19 March, 2008

Vegetarian Sausage!

By any other name: Falafel, The Coptic Lenten treat.

A few weeks ago when me and the boys stopped into Jerusalem Grocery and Bakery on 159th ST in Orland Park. We went for the fresh pita, but we also found some dried chick peas. On the back of the package was a recipe for falafel. Oh boy, I love falafel. I remember the first time I had it: Twenty years ago at the Pita Inn, in Skokie. Savory deep fried love in a pocket. (Hey Brian, you remember that time we went with the Mitsi and ran afoul of some low slung cables? Good times.)
But wait it gets better, on the back of the package it says for best results use a meat grinder. Hey I got one of those!

According to the Oxford Companion to Food, Falafel is considered to have originated in Egypt, where it has become a national dish. Early Christan Copts served it at many religious festivals and ate it a lot during Lent. However the the book goes on to report that in Egypt falafel is made with a broad bean called ful nabed, and the chick pea is used elsewhere in the Middle East.

Back in present time, our chick peas have soaked for a very long time and have been combined with the onions and parsley. Time to grind.

For the falafel, I really wanted a cucumber mint yogurt sauce to garnish. I took some plain yogurt and put it in a muslin lined colander for a couple of hours to thicken. Let's go outside to see if we can find any mint:


For the recipe pick up a package Ziyad Brand Dry Chick Peas. A little bit goes a long way, unless you are having a party, make half a recipe, use the other half for hummus.


17 March, 2008

Boneless ham in beta

At my local abattoir I can get ham with or with out the bone. While picking up some belly to make bacon, I impulsively decided to get some boneless ham, about three pounds. I threw in in the brine with the future bacon and let cure for three days. Yesterday I tied the ham into a roast and hot smoked it for 3 hours.

Ridiculously easy and now I have lunch meat.


13 March, 2008

South Side Irish

Yeah I live on the Southside. Yeah I have an Irish last name. Ergo, this Irish Bangers recipe has got to be authentic.

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
1/2 t (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.

The recipe originally appeared last year in the post St. Patrick's Day Bangers and Mash.


12 March, 2008

Chicken Andouille

Chicken Andouille Sausage for Gumbo.

Another week another chicken. Bonne Femme said she wanted to make gumbo: What do we need to do? We could use some of the garlic sausage that's in the freezer. And stock do we have any stock? Oh yeah, I got some stock. So as BF walked out the door for another day at work, I was charged with thawing out some sausage and warming up some stock.

But wait. Do we really want just garlic sausage, or should it be some smokey spicy encased meat? Well I do have some chicken.

The Spices

The Crank man

Walking to the smoker.

Smoked Chicken Andouille Sausage.

660 g (1-1/2 lbs.) Chicken cubed
100g (4 oz)bacon diced
140 g (5 oz) onion diced
10 g Salt
4 g pepper
2 g allspice
1 g cayenne
1 g thyme
1 g mustard
2 cloves garlic minced

Grind whole spices and combine with all other ingredients. Allow to marinate in the fridge. Run the mixture through the grinder attachment, After grinding, stir the pate adding a little water so that it comes together. Stuff into casings. If you have time, hang to dry the links before smoking. Hot smoke at 200F for two hours.

Bonne Femme made the best gumbo ever.


10 March, 2008

The Jersey Report: White Bean Soup with Cured Ribs

(Dear MAC:)

Every time I buy a pork belly from my local Asian butcher, it comes with about 6 ribs attached. I've tried using the ribs in soups and stews but they never quite had the savoriness that I wanted. This week I finally separated them from the belly, cured and smoked them with the bacon. I don't know why I waited so long to try it; they were so fantastic that I ate a couple of them within 5 minutes of being off the grill. The cure was the regular pink salt/kosher salt/brown sugar/maple syrup from Ruhlman's Charcuterie. The ribs were so salty, sweet and smokey and I couldn't eat just one...kind of like the ham popcorn of my dreams. I was planning on throwing them into the white beans in the slow cooker (just to get rid of them), but briefly considered hiding them from the family and eating them while everyone's asleep.

I've been making some version of this white bean stew for years now, and I feel like I'm getting closer to my ideal. They no longer feel like a dish of privation, something to be eaten only during the lean weeks. I've pushed the dish to an almost cassoulet-like heaviness. Here's the current recipe:

1/2 pound dried white beans (Great Northern or Navy) soaked overnight, then cooked until tender with water to cover, an onion, a bay leaf, a couple cloves of garlic, a carrot and/or a chunk of smoked pork skin from bacon-making (basically whatever I've got on hand)

After that, the drained beans go into the slow cooker with:

2 links of Italian sausage, sliced
a chunk of slab bacon, sliced
one 16 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes (crushed or whole are fine)
a few sprigs of thyme (if it's not covered by snow in the garden)
a bay leaf or two
some diced onion
a couple crushed cloves of garlic
salt pepper
chicken stock or water
smoked pork belly ribs (if you have them)

I cooked everything (but the ribs) in the slow cooker for a few hours but the dish was still too runny. I threw it into the Dutch oven and put it in a 325-degree oven, uncovered, for about 90 minutes. Garnish with some good salt (smoked salt is really good) or some grated Parmesan. Serve with crusty bread or toasted breadcrumbs or even croutons....some red wine...and a nap.

Grace had four helpings before she went to bed without complaint.


Thanks for writing, it sounds magically delicious; however I would advise not hiding smoked ribs from your pregnant wife.


03 March, 2008

Chorizo, chorizo

Chicken chorizo hash for breakfast.

Did you read the previous post where I suggested getting a whole chicken? Did you get one? Did you make stock? Did you stuff the legs with Swiss chard and cheese? Some people may call it an obsession, but I just call it a good habit. I bought another bird, made stock, some "chikin" fingers for the boys, and... What's that? Ma are you comin' to visit? Well I got a chicken breast what should we make?

Around here we love whippin up something good for breakfast. I am particularly partial to any menu with the words huevos and rancheros on it. I figured with the leftover chicken I could whip up some ranch style hash with chorizo.

Chicken Chorizo

720 g (1lb 80z) Chicken cubed
125 g ( 4 oz) Bacon diced
8 g Salt
7 g chile powder*
5 g paprika
3 g black pepper
1 g Mexican oregano
1 clove
Pinch of cinnamon
10 g garlic minced
Vinegar (15 ml) and water (30 ml) as needed

*The chile powder plays the star roll in this sausage so use something good. I had some New Mexico powder and I ground up a guajillo. Check out Penzeys or the Spice House for your chile needs.

This is best started the night before so that the chicken has a chance to marinate. Grind the whole spices in a mill and combine with everything else except the vinegar and water in a large bowl. Rest it in the fridge overnight. The next morning run it through the meat grinder. Stir the ground mixture adding the vinegar and water so that it starts to come together. Fry it up in a pan with some red potatoes, some onion, a poblano pepper and presto! hash. Serve with homemade corn tortillas and poached eggs.

For more chorizo fun, check out this video of Novak and his ode to Chorizo:

Spring is coming.