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Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category

Sams Choice Original Smoked Sausages Review

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

McCormick Grill Mates Sausages Review

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

Pie Five Pizza Review

Pie-FiveArguably at the top of growth chain for the fast casual dining segment, the relatively new “made on demand” concept  pizza places appeal to customers on three points:  value pricing, quality ingredients, and fast service.

There are quite a few entrants into the category already, including Blaze, MOD, and Pie Five, which was started and isowned by the same group that owns the successful chain, Pizza Inn (I like their buffets).  I think that gives them a leg up on the competition.

It works kind of like Chipotle or Subway, you walk through a line, pick one of the specialty pies, or design your own, choosing your crust (including a gluten free option), sauce, cheese, and toppings, all for one price.  The pie is popped into a scorching hot oven and one in just a few minutes, as opposed to the quarter hour a conventional pizza deck or conveyor oven take to go through the same process.

I tried out two today, at a pre opening fete.  The “Athenian” comes with a thin crust, olive oil, herbs, chicken, garlic, olives, onion, peppers, feta, mozzarella/provolone blend, fresh basil, and sun dried tomato puree.

The “High Five” is their version of an all meat pie, on a pan crust, with marinara, pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon, ham, and a cheddar, mozz, provolone blend.

The “assembly line” is fast and furious, as is the oven time.  At the end, they will ask you “for here or to go” and whether you want additional Parmesan or pepper flakes; if you’re eating in, those add-ons are also on the table.  Pie Five has the ‘magic’ coke dispensers, when you can crank out one or a combo of a hundred beverages, and also three kinds of ice tea, as well as some bottled drinks.

The 9 ” pizzas were excellent, I preferred the thin crust, bubbly and charred, to the pan personally. High quality and kudos for the processed pork toppings.

You can find Pie Five locations here, and take a gander at the menu  (also below)to see what’s in store for you. (pizza, salads, desserts).  The company has about fifty units open, and are aiming for five hundred, coast to coast.  Wanna own one? Inquire.

Pie Five people?  Great job.  Great pizza.

Pie Five Review

Makin’ Pies!

Pie Five Review

High Five Pie

Pie Five Review

Menu

 

Pie Five Pizza Review

Vernon Manor Pepperoni Review

Vernon ManorOne of my local groceries seems to get more than their share of ‘scratch and dent’ foods.  That’s my term for products that aren’t regularly stocked or are on the shelf at a deep discount.   They do have a close-out bin, as well, which is odd, because the products in there are rarely products that one regularly sees on the shelves/coolers at thes tore.   My favorite is “meat ends,” chunks of chubs from the deli, apparently too small to go through the slicer without the potential for significant loss of limb to the deli workers.

In any case, yesterday they had a pile of these two pound packages of pepperoni from “Vernon Manor,” a brand manufactured by Fresh Mark of Ohio, also the parent of Sugardale meats.

Two pound packs of pepperoni, in and of themselves, are unusual, these more so by the fact they were only $2.99 each.  At a buck and a half a pound, that’s about 90% off the big name brands.

I only bought one, for as much processed pork as I consume, I knew I would have to attempt to freeze some of this, not sure if that will work, but I put the pork slices in baggies in 1/3 – 1/2 pound increments. Sort of.

It is a pork and beef product, and there are some ‘cracker jack like surprises’ in the pack – in addition to 95% traditionally thin sliced pieces, there is also an occasional chub end or six, perfect for snack noshing.

I’m picky about my pepperoni, I want a flavorful slice, not all that fatty, as high fat pepp is what causes your charring and cupping on a pizza.  There are some that say that’s a good thing, but it doesn’t appeal to me.  I like this one, good flavor, a nice little kick.

It’s made at the Canton, OH factory pictured below.

