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Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category

Making Hot Dog Recipes at Home – From Scratch!

Stuff it!  (Your own sausages).  It’s not that hard, I do it a couple times a year, though it is definitely an easier task if you have a partner or two helping.

I’m not going to go through the whole process here, you’ll have to decide whether to use all beef, beef and pork, or poultry as a meat base, and whether to grind it at home or purchase pre-ground meat.  There are simple manual stuffing tools (I sometimes use a modified caulking gun), or attachments for devices like KitchenAid mixers.  You’ll have to learn about and purchase casings, natural or made from collagen.

This article is just focused on the seasoning mix, a very traditional hot dog flavor.  Here are the ingredients for 20 pounds of franks, cut down the recipe proportionately for less meat.

Ingredients

4 Level tsp. INSTACURE #1 (add only if smoking the sausages) 
8 Tb. Paprika
12 Tb. Ground Mustard
2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp. Ground White Pepper 
2 tsp. Ground Celery Seeds
2 Tb. Mace
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
8 Tb. Salt
4 Cups Non-Fat Dry Milk or Soy Protein Concentrate
8 Tb. Powdered Dextrose
4 Cups of Ice Water

Mix the dry ingredients and crush as needed with a mortar and pestle, and then  you’re going to blend these ingredients into your meat mixture making sure it is thoroughly distributed throughout the slurry. You’ll be much happier if you allow the mix to sit in the frig overnight so that all the flavors fully take, but it’s not absolutely essential.

From there, you’ll embark on the stuffing part of the task, and either refrigerate the finished franks, freeze some, or put them on the smoker before storage for additional old world flavor.

Home stuffed wieners

hot dog recipes

Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami Review

I’m not sure how many consumers even know what the word “uncured” means when they see it on processed meat packages, like deli meats, hot dogs, ham and bacon.   I am also not sure where there is an “official” government definition, but I personally take it to mean free of the preservatives generally found in such products, like sodium nitrites and nitrates.

Often, in my reading, I have seen references to these types of meats being ‘cured’ by celery juice or celery juice powder, substances which contain nitrates naturally.  Uncured meats must be kept refrigerated or they will spoil.

Applegate Farms makes a living selling uncured, natural, and organic meat products from a variety of protein sources. They say they source their meat from sources that raise animals humanely and do not use antibiotics.

In addition to the products mentioned in the first sentence, Applegate Farms also markets poultry products, including chicken sausages and turkey “burgers.”  They are based in New Jersey and have been around 25 years or so.  On the packaging, their UPC code is also used as a “barn code” and tells you where the meat was sourced.  In the case of my purchase, Uncured Genoa Salami,” apparently the pork came from farms in South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Ontario and Quebec.

The label says the pork was raised on “sustainable family farms in a stress-free environment that promotes natural behavior and socialization.”   Another thing I have no idea what it means, other than perhaps the piggies are allowed to socialize on Facebook prior being driven off to the kill zone.

After the piggies socialized, they went on a  (albeit brief) vacation to California, where (according to the USDA establishment number) they were manufactured into salami by Busseto Foods in Fresno, CA, decidedly a giant among pork producers.   In fact, their Genoa salami looks very similar to Applegate’s.

I’m one of those consumers that doesn’t really care if animals we’re going to kill are ‘raised humanely,” as it seems like a contradiction anyway.  At my age, I also don’t care about whether or not I ingest preservatives, maybe more of them will actually keep me on the planet a little longer.

What I care about, particularly with salami, is appearance, taste, texture and value.  Applegate meets the first three of those categories excellent, but at near $20 a pound, value isn’t at the top of their game.  But then, all meat is expensive now.  Seems to me like it dramatically shoots up weekly.

Bottom line, would I buy Applegate salami again? Yep.  It’s tasty, no matter how the piggies were raised or what they ‘et’ prior to my chowing down on them.

Postscript:   By coincidence, the following day I spotted Busseto’s product in another store, at the equivalent of $10 a pound.  Not organic, not uncured, but are those designators worth twice the price?  Not to me.

Applegate Farms Uncured Genoa Salami

 

Applegate Farms Uncured Genoa Salami

 

Applegate Farms Salami

Bussseto Brand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami

Bremer Lasagna Review

We can probably file this one under my heading of “things I’ve tried so you don’t have to.”   I have written about products from Aldi before, the large German based grocery corporation that also owns Trader Joes.  Aldi sell most their own label of foods, manufactured for them by the “big guys” but heavily discounted.  Shop only at Aldi and you can probably save 25-30% off your grocery bill.  Supplement your Aldi trips with getting your staples at dollar stores, and you’ll save even more.

