Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category
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.
Edwards 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
Comes a time in many men’s lives when they hears the call of the old home town, and feel the passion of his ancestors start to well up inside him. Thus began the latest chapter in the life of Ed Gleeson, born in Duluth, world traveler, grandson of some former scions of the early hospitality industry in Duluth. Ed’s Irish immigrant grandparents built a mini-empire in Duluth in the late 1800s, starting a restaurant, acquiring hotels, and being a part of People’s Brewing Co. a rather long-lived post prohibition beer company that lasted until 1957.
Ed’s genetic ambitions led him to create Carmody Irish Pub in Duluth, five years ago, add a Northshore branch, Carmody 61, and finally to add micro-brewing capability on site.
Carmody’s, at 308 East Superior Street in the heart of the “new” old downtown, opens daily at 3PM, has live music six nights a week, with 32 beers and 21 Irish whiskeys on hand in addition to his own micro-brews. Demand for the latter is causing him to double brewing output capacity this year.
A believer in supporting local businesses as well as the locavore movement, Ed sources as much product locally as he is able to, and estimates that over 80% of the food products come from establishments within an hour of the Twin Ports.
Carmody’s food offerings include their takes on traditional bar food, with the addition of some Chicago favorites (one of Ed’s major life stopping points), as well as an homage or two to Irish / UK specialties.
Chicago style dishes include the “Maxwell Street Chicago Dog,” dressed as one would find at hundreds of Chicago eateries, with mustard, cucumber, relish, peppers, tomato, and a dash of celery salt. Another Chicago legend on the menu is the Italian Beef sandwich, thin sliced roast beef slowly marinaded in a flavorful au jus, served on a fresh bakery roll and topped with mild or spicy giardiniera. Beef for the sandwich is sourced from Fraboni’s on the range, and cooked at Carmody 61, which enjoys a larger kitchen and prep area than the Duluth outlet.
A tribute to the cuisine of the UK and Ireland can be found in the bangers and mash, and his version of the Cornish pasty. If you’re not familiar with the pasty, it’s a crimped, baked meat and vegetable pie, popularized by miners from the British Isles and Eastern Europe, who settled in the mining communities of Northern Michigan and Minnesota. The hand-held pie provided hearty fare for miner lunches. Ed says his version of the pasty has “Slavic” influences, rather than Cornish or Finnish. The pasty has become widely associated with the Finnish culture in Minnesota.
Sausages at Carmody’s are made from Ed’s secret family recipes, built to the pub’s specifications at Wrazidlo’s Old World Meats in Duluth. Bread and rolls are an exclusive Carmody recipe baked by Duluth’s Johnson’s Bakery. In the friendly West End. Or West Duluth. I could never tell what the difference was.
Additional menu items include starters, sandwiches, wraps, pizza with some vegetarian friendly choices. The menu at the Two Harbors branch has different menu choices, including entrees and burgers.
Taste experiences this visit included the pretzel appetizer with house made mustard, Italian Beef sandwich, and bangers with garlic mash. All were excellent. We look forward to grazing our way through the rest of the menu in the near future.
Here’s the complete Duluth menu.
Barbecue isn’t at the top of my list of cravings, but once and awhile, I appreciate some good ‘cue, especially whole hog pulled pork. Mrs. BurgerDogBoy loves it, so we do seek it out from time to time.
Probably the best we’ve ever had was in the ‘barbecue capital’ of Texas, a town called Lockhart, between Houston and Austin. If you enjoy Texas style barbecue, and haven’t been there, go! A close second or tie for first was navigating our way down the North Carolina barbecue trail last year. Many think that our modern style of barbecue was first introduced in North Carolina, and there are a good couple dozen places dating back a hundred years that will try and convince you of that fact.
I’ve had ‘passable’ barbecue here in Portland, at a place that was owned by “Snoop Dog’s” uncle.
“Experts” believe that barbecue is an art, and I have to say I might agree. The US is home to many different styles of preparation, including Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis, Texas and more. Some are sauced, some are dry rubbed. Some in North Carolina have a mustard-based sauce, instead of a tomato one. I do like that.