Fresh Mark Ohio

Fresh Mark Factory

Fresh Mark Factory

Fresh Mark Aerial

 

Vernon Manor Pepperoni Review

White Castle Chicken Waffle Review

White Castle Chicken Waffle ReviewWhite Castle has been trying on a lot of different dishes for size lately. Jalapeno and siracha everything, for example.  Tonight I went for the “Chicken & Waffle Slider,” a take off on the current chicken and waffle craze sweeping the country.  Used to be you could only get that dish in about three restaurants in the US, and traditionally it was a steaming hot, crisp waffle, a piece of fried chicken, and maple survey to splash.

White Castle has taken some liberties, used “Imported from Belgium” waffles, a fried chicken patty, a schmear of “country” gravy and some bacon bits. It had potential (at least in my head) but the execution (at least at this outlet) was awful.  The waffles had the limp consistency of sitting on a steam table, the dollop of gravy was undetectable and the bacon had (or waffle) had a heavy maple flavor that was kind of cloying.

I like most everything on White Castle’s menu and am more than an occasional customer, and no, I don’t drink.  But this one? Pass.  I did get a tasty order of o-rings, tho, second best in the fast food industry behind Arby’s terrific rings. So sez I.

White Castle Chicken Waffle Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Castle Chicken Waffle Review

Klements Polish Sausage Review

Klements Polish Sausage ReviewOne of Milwaukee’s largest and oldest sausage companies, Klement’s is often my ‘go-to’ purveyor when I’m looking for processed meats.  When I’m not in their distribution area, I even order care packages online.  The company has a wide variety of fresh and cooked sausages, as well as deli and sandwich meats.   I am fond of their summer sausage, corned beef, cocktail sausages,  and liver sausage.

Today I’m cooking up some of their Polish for breakfast. This is a natural casing sausage (YAY), and the company website lists the following ingredients: Pork, water, Beef, Salt, Contains less than 2% of Flavorings, Corn Syrup, Potassium Lactate, Isolated Oat Product, Dextrose,
Sodium Phosphate, Paprika, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Erythorbate, and Sodium Nitrite.

I’m not one of those consumers that gets all bent out of shape about certain ingredients, too late in my life cycle to worry about any of the alledged effects at this point in time.

Anyway, these are great, for  a breakfast side, or any meal,  on a bun, or on the grill.  I’d be careful on the grill to watch the direct heat, if the casings split, you’re gonna lose a lot of flavor.  My preferred method is to simmer in a cast-iron skillet until the water is gone, and then put a slight char on the sausages.

Perfection.

These beauties come out of the Klement’s plant at 207 E Lincoln Ave in Milwaukee, according to the USDA establishment number on the package.

Klements Polish Sausage Review

Klement’s Polish Sausage

 

Klements Polish Sausage Review

Factory – Aerial View

Klements Polish Sausage Review

Milwaukee Factory

 

 

Klements Polish Sausage Review

Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty Review – Wisconsin Dells, WI

Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty ReviewHow I love breakfast buffets, let me count the ways: bacon, sausage, ham. You (I) get to eat literally pounds of breakfast meats (if I chose) and skip the other stuff.

This joint (and a sister location upstate in Minoqua) has been serving up “lumberjack style” meals for decades. That descriptor actually refers to being served “family style,” platters of the time-appropriate dishes, eat as much as you want, request more, no sweat.

In the morning hours, for less than a sawbuck (kids pay even less), you’re gonna be offered donuts, scrambled eggs, sausage, ham, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, hot cakes, and coffee, milk, or OJ. I did some damage on the pork products, for sure. Small nitpick. The website says the meat platter also includes kielbasa, but there was none around today.

Everyone probably understands that, as due to global warming, the kielbasa harvest last year was considerably down, and this year isn’t looking like they are going to be as high as an elephant’s eye by the fourth of July either! Oh well.

The food was really excellent – fresh and hot. I dug into the eggs, skipped the taters and cakes, but the kids went for everything (except they turned up their noses at biscuits and gravy, but what do they know?)

