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Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category

Home Cookin’ – DiGiorno Frozen Pizza Review, Pizzeria Style (new product)

Busman’s holiday. A funny phrase. It means I’m taking time off from my job as a write to write this, which is supposed to be a hoppy, but has turned into a second job. No rest for the wicked, as they say.

Developed originally by Kraft, the DiGiorno frozen pizza line now calls Switzerland based Nestle “momma”, and markets their pies under the DiGiorno name in the United States, and under the Delissio label.  No idea why the split.

DiGiorno has long used the advertising tag line “it’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno” as a reference to there being a frozen pizza product that is every bit as good as a pizza delivered from a shop.

They have a host of types of pizza products and configurations; from classic thin crust, to flat bread – garlic bread pizza and rising crust. One of their more interesting products is the “pizza and sides” concept, emulating the offerings of the budget delivery chains, from DiGiorno you can get a frozen pizza and boneless chicken “Wyngz” in one box. A little sauce as well. Or pizza and breadsticks.

Nestle’s latest offering is “Pizzeria style”, which strikes me kind of funny, since the previously mentioned tag line would seem to indicate the manufacturer thinks ALL of their pies are “pizzeria style.”

The difference, apparently, according to the fat cats in Vevey, is that this pie has a “crust that’s crispy, yet soft and airy on the inside, a flavorful sauce and premium toppings.”

I guess it’s too much that we hope all frozen pizzas are crispy and flavorful with premium toppings. I wonder what the opposite would be?

Nevertheless, I picked one up to give it a whirl.

DiGiorno Pizzeria StyleThe box is designed and shaped to give the impression of a large pizza than actually comes in the box.  The frozen pie is pictured to the left, and yes, I DID rearrange the pepperoni for the photo. Yes, of COURSE it came out of the box with all the toppings on one side of the pie.

The box states this is ‘primo pepperoni pizza” and it is “created with care.” (Which Nestle has trademarked.  Are their other pies created with not so much care?)

Further there are “no artificial flavors.”  I’m not really sure what that means.

375 at 18-20 minutes say the operating instructions, with a cautionary ” not ready to eat – cook thoroughly” warning. Thanks for telling me!

I am a  bit predisposed to not favor this pie, pizzeria style or not. The crust is going to be a little too thick for me.

The first thing I noticed when the pie came from the oven was the aroma, or rather lack of it. No pizzeria smell.  Not like local product Vito and Nicks II which we tried last week.

The crust?  Yes, while it is ‘crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside’, it’s too thick for my personal preference. It would definetly be labeled “thick crust” at any pizzeria.  The sauce is rather non-intrusive, not imparting any particular flavor one way or another, but the cheese is good, albeit sparse, and the pepperoni flavor is nice, but the slices cupped during baking, which generally indicates a higher fat content.  I know, I know, some people insist real flavor comes from fat.  Each slice of pepp here is dotted with some herbs.

Overall?  Nothing new, tastes like dozens of other frozen pizzas.

See, here’s where I don’t get it.  Why can’t these giant multinationals make a good frozen pie?  For goodness sake, Nestle is the largest food company in the world!  Yet lots of little guys kick their butts when it come to making a good frozen pizza.

I have a suggestion for Paul Bulcke, the current CEO of Nestle.  On your next trip to the US, step inside a Trader Joe’s grocery store. Trader Joe’s imports frozen pizzas from France and Italy, and have several different varieties including flatbreads.  The truffle one is out of this world.

Now skedaddle back to Europe and buy the companies supplying Trader Joes.  Now rebrand those pizzas with the DiGiorno name, and toss out your current recipes.

Just a thought.  Wanna try a great frozen pizza?

