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Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

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Bob Evans Hot Sausage ReviewI rarely purchase pre-made breakfast sausage; it’s expensive and the available flavors are not always to my liking. Usually I just buy ground pork, which is always very cheap, and season it to my liking.

But this week I grabbed a one pound chub of Bob Evans “Hot.” Bob Evans starting making sausage on his farm in Ohio in 1948, which he’d use at a little 12 seat diner he owned in a nearby town. People liked his sausage and he tried to to sell it to other restaurants, but they weren’t having it.

Some friends talked him into expanding, and the original restaurant today seats 135, and the chain bearing his name recently sold to a private equity group for more than $500 million.

The grocery food company remained on its own after the sale, and made a few small acquisitions to add side dishes to their line of foods.

It’s recently been announced the food company has been sold for $1.5 billion to Post Group, the cereal company. As of October 2017, the deal has not closed, but that’s not unusual. These things take time.

Below is a picture of the chub, the raw product, and the finished. The ingredients are only pork, water, and some minor spices. I weighed it raw and cooked, and the weight stayed the same. No ½ deep pool of fat in the skillet!

Anyway, I liked it. It’s made in the factory in Ohio (pictured). But it’s still spendy. If I could figure out the ratio of herbs and spices, I’d make my own. Until then, I’ll keep buying this one!

Find the sausage and side dish products here:

Find the closest Bob Evans restaurant.

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

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Random Meat Sticks Review

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Random Meat Sticks ReviewWhen I go on my drives, seeking out great dogs, burgers, and pizza across America, my in-vehicle snack food is frequently meat snack sticks, like Slim Jims. I can’t even begin to fathom how many brands and variations there are of this popular snack food.  Ingredient and cost wise, they span the whole spectrum from crap to gourmet.

I don’t have a “regular brand,” I guess other than I seem to end up with Slim Jims the most often, simply because they dominate the shelf space. My criticisms of Slim Jims are two:  1) mechanically separated chicken, and 2) there is an oiliness to the product.

While I also can’t verify this fact, it appears Slim Jim is America’s oldest brand in the genre, being introduced in 1929.  Of course (at least in my opinion) it wasn’t an off the cuff lightbulb idea for a new product.  I believe America meat snacks are based on the German-Austrian snack Random Meat Sticks Review“Landjaeger.”

That snack has been around “forever” usually a combination of beef, pork, lard and spices, and cured through a heavy smoke process.  It is popular with hikers, hunters, and the military as it keeps a long time without refrigeration.

So this trip, seems my mouth bumped into a Slim Jim’s, one from Klement’s of Milwaukee, a Jack Link’s and a local product from a butcher in Solon, IA.

You need to know off the top I’m always kinda partial to Link’s, because it was a local company when I was growing up, and I really like their peppery steak sticks. Regardless of its geographical heritage, I do like Link’s meat snack sticks. I don’t venture into flavor land tho.

The original is salty, smoky, and has a good texture, requiring you to actually chew.  Links has entered the refrigerated sausage market, not crazy about that product.  If you ever find yourself rolling through Minong Wisconsin, the local grocery serves as a Jack Link outlet store. Some dandy deals.

Random Meat Sticks Review

Ruzicka’s Solon IA

Klement’s is an old timey Milwaukee sausage company and I’m a fan of many of their products.

I hadn’t seen their meat snack sticks on the grocery station circuit before and ran into them in Ronald Reagan’s hometown.

No connection, I’m sure. While the Klement’s product smelled great, so I thought it had great potential, upon the first bite, I said to myself “no way.”  The texture is awful, and by awful I mean, not very firm. It’s almost mushy. And I bought two, what do I do with the other one?  Anyway, so I won’t be picking those up again, or at least not until I forget I didn’t like them.

Finally,  in search of an entirely different product, I ran into a little butcher in the small burg of Solon, Iowa, and he had his own variety. They were superb, meaty, smoking, chewy. Ruzicka’s is a butcher, locker plant, state inspected processor and caterer. Great ambition, small shop, great products.  Yes, they’ll grind up your deer, cow or hog, too. Ruzicka’s is apparently famous for their Jalapeno Salami, and they’ll ship that to you.

Random Meat Sticks Review

Ruzicka’s Meat Sticks

Random Meat Sticks Review

Klement’s

 

Random Meat Sticks Review

Slim Jim Original

 

 

 

Random Meat Sticks Review Random Meat Sticks Review

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Usingers Linguica Sausage Review

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Usingers Linguica Sausage Review

Usingers Linguica Sausage ReviewLinguica (ling gweeza) (also called “Portuguese Sausage) is a slightly spicy pork sausage in a natural casing, which has traditionally been featured in cultures that speak Portuguese.

