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Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category

Genoa Illinois VFW Breakfast

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This small VFW post does whatever it needs to in order to maintain their solvency and funds for projects; they have found a niche with breakfast, dinners, and events for the community and environs.

The third Sunday of each month, they have an AYCE breakfast, loaded up with French toast, biscuits, hash browns, SOS, sausage gravy, two styles of eggs, bacon, sausage, juice, milk, and coffee – all for $7.  You also get the congeniality of getting to talk to the volunteers – seemingly all vets of last century’s wars. Nice guys, we should all be thankful for their service, of course.

Every Saturday, the post holds a burger and bratwurst cookout, and on selected Friday nights, they follow the local tradition of an AYCE fish fry. There’s also bingo and pull tabs.

Let’s all do what we can to support our vets. God knows the government isn’t doing much to help them!  The post is located at 311 S. Washington St.
Genoa, IL 60135 United States. (815)784-5967. www.genoavetshome.us

Genoa Il VFW Breakfast

 

 

Genoa Illinois VFW

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Parkview Hot & Spicy Smoked Sausage Review

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Parview Hot & Spicy Sausage ReviewHere’s another great product from global discount grocer Aldi. Germany based Aldi sells staples and fresh grocery items, under (mostly) their own created labels, at substantial discounts compared to national brand names.  I’ve written about several of them in the past.  These sausage, in the refrigerated section, also come in  “Polish” and “Sun Dried Tomato” varieties.

The Hot & Spicy type are a mild pork and beef smoked sausage, with natural flavorings, a couple of different sugars and different preservative salts.  The sugar content slightly elevates the carb count.

The spicy “bite” is more evident in the after taste than when you’re chewing, and most consumers will find these to be a very satisfactory product, whether grilled and on a bun, or sliced and pan fried for breakfast or other meal entree.

As I have explained in the past, Aldi’s contracts with national manufacturers to make the products to Aldi’s specifications and price point.  These sausages are made in the Chicago plant of Owensboro, KY based Specialty Foods Group.   USDA establishment M17S-is at 4550 W. Jackson Blvd, about four miles west of the loop (pictured below).  SFG makes a number of different brands of processed meats, including Scott Petersen bacon, and Field Liverwurst.

As with most mass-produced sausages, this one is a very fine grind, and it’s in a thin hog casing.  I wonder what determines the thickness of a casing? Diet? Exercise?

I generally find brand name natural casing sausages and hot dogs priced around a buck a pop when they aren’t on sale. These are more like 65 cents each as packaged.  Worth adding to your shopping list.

Parkview Hot & Spicy Sausage Review

Parkview Hot & Spicy Sausage

SFG Chicago Factory

SFG Chicago Factory

 

 

 

Parkview Hot & Spicy Smoked Sausage Review

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Digiorno Self Rising Pizza Review

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logoIt may not be delivery, it’s “Digiorno,” but for me, another “d” word motivates me to buy this brand: “desperation.”

Translation? I’m in the mood for a frozen pie and happen to be someplace where this is the only thing available. In the case of last night, at a 7-Eleven, where the self-rising pepperoni was priced at $6.99.

Opening the box, right away I don’t like it, there’s a weird “chemical” smell from the box, which isn’t from the vacuum sealed pizza, but rather ingredients or ink in the cardboard? In any regards, it’s unappealing to me.

Pie-wise, I’m not a fan of thicker crusts. I prefer more cheese and toppings make up the calorie count, rather than bread.

Digiorno is owned by Nestle, along with Jack’s, Tombstone, and some other brands, it was part of a 2010 $3.7 billion acquisition from Kraft, who needed to raise money for other acquisitions. Regardless of what I personally think, apparently Digiorno is the number one frozen brand in the U.S. There’s a reason, I’m sure and it’s not to do with ‘value pricing,” though I did see a woman earlier in the day at a grocery picking up a half dozen, as they were on sale for less than $4 a pop.

It’s a very “non offensive,” pizza, mild toppings, mild sauce, fairly adequate cheese, and it’s probably very filling for a family meal, due to the calories in the bread.

In all fairness, before this pizza hits by pie hole, it has been seriously altered at home, with more toppings, spices, and herbs. So it’s not a very unbiased ‘review.’

The pies are made at a massive factory in Little Chute, Wisconsin, at USDA establishment M5754. Little Chute is parked along the Fox River adjacent to the Appleton-Neenah area. (pix below).

The pies have a whole raft of ingredients, including the dreaded mechanically separated chicken, something I try and avoid.

