Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category
I’ve written a ton about Chicago’s iconic specialty, the Italian Beef sandwich. I’ve looked at different brands to prepare at home, as well as a number of restaurant offerings. Check all those posts out here. Today we tried Vienna Beef’s home version of the preparation, beef and gravy frozen in a tub. Spoiler. Any of these brands will disappoint you if you don’t COMPLETELY thaw prior to heating, and when heating GENTLE rules. Boil any frozen Italian Beef and you’ll hate it, I promise. Packaging says you can thaw in the microwave, but I personally would not. I thaw in frig and the in pan. 24 hours +.
The product is available in different weights, with just meat and gravy in a tub in your grocer’s freezer section, or as “sandwich kits” which include authentic Chicago rolls and the pickled vegetable relish known as giardiniera.
Nestle a hot Italian sausage within your beef, and you have a “Combo.” I prefer Klement’s from Milwaukee. I have no ‘beef’ with Vienna’s Italian Beef product. I love all their products. They tie at #1 on my preference list with one other brand. Vienna’s beef is mild but very flavorful. Some other brands are spicier, like Mike Ditka’s (which I believe is also made at the Vienna factory, but with a different recipe).
Have some shipped to your house, complete kits, just heat, eat, and enjoy. You’ll be happier if your store leftovers – separate (beef and gravy).
Vienna Beef Italian Beef Kit
In nearly the geographic center of Wisconsin, a small town named Wautoma, Stoneridge Market is a full service grocery store that has a wholesale meat manufacturing and distributing division, and if that weren’t enough, they own a winter inner tubing park nearby. Their in-house meat counter features dozens of flavors of bratwurst, as well as other processed and smoked meats. They’ll also process your deer for you, here’s the pricing for that. (It’s very price competitive – get your venison sausage on!) The market carries over 300 varieties of Wisconsin cheese, and fresh curds (squeaky cheese) are available every Thursday!
I picked up their garlic ring bologna, which is a beef/pork combination in a natural casing, with mild herbs and spices for flavoring. It’s a nice fine grind, excellent casing, and mild flavor. It’s not nearly as strong as “Chicago style” garlic sausages.
Even though this is a smoked product, it doesn’t say “fully cooked” on the package, so I recommend heating it in your preferred manner. I usually simmer in water for a while, and then slice on a bias and pan fry. Most times I like a little char.
Serve as a breakfast side, or an entree with kraut or hot German potato salad. If Google maps is correct, the plant is one of the buildings at the end of the road pictured below.
Mrs. Burgerdogboy came back from an outing with her pals at ScarletGirl.com, with a most unusual rave – no, not the latest in intimate playthings for couples, but rather a tip on a pizza her husband must try!
So Sunday nite she urged us out the door as the punctuation for a week we have both been suffering from the Portland winter crud sickness – either as a very loving jesture or in fact as an excuse to pick up some ice cream – the cure all for any known feminine malady.
We motored over to Uncle John’s Market in Burlingame, long the destination of Portland pizza whisperers, but heretofore unvisited by Portland’s leading “pizza expert.” (Moi).
So here’s the drill. There is a strictly take-out pizzeria inside this neighborhood market, offering slices or one-sized (x-large) pies to go, with your choice of toppings.
The mistress of Scarletgirl had recommended the pie as a thinner crust rendition of typical NY pizza, a two-handed slice, and she was spot on in both her description, and her understanding of what Burgerdogboy likes.
We grabbed a single slice of pepperoni for $2.75, and both enjoyed noshing on it on our way to ice cream land.
It’s thinner than typical NY pie, bordering on a cracker-thin, crispy slice, with nice cheese bubbles and a little char on the crust.
I grabbed a take-out menu, as it’s near to impossible to find details (or a phone number) for this neighborhood gem online.
For a quick slice in SW Portland, hit up Uncle John’s, or call ahead and order a large pie to go, or to enjoy al fresco (in your car) as we did!
Seventy years ago this month, the only Americans around Nuremberg were 10,000 feet over it, dropping bombs to break the industrial backbone of the Third Reich; 90% of the city was destroyed and 100,000 people killed.
You can’t tell.
The city has been rebuilt to look exactly as it did before the bombing. From photographs, paintings, and architectural plans, Nuremberg, like many cities in Europe, wanted to preserve its heritage.