Its popularity has been expanding, and it’s widely available in Hawaii and California. It’s even on the menu at McDonalds in Hawaii.

I first experienced it in Cali years and years ago and really liked it, so now when I see it offered I generally get it.

I’ve had it on pizza in Oregon, and for breakfast at the Black Bear chain and a local legend in Petaluma, CA. You’ll frequently find it at those AYCE Brazilian steakhouses.

Iconic Milwaukee sausage purveyor, Usingers, has their own version, and it’s all pork, seasonings, in a hog casing. Very few of those long word Usingers Linguica Sausage Reviewingredients that you have no idea what they are, anyway. I often buy Usingers. I am very fond of their NC hot dogs. Quality. You can have their products shipped. They have nice holiday gifts too.

So I had high expectations for the linguica, and I wasn’t disappointed them. They are a little hefty to be served on a regular hot dog bun, but I gave it the old college try, anyway, with yellow mustard only. They would be fantastic on the grill.

The sausage is smoked, garlic and paprika, a coarser grind than you usually see in mass market appeal meats, the flavor was great, as was the heartiness of the casing.

I’ll keep some on hand. They’d be a nice change at breakfast.

Usingers Linguica Sausage Review

Usingers Linguica Sausage Review
(Wisconsin Factory)

 

 

 

Usingers Linguica Sausage Review

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Rics Dog Gone Good Food Review –

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Rics Dog Gone Good Food ReviewI’m on a roll, lately I’ve hit quite a number of places that have exceeded my expectations, and there’s nothing wrong with that, at all!

Yesterday was no exception, when I was out in the NW Chicago burbs surveying changes that have occurred since we first moved to the idyllic town of Barrington in 1987. And the answer is LOTS. Like most everywhere in America these days, urban sprawl and strip malls have replaced farm fields.

But hey, that’s ok, one of those strip malls has given birth to “Ric’s Dog Gone Good Food.”

“Ric’s” is run by Howard, an outgoing, affable gent who greets customers the second they pull on the door handle. He’s as engaging as the lengthy menu. He did not explain who “Ric” is, but then I didn’t ask.

Menu selection ranges from Chicago style hot dogs via local legendary  quality supplier Vienna Beef, to chopped steak burgers, deli sandwiches, wraps, salads, and plated entrees.  Greek foods comes from another quality local supplier, Kronos.

Burgers start out with 1/3 pound hand-formed patty (diminutive size also available), and I went with one of Ric’s ‘specialty burgers’ – the Greek, where the beef patty is topped with feta and chopped Kalamata olives. Going all out into the Greek arena, I asked if I could please have some tzatziki on the side. Tzatziki is a Greek inspired sauce (or dip) made from yogurt, cucumbers, dill and garlic.

I had a mind to smear it on the burger, which I did, but discovered it’s an excellent alternative to Ranch as a fry dipping sauce.

On the subject of fries? Ric’s gives you five choices. Fresh cut, crinkles, seasoned curlys, cottage, and cheddar. Rings, battered ‘shrooms and cauliflower round the the fried sides menu. He also offers ‘skins and bakers.

I went with the fresh cut, which were an absolute joy, seriously, but I’ll have to go back to try the rings and cottage fries. Based on my first visit, well worth the trip. The fresh cut fries were piping hot, fried perfectly, lightly salted.

I have a habit of disassembling my burgers at the start, checking them out. It’s also important to me to taste the patty, unadulterated, as quality, flavorful beef has to be at the heart of every great burger.

I have to pause here, and say, in all seriousness, I’ve had burgers in probably 50 countries, for which I have spent anywhere from fifty cents to fifty dollars, and this is one of the finest patties I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Great beefy flavor. A great grind providing great texture in the bite experience. Lightly seasoned to complement the true beef taste.

(Don’t you hate biting into a fast food burger and realizing it could just as easily be called “fried protein puck”). Meats should taste like the animal they come from, and Ric’s fits the bill.

Toppings were top quality, both the creamy feta and the Greek olives. The bun was bakery soft, yet sturdy enough to hold any toppings you are to pile on your burger.

The restaurant and washrooms were sparkling. Beverage choices include fountain, cans, bottles, brewed ice tea and shakes.

The Google tells me the restaurant is 14.8 miles from my door, 27 minutes by car, an hour and a half by bike, or 5 hours walking.