INGREDIENTS: ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, LOW-MOISTURE PART-SKIM MOZZARELLA CHEESE (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), PEPPERONI MADE WITH PORK, CHICKEN AND BEEF (PORK, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, BEEF, SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF SPICES, DEXTROSE, PORK STOCK, LACTIC ACID STARTER CULTURE, OLEORESIN OF PAPRIKA, FLAVORING, SODIUM NITRITE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, PAPRIKA, NATURAL SMOKE FLAVOR, BHA, BHT, CITRIC ACID), TOMATO PASTE, SUGAR, 2% OR LESS OF WHEAT GLUTEN, VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN OIL AND/OR CORN OIL), DEGERMINATED WHITE CORN MEAL,YEAST, SALT, DEGERMINATED YELLOW CORN MEAL, SEASONING BLEND (SALT, SPICE, DRIED GARLIC), BAKING POWDER (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE), DATEM, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, ASCORBIC ACID (DOUGH CONDITIONER)

CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT.

Digiorno Review

Before baking

Digiorno Review

Side view slice

Digiorno Review

Wisconsin Factory

Digiorno Self Rising Pizza Review

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Kookers Review – Barrington, IL

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Kookers Review BarringtonI am one of the world’s biggest fans of mom and pop businesses of any ilk, and that goes double for the restaurant biz, a segment so terribly difficult even under the best of circumstances.

Kookers has served the posh Chicago suburb of Barrington for at least thirty years, that I am aware of, perched on US Highway 14.  It was previously in a smaller facility on the north side of the road, and within the past few years, moved to a larger facility across the street.  It was for sale for awhile before the move, not sure if it changed hands or not, but based on visits years ago, I would guess it has different owners.

They serve a typical “Chicago” menu of fast food, burgers, hot dogs, Italian beef, gyros, fried sides, plus some extended offerings in different day parts.  Menu.

I so wanted to come away from my latest visit bubbling over with enthusiasm, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

I popped in mid afternoon and was the only customer, except for a man engaged in conversation with the counter person, apparently a conversation so engaging that it was more important than waiting on me.  Strike one.

I place my order, for a cheeseburger (they have many cheeses to choose from, I went with blue) and walked into the bathroom.  Wasn’t antiseptically clean and parts of it seemed to be held together with scotch tape and wire.  The entrance to the men’s room is through a hallway which was stacked floor to ceiling with boxes of various restaurant supplies.  Strike 2.  I don’t want to see that.  I fear that standards of (lack of) organization or ‘cleanliness’ extends throughout an establishment.

It didn’t take long for the burger to be ready, but it really wasn’t anything special, a machine-formed patty and put together with a not very aesthetically pleasing appearance.  Strike 2.5?

I gathered up some sections of newspaper that were laying around, perused them while eating my burger, which I finished in short order.  Got up to leave (still the only customer) without any acknowledgement from the employee (“thanks!”  “come back soon”).

My recollection of the previous long-time owner was people supported him for a couple reasons;  one, he made a point to ‘know’ every customer and be hospitable, and two, he prided himself on quality ingredients.

Neither appears to be the case at the “new” Kookers, sadly.

Kookers Barrington Review
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Kookers Review

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Papa Saverios Pizza Review

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Papa Saverios Pizza ReviewThere is some relationship between two Chicago-based chains, Rosati’s and Papa Saverio’s, but there aren’t any clues to that online.  I don’t think they share any ownership, but they both list the same Italian immigrant Papa Saverio Rosati,as their inspiration and recipe source. Probably some sibling or cousin dispute, but no matter.

Rosati’s has really taken off in the past few years and now has over 200 locations around the country. Papa Saverios started in a Chicago suburb in 1997 and is up to 15 locations, all franchised except the original location.

The pizza recipes are similar, but for my personal tastes, I’m now giving Papa Saverio’s a slight edge.

The crust is a wee bit thicker than Rosati’s, the sausage more flavorful, and they use more cheese. The cheese is so evenly distributed in thickness, I’m almost tempted to say they used sliced product, instead of shredded.  They use the ‘spiced Silician’ green olives, which I prefer as well.

You can find a Papa Saverios here, and learn all about owning one, too. Check out their menu.

Papa Saverios Pizza Review

 

 
Click to add a blog post for Papa Saverio's on Zomato
 

Papa Saverios Pizza Review

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Braaitime South African Foods

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My first trip to South Africa I was introduced to a couple of local snacks, biltong and droewors.  The former is a lightly spiced, sliced dried beef, and the latter a dried beef sausage.  The origin of both goes back centuries, first to the indigenous peoples and then with updates in the processes from European settlers, most notably the Dutch.  The word “biltong” comes from Dutch, bil (“rump”) and tong (“strip” or “tongue”) as the dried beef is sliced after curing (unlike jerky which is sliced prior to drying), and is ‘served’ in small strips.