The inner walled city is curiously reminiscent of the Old City of Jerusalem, with the wall running the perimeter of the central business district, guarded by a moat now used only as a pedestrian walkway.
Three large churches border the town square, which is daily the scene of a local vegetable, fruit, bread, and cheese market. Scattered through the marketplace are sausage stands and pretzel vendors.
To commemorate the awful events of seven decades ago, billboard sized posters of the destruction have been erected outside the restored buildings. The devastation, memorialized in black and white seems horrible.
This is probably a good time to be here; the city is quaint and surely throngs of tourists must crowd the streets in the summer. The natives are friendly and accommodating. At a restaurant last night, we were invited to sit with a local family (there were no empty tables), and they were anxious to hear about the US. They have a daughter who lives in Fresno, and wanted to know if I had ever been there, and what it was like.
The train travel reminded me of what I like about Europe, but also what I miss about the US.
Since 1419 (that’s right) Zum Gulden Stern has been serving Nuremburg’s special “Rostbratwurst.” They are available starting from a fresh or smoked version, and prepared on a grill. It’s the oldest sausage restaurant in the world. (Duh).
I seldom journey someplace without trying a local specialty or two, and here would be no exception. I wondered in the restaurant, which was “casually busy,” and found a table. I figured I’d try one or two of the sausages and be on my way, satisfied with my outing.
Frau Henrietta, a woman the size of a picnic table, rolled up to the table to inquire about my order. I noted on the menu that the little tubular delights were sold in denominations of six, and I knew they were small, so I uttered that I would take six, thinking that’s more than enough of a sample, and I’d be on my way.
She looked at me crossly I thought she was going to spit on me, but she only spit out her words: “Six is a child’s order!”
I reconsidered my order and said an even dozen it was then, but Henrietta would have none of it: “Twelve is a woman’s order!”
Can you guess what happened next? Yes, I ordered EIGHTEEN, and she beamed and said “That is a man’s order!”
Next up was the drink selection, and I hardly wanted to go through the inquisition again, so I told her to bring me an appropriate beverage, and she was back in a second with an over-sized pitcher of a local beer that is mixed with lemon. A seasonal thing. Back before there was a craft brewer on every block trying to make beer taste like chocolate or emeralds or whatever.
I managed to get thru a dozen sausages and two glasses of beer. Everything at the restaurant is very locally sourced, with ingredients coming together from nearby fields to make fresh horseradish, sauerkraut, and potato salad on a daily basis.
Take a virtual tour of the restaurant.
Worlds Oldest Sausage Restaurant
Add up all the major fast food joints and know that there are more hot dog stands in Chicago than the fast food numbers combined. Many of them are called “iconic” for one reason or another – longevity, special menu. One such icon, “Hot Dougs” closed last week after a mere 13 years in business. Owner Doug Sohm says it’s time “to do something else.”
Not just another “hot dog stand” Sohn was on a mission to bring gourmet food to the masses with value pricing, and did this by placing such ingredients inside natural casings and serving them on a bun.
The menu featured rotating items featuring different ingredients, in addition to the standard fare. Menu items were named after politicians and celebrities, ala the style of Pinks Hollywood.
Sohm got a lot of publicity during Chicago’s short lived ban on fois gras, when he kept serving the delicacy as a sausage ingredient. Eventually he was fined and thirty pounds of the delicious pate was removed from the restaurant.
Another eyebrow raising feature was on Friday and Saturday, you could get fries cooke in duck fat.
The last few years, there was almost always a line at opening hour at Hot Dougs, and the weeks preceding closing were no exception, with some staking out their positions at 1 AM. Enough people were in line those last few days that usually by 7:30 or 8:00 AM, people were told that beyond that point in the line would not be served prior to closing time.
A video on the closing hours is from CBS in Chicago is below, following that is a typical Hot Dougs menu..
Sometimes I wish there was an illustrated dictionary of food. There would be a photo, a list of ingredients, and a description of how the product is supposed to taste and what the texture should be. If there was, beside the entry for “Italian Sausage” would be the hand-stuffed sausages at Meeske’s and Haybeck’s butcher shops in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.
Just compare this list of ingredients to any other sausage on the market. Ready?