I don’t have a bike. But I’d walk. You should to…or drive. Anyway, go there. Eat. Enjoy the food. Enjoy Howard.

In a city where there are a reported more than 1500 places selling hot dogs and Chicago fare, you sure have to admire the mom and pop outfits that slug it out every day in a crazy, competitive business segment.

They deserve our support.  Here’s the whole menu.

Rics Dog Gone Good Food Review

Greek Burger w/ Fresh Cut fries

 

Rics Dog Gone Good Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Rics Dog Gone Good Food Review

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Giordanos Pizza Review, St. Charles, IL

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<div style="position:relative;height:0;padding-bottom:56.25%"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K-cTzg8DcrY?ecver=2" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" style="position:absolute;width:100%;height:100%;left:0" allowfullscreen></iframe></div>Brothers Efren and Joseph Boglio were born in a small town near Turin, Italy.

The brothers first immigrated to Argentina and subsequently  to the US. Upon arriving in America, Efren began working at a pizzeria in Chicago, but he was not satisfied with the pizzas he tasted and decided to open his own restaurant, Roma.

When Joseph came to Chicago, Efren has stated they decided to open a restaurant using their old family recipes and after experimenting over several months developed the stuffed pizza, finding Giordano’s in 1974.

A couple owners and one bankruptcy later, Giordanos is prospering and on a tear to expand nationwide, and have opened restaurantsGiordanos Pizza Review outside of the Chicago area.

Their specialty is “stuffed pizza” which is a form of deep dish, but unlike most of the chains “deep dish” that focus on way too much dough,  the emphasis here is on quantity of ingredients and the sauce is always on top.

We were at the St. Charles, IL location and served by Ilona. She did a great job, maintained her humor, despite (it seemed to me) having too many tables she was responsible for.

We ordered the large stuffed, sausage only, and it was superb.

The pizzas REALLY DO look like the ones in the TV commercials.  One large pie (served four and their were leftovers, 1 beer, 3 soft drinks, tip,  around
$42.

Locations.  Menu.

Giordano's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Giordanos Pizza Review
Giordanos Pizza Review

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Anns Bakery & Deli Review, Ukrainian Village, Chicago

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 Anns Bakery & Deli ReviewThe first time I was in Russia it was before “the change.” It was not unusual to see dozens or hundreds of people in line at food stores, even though they knew that probably there would be no inventory.

Outside of each subway station there were long lines of people selling ‘silly’ things: one shoe, two inches of vodka in a bottle, a couple of pencils.

People were hungry and would overlook conventional norms for food safety and ingredients.

And such was the feeling I got at Ann’s Bakery and Deli in Ukraine Village in Chicago.If you don’t speak Russian, I wouldn’t recommend stopping in, you’ll be treated like a 2nd class citizen by both the help and the other customers. The Russian shoppers are just plain rude, the help, not only rude, but unhelpful to non-Russian speakers.

Why I felt the resemblance between the bakery goods and pre-change Russia? A lot of the food on the shelves is past the expiration date, but it doesn’t stop the locals from grabbing it up like the just got the deal of the century on caviar.

Bakery goods are mismarked for prices and the shelf order is nothing short of chaos – with different goods all mixed up so you wouldn’t be able to tell the price in any case.

As many other customers have opined, I got home to find 1) not only were many of the baked goods stale (odd, as it was the day before Easter and one would expect a bakery to be chock-a-block full of fresh goods), and 2) the hustle of the cash register and treatment by both customers and help alike, made me miss the fact I was drastically overcharged for some items.

If you regularly read my reviews, you know that I endeavor to find something redeeming out of every visit. Not so here.

Pass on Ann’s Bakery, even for the curiousity factor. But I don’t want to discourage anybody from visiting Ukrainian Village; the cathedrals are magnificent and there are authentic Russian restaurants and culture to absorb. As well as a place distinctly NOT Russian, Fatso’s Last Stand, a superb example of a Chicago hot dog stand.

Ann's Bakery & Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Anns Bakery & Deli Review

Anns Bakery & Deli Review

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Napoli Pizza Review, Woodstock, IL

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Napoli Pizza Review WoodstockI love being surprised (in a good way).

I also love having an experience exceed my expectations. Both were the case at Napoli Pizza, in the distant Chicago burg of Woodstock.

You may not recognize the name of the town, but you would if you were dropped into the town square – it’s where most of the exteriors of the movie “Groundhog Day” were filmed. There’s even a commerative “Ned Ryerson” plague on the sidewalk.