I’m not much for frozen or canned pasta “meals”, but somebody dropped by an Aldi brand lasagna, which is branded “Bremers,” but according to the USDA plant number on the package, is made by Chicago’s “On-Cor.”  I shouldn’t be surprised, the packaging is very similar and the contents and dietary label are identical.

As always, I went with the oven style prep instead of microwaving, which took about 45 minutes.  Below are pix of the package, the frozen product, and the plated product (with added Parmesan) and the street in Chicago where the product was born.

How was it?  Surprisingly meatier than I expected, yet for some reason, I find all pre-prepared Italian and Mexican foods (especially Hormel Tamales) to have a slight “burn” to the tomato sauce which I personally find unappealing.  I can’t really identify the source of that discomfort for me, just has always been that way.

In any regards, would I buy it again?  Well, yes, over big name brands like Stouffers, it’s just a much better value.

But nobody, but nobody makes lasagna better than Mrs. BurgerDogBoy, unless she tries to slip in turkey Italian sausage.

Bremer Lasagna Review

 

Bremer Lasagna Review

(Added Parmesan)

 

 

 

 

 

 

bremer lasagna review

Trails End Resort – Hayward, WI

Well known for a few things, including the American Birkebinder cross country ski race, annual world lumberjack contests, and a nearby former hide out of Al Capone, the ville of Hayward, Wisconsin is nestled among pines and birches on rolling hills in Northwestern Wisconsin.   Numerous lakes dot the landscape and it’s a regular fisherman’s paradise.

Trail’s End Resort is on nearby Lake Couderay, has cabins and boats for rent, camp sites and a nice lodge bar (“Michelle’s”) that features live music, (like Todd Eckart) that serves lunch and dinner daily with an emphasis on house made items from local ingredients.

Entrees enjoyed  included the rib dinner and a thin crust bacon-topped pizza.  Both got raves.  The ribs are massaged with a house-made rub before being slow-smoked and finished on the grill;  many of the meats served at Trails End (including the bacon) are from the  provider 6th Street Market, in nearby Ashland, WI, who have been cranking out specialty meats and sausages for 25 years.

Trails End Hayward WI

Bacon Pizza

Trails End Hayward WI

Rib Dinner

Todd Eckart Music

Todd Wows the Crowd

Here’s their full menu.
Trail's End Lodge on Urbanspoon
Trails End Resort

Good & Delish Frozen Pizza Review

The “full name” of the product is Good & Delish Rising Crust Extra Thick Pepperoni frozen pizza.  Good & Delish is one of Walgreen’s in-house brands for food products, the other is Nice!  Not sure why they need two brands, as there doesn’t seem to be any segment specific reason for one or the other.

Seldom is the day I even stop at a Walgreen’s, I just think they are too spendy.  But I stopped today simply because “it was there,” I s needed one or two things, and on short trips, I hate to make multiple stops.  Getting lazy, I guess.

I have been on the hunt for a new brand of frozen pizza, Walgreens probably wouldn’t have it, but I figured I’d peek anyway, and sho nuff, no soap.  But they did have their house brand pies at $4.99 for 29 ounces, and that’s a pretty good value, so I figured “what they hey”, and brought one home.  I have reviewed other Walgreen’s products before, notably their frozen cheeseburger.

Never been a fan of rising crust pizzas, but when you think about it, it’s quite an achievement, isn’t it?   The Walgreen’s pie was a straight forward affair, 20 minutes at 400; the ingredients were typical, but the pepperoni was “pork, beef, and chicken,” a formulation I try and stay away from.   But I was committed now.

The box has the “Real Cheese” (which indicates the topping is a bon afide dairy product)emblem on it, and a Federal Inspection seal, but without the customary “establishment number,” so I can’t tell you who makes these pizzas for Walgreens.

Upon taking it from the oven, the first thing I noticed was some “shiny pools” on top of the pie, which surprised me, since the pepperoni had the combination ingredients.  Pure pork or pure beef or both I would have thought had a higher content of fat.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best US made frozen pizza I have ever consumed, for me, this pie is about a six. All of the ingredients are VERY mild in flavor, the “Boboli-like” crust is good, crispy and chewy at the same time, and the pepperoni, had some heft to it, due to its thickness.

Would I buy it again?  If the circumstances were right, probably.