What? No nitrates? Celery juice? BHT? Corn syrup? Artificial flavors? “Natural” smoke flavor? Vegetable protein?
What does it taste like? Pork. Seasoned pork. Period. A hint of the paprika, garlic and fennel comes through, as it should, giving this sausage a little kick; it’s a perfect grind, not too coarse, not so fine that it resembles an emulsified product.
The shops have every type of meat/protein product you can imagine, in any quantity you desire. Whether you want a single weenie , a whole roast pig, or a holiday meal to take home and heat up, these are they guys in the NW burbs. I’m unclear how the two shops are affiliated, and wasn’t able to find out online. Doesn’t really matter tho, does it?
Dogs and Dames
O’Betty’s Red Hot
15 W. State St., Athens, OH 740-589-6111
Nothing goes together quite like hot dogs and burlesque dancers, don’t you think?
At O’Betty’s Red Hot in Athens, Ohio, owner Bob Satmary has combined his two passions into a one-of-a-kind melding of hot dogs and hot women … women, that is, who ply their wiles in the old-style tease-and-tantalize trade of burlesque dancing. Yes folks, O’Betty’s is a monument to both, housing Satmary’s personal collections of hot dog memorabilia, and burlesque theater art – including personally autographed promo photos from numerous dancers – all under one roof.
According to some, Bob Satmary named his place O’Betty’s because it sounded better than O’Bob’s. On the menu, burlesque dancers lend their names to the dressed-up dogs, with offerings like Blaze (smoked bacon and creamy coleslaw), Salome’ (sport peppers, sweet relish, diced tomato & onion, mustard),Tempest (habanero salsa, jalapenos, sharp cheddar and sour cream), and Mata Hari (chili sauce & creamy coleslaw).
The dogs are all-beef in natural casings, sourced from Five Star Brand Meats in Cleveland, and the traditional buns are sourced locally from Heiner’s Bakery. Order at the counter up front, then take a few minutes to browse the burlesque art and hot dog kitsch covering every inch of wall space, and all of the table tops.
And don’t forget to order the fries – hand cut daily, water-soaked and peanut-oil-fried to perfection. If you are daring or socially challenged, order the garlic version. No cheap garlic powder here, folks – these fries are adorned with minced garlic so fresh and plentiful, you’ll be scooping it out of the bottom of the basket. And what’s more, you will not be bothered by vampires for at least a week afterward.
O’Betty’s, well worth the trip to Athens. Wear your pastie tassels. If you can get them spinning in opposite directions, they just might give you a free basket of fries.
O’Betty’s Red Hot Review
The relative new kid on the block in Chicago pizzerias, Edwardos has been cooking up their special ‘stuffed’ pizzas since 1978 from multiple locations in the Chicago area. They are also available in the frozen food section at your grocery, or you can have them shipped.
Despite the massive publicity Chicago pizza received courtesy of Jon Stewart (video below), there remains some confusion among locals, not to mention tourists, as to what exactly Chicago pizza is. Is it deep dish? Pan? Double crust? Stuffed? Thin Crust? The truth is, they are all Chicago pizzas.
Edwardo’s version is deep, AND stuffed. With a thin layer of crust on the bottom, topped with cheese, or cheese and meat, or cheese and sauce, and then another thin layer of crust, with sauce on the TOP. That’s right. It’s a Chicago thing with the deeper pizzas, sauce on the top.
At the grocery, you’re going to pay $7 plus for the small, which will easily feed two or three. At the restaurant, about $20. By mail, $25 plus shipping.
I opted for the sausage kind. There are some Chicago pizzerias that make a blanket of sausage on the pie, it covers from rim to rim. Edwardos goes with chunks of flavorful Italian, on the cheese layer.
The crust is buttery, as many Chicago pizzas are. It has a nice flaky quality, too. The cheese is tremendous, ample quantity, great flavor, and great “pull.” Sauce is ample and fairly mild, leaning more ‘sweet’ than ‘savory.’
The pie takes around 30 minutes in a 425 oven, and you should let it set for a few before slicing.