DiGiorno Pizzeria Style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DiGiorno pizza review

Tennessee Pride Sausage Reviews

Today part of ConAgra, Odom’s Tennessee Pride was started in the mid 40s by two brothers whom combined their knowledge of the meat business and home delivery (from earlier jobs). Headquartered in Madison, TN, with plants in Tennessee and Arkansas, Tennessee Pride makes sausage in rolls, links, pre-cooked, and packaged sausage gravy. They have recently expanded into the heat and eat breakfast sandwich segment, with sausage biscuits, turkey sausage biscuits, and chicken biscuits.

Today I’m cooking up their 1 pound hot sausage roll, sliced into patties, on a cast iron skillet. Their websites frequently features recipes and coupons. Ingredients are straight forward:  Fresh Pork (including fresh ham and tenderloins), seasonings, water, sugar, salt and MSG). Nutritional information is not on the site, but I found this elsewhere:

Country Sausage : Per 2 oz – Calories: 200 kcal | Fat: 17.00 g | Carbs: 0.00 g | Protein: 9.00 g.

I often buy fresh ground pork and season it myself when I’m in the mood for breakfast patties, but once and awhile, I prefer getting it from the pros, like Tennessee Pride.  It’s a lean, fine grind, nicely seasoned, with a little bit of kick in the ‘hot’ variety.  Need some Odom’s sausage or sausage gravy shipped to your house?

Tennessee Pride Sausage

Cookin’ Up

 

 

 

Tennessee Pride Sausage Reviews

Barrington, IL – Sergios Pizza Review

Sergios Barrington ReivewSome years ago, we relocated from Los Angeles to this Norman Rockwellian idyllic Chicago suburb. It was for our daughter’s benefit, we wanted her to have a great education in a safe environment, and grow up with midwestern values. For the most part, it was a successful move. At the time, after local exploration, (and my previous choice burning down, not my fault), my “go to” pizza became the thin crust at Sergio’s. They’ve moved a couple times since then, and changed owners, but they are still grinding out great pies for the past thirty years.

Passing through the burbs this summer, on a mission to look at some horses for sale, it was appropriate to re-sample Sergio’s, and see how my memory compared to reality.  While most people identify Chicago with “Deep Dish Pizza” (except Jon Stewart), the thin crust pies are really excellent, cracker crusts, mounds of real cheese, excellent sausage, and square cut.

This is the 16 incher. They have larger, smaller, thick crust and stuffed – a full menu of other goodies, too, sandwiches, ‘cue,  pasta, salads, and small bites.

Sergio’s crust is flaky, the sizable  hand-pulled sausage chunks are flavorful, and the pie has spectacularly high quality cheese.  You’ll also notice a distinctive difference with the tomato sauce; all of their sauces are made in house, and the pizza sauce is very hearty with a full tomato flavor.

Another upside with Sergio’s is they charge 15-20% less than local competitors.  A welcome respite.

Here’s the Sergio’s menu.  Got a craving or miss Chicago foods?  Here are some companies that ship pizzas, dogs, and more.

Sergios Pizza Barrington Review

 

Sergio's Pizza on Urbanspoon
Sergios Pizza Review

Pizza Sizes Keep Growing!

Basil's Pizza Northfield

Northfield, MN – Used to be “Bill’s”

Pizza Sizes Keeping Pace Or Causing American Waistline Growth??

Back in my day, there were two sizes of pies at most pizzerias, small and large, and due to commonly available industry tools, they were 12” and 14” in diameter, respectively.

At some point, “personal sized’ pizzas, generally 6” or 8” were made available, as a way for pizza joints to capture the lunch and snack market, at a lower price point. It also enabled some operations to have ‘ready-to-go’ takeaway pizzas always ready.

Now, it’s quite common to see larger pizzas, I regularly spot 16”, 18”, and even 20” pies. That’s a lot of pizza, and a lot of dough — the money kind. At most ‘mom and pop’ pizzerias I frequent, a “large” (14” or 15”) will run to $25 or more, making it awfully tough to compete with national chains offering LTO deals like $5 or 2 for $12.