I admire anybody that starts a restaurant. Hard, thankless work, for little chance of success. Especially when they start a place in a geographical area not particularly known to be a hot bed of that genre, like the Elgin Pit BBQ in Elgin, IL.
They have all the usual offerings and sides, and it can all be ordered ala carte, as a plate dinner, or in combinations. The “two meat combo,” comes with your choice of two meats (ribs, pork, brisket, sausage, chicken) and two sides. I opted for take out, and went with chicken and pulled pork, fries and collard greens. Collard greens ARE one of my top cravings.
Elgin’s are slightly sweet, which is a surprise, as I am used to a thick smoke flavor seasoned with garlic, processed pork, and onion. Elgin’s are a-ok, not just my preparation preference.
The pulled pork and chicken were excellent. Chicken was sauced, pork was not. Both had benefited from hours in the in-house smoker.
Give them a try if you’re passing through the area, or take a drive and pick some up. In a world of suburbs chock a block full of hot dog and pizza joints, Elgin BBQ Pit is an island of unique flavors.
Here’s their menu.
Elgin Pit BBQ
Picked this frozen packet up on a whim. Now part of the food giant ConAgra, which was started in Nebraska in 1919 by four farmers who merged a few small town grain elevators. Today ConAgra does $14 billion a year, with oh so familiar brands: Hebrew National, Hunts, PAM, Jiffy Pop, Peter Pan, Banquet, Bertolli, Parkay, Wesson, Libby’s, Marie Callenders, Slim Jims….. and Odom’s Tennessee Pride.
This frozen packed can be heated in the microwave in seconds, ready to use a side or ladle over your momma’s home made biscuit recipe.
Ingredients include water, flour, spices, corn syrup, milk, MSG, pork. sugar and more stuff.
Hard to find the bits of sausage in this gravy, and it could use more pepper for my taste. It’s rather gelatinous in texture and kind of a funky color. I guess it serves a purpose, fast and cheap if that’s what you’re looking for. Fast and cheap doesn’t suit me for gravy. Wives, yes. Gravy, no. I’d rather take the time to make it.
Pick some of this up if you’re desperate. (I added the black pepper here).
Odoms Tennessee Pride Sausage Gravy Review
I’ve previously puked out a lot of words on the Jack Link company, which went from a teeny tiny country butcher shop in a teeny tiny Wisconsin town to a global powerhouse manufacturers and distributor of meat snacks. I even stopped by their outlet store, near their original factory in Minong, Wisconsin last year. It’s about 30 miles south of Duluth-Superior on U.S. 53.
The company has prospered and prospered, and grown despite all the odds against them, their small town origin and the usual family in-fighting and lawsuits that often occur in a closely held company.
Jack Link’s has come out with a line of smoked sausages in different flavors. They’re pretty good-sized, four to a 12 ounce package and sell for around $4.00. So they are about a buck apiece, which is also about what I pay for my favorite natural casing wieners.
I picked up the ‘regular flavor’ rolled a couple in the cast iron to heat them up. (Smoked products are generally full cooked, as are these).
I have an opinion or two about the sausages. They are made for Jack Link by a contract manufacturer near Green Bay called Salm Partners; the company was started by four brothers and a co-hort in 2004, to take advantage of ultra-new technology in the sausage and wiener business, including ‘spray out’ collagen casings and cooking in the package technology. In a video on their website, Salm says these processes make a product preferred by customers and that have a longer shelf life. The factory is located at 70 Woodrow Street, Denmark, WI .
Sidebar: the package makes a couple of claims: “no fillers” and “hardwood smoke.” These are some of the undoubtedly unregulated terms in the food industry,
To me, some of the stated ingredients (corn syrup solids, hydrolyzed corn protein) ARE fillers. Hydrolyzed corn protein is a kind of MSG, but to my understanding is rarely used in foods, due to its strong fermented flavor. As for “hardwood smoked?” The manufacturer’s video clearly shows the ‘smoking process’ at their plant is a shower of liquid smoke, which to me, isn’t “hardwood smoked.” There are plenty of manufacturers out there still smoking with wood.