Both meats have a variety of spices in their recipes, are surprisingly light on salt, and there is a pronounced taste of coriander, clove and nutmeg.  Trust me, this works.

One of the upsides of the miserable years I spent living in Portland, Oregon, was that there was a small Polish butcher shop down the road, and he also had an affinity for these meat treats, and made and sold them in his shop.  Then he died, and there was no point in staying in Oregon.

Years later, in one of the very few times I have clicked on an internet ad, I discovered Braaitime, LLC, a New Jersey company that produces these wonders and other sub-Saharan delights in the US, following very traditional recipes and preparation  methods.

Within minutes of my click, they had my credit card number and an order was winging its way to me.

And am I ever happy about that, and the product, with my only “mistake” being that I drastically underordered; now I am gonna have to get on some “African meat of the month club” plan or something.

Both the bilton and droewors are fantastic;  Braiitime has a lot of other treats, including fresh sausage, spices, and cooking devices.

Highly recommended, both the product and company.  Prompt service and shipping.

Braaitime LLC Review

Biltong (top), Droewors (bottom)

 

 

 

 

Braaitime South African Foods

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Home Cookin’ – Lasagna Recipe

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Lasagna Recipe

Prior to the oven

I don’t remember the last time I made lasagna at home….it’s been years.  During the reign of the late Mrs BurgerDogBoy, the dish was pretty much her purview.  Before she set out to actually try and kill me, she messed with me once by trying to sneak turkey Italian sausage past me in the dish, and it wasn’t out of a health concern, but merely because that’s what the store she went to had, and she being she, was far too lazy to venture on to another store.  Whatever.

My recipe is far more elaborate and work than it need be, as with all my pasta dishes, the red gravy (meat sauce) is the thing.  My basic recipe is here, and it’s best consumed or otherwise used the 2nd day.

I cook down a buncha Roma tomatoes (with a cup of red wine), simultaneously sauteeing chopped garlic, onions, fennel, oregano, and basil.  Brown a pound of 80/20 ground beef and a pound of hot Italian sausage, combining with the sauteed vegetables for 20-30 minutes before adding to the cooked down tomatoes.  You may desire to toss in a small can of tomato paste (or commercial sauce) as a thickener, but not too much, and avoid ones that have added sugar.

Layer lasagna noodles, meat sauce, spinach leaves and mozzarella/provolone cheese mix, repeat until you reach the top of your baking dish (I like my lasagna deep).  I don’t use ricotta, obviously.  I like the flavor and texture imparted from the traditional Italian cheeses.  My mother used to substitute cottage cheese for the ricotta, but only probably because nobody in our town had ever heard of ricotta back then.  We barely had heard of Italy.

Bake an hour at 350.  (BTW, I use “oven ready” lasagna noodles – no boiling required).  Let sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.  Or cut into serving size pieces, put in ziplocs or tupperware and freeze.

Lasagna Recipe

Cooking vegetables and herbs

Lasagna Recipe

Cooking down the Romas

Lasagna Recipe

Saute Beef & Sausage

 

 

 

Lasagna Recipe

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Big Skillet Review – Elgin, IL

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frontageAnother suburban Chicago breakfast, this one in the town of Elgin, far west of the city straddling the Fox River.  The 8th largest city in Illinois, it was founded as a dairy center (there was a Borden factory) and home to the Elgin Watch Company, maker of timepieces big and small.  It was the largest manufacturer of fine watches in the US for many decades.  The town boasts some incredible Victorian homes.

I was just looking for eggs, and the Big Skillet is a typical Chicago style “coffee shop,” meaning a very long menu covering all meals of the day, and an extensive bakery selection.

I’ve kind of always eschewed “skillets” for breakfast, no particular reason, I mean it’s the same food, just piled up instead of spread out.  But I’ll always go for a breakfast plate that gives you all three meats, and the “Butcher Skillet” did just that. A mound of hash browns, smothered in melted cheese, with ham, bacon, and sausage, topped with three eggs. Side of toast? Yes please, with an ample set of bread choices, I went for rye.

As with most area ‘coffee shops’, an ample dish of butter or butter like substance graces the table.  The massive dish in front of me, I didn’t make much of a dent. I managed two eggs, some of the meat/cheese, and 1 piece of toast.

Excellent food, great value.  Downside?  I left my favorite hat behind.  Sniff.