 

Walgreen's Frozen Pizza

In the Box

 

Walgreens Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the Box – Frozen

 

 

Walgreens Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the Oven

Good & Delish Frozen Pizza Review

Timballo Recipe

Timpano (Timballo) Recipe

In one of the best “foodie” movies ever made, The Big Night, Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub (“Monk”) try to save their failing restaurant by putting on the feast of all feasts to impress Louis Prima, who they have heard is coming to visit. One good word from him, they figure, and all will be right with the world.

One of the dishes they create is the “timpano”, a traditional holiday feast in Italy, featuring pasta, meat, cheese and sauce baked in a pastry shell.

Here’s my version:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ball pizza dough
  • 3 Italian sausages (cooked), thin sliced on a bias
  • 36 meatballs (cooked) sliced in half
  • 32 oz shredded Italian cheeses
  • 1 c tomato sauce (toss the cooked pasta in it)
  • 1 package of salami or prosciutto
  • 10” glass or steel pan, preferably domed
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ½ package dry ziti
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook the pasta and drain while you are waiting for the oven to preheat.

Roll out pizza dough, large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan, reserving enough to make a cap. Butter the dish and the outside of the dough.

Now you are going to layer the ingredients as if you were making a parfait, beginning and ending with the pasta. Pasta, meat, sauce, cheese. Repeat, ending with a layer of pasta. Place the dough cap on the timpano, cover, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Let cool another ten minutes before slicing like pieces of cake. Drizzle additional tomato sauce and decorate slice with basil leaves.

Variants: Some recipes use a layer of quartered hard boiled eggs; others use layers of peas or other vegetables.

Shortcuts: I made everything from scratch here (except the pasta) but you don’t have to. You could purchase pre-cooked meatballs. You might also try the pre-cooked lasagna noodles in criss-crossed strips in the pan in lieu of the pizza dough for an interesting effect.

 

 

Timpano Recipe

Ball of pizza dough

 

 

 

Timpano recipe pictures

Dough stretched out in deep baking dish

 

Timpano recipe pictures

First row of ziti down

Timpano recipe pictures

2nd layer of pasta over meat and cheese

Timpano recipe pictures

Dough cap in place, ready for oven

 

Timpano recipe pictures

Out of the oven, ready to slice!

 

Timpano recipe pictures

Dig in!

 

Timpano recipe

Huntley, IL – Luigi’s Pizza Review

20140504_084624Spoiler alert: Luigi’s pizza is spectacular. If you’d prefer to stop reading now and head directly to the restaurant, that’s ok with me. Actually located closer to Rockford, IL than Chicago, the village of Huntley, once a bucolic rural town surrounded by dairy farms, has become a burgeoning suburb of the Windy City; so burgeoning that it will in the near future, get its own commuter train.

Before the farmers started selling out to development companies, long before the commuter train was even imagined, Luigi’s Pizza and Restaurant was serving the good folks of the village, every Tuesday through Sunday, with classic American style pizza and a full menu that includes pasta, sandwiches, and daily specials.

I was meeting some pals at this family owned and operated restaurant; walking up to it, I wondered if a 6PM time on a Friday was a bad idea, but there were a couple of tables still open.  The restaurant has seating for  - perhaps thirty, with room for a few more at the bar.

The table was attended to by one of the owner’s daughters, and she was both affable and diligent in her work.  The food came out as ordered, and in the right order, with only the pizza taking a bit of time, maybe 25 minutes.

I could find no fault with the pizza as my personal tastes go. Cracker crisp crust, tangy tomato sauce, really, really excellent cheese in copious quantities, and a perfectly seasoned, hand pulled fennel laced Italian sausage.

This may be the best thin crust pizza in Chicago land, and is worth a drive to Huntley, even if you aren’t bound for the town’s annual Turkey Testicle Festival!   The full menu is in our menu section.

Luigis Pizza Huntley

 

luigi map

Luigis Pizza on Urbanspoon



 

Luigis Pizza Review

Homemade Pizza Recipe

It’s  both a labor of love and a real pain in the ass at the same time, making pizza at home from scratch.  But once and awhile I enjoy it, and I thought I’d share some recipes and tips I have sorted out after years of trial and error.

The first task is making the dough for the crust, and if you want it to turn out ‘pizzeria style”, you’d best start 24 hours or longer in advance. I make a double batch, divide into two balls, one of the pie of the moment, one to freeze to have handy for next time. (Tip: to freeze a ball of pizza dough, coat it with olive oil, but in a freezer bag.  Allow to thaw for 24 hours in the frig before using, and allow three hours on the counter to come to room temp for best results).