I’ve taken a look at most every frozen Chicago pizza, including Connies, Reggios, Home Run Inn, Vito and Nicks, Ginos, and others. While Vito and Nicks remains my favorite thin crust, having pushed past Home Run Inn this year, this one, Edwardo’s Natural, is the first ‘deep dish’ I’ve found that is worth buying and consuming. I’ll do it again. Going to one of the shops? Here’s the menu.
Edwardos Natural Pizza
I continue my quest for the world’s tastiest Little Smokies. So far, by a wide margin, Hillshire Farms Beef are my favorite….in the number two slot is the in-house brand at discount grocer Aldi. It’s not a close second as far as the primary criteria, flavor and texture, no, Aldi places for value… regularly nearly half the price of the big brands. (Hillshire Farm are usually $4.99, sometimes $4.49, and Aldi clock in at $2.99 always.
Today I tried out John Morrell; a product that the package promises “Plump Meaty Bites.” Morrell is a meat company that traces its roots back to 1827 England. They sell products under a number of brand names that they have acquired over the years: Ekrich, Armour, Kretschmar, Krakus. Morrell itself is now owned by Smithfield, which of course, became a Chinese owned company recently. (Not sure if it’s a good idea for US food companies to sell out to Chinese, just sayin’).
There can be some confusion between “little smokies” and “cocktail franks.” Cocktail franks taste like mini wieners and are most often found floating in a chafing dish full of barbecue sauce at a party or event you wished you hadn’t attended. Little smokies are more “sausage-like” in both texture and flavor.
I grabbed the Morrell package because it was substantially discounted compared to Hillshire, maybe $3.49. Although the package says ‘little smokies,” these are clearly cocktail franks, an extruded type sausage with the same fine grind and ingredients, and seasonings of one of Morrell’s hot dog products, I am sure. Not only do they taste and feel like a frank, they are a much lighter color than the Hillshire Farm beef products.
What is an extruded sausage? A slurry of ingredients is produced, and squirted into a collagen casing, which can be edible or non-edible. If the latter, it is stripped off in the last state of manufacturing (fascinating to watch). Newer technologies offer ‘spray on’ collagen casings, the operator can designate different thicknesses, in order to emulate the feel of a natural casing (intestines).
Morrell’s product is pork and mechanically separated chicken. Hillshire Farms, ain’t.
Does the Morrell product place on my ‘consider regularly’ list? Nope. If I wanted little wieners, I’d buy wieners and chop them. My taste in Little Smokies requires a resemblance in flavor and taste akin to “real sausage”, so I’ll suck up on the purchase price and stay with Hillshire Farms.
The Morrell package does not indicate a USDA plant number. I don’t understand why some packages must have it, others don’t. I asked the USDA and got pawned off from one department to another – ultimately not receiving an answer.
I generally don’t care for any ‘sausage’ product that contains chicken or turkey. Yeah, I know they are supposed to be better for you, but the taste and texture just doesn’t appeal to me.
Speaking of confusing? The regulators could help me out by coming up with definitions for “franks,” “wieners,” and “hot dogs.”
John Morrell Little Smokies Review
Bridgford Thick Sliced Pepperoni was on sale this week, and I try and stock up when those little delightful discs of processed pork are discounted.
Bridgford started about 80 years ago in Southern California; its still a family business and headquartered in Anaheim. They were primarily in the bread dough for consumers business (dough, heat and serve) until diversifying through the acquisition of a meat snack plant in Chicago. In addition to those two facilities, the company has plants in Dallas and North Carolina.
In addition to the pepperoni, the meat portion of the company makes jerky, beef sticks, and salami. Products are available nationwide.
But back to the subject. I’m always sampling pepperoni, as I make pizza at home often. I look at the ingredients, flavor, and texture. I most want to avoid pepperoni that cups and chars on top of a pie, tho some people find that a positive attribute.
At our house, the flavor has to be raw, as Mrs. Burgerdogboy prefers her pepperoni right out of the package as a snack – she doesn’t go for it “cooked.”
We like this one for the ingredients: pork, beef, salt, paprika and just the usual sodium based preservatives. No corn syrup, powdered milk or other fillers. Plus it’s got a little “kick.”
It’s made in the Chicago plant, pictured below, which is just a few blocks west of the loop, on Green, right below the Green/Pink lines.
Buy recommendation: Hell, yes!
Bridgford Thick Sliced Pepperoni