Big Skillet Elgin Review

Mmmmmm butter stuff

Big Skillet Elgin Review

Butcher Skillet

 

 

 

 

 
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Big Skillet Review

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Sams Choice Original Smoked Sausages Review

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20150701_060836Right off the bat, even before trying them, I liked these better than the McCormick’s Grill Mates sausages I looked at this week (scroll down to next story). Reason?  First two ingredients are pork and beef, and not a mechanically separated poultry bit in sight. Also?  No “corn syrup solids.”  Sam’s Choice Original Smoked Sausages come in a 14 ounce package, four ‘larger’ size links, and retail for about three and a half bucks.

According to the USDA establishment number,  (4800), they are made for WalMart/Sams  by Eddy Packing, Inc., of Yoakum, TX.  Eddy has been around since the early 50s, and now operate a 300,000 square foot; the company is now in the hands of private equity investors, and cranks out processed proteins of beef, pork, turkey and chicken.  Eddy sells its own retail product under the “Eddy” and “Yoakum” brnads. (Pics of the plant below).  Yoakum is about 20 miles  south of I-10, about midway between Houston and San Antonio.

As these are “smoked,” they are fully cooked, and only require heating, if that’s how you prefer your sausages.  I lightly pan fried. This is a very mild sausage, suitable for a large bun sandwich, as an entree, or as a breakfast meat.  The flavor/aroma of smoke is slight. Consumers will find it more flavorful as bits of fat, which contributes to flavor, are evident in the mix. In short, I like it.

Sams Choice Smoked Sausage

In the skillet

Sams Choice Smoked Sausage

Cross section

Sams Choice Smoked Sausage

Eddy Packing, Yoakum, TX

Sams Choice Smoked Sausage

Eddy Packing, Yoakum, TX

 

 

 

Sams Choice Original Smoked Sausages Review

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McCormick Grill Mates Sausages Review

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McCormick Grill Mates Sausage ReviewWith over 8,000 employees and $4 billion in revenue, McCormick & Company is one of the undisputed leaders in the production and sale of spices and herbs.

They have been on an acquisition and strategic partnership tear as of late,which really appears to have been jump started in 2003 with the purchase of New Orleans based Zatarains. The union also gave McCormick an entry into the prepared meals arena.

In addition to their core brands, McCormick also owns Old Bay, Adolphs, Lawrey’s and others.

They are now (apparently) looking at expansion through licensing the use of their spice formulations and associated names. I noticed this at the market with a new product of “Montreal Seasoning” smoked sausages, which carry the McCormick label, but the reverse of the package informs us the links are distributed by Mexican food monster Sigma Alimentos’s US division, Bar-S, based in Phoenix. Bar-S markets over 250 meat products under eight brands, manufactured at five of their own production plants, as well as contract manufacturers.

This particular product was made at USDA Est 32009, Salm Partners in Denmark, Wi (near GreenBay). We previously took a look at them during our review of Jack Link’s (new) sausage line.There is a video of their plant in that review. (Pictures of plant below).

I didn’t look at the fine print on the packaging; had I been thorough, I might not have picked them up, as it clearly states these sausages are a “pork and turkey”product. The ingredient list goes on to say they use “mechanically separated turkey,” usually a no-no for me, and corn syrup and corn starch, other ingredients I’m not crazy about.

The links were around $3.00 (WalMart sale price) for six, total of 14 ounces.

Out of the package, there is no distinctive flavor-related odor, other than a slight hint of smoke.  The presence of the spices is evident in the picture below.  I chose the “Montreal Steak” flavor, because I am an enthusiastic user of that blend on burgers. and the McCormick website lists the blend having the following ingredients:  Coarse Salt, Spices (Including Black Pepper And Red Pepper), Garlic, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, And Extractives Of Paprika. Not sure what the “natural flavor” component would be.

I pan fried the sausages at medium low in cast iron for about ten minutes, until they achieved a little char, which is my personal preference, as the char emulates the texture (sort of) of a natural casing on the link.

There is less of a distinctive flavor than I imagined their would be.  On the plus side, there is a little bit of ‘heat,’ and also, the presence of the corn syrup is not overpowering as it was in the Jack Links product.

I’d buy them again, if they are on sale, but otherwise, I don’t see any competitive advantage over most “Polish” or smoked sausage brands.

 

McCormick Grill Mates Sausage Review

Prior to heating

McCormick Grill Mates Sausage Review

After heating

McCormick Grill Mates Sausage

Salm Partners Factory

McCormick Grill Mates Sausage

Salm Partners Factory

McCormick Grill Mates Sausages Review

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