For lunch and dinner, there are one or two specials served in “the family way” and an ala carte menu as well.

Good stuff. Crazy, energetic waitresses. Fun times.  Bakery and gift shop also on location.  Authentic “lumberjack show” next door, a couple times a day or more. The restaurants are seasonal. Details.

Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty Review

Hot fresh donuts! No Homer Price in sight!

Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty Review

Biscuits & Gravy

Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty Review

Breakfast meat, family style

Click to add a blog post for Paul Bunyan's Cook Shanty on Zomato

 

Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty Review

Advance Pierre Sausage and Cheese Biscuit

Dollar Tree Breakfast BiscuitContinuing in a series of economical foods, the Advance Pierre Sausage and Cheese Biscuit can be yours for a buck from Dollar Tree and other outlets. I’ve written about Advance Pierre quite a bit, they are the largest supplier of prepared sandwiches to c-stores, vending,  the military, schools and institutional users. They now offer fresh sandwiches as well, through the acquisition of Landshire Foods.

My introduction to them since I started building this site was about five years ago, via their “Big Az” Angus Charbroil, which I found stuck in the freezer section of my neighborhood c/liquor store.

“Fast Bites” is not listed as one of their brand names on their own website, so I am guessing it is the name they have developed that applies solely to their products at Dollar Tree – burgers, chicken, sliders – even their dollar “fishwich” is respectable, certainly as good as any of the fast food ones.

I rarely….ok…never get a breakfast sausage product at fast food places, just don’t care for it.  Much prefer any bacon / egg concoction, with my preferred still being the ‘toaster’ at Sonic. Breakfast ‘stuff’ between two slices of Texas toast.   Recently had a BK bacon egg biscuit, and even that seemed a step up from McDonalds. Of course, if you’re in the hunt for the best fast food biscuit, you won’t be disappointed by Hardee’s or Bojangles (the latter being the only fast food chain in America that serves a slice of REAL ham!). (Sadly, you’ll only find Bojangles in 12 eastern states).

So, back to the dollar store biscuit, 90 seconds in the microwave in the plastic wrap (vent one end), let sit a minute before consuming, and consume.

OK, odd, didn’t notice until I removed from the package that this sandwich doesn’t have egg.  Taste/texture?  Sausage doesn’t really taste like anything, but the melted processed American cheese-food substance rings true.  The biscuit, microwaved in its little steam bath plastic chamber, is anything but flaky….gummy would be a better word.  I thought maybe when it went through the one minute post cooking holding pattern, it would crisp up, as some microwave foods do, but no such luck here.  I’m always astonished that microwave foods have been around for more than half a century and nobody has figured out “crisp” yet.  What’s the deal?

Finally, if you come anywhere near following the government’s guideline for healthy eating, you’ll want to pass on this at 500 calories, 43 carbs, and 27 grams of fat.  The sausage patty contains corn syrup solids, protein concentrate and caramel color.

I’m gonna keep buying the Dollar Tree’s other sandwiches, but this one won’t be on my list.

Dollar Tree Breakfast Biscuit Review

Sausage and Cheese Biscuit

Breckenridge Farms Breakfast Review (Dollar Tree)

Dollar Tree BreakfastI’m always searching out economical food buys, for three reasons: 1) I like to eat/maximize my own budget, 2) I have a special sympathy for groups like seniors and the economically disadvantaged in times of skyrocketing food prices, and 3) I’ve been through a few economic ups and down cycles in my life, tho largely of my own devising.  In that regard, my history has been, “make a lot of money, meet a woman, lose the money, lose the woman.” Rinse. Repeat. Think I’d learn?  Yeah, I did.  This time around I outsmarted the situation.  Ha.

As a result of the three reasons stated above, I’ve tested a lot of foods from dollar and discount grocery stores, and “most” aren’t all that bad. Some are astonishingly good, even, like the egg rolls, and empanadas.  I don’t really mind the heat and eat burgers, either.  The ‘fishwich’ is as good as any fast food offering at 1/3 the price or less.