So I saw Napoli by accident some time ago, and it looked old timey. Not much about it online, other than their facebook page, which says they have been family owned for 26 years. Carry out, delivery or dine in, pizza, pasta, apps, sandwiches. Open 7 days from 11AM.

I ordered a thin crust house special (sausage, pepperoni, green and black olives, onions, mushrooms, and green pepper).

I can vouch that the dough is blended in-house, because I spied a hunk of it bigger than me, being worked in the kitchen. Their “thin” isn’t as thin as some other Chicago area pizzerias, more like the thickness of what the chains referred to as “hand-tossed.” Regardless, it was very flaky at the exterior and nice and chewy as you worked your way in from the win.

Toppings were plentiful, and I mean PLENTIFUL. I was surprised when I was first handed the box, this sucker was HEAVY. Excellent hand pulled chunks of flavorful Italian sausage. The sauce is slightly sweet, but in the way it’s supposed to be, from tomatoes. Hearty. And massive amounts of cheese, I’m sure the quantity would qualify as “double cheese” at most places. Really, really nice.

I wished I lived closer, Napoli would be my go-to place. Luckily, every few months I’m up that way. I’ll be back. I so admire mom and pop sized operators. It’s gotta be tough every day to compete against the major chain pricing gimmicks, and of course the breaks chains get on purchasing monster quantities of ingredients.

Thanks for a great pie!  Menu below.

Napoli Pizza Review Woodstock

House Special

Napoli Pizza Review Woodstock
Napoli Pizza Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Napoli Pizza Review

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Dollar Tree Breakfast Sausage Review

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Dollar Tree Breakfast Sausage ReviewThese poor little sausages start off with a couple strikes against them – I pretty much don’t like brown and serve type breakfast sausages. Including fast food kinds.  But I thought I would give these two national brand names a shot when I saw them at the Dollar Tree.

Jimmy Dean is an established sausage maker, started by the late music/film personality of the same name. The company grew bigly and was acquired by Sara Lee (now Hillshire Farms, now Tyson).

The package (for a buck) comes with six links, you’ll find them in the frozen food coolers, if your Dollar Tree has them.

Ingredients are pork and mechanically separated turkey (another kiss of death for me, anything that has mechanically separated poultry as an ingredient).

I popped these into a skillet with my other test subjects, Banquet brand Original Breakfast Sausage Patties, and cooked them awhile. This type of Dollar Tree Breakfast Sausage Reviewproduct IS pre-cooked in the package, so there are microwave instructions as well, for a quick heat and eat.

Banquet is part of the multinational food conglomerate ConAgra.  The company dates back more than 60 years, having started by introducing frozen meat pot pies.

What did I think? Flavor is OK, but one of the things I don’t like about these types of products is the texture. Not enough resistance in a bite, like ‘real’ sausage.

Result, I wouldn’t be likely to buy it again, unless I had company that requested it.

The Jimmy Dean sausages were/are made by Peacock Foods, in Itasca, IL, a distant superb of Chicago. The Banquet ones are a product of Abbyland Foods in Wisconsin. Abbyland makes products for a number of brands and retailers. They are a popular source for the discount grocer Aldi.

Dollar Tree Breakfast Sausage Review

Banquet Patties, Jimmy Dean Links

 

Dollar Tree Breakfast Sausage Review

Abbyland Foods

 

Dollar Tree Breakfast Sausage Review

Peacock Foods

 

 

 

Dollar Tree Breakfast Sausage Review

Dollar Tree Breakfast Sausage Review

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Southern Belles Restaurant Review, Suburban Chicago

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Southern Belles Restaurant Review

I went to try a new place today, the 5th outlet of a local chain called “Southern Belle’s” a breakfast and lunch place with a “Southern” twist.

In addition to “regular” breakfast and lunch dishes, you’ll find their take on Southern foods like “Shrimp and Grits,” “Biscuits and Gravy,” and “Pork Belly and Eggs.”

For some reason, apparently, the proprietor’s definition of “Southern” extends out to Arizona, as there are also Tex Mex breakfast and lunch dishes.

Burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads round out the midday offerings.

I went for breakfast around 9AM, business was fairly brisk for the time of day and the place being new. There was a mix of demographics, young families, seniors, singles, and there was a large group standing in the lobby – – I thought they were waiting to be seated in one of the large private rooms, figuring them to be a company, church group, or extended family. Nope. Turns out they were local Chamber members participating in the traditional “giant scissors” photo op out front.

