People often ask me how I come across many of the wholly unique places I write about and, to be honest, I’m quite not sure…I’m mostly lucky, I guess. Like the other day, a preternatural drive inside me told me to go a little further up S.W 29th street than usual, crossing Shields and the highway, moving deftly into S.E. OKC territory. It was there that I found the much-vaunted Roger’s Meat Market, 1925 S.E. 29th Street.
An ancient building that had obviously seen better days, the bars on the window and the covered-over graffiti is pretty prevalent to the lonely area the business is located in. Quite easy to drive right past, the sign outside reads Alex Roger’s Meat Market and Processing, but most curious is the subtitle that says they are home to the “Old Fashion Hot Link.” An intriguing promise and premise, I turned back around and made a fortuitous stop…
Hunting and fishing memorabilia decorate the off-white walls, the smell of raw meat and fresh spices clinging to the air. A row of cold cases line the front of the building, filled with said hot links and other assorted varieties of dark-skinned sausage, as well as many other cuts of butchered meat for the masses. Right from the start, I purchased three individual links just to taste this so-called famous flavor: a Medium Hot, a Super Hot and, just for the not-hot Hell of it, a Polish Sausage.
As the girl behind the counter bagged the hot links up, I took a look around my surroundings, finding bags of Ray’s Potato Chip resting near the window, as well as a freezer case full of cuts of different meats, all wrapped in classic white butcher-paper and packed in gift-boxes, offering every wantable portion of livestock, from breakfast sausages to dinner neck-bones. They even have the hard-to-find ox-tails—three pounds for $18.00—in case you’ve been looking.
Probably unfairly, what really garnered most of my attention was on the other side of the store, a wooden-case full of Roger’s canned items, sealed tightly in jars with a professional-enough label slapped on them. Featuring plenty of delicious-looking jams, including strawberry, hot pepper and the mythical F-R-O-G jam, what I truly couldn’t pass up were their pickled eggs, in this case the Old-Fashion Jalapeno Eggs ($8.99)
My purchases in hand, I would later eat a few of the eggs that evening at a barbecue where, per usual, only one friend would even dare to try them while most others cowered in sheer fear of the culinarily strange and comestibly different. While the jalapeno flavor was a bit hard to tack down, the hard-boiled egg still had a very strong bite to it, a slight sulfurous sting that made them very hard not to enjoy, at least by my aged standards.
I wouldn’t cook the links for a few days, choosing to boil them rather than grill, mostly for conveniences sake. At an average of about $1.20 per link, the trio boiled and bubbled with ease, plated with a recently opened jar of homemade pickled vegetables from a local Mexican store; it made for a moderately scorching meal, searing my mouth with every clumsy bite. As I sliced into each link gently, I realized I had never had a true hot link until this very moment.
The Polish sausage was what I believe to be the inbred Okie-cousin to the Kiełbasa Zwyczajna, a slight temperament with traces of garlic and other spices jam-packed into the firm casing. The Medium Hot link, meanwhile, was a treacherous foe indeed, masquerading its slight intensity under a smoky scent and smokier flavor that made for a greatly memorable sausage.
From the fiery pits of the everlasting Inferno itself, the Super Hot link, undoubtedly, lived up to its moniker, providing a heat that required at least all eight daily glasses of water at once to soothe and sedate as the diabolical spices—I saw flecks of pepper seed spill out and mostly pool as I cut into it—coated my tongue and teeth with every unholy chew.
Along with another location down in Newcastle, Roger’s Meat Market has definitely earned its name as one of the very few spots, at least in Oklahoma City, for, as far as I’m concerned, freshly-butchered hot links for your next happy family barbecue or sad family-less binge. As for me, as I sat there at the dinner table, drinking a tall glass of skim milk, I let out a slight belch that pretty much burned my neck all to Hellfire.