22 September, 2008

Sausage Week Finale: Oktoberfest

Grilling sausage

E with lederhosen and party shirt

Homemade Pretzels for Oktoberfest

Barrel of Zephyr from Flossmoor Station

Hans, lederhosen

Oktoberfest at Owlhead

I didn't get a whole lot of pictures because I was busy eating sausage.

(Roll Credits)

Thanks to
Mom for making the Pretzels
Jolie (Jeanlouise) for making the cream puffs
Grandma for keeping the party going
Ekarhu (Eliot and Liisa) for the mustard in the tube
Jerry for helping stuff 30 lbs (117 links) of Bratwurst
Lisa and Phil for the Jumpy thing
Alison and Ron for the Bean Bags
Marge for the extra beer steins
Karen and Joachim for the tent

And thanks to everybody for coming.

click here to see how much garbage 62 beer drinking, sausage eating adults generated.

click here to see all the photos from Sausage Week on flickr.


19 September, 2008

Live from Sausage Week: Southside Larder

The Party Fridge

I think I never got my "Foodie Blogging Badge" (and Food Buzz never got back to me about being a "Featured Publisher") because I never did the requisite post with a picture of my fridge along with a description of it's contents. Here's my picture, can I be in the club now?

Yeah, ok, that's uh 40 lbs of sausage 2 racks of PBR, 2 dozen eggs, 2 gallons of milk, 3 quarts of yogurt and 4 lbs of Plugra.

Meanwhile The kitchen cavarly has arrived from Columbus just in time to inspect Bonne Femme's German potato salad.

Checking the potato salad

Puff Shells

gotta get back to work, we have a bunch of cream puff shells to fill.


18 September, 2008

Live from Sausage Week: Bratwurst

Bratwurst run

Three hours, thirty pounds of Bratwurst. I'm sure glad I don't do this for a living. It's hard business. Jerry came over to help and between the two of us we knocked it out.

Adding seasoning to pork

First we had to cube the pork shoulder, Then we mixed in the seasonings: Salt, white pepper, ginger, nutmeg, caraway and mustard.

Grinding 10lbs at a time

Working in 10 pound batches Jerry ran it through the grinder. Then I kneaded the mixture adding a little cream and water.

Canking the stuffer

I mentioned in a previous post that I got casings from a packing house. The advantage to these casing versus asking for some at the grocery is that I was able to get casings long enough to do 10 pounds in one run.

30 lbs of Bratwurst

Bratwurst Linked

Ok I'm done making sausage. What else do we need to make? Sausage Week Continues.

Thanks for coming over, J.


17 September, 2008

Live from Sausage Week: Chicken n Cheese

Test patty

I don't usually do a test of a sausage mixture before stuffing, it is what it is right? But I do write down everything I put in and I have notes from almost every sausage I've made (I've got this blog too). When stuffing there is always a little bit at the bottom of the canister that doesn't make it in, that's what gets fried up for snack after a job of grinding and stuffing. Let's get to it:

spices for sausage

here are some whole spices about to be ground, Fennel, mustard and coriander. I add salt, spices and powdered milk to the diced chicken.

Diced cheese for sausage

I dice up some parmesan cheese and put it in the freezer before grinding.

Ready to grind

Sausage ground and mixed

The grinding station is set up, the cheese is mixed with the chicken and we are off and grinding. After grinding I mix in the parsley and a bit of vinegar and water.

Hank of hog casings

Here is a hank of hog casings. Bonne Femme picked them up at Grant Park Packing.

Locked and Loaded

The stuffer is loaded, let's get cranking.

Stuffing Chicken sausage

I can run the stuffer solo, but it more fun with two.

Measuring the twist

Chicken and Cheese Linked

Seven pounds of Italian style Chicken, Parsley and Parmesan sausage. That's just a tune up for tomorrow, Sausage Week continues.


Live from Sausage Week: Making Stock

Three whole chickens

What? You didn't know it was Sausage Week? Well, 'round here it is, and I will try my hardest to keep you updated on all the excitement. Right now, maybe not so exciting, I just finished prepping some chicken.

Three whole chickens boned

The Chicken is for sausage the bones are for stock.

Sweating the vegetables

First I sweat (no color! says Chef)the vegetables in a little butter. the vegetables (or mirepoix) 50% Onion, diced, 25% carrot diced and 25% celery diced. The total weight of the vegetables should be about 25% of the weight of the bones (i.e. 4lbs bones, 1lb vegetables). That's just to give you an idea of proportions, I don't do any weighing I just chop up whatever I have laying around. Once the vegetables are softened, throw in the bones, and add enough cold water to just cover the bones.