At Dollar Tree, management has wisely created house brands, instead of selling manufacturer close outs. They can control consistency, quality, and inventory that way. Dollar Tree’s distribution company is called Greenbrier International, and  it serves the 5000 Dollar Tree stores and thousands of others, as well.

Breckenridge Farms is one such store brand, and their breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage links, and hash browns (for a dollar!) is manufactured by a division of Idaho’s JR Simplot, one of America’s largest privately owned food processors, and certainly number one in the potato processing business. (Irrelevant sidenote:  did you know ten percent of the entire potato crop in the US goes to McDonalds?). (Another irrelevant sidenote:  there are massive french fry processing plants along the Columbia River in Oregon, and you don’t wanna know what they dump in the river, fo sho).

My breakfast was made in N. Charleroi, a Pennsylvania burg of 1200 souls, just off I-70, on the Monongahela River, 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh. It’s one of nearly a dozen Simplot plants in the US. (They have some in China and other international locations as well). The Pennsylvania USDA plant (# 9969) is capable of making sandwiches, tray and bowl meals.  Not sure of the Google map accuracy on this one, but they show the plant as along the river (below).

My 300 calorie breakfast was heated for 3 minutes in the microwave, and the end product is relatively free of undesirable ingredients, and fairly decent in the RDA department. No corn syrup to be found on the ingredient list, the sausage is pure pork, no ‘mechanically separated poultry’ (whew) as ingredients. The eggs are……eggs.

Would I buy it again, recommend it?  Yes. There are other varieties as well, pancakes, waffles and such. Stock the freezer, feed the kiddies.

Dollar Tree Breakfast

Out of package, prior to heating

Dollar Tree Breakfast

Dollar Tree Breakfast, Plated (pepper added)

Dollar Tree Breakfast

Simplot Factory, Pennsylvania

 

 

 

 

 

Breckenridge Farms Breakfast Review

Broadway Pizza Review, Minneapolis

Broadway-bar-original-1953His name was John Spallaci, and he moved to Minneapolis from Italy, bringing his special family pizza recipe with him. In 1953, he opened Spallaci’s Pizza (pictured left) in North Minneapolis, and in 1961, sold the business and recipe to Eddie and Mamie Peck. Cranking out quality pies was a high priority for the new owners, so they ground their own sausage and mixed their own sauce in house, as well as making fresh dough daily.  Those processes won them a lot of loyal customers, so when the new Interstate 94 came plowing through the neighborhood in the early 70s, Eddie and Mamie stayed on the north side of the city and  set up their new operation overlooking the Mississippi, in the heart of the old railroad yards, and the customers followed in droves.

In an homage to the history of the neighborhood, the Peck’s new restaurant took on a railroad theme, including seating in box cars.

In the early 70s, the first time I lived in the Twin Cities, the original location of Broadway was one of my ‘go-to’ places.  Today they have more than a dozen locations, are opening more corporate stores and franchising.

In addition to pizza, they have wings, sandwiches and plate dinners, and they still make the sausage, sauce and dough in house.  Our Minnesota reporter Kawika stopped in the Champlain, Minnesota location, for a sausage/pepperoni, half olive/half mushroom recently, and said it was (to his delight) one of the thinnest cracker crusts he’d ever encountered, and Minnesota is bereft with thin crust choices.

He took a feigned exception to the advertised special of an Hawaiian pizza, having lived in the 50th state for years; apparently to the authentically inclined, the ‘real’ Hawaiian has to have peanut butter as one of the toppings, and certainly not “jalapeno bacon.”  No damage done, hower.

The bar portion of the restaurant was hopping at 11 P on a Saturday nite, and most locations serve food til late.

FullSizeRender_2

 

Broadway Pizza Review Minneapolis

 

Broadway Pizza Review Minneapolis

 

 

 

 

Broadway Pizza Review

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