Basic Pizza Dough

  • 2 t yeast (jars work better for me than packets)
  • 4 t sugar
  • 1 T salt
  • 4 C flour (the best is designated as “00″ which is used in Italy. Find it at good food stores. King Arthur sells a version, too) but almost any white flour will do.
  • 1 C + more, water water, warmer than your finger
  • 1/2 C EVOO

Put yeast, and 2 t sugar in 1 C warm water, mix. Allow to sit at least ten minutes for the yeast to be activated. You’ll know it’s working when it has a foam cap on top of the liquid.  If it doesn’t foam up, start over.

Mix flour, remaining sugar, salt and EVOO together. If using a counter top mixer, about two minutes, lately though, I have been doing it by hand, gives me some added satisfaction.  Add water and continue to blend.  Eyeball whether you need more water and add appropriate amount until all ingredients are blended. With a KitchenAid, mix on low for 8 minutes, until the dough loses its stickiness.

When I do it by hand, it’s a ten minute chore, folding and kneading to reach the same results.  The last  minute of mixing, if you want a flavored crust (like herb or garlic), add that ingredient and mix.  Split the dough in half and put one in the freezer as described above.

Lightly coat the other ball with oil, and place in  a covered bowl for 2 hours to raise.  At the end of the two hour period, put in a large tupperware, with lid, overnight in frig, and when ready to use the next day, let sit on the counter (still in the tupperware) for 4-6 hours before using.  (If you want a cracker thin, crispy crust, skip the 2 hour rise).

Assembly and Baking

Preheat the oven to 500. Roll out the dough, or hand stretch, into an oval about the size of a cooking sheet. It’s easier to do if you lightly flour your counter or work space. Poke holes across the dough with fork tines. Now here’s a trick.  Place the rolled out dough on a piece of parchment. Brush on your favorite tomato sauce, cover with cheese and your favorite toppings. I generally use pinches of fresh hot Italian sausage (you can buy the builk style or rip the casings off of link style, pepperoni, and olives. Sprinkle a t of oregano and basil over the pie.

Homemade Pizza Recipe

Stretched dough

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Ladle sauce and spread with back of spoon
Homemade Pizza Recipe
Ready for the oven

 

Pizza Squeeze

While I usually make my own sauce, in a pinch, I am quite happy with a product called “Pizza Squeeze” from Contadina. Everyone has a personal preference for how pizza sauce should taste, this product suits me. (pictured left).

Carefully lift the pie on the parchment (you may require assistance) and slide onto middle rack of pre-heated oven.

Bake for six minutes on the parchment, and then pull the parchment out from under the pie, leaving it bare on the oven shelf.  Bake 6-10 minutes longer, until the crust browns and the cheese is bubbling.  Your time may vary, as oven temps do.  You can also do it on a Weber the same way; be sure to keep watching it and rotating every couple of minutes. You can get a nice char from charcoal reminiscent of the 800 degree wood ovens currently in fashion.

Let sit on a bread rack for a couple minutes when removing from oven. Slice in squares, or serve whole and pass a pair of scissors around the table to let guests have a DIY pizza experience.

This is a local Chicago brand of Italian sausage, I really don’t find much variance in  brands, except I usually skip ones made in house at groceries.  I haven’t found one of those that is all that flavorful.  Score a couple of sausages lengthwise to peel back the casing.  Pinch off a piece of the pork to dot the pizza.  For me, about half the size of a golf ball is ideal.

Homemade Pizza Recipe

 

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Peeling casing off sausage
Homemade Pizza Recipe
Pinch off sausage pieces

For olives, when I’m in a the mood for ‘green’, I buy what are often labeled “salad olives.”  I’ve paid $5 a jar, and a buck a jar, never seem to be a significant difference.

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Salad Olives

Today’s pepperoni choice is “Jefferson Brand” – the packages promises “Wisconsin quality made in Kansas” whatever that means.  It’s a Tyson company. The plant number on the package indicates the product is made at the Tyson plant in South Hutchinson, KS.  It was on sale.  Pepperoni is something I don’t see much difference between brands either.  But you can tell its ‘cheap’ if the slices char and or cup on the pie, indicating a higher fat to pork ratio.  I’m sure you’ve seen that on some pizzeria pies.

