26 March, 2007

In support of sausages

A few months back I posted an interview with Chili Champion John Novak. If you weren't able to plow through the long winded, aimless transciption, One of the highlights was when I goaded John into singing a song (about sausage) he wrote for the film, Pancho's Revenge, directed by Jorge Aquirre. Jorge, the hardest working man in Hollywood and soon to be papa, sent in a couple clips of the film showing John in all his awesome talent. I think these two clips show the power and range that a sausage has in song. Go ahead look at them, they're less than 20 seconds.

Sad Chorizo

Painful Chorizo

Both of those clips where shot on Jorge's rooftop, Rivington ST., NYC, 1998.

While we are on the subject of Novak, I want to send a special thanks to Elise at Simply Recipes, for picking up John's Cream of the Crop Green Chile Recipe. Because of the link we got the worldwide attention I predicted in the interview. We still get hits daily from her website. Thanks.

And of course big thanks to John Novak, for taking the time to share his genius with us. I hope everyone feels, as I do, just a little bit brighter and a little bit lighter.


Put a Cork in It

Do you remember a couple of months back, you mixed some stuff together put it in a big glass jar and set it in a dark corner of the basement? Do you know where the jar is? It time to clean out all those empty wine bottles we have been saving and put up our batch of the summertime elixir.

Vin de pamplemousse, d'Orange, et de Citron Meyer, ( all pronounced vin de Hoo-Hoo) have become very popular around the here, and today we will detail the bottling of our second batch, Vin de Citron Meyer et Moro.
A quick note before we get started: my lawyers and life coaches have asked me to remind all my gentle readers that I am not a professional, but I do recommend you try things at home. The information for these recipes is stuff I have picked up either from a book, a magazine or I have simply made it up. My results always vary so you can expect that yours will too. Whatever you do, make sure you use good kitchen practices, make sure you make it yours, make sure you make it good.

Back to the program. I found the jar of marinating fruit and checked for mold, I have never found any in any of the batches, but if you do the batch is ruined. Even though it seems to be just sitting of the top waiting to be skimmed, the mold has flavored the entire liquid and it doesn't taste good.

Once you are ready to get started, put some corks on to simmer. You don't really want to boil them hard, but simmer in a covered pan and they should be soft enough to work in 15 minutes.

Pour the contents through a strainer, or colander, into a large pot. Next transfer part of the batch to another receptacle, like a 3 litre measure, straining it with a fine mesh strainer(Sorry no picture).

Now measure out 750 ML to another measure, straining it through the fine mesh strainer lined with several layers of cheese cloth. Take a clean wine bottle and sterilize it by filing with boiling water. Empty the water and funnel in some vin de goodness. Repeat until you have about six bottles.

Put a cork in it.

Yer gonna need something to get the cork where it's supposed to be. I got this thing, called Handy Corker, which fits the bill, for less than 10 bucks.

One of our faithful readers phoned in last week saying: Gee MAC, I see all the talk about vin de hoo-hoo, but I don't see a recipe. Well here you go. The original recipe I adapted from an article titled "Nibbles and Sips," by Mona Talbot, Published in the New York Times Style Magazine, Fall Living, 2004.

Vin de Pamplemousse

3 ruby grapefruit

3 white Grapefruit

4 lemons

5 bottles (750ml) of white wine

1 bottle (750ml) vodka

2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean split

Thinly slice fruit and combine with all other ingredients in a 2.5 gallon glass jar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Store in cool dark place for forty days. Bottle as directed above. Serve over ice.

I got my glass jar at the Container Store. I put a bit of plastic wrap over the opening before screwing on the top.

For corks and stuff (and a container for that matter) try to find the local beer/wine makers shop. In Columbus, I think my mom got set up at The Winemakers Shop. I loaded up at Bev-Art in Beverly.

You don't have to spend a whole lot of money to do this. Once we started doing it we got hooked. We have used all different kinds of wines and all different kinds of citrus, my favorite is probably the Meyer lemon. Find out what you like by experimenting. Vin de hoo-hoo is easy to make and it is fun to drink.