The largest regularly available pizza in the US has been at the Big Mamas and Papas mini chain (20 locations) in Los Angeles. A square pie, measuring 4′ 6” square, rings the cash register at $199.99 plus tax. This is for a cheese pie, naturally. Additional toppings? $15 each! And yes, they can be delivered. They claim is that it serves “70.” On the ‘regular’ menu, the pies top out at 36.” (about $50.)

There are a number of pizza places in the US that regularly offer 42”, 50”, and 60” diameter pies, but even the largest 60” is 2827 square inches of cheesy deliciousness, whereas the Big Mamas  monster is nearly 3000 square inches. So if you’re contemplating, the 60” round is a better deal.  I think I deserve one for my birthday.  Robin?  To the pizza mobile!

In college, my go to pizza was at  a place named “Bills,” and in fact it was the only place in town for the first couple years of school. It’s still around, but under a different name, (pic at left) and I stopped by last year and enjoyed the pies just as much as I had four decades earlier. (AND……they were less than $15 for a large!)

On a “good” night back then, I could damned near put away two large (14”) all by myself. I don’t know what’s changed (certainly not my love for a great pie), but today a large will last me at least two days, if not longer.

Today I mis-ordered, and got an 18 incher, which was $15 but only because I had a $10 coupon. It’ll take me a few days to work through this beauty….with pleasure….  Wanna have some Chicago style pizzas delivered to your door?  Or other Chicago food?  Do it!

 

Giant Pizza

18″ of Cheesy, Sausagey Goodness!

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza Sizes

Vienna Beef Italian Beef Kit

Vienna Beef Italian BeefI’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 beef in the au jus appears to be whole muscle meat, not pressed, chopped and formed.  I did inquire of Vienna as to the composition of the beef, but they did not reply.

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.  Several manufacturers of Italian beef in this style, also sell a “French dip” style.  Same stuff, I imagine, without Italian seasonings.

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 Italian Beef shipped to your house, just heat, eat, and enjoy.   You’ll be happier if your store leftovers – separate (beef and gravy). We can also hook you up with some great Klement’s Italian sausage.

http://www.viennabeef.com/vienna-beef-giardiniera

Klement’s Sausage

 

http://www.viennabeef.com/vienna-beef-giardiniera

Frozen Italian Beef

 

http://www.viennabeef.com/vienna-beef-giardiniera

Thawed, Ready to Heat

 

Vienna Beef Italian Beef

Assembled Sandwich, Prior to Dipping!

 

 

Vienna Beef Italian Beef Kit

Stoneridge Meats

Stoneridge Garlic RIng Bologna ReviewIn 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.

Stoneridge Garlic RIng Bologna Review

Meat Counter

Stoneridge Garlic RIng Bologna Review

Packaging

Stoneridge Garlic RIng Bologna Review

Plated

 

Stoneridge Garlic RIng Bologna Review

Plant Road

stoneridge meats

Portland, OR – Pizza at Uncle John’s Market

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!

Uncle John's Market Pizza, Portland, OR

Pizza at Uncle John's Market on Urbanspoon

Worlds Oldest Sausage Restaurant – Nuremburg

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.

Incredible.   Wanna try the sausages?  I have seen them at Aldi’s, else you can order online.

Take a virtual tour of the restaurant.

Zum Gulden Stern

Zum Gulden Stern Exterior

Zum Gulden Stern

Sausage Plate with Sides

Worlds Oldest Sausage Restaurant

Chicago’s Hot Dougs Final Hours

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..

hot menu

Meeskes / Haybeck’s, Chicago Butchers

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?

  • pork
  • water
  • salt
  • paprika
  • garlic
  • fennel

What?  No nitrates?  Celery juice?  BHT?  Corn syrup?  Artificial flavors?  “Natural” smoke flavor?  Vegetable protein?

Nope.

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?

Meeske's Haybeck's

Fresh Sausage in Pack

 

Meeske's, Haybeck's

Fresh Italian Sausage

 

Meeske's  Haybeck's

Beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeskes

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