Southern Belle’s has done a clever thing, the front of the restaurant, where the cashier station is, the area doubles as a coffee/smoothie bar, I imagine, creating another revenue stream by roping in passers by (Not sure if this option is in all locations). Only problem I noted with this concept, is there no signage for this segment outside. Maybe it is still to be installed.

The restaurant is in a strip mall, across the street from a major mall, and has good street signage, so traffic should be fine. It’s on the large side for the casual segment, I think, immaculately clean, as were the restrooms.

My server, Genevieve, was friendly, and  attentive without being intrusive. She stopped by a couple times to make sure I was happy. A person that clearly understands what the words “hospitality industry” mean.

Ordering coffee, I was happy when she brought a large thermal pot to leave at the table. They also have an “amuse,” 3 mini corn muffins. I’m not a corn bread fan under any circumstances, I ate one, but I can’t really give you an opinion on whether they are good or not.

I opted for Country Fried Steak and Eggs, which comes with a split buttermilk biscuit, hash browns, and a substantial quantity of sausage gravy.

I’m also not a big biscuit eater, so I won’t opine on that, either, except to say it was buried under the gravy, so if you’re an egg mopper (my mother would slap you if you are), ask for the biscuits on the side.

Hash browns? Not made there. Shreds that most likely came frozen or dried from a supplier like Sysco. I apologize to the owners if they aren’t, but that’s what they seemed like.  I’m a big fan of really, really great breakfast potatoes.  I’ll drive a long way to try some that somebody has bragged about.

I’m split on the steak. Good flavor, nice texture to the batter, not particularly flavorful, and I was unable to tell whether this was also a heat and eat food service item or made from scratch in house.  I was quite happy with the sausage gravy. Flavorful, a little spice, and large chunks of pork sausage. To my liking.

All in all? It’s pretty OK. I lean more to favoring greasy spoon type diners, but this is a nice alternative for local families. They boast that a number of items are sourced locally and they are fans of “farm to table.”

There’s also Healthy, Vegan and Gluten Free portions to the menu, if you’re fussy about that kind of stuff.

Here’s the menu, and the locations. Breakfast and lunch seven days.

$20 for breakfast, coffee, tax and tip for me today.

Southern Belles Restaurant Review

Complimentary Mini Corn Muffins

Southern Belles Restaurant Review

Country Fried Steak and Eggs

Southern Belle's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Southern Belles Restaurant Review

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Sokolow Hunters Sausage Review

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Sokolow Hunters Sausage ReviewI love sausage. Smoked. Cured. Uncured. From Chicago. China. Spain. Louisiana. France. Italy.  Poland. Anywhere.  Sokolow is a major meat processor in Poland, dating back to 1899.

They sell under the brand names of Gold, Sokoliki, Uczta Qulinarna,  Naturrino and Darz Bór. Lucky for me, some of these are imported to the states, and in Chicago, there are numerous, many, many, Polish groceries and delis who stock imported foods.

So I picked up a pack of their “Hunter’s Sausage,” a dry cured product, lightly smoked, made from pork, salt, pepper, and juniper. No matter who the manufacturer is, these are the standard ingredients for “Hunter’s Sausage.” One company in Poland makes a beef version for export to the UK.

(Sidebar).  I was literally amazed at my first trip to Poland.  It wasn’t long after the divorce from the Soviet’s, so “western style” businesses hadn’t really sprung up yet. I stayed in a creaky old Soviet style hotel, heated by coal, I can still remember the smell of that furnace.  I spent my days and nights with my local colleague, a former shipyard co-worker with Walesa – turned journalist – who had fascinating tales and was more than willing, eager to accommodate my desires to “be local.”

Restaurants were limited to “private meal houses” wherein a citizen would cook lunch or dinner in their house, and have seating for four or six, and you’d know about these places and eat there.  And he took me way out in the country to experience a local sausage haven, including sour sausage soup. Man oh man.

So Sokolow Hunters Sausage. Very dry, very smokey, not sure I can taste the juniper and have never seen that as an ingredient outside of gin. Kind of fatty, but that’s where the flavor comes from, eh?  Best used as a snack stick or on an app tray I suspect, too dense for sandwiches.

Check it out if you run into it. Sokolow makes bacon, hams, and other sausages. I’ll keep my eye out for more of their products.  The company has a promotional video on YouTube.

Sokolow Hunters Sausage Review

Hunter’s Sausage / Cross Section

 

 

 

 

 

Sokolow Hunters Sausage Review

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