19 March, 2007


Amerikanische Rostbratwurst

Uncle J from the AK phoned in last week asking for a bratwurst recipe. At about the same time Grandpa G was rolling into town hungry for some sausage and sauerkraut. I figured what better time to explore the wonderful world of bratwurst. Here in middle America the ubiquitous bratwurst (pronounced BRAT) is requisite fare, along with hamburgers and hot dogs, for any outdoor grilling party. The grocery store is stacked (at any time of year) with a wide variety factory produced sausages promising that they have the "best beer flavor" or they are the"most authentic" or even a "A wee bit of garlic." Huh? Setting down my flag and my apple pie, I decided to sail across the Internet to the Old World, to find the roots of this All-American tailgating hero.

Bratwurst or Rostbratwurst, translates from German as frying or grilling sausage. As a matter of classification, The Oxford Companion, places brats in the Rohwurst (raw sausage) family, which is a diverse group that is characterized by sausages sold uncooked, maybe be cured or smoked, or maybe sold fresh for grilling. There are many important regional varieties, but the Thuringer, seems to be the sausage that came to America seeking its fame and fortune.
The basic Thüringer Rostbratwurst, has a pretty simple ingredient list: Meat (Pork, maybe veal), Caraway seed, salt and pepper, milk and egg. Look at this recipe here or a more involved recipe here. Fun, huh?

So the Thuringer rides in the coat pockets, the rucksacks, and the minds of people bound for America, and it lands in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the undisputed home of the American Brat. Recipes for Sheboygan Bratwurst (you'll see them all over the net but most of them come from a single source: Bruce Aidells' sausage books) look like the Thuringer recipes with a few more herbs and spices thrown in. For our bratwurst today, I want to keep it simple, but I want it to taste like America.

3 spices and salt and you got yerself a brat. Let's go to the boards:

4 lb Pork Shoulder, diced(Schweineschulter)

1 lb Pork Belly, diced (Rohschinken)

40 g Salt (Salz)

6 g white pepper, ground (weißer, gemahlener Pfeffer)

5 g ground ginger (Ingwer)

2 g Nutmeg (Muscat)

250 ml Milk (Milch)

Combine all ingredients except the milk and grind through a fine plate into a chilled bowl. Add the milk and stir the mixture until it starts to come together, about one minute. Stuff into hog casings.

Notes: You can use all pork shoulder, I just happened to have a little pork belly and that raises the fat content a bit. I didn't use caraway because I didn't have any, and I didn't feel a burning need to get some. Add a little bit of sugar if you like a sweeter (grocery store style) brat.

Let's talk a little about grilling sausage.

All my life I have watched beer poured into a pan to boil bratwurst. In Aidells' books, he speaks of poaching brats before grilling them. On Steve Raichlen's BBQ TV show, he cooks them in beer and onions for like 45 minutes before grilling them....


After years of feeling cool because I was cooking with an alcoholic beverage, (thus adding to the party-like atmosphere: "Hey even the brats are drunk!") I think it is a waste of beer, and all you get is a sausage that has been cooked to death. I have discussed many different ways of cooking sausage, but for right now, for these brats, here's what you do: Have a medium charcoal fire to one side of the grill. Place the brats away from the fire. Cover and cook 5-7 minutes. Check em and flip them. A couple more minutes then check them with a thermometer. What you don't have one? Get one, they are cheap and things taste a lot better when they are not overcooked. The internal temp should be between 150F and 160F. Grilling sausages should take 15 to 20 minutes, If they cook too fast (too hot), they will burst. When a sausage bursts, it dries up.

Save the beer for drinkin.


13 March, 2007

St. Patricks Day Bangers and Mash

Irish Bangers recipe

"Bangers and Mash" you see it on just about any pub menu in our fair city, but what is a banger? Since the bacchanal de vert is upon us I figured it was a good time to explore the sausages of the Emerald Isle...

And that completes the tour of sausages of the Ireland. What did you miss it? That's because there's not much. The Oxford Companion, lists several regional sausages of the UK but nary a one in the land of Erin. Larousse, mentions a blood sausage, drisheen, of Irish decent, and says bangers are an old name for Chipolata. Whatever. I searched for a "Bangers" recipe and came up with a smattering of unimpressive ideas. In Bruce's Aidells' , Complete Sausage Book, he states the sausage he had while living in London, which tasted like it was made with "Sawdust, salt and grease," was his motivation to start making sausage at home. I kept on hitting dead ends, but I was not deterred, we must have something to go with our green beer.