Thyme and Bay

Next we need some herbs. Fresh Thyme, Fresh bay, and parsley stems. These could be tied up into what the pros call a Bouquet Garni, but since I am going to strain the stock there is no need to hassle with the twine.

Chopped parsley

With the stems in the pot, I got all this chopped parsley for my sausage. Don't you hate it when you are trying to garnish something with fresh chopped parsley and it all sticks to your fingers? Here's what you do:

Rinsing and wringing chopped parsley in muslin

Use cheesecloth or a tea towel or unbleached muslin bought at JoAnn's, and wrap up the wet chopped parsley. Rinse it under cold water then twist and squeeze.

Chopped and dried parsley

Hey Presto, dry chopped parsley. You can even freeze this stuff.

Now my stock is boiling. I throw in a few of cloves of garlic, crushed but not peeled, and maybe a tablespoon of whole black peppercorns. Simmer for at least three hours, try for four. After that I will strain it, chill it, then skim of the fat. But that's later, I gotta go make the sausage now.


09 September, 2008

Belly Time

Slab Bacon

Have you been thinking about making bacon? Now is the perfect time; with the hint of fall in the air, the gentle wisps of hickory smoke should trigger tingling childhood memories like skipping stones on Lake Hope. The late tomatoes are now ripe on the vine. Make up some bread, some mayonnaise, and assemble BLT's. Serve the sandwiches with smoked corn chowder and now you are ready for the season. Maybe a nap first.

Pork Belly

Before any napping there's work to be done. The hardest part of making bacon is finding the belly. Ok, if you live in town nick-named "Hog Butcher to the World," maybe it's not that hard. I get bellies at a meat packer about three miles from my house (say YEAH Southland), the problem is usually the ones in the case are pretty thin, they keep the nice ones in the back to make their own cured love. My friend Brian in New Jersey gets them from a Chinese market with the ribs attached. When searching for your own try to find a place where you can choose your piece, if you don't see one you like, ask if there are any others. Make sure you get a thick belly. If you are at a meat packing operation you'll have to buy a whole belly, they wont cut it, and you're gonna get 12 to 19 pounds of pork. But that's what you want. Get the biggest, thickest belly you can find, because we are not just making bacon, we are stocking the larder.

Parsley and Parm Sausage

When you get you purchase home you may find one end is really thick with very little fat, and the other end thin and nothing but fat. In addition, an untrimmed pork belly with have fat and meat (a flap of sorts) that sits on top of our future bacon. Now you can simply cut it up into to manageable pieces a cure it, but why not make it look nice?

With my pork side I used the thick, lean portion of the belly and removed the lean flap to make couple of pounds of our house sausage. I used the fatty thin end and any trimmed fat to make lard. I also saved the skin from each of these sections and threw it in the freezer. Skin is useful to thicken soups, Cassoulet, or boiled and diced for a pâté.

cured belly ready for smoke

I squared up the future bacon and rubbed it with a mixture of sugar, salt and curing salt. Curing salt is a special order item, I get mine at The Spice House in Chicago. I used the recipe from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, for the dry rub. On a smaller piece I poured on a little maple syrup in addition to the dry rub. The pieces go into ziploc bags and cure in the fridge for five days. In the past I have cured bacon in brine along with ham. I haven't noticed any big difference between the wet and dry cure, except that the wet cure only needs three days.

After the cure was complete, I rinsed off the bacon and let it rest in the fridge of 24 hours uncovered. I actually let it go for two days because I got busy with other stuff but the pork didn't mind.

Bacon after four hours of cold smoke

I cold smoked both pieces of the belly for about four hours. The cold smoke rig consisted of a hot plate and stainless steel bowl inside my Bullet. The next day I hot smoked the larger slab for about two hours. While I had the smoker fired up I also threw on some eggplant (smoked baba ganouj) and I hot smoked a few ears of corn (shucked) for the smoky corn chowder. Bonne Femme made the soup.

Bacon cold and hot smoked
Cold and hot smoked bacon

Bacon cold smoked
Cold smoked bacon

Either way its a winner.

Ma makin bacon

My mom was here last week and she started her own bacon. She took it back to Columbus and she will smoke it on her kettle grill.

Bacon: A pantry staple that's fun for the whole family.

Bacon n Eggs