It’s the same problem I have with restaurants who have “Kobe Hamburgers” on their menu, or that call California sparkling wines “Champagne.” Bullshit.
The collagen casing on this sausage is very light, not much snap, which is why I prefer natural casings. The flavor? Kinda weird, to me. In my opinion, smoked sausages should be ‘smokier’ and have a distinctive flavor from spices. The biggest flavor I get out of this sausage comes from the soy sauce powder ingredient. Just doesn’t fit.
There are dozens of choices for smoked sausage buyers; this one (nor Guy Fieri’s) shouldn’t show up on your shopping list.
Jack Links Smoked Sausage Review
When I was in Boy Scouts, we had two fund raising events per year; in the summer we went door to door and sold packs of light bulbs, in winter we sold Christmas wreaths. I have no idea if we raised any significant amount of money, but if we did, it was supposed to support the troop and summer camping programs.
The last few years, pretty much everywhere I see scouts hocking goodies on the sidewalk, it’s been tubs of popcorn. (unpopped). I remember the brand as being “Trail’s End” and I see that’s a division or subsidiary of Pop Weaver Popcorn, out of Indiana.
I think Scouting is a good thing, and I try and buy the popcorn when I see it available. Besides, I like Pop Weaver corn. They have it at Wal-Mart, and the microwave one is a bargain compared to say, Pop Secret.
Today I saw Scouts selling jerky and pepperoni snack sticks, loaded up on a few, glanced at the package and see they are made in Ocala, FL by a company called Country Meats, who appears to only be in the fundraising segment, offering many different flavors of snack sticks.
The pepperoni ones have an impressive list of ingredient: pork, salt, spices, and natural smoke flavoring. That’s substantially it. And they are damned tasty. I like Slim Jim’s and Jack Links, but they are mostly beef sticks, so to have a pepperoni pork one suits me fine. The snack has great flavor and a nice grind, the collagen casing gives a nice snap reminiscent of a natural casing.
Apparently, you can do business with Country Meats if you want to have a fundraising deal for your organization. A case contains 144 snack sticks and is yours for $89, with a suggestion you sell them for a buck apiece. You can order online. Country Meats operates a USDA inspected facility at 7650 SW 75th Avenue, Ocala FL. They even have a YouTube video to show you how they are made (below). I like transparency, especially in the food industry.
Orv’s Pizza was originally from Kaukauna, WI, and may still be produced there, but it’s now under the ownership of Minneapolis pizza company Bernatellos, that also makes and sells Roma and Brew Pub brands.
I wonder if Kaukauna Cheese is still made in Kaukauna? Hold on. OK, seems like its still made nearby, but now owned by a cheese brand collecting company from Chicago. (BTW, cheese company, I see you also hold Merkt’s, which I prefer, especially for burgers.
Wow, talk about careening wildly off track!
This Orv’s “Tasty Toppings” Sausage & Pepperoni Think Crust weighs in at a hair over one pound, and they were on sale today at 2 $8.00. That’s about the right price-point for the weight. I’m having a hard time seeing any quantity of sausage, and they may have missed a few spots with the “Real Cheese,” (as is noted on the front of the package.
BTW, before I tell you what I thought of the experience, I give the company props for the ‘real’ ingredients. Sausage is pork and seasonings, pepperoni is pork, beef, and seasonings, and tomato sauce is just….tomato sauce. So they got that going for them.
The pepperoni slice was paper thin. Say have you seen Jack Link’s is making thick “crinkle cut” pepperoni? Ain’t that interesting? Saw it at that store that John Boy and Mary Ellen started….you know, the Waltons? Right.
So how is Orv’s pizza? The thin crust is crispy, the tomato sauces leans towards being more sweet than savory and I think they shouldn’t be so stingy with the cheese. I’d say this pizza belongs at the top end of the budget lines like Totino’s, Jeno’s, and no-name brands, but even at this sale price, is pretty spendy for that category. I tried the parent company’s premium pie, Bellatoria Ultra Thin Sausage Italia, about six months ago, and it was pretty ok.
425 at 10-12 minutes brought the result shown below.
Orv’s Pizza Review