Fourth-Generation Butcher Cara Nicoletti is Shaking Up the Sausage Industry
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Meet Cara Nicoletti, a millennial butcher whose one-of-a-kind products are inspired by a reverence toward family tradition, her craft and the planet.
A funky logo, a dynamic Instagram page, and a jumpsuit-sporting, 30-something female founder aren’t the traditional trademarks of a typical meat company, but that’s just the way Cara Nicoletti likes it.
Her company’s departure from the norm is beyond sausage-casing deep, too. Seemore Meats & Veggies’ chicken and pork links contain 54% less meat than those of competitors—a statistic achieved by loading the sausages with veggies and other ingredients, such as cheeses and herbs. Some outside-the-box flavors include Broccoli Melt, Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Parm.
Cara Nicoletti’s Beginnings in Butchery
Emily Kan for Taste of Home
A fourth-generation butcher, Cara has been in the meat industry for 13 years. During childhood, she was a bright-eyed, unofficial apprentice to her now 92-year-old grandfather, Seymour Salett.
For decades, Seymour ran a shop called Salett’s Market, located originally in Boston and later in Newton, Massachusetts. (Here are some mistakes to avoid at your butcher shop.) Growing up, Cara and her two sisters, who are now a pastry chef and a nurse, spent many days in their grandfather’s store, but Cara was the only one taken by the trade, undeterred by the smells, sights and physical exertion involved.
“Sometimes people think of this kind of work as undignified,” Cara says. “But my grandfather taught me that helping people feed their families and themselves well is one of the most dignified jobs you can have. That really stuck with me.” That, and the way he treated his employees and patrons—“like royalty,” Cara recalls.
How Seemore’s Mission Came to Be
Emily Kan for Taste of Home
Cara carried Seymour’s customer-service philosophy into her various restaurant jobs throughout college and adulthood but intended to leave the butchery she’d learned from him behind. However, within five years of working at establishments spanning juice bars and supper clubs, Cara became disillusioned by the industry’s universal waste problem. “It had been drilled into my head from such a young age that you don’t waste anything from an animal,” Cara says.
(Psst! Try these products that help limit food waste.)
An offer from her employer to do some occasional butchering at the southern eatery where she worked was the last push Cara needed to recommit to her roots. Now she’s an advocate for sustainable meat consumption, endorsing a truly omnivorous diet. Her proposal: Let’s eat less meat, but let’s eat better meat.
(Read up on our tips for getting the highest-quality meat at your butcher counter.)
Seemore—the name of her company and a homonym of Seymour—is an homage to the family’s dear patriarch as well as a nod to Cara’s dedication to transparency regarding what’s in her products, where those ingredients come from and the environmental impact of shipping them nationwide. She aims to show, literally, how the sausage is made.
Why Cara Started with Sausages
She started with sausages because they were “the original sustainability-minded food,” Cara says. “Sausages really made eating animals a viable thing because people were able to utilize scraps and preserve meat with salt.”
It’s this salt—plus other seasonings—that makes sausage worthwhile, according to Cara. “It’s already seasoned and flavored, so it does a lot of the heavy lifting when you’re cooking,” she says.
Cara is all about the basics, which is what she imagines the meat industry was like when the Salett family first joined it in the early 1900s. “They were using whole animals. They weren’t eating it all the time,” Cara says. “It was a treat.” And today, by mixing a little of the past with modern practices and palates, Cara aims to create sausages that seem like a treat, too.
Cara’s Summery Sausage Side Dish
Emily Kan for Taste of Home
Seemore’s website is stocked with recipes that use slices and crumbles of the flavor-packed links. Some of Cara’s personal picks include the Broccoli Melt Orecchiette, inspired by the beloved Philly roast pork sandwich, and the Chicken Parm Cast Iron Skillet Pizza. But when sweet corn is in season, she’s all about this Chili Verde Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad), which uses her favorite flavor of Seemore sausage.
Chili Verde Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)
The sausages add a “wallop of flavor” in this kicked-up corn salad, Cara says. She leaves half the kernels raw for crunch, then quickly pickles shallots and peppers in a bit of lime juice for brightness. (Read our quick-pickling primer.) Pro Tip: Cara likes to add half the Cotija cheese for creaminess while the mixture is still hot and the other half as a topping once it’s cooled.
- 5 tablespoons lime juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 medium ears sweet corn, husked
- 2 shallots, sliced into rings
- 1 serrano pepper, sliced into rings, optional
- 1 package (12 oz.) Seemore Chicken Chili Verde Sausages or fresh chorizo
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled and divided
- 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided
Step 1: Cut corn off cobs and quick-pickle veggies
In a large serving bowl, whisk together lime juice and olive oil. Cut kernels off corn cobs. Add half to the serving bowl; stir in shallots and, if desired, serrano. Set aside.
Step 2: Brown crumbled sausage
Crumble the sausages into small pieces. In a large cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat, cook and stir sausage in canola oil until golden brown, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towels.
Step 3: Toss together ingredients and top with garnish
In same pan, add remaining corn to drippings; cook over high heat, not stirring, until lightly charred on 1 side, 2-3 minutes. Transfer corn to shallot mixture; add sausage and 1/4 cup Cotija cheese. Toss to combine; let stand until cooled to room temperature, 15-20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro. Top with the remaining cilantro and Cotija cheese.