I like a little diced fresh garlic on my pizza.  Here in Portland, my favorite pie is heavy on the garlic, a “Neapolitan style” at Cara Amico.

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Diced fresh garlic

.Almost any shredded or sliced mozzarella will do.  You may want to mix it up by adding romano, provolone, or exotic blends like flavored goat or fetas. Not sure of the melting quality, but I’d like to try some from Cypress Grove in California, who make a whole raft of flavored goat cheeses.  The truffle one might add some interesting depth.

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Pepperoni side

 

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Sausage side

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Pizza Recipe

Luigis Pizza Review

Luigi's Frozen Pizza ReviewContinuing to cut a swath through small Midwestern frozen pizza manufacturers, I happened upon Luigi’s brand, manufactured in the small town of Belgium, WI.  I’m not able to find much information about it online, nor do they have a website. I’m going to make a giant assumption here and opine this is yet another manufacturer that started out as a supplier to bars and restaurants and made the leap to retail. Stop the presses!  Upon further investigation, with a ‘similar logo’ and geographical proximity, it may be these pies originally came from the loins of a nearby restaurant, Luigi’s of Sheboygan. Maybe.

It’s also one of those times when I reached for one product and ended up bringing home another; usually I go for “all meat”, but ended up grabbing a supreme, which is topped with sausage, pepperoni, onion, green and red peppers.  The sausage bits are small and pre-cooked. The quantity of toppings is adequate; the pie falls into what I would determine to be a medium price range at about $7 per pie, which ways in at about 25 ounces, or 28 cents per ounce, or 87 cents for each of the eight slices (recommended servings).  Further, each slice contains 20 % of your daily sodium content. Whoops!

Instructions call for 15 – 18 minutes at 400; they further state that since ‘oven temperatures may vary’, one should rely on appearance, rather than timing, and bake until the cheese bubbles and the crust is brown.

After 15 minutes, the cheese was not ‘bubbling’, so I went the distance with another 3 minutes. And then another two and a half minutes, I must need my oven temp calibrated!

The result is pictured below.  It’s a thin and crispy ‘Upper Midwest style’ crust, but it broke in a couple of places coming out of the oven. No big deal.

Coming out of the oven, the aroma was similar to a pizzeria, which is a plus with me, but also noticeable was the scent of the green peppers, which I believe in the “a little goes a long way” with that topping.  Not my favorite.  Cheese and sauce were good, the cheese had a nice “pull” to it.  Cracker crust lived up to its billing.

Sausage?  Not so much.  There are very few frozen pizzas that have raw sausage, I get that, but the pre-cooked crumbles, especially this small, have a taste that just doesn’t sit well with me.  This sausage isn’t very seasoned, either, tasting more like pure ground pork. That’s ok, just not at the top of my list. Pepperoni did not char or cup, indicating a better quality pepp than many suppliers.

Would I buy it again?  Sure.  While it’s not at the top of my list for frozen pizzas, it is soooooooooooo much better than so many brands. I recommend you try it, though I suspect it might be a bit difficult to find outside of the Wisconsin and Northern Illinois areas.

Luigi's Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the package, prior to baking

Luigi's Frozen Pizza Review

Baked, 400, 20 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luigis Pizza Review

 

Eckrich Lil Smokies Review

Eckrich Lil SmokiesI’m a fiend for “little smokies” – give me a mess of good quality, fine tasting ones, and I’ll pass on the rest of breakfast.  You never see them on a restaurant menus, not really sure why.

Like all pork (and meat in general) products, they have gotten really spendy lately, pushing over $6 a pound. While I have some very specific favorite brands, determined by taste and texture, I am a sucker for sale priced ones, and that’s why I picked up a pack of Eckrich “Li’l Smokies” yesterday.  They were half the price of the other brands.

Eckrich is part of John Morrell now, and according to the USDA plant number on the package, these babies were made at the Morrell plant in Cincinnati (pictured below).

How were they?  OK, especially at the price.  A pork and chicken product (I prefer all beef), they aren’t as flavorful as some brands I prefer, tasting more like cocktail franks, which should be an entirely different recipe than smokies.  I’d buy them again tho, at the sale price.

Why the ‘char?’  I prefer sausages with natural casings, and you’ll never see little smokies in a casing. Too expensive, troublesome for mass production I imagine.  For me, putting a little char on the baby weenies gives them a texture more again to a casing product. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 Eckrich Lil Smokies

 John Morrell Cincinnati

 

 

Lil Smokies Review

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