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Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category

Queen City Smoked Sausage Review

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Queen City Smoked Sausage ReviewWhen I made my initial foray to America’s foodie wonderland, Jungle Jims in Cincinnati last week, one item I picked up was a local product, Queen City Smoke Sausage.

(The official sausage of the Reds, apparently). Sausage is a big deal in Cincinnati, as is German food in general.  So popular, the city celebrates its sausage heritage with a weekend fest in July, with two to three dozen purveyors offering their sausage and related wares.

A skinless, smoked sausage of pork and beef, mildly seasoned, is called a “Mettwurst” or simply a “Mett” in this part of the country.

A traditional Mett in Germany is usually pork only, cured and smoked, and strongly seasoned with spices and garlic.  Although even in Germany, you’ll find different versions of the “Mett.”

Two states away, in Wisconsin or Illinois, this exact flavor and texture of skinless sausage would be called a Polish, or kielbasa.  Queen City brand is one of the more popular local processors, around since 1965, and in addition to smoked sausage, they offer a Mett in a natural casing, fresh Chorizo and fresh Italian, bratwurst,  cooked bockwurst, bierwurst and smoked andouille. Different sizes of wieners and dinner franks, sliced deli meats, ham, roast beef, and a few other items.

I did mine in a cast iron skillet and put a little char on them.  I do that to emulate a natural casing, as I prefer casings to skinless.  That’s just me. They go on a plain bun with yellow mustard and/or kraut.  Ingredients are beef and pork and seasonings (first one listed is mustard), but also corn syrup solids, and that’s not a personal preference of mine at all. Sweet and savory clash, in my mind. Overall, I liked it, and I’d buy it again and like to try some of their other products.

If you can’t find Queen City’s products at a store near you,  they are also available online. I purchased the 14 oz package which contains six sausages. Larger sizes are available.

The bottom picture below is Queen City’s factory, located in the part of the city that used to be known as “Porkopolis,” due to the large number of slaughter and packing houses in the ‘hood.

Queen City Smoked Sausage Review

Packaged

Queen City Smoked Sausage Review

In the skillet

Queen City Smoked Sausage Review

Queen City Factory

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Jungle Jims Dry Salami Review

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Jungle Jims Dry Salami ReviewWhen I did my post last week about my first visit to the magical food kingdom of Jungle Jims, I didn’t talk about specific products, wanting to give them their own space and time.

Like their packaged (house brand) dry salami. Now if you love salami