Just about all the recipes I found called for bread crumbs or rusk. As a general rule I have always shied away from cereal fillers in my sausage, but in spirit of being authentic, we'll give it a go. Rusk, according to the dictionary is "A slice of sweet raised bread, dried and baked again in the oven." We'll use toast. Let's go to the boards:

Irish Banger

2 lb pork shoulder diced

3 slices (90 g) whole wheat bread dried in the oven chopped into fine crumbs

20 g salt

1/2 t (1 g) dried marjoram

1/2 t (1 g) grated nutmeg

1/4 t (1 g) powdered ginger

(2 g) ground black pepper

1/2 t (1 g) finely grated lemon zest

100 ml milk

Combine ingredients, except milk, and rest the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour. Grind through fine plate into chilled bowl. Add milk and stir mixture until it starts to come together, about one minute. Stuff into hog casings. For that fancy pub look, twist the sausages into 4 inch lengths. Gently saute them to an internal temperature of 150F. To finish the authentic look make some grilled onions, some curry gravy and mashed potatoes.

Being 'twas a weeknight when I made me bangers, and I hadn't any potatoes (horrors!) I truly embraced the Irish spirit and instead of going to the grocery, I found somethin else in the pantry to mash:

Mac's mashed acorn squash with a wee bit o curry.

Peel quarter and clean one acorn squash. Put the pieces in a roasting pan, liberally sprinkle with salt pepper and olive, and cook until soft in a 350F oven, about 30 minutes.

I let the pieces cool a bit, then I put them in the food processor with a little milk and curry powder to taste. Since I was doing this ahead of time, I put the puree into a buttered casserole dish to warm just before serving. It was real good. One small acorn squash served two people. To finish the presentation, I had to have something green: Swiss chard sauteed with garlic and crushed red pepper. A wee bit of Guinness, and we're ready to chase the leprechaun.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.


12 March, 2007

Equipment Update

Back in January, I wrote about the New Stuffer I received for Christmas. I still believe it is a great stuffer and last week I pimped it up a bit with stainless steel stuffing tubes. Pictured above are the 1/2" and 3/4" stuffing tubes from Sausage Maker, Inc. They are a perfect fit on my stuffer and now it takes about three seconds to load the casings. A very worthwhile upgrade.

09 March, 2007

St. Patricks Day Corned Beef Reminder

I saw the piles of bagged corned beef at the store yesterday and I wanted to remind all my faithful saucisses that if you are planning on making your own corned beef for the national holiday next weekend, you need to start now. It takes five days to cure. It is absolutely worth making at home.

Here's the post from last year for corned beef.


05 March, 2007

Le Boudin Blanc

I am not a trained professional, please try this at home. Or maybe not. Le Boudin Blanc, is a very light delicate sausage that dates (according to Larousse) back to the Middle Ages. It is made in many different versions all around Europe and in France it is a Christmas time treat. Our special occasion from making them was that boneless skinless chicken thighs were on sale. That's right chicken sausage, don't start salivating because you think you are about to get a "Lite" sausage. The other two main ingredients are eggs and cream.

I started with the recipe from Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman, I made half of the recipe. The ingredients are chicken, eggs, cream, salt, pepper, quatre-epices, and a little bit of flour.

The recipe called for doing this in a food processor, but I wanted to do it in the blender. After a few minutes in the blender I didn't think the mixture was setting-up as it should, so I switched to the Cuisinart.

The blade is under there somewhere, I don't think a full recipe will fit (Cuisinart Classic 7 cup). After frothing it for a while, it's time to stuff. Boudin is French for pudding: I was expecting a slightly stiff mousse-like texture, but the mixture lives up to its name.

The veritable sack of pudding. I was afraid it would burst if I tried to move it. I decided to put it into the fridge overnight, give it a chance to set up. It didn't help.

Boudin Blowout.

The recipe says to twist into six inch lengths, but it doesn't say anything about cutting them or trying them off. I threw caution to the wind and snipped off the first two put them on to gently poach. I quickly realized that was not going to work. I retrieved my hemorrhaging link and tied it off with some butcher's string. I also tied off the other loose end.

Water temperature a tepid 170F.

I cooked to sausages to a 160F. I should have waited to take the temp because, I had to keep the probe in place, less it start gushing. Cooking time 20-25 minutes.

They still felt very fragile coming out.

The ice bath stopped the cooking and they finally felt a little more confident in hand. Here's the ingredient quantities I used:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs

10g salt

2g fine fresh ground pepper

3g quatre-epices

4 large eggs

200 ml heavy cream

100 ml milk

15g All purpose flour.

To finish, I browned them gently in a bit of butter, and served it with mashed potatoes, asparagus and Belgian beer.

The monks must have been eating Boudins Blancs when they made this dark beer, because it was a perfect compliment. The sausage was great, it had the texture of a fluffy omlet. I imagined them as a nice breakfast offering. Would I make it again? I dunno, making omlets is a lot easier.


Egg Rolls

Something is seriously wrong with my camera. Lately the iris has been closing down and is only revived by a thump to the bottom; nevertheless, the show must go on. If you have your meat grinder handy (or a good chopping knife, as demonstrated in Breakfast of Champions), and boneless skinless chicken thighs are on sale, AND you have some egg roll wrappers leftover from when the Bonne Femme, made lasagna, using them as noodles, then why not make some egg rolls?

I shredded some purple cabbage, some carrot, onion, garlic and ginger. I ground the chicken. I cooked the chicken first then added the vegetables to soften a bit.

To that I added some oyster sauce

I really like this particular brand (no MSG!), I have shipped from Crestview Market, in Columbus, OH (Ok, my grandma brings it when she visits).

I got the wrappers out while the mixture cooled. One at a time lay the wrapper in a diamond and put a spoon full of mixture across the middle. Then fold and roll.

Moistened with a little water to seal the deal. Let's cut to the fryer.

Doesn't that purple cabbage peeking through look fun? I rarely deep fry things because it's kind of a dead end for the oil: I saved it, but what am I going to use it for? Deep fry something again? Anyway I put about an inch of oil into a 2qt saute pan and warmed it to 350F. I fried two or three at a time 2 to 3 minutes.

Anyway something to do with leftovers on a Saturday night. The only thing I bought for this meal was the cabbage. I'll list the quantities that I can remember below, the recipe was on the back of the wrapper package, and I threw that away:

1 lb ground chicken (or whatever)

2 cups shredded cabbage (red if you're feeling cheeky)

2 shredded medium carrots

1/2 diced medium onion

1 TB minced garlic

2 TB grated fresh ginger

2 TB Oyster Sauce

Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

serve with whatever mustard you have in the fridge.


Grinding Meat in Addis

Our man in D'Dorf just got back from Addis and he has posted some really great pictures. If you are bored and you want to look at vacation photos, check out Ekarhu's Habesha Diaries.

I asked him about the above picture on IM earlier today:

MAC: how about that meat pic? I want to put it in the blog.

Ekarhu: Sure...whatever gets your mouth watering

m: yeah

E: But the meat picture, kinda knocks the hungry out of ya

m: nah its good stuff, but i can't tell what kind of meat he is working,
looks kinda big for goat

E: it is either goat or beef

m: you didn't pick any up for dinner?

E: I got in enough trouble when I bought chat, eating meat is difficult there..

m: trouble, kitty chat?

E: Well, you know everything there is free range,and when animals get exercise, they get muscular, and, well chewy

m: just like the cowboys in the days of old...

E: So here, if something tastes mediocre, you can chew it once and down
but there, if something taste not great, you have to chew 10-15 times
which is fine when the meat tastes ok

m: you just need a good braising recipe

E: but when you get some bad goat (and I am not a huge goat fan) it is like a piece of crap bubblegum

m: Oh, I see. It's a nice picture anyway.

E: thanks.

PS. Please, keep in your thoughts the people who were recently abducted in Northern Ethiopia. It is scary(say scarier) when you know people over there, you realize we are all connected.