat Products, Inc. which manufactures and sells Earl Campbell's Smoked Sausage and other food products. And naturally, Hubby quickly became a fan of the chicken, pork and beef product that comes pre-cooked so all you have to do is heat and serve.
We buy it frequently. Hubby likes to split them lengthwise, heat them in a skillet and stick them in a zip top bag in the fridge to snack on for several days. He eats them two ways – with yellow ballpark mustard and wrapped in a piece of bread or with barbecue sauce and wrapped in a flour tortilla. Although he sometimes enjoys a couple of sausage wraps for breakfast, more often than not, they’re either his afternoon snack or late-night snack.
He’ll chop them up and put them in a big pot of pinto beans or gumbo or a bowl of beans and rice. Although Daughter and I were formerly wont to turn up our noses, we eventually came around and now enjoy them almost as much as he does. I’ve discovered that when I’m wanting a quick snack – while a sausage wrap is usually not what I’m craving – once I give in and eat it, my craving is satisfied. There’s one thing I do differently from Hubby, however. While he prefers the yellow ballpark mustard, I much prefer either a honey mustard or a spicy brown mustard or my all-time favorite, horseradish mustard.
We’ve watched a number of documentaries about Campbell over the years – whether it’s a “30 for 30” episode on ESPN or “A Football Life” episode on the NFL Network – and we cry every single time because of our shared fondness for Earl.
One of my greatest joys was this past Christmas when, through the help of a very dear friend, I was able to get my hands on a football autographed by Earl Campbell, put it in a nice display case and give it to Hubby for Christmas. It was a special moment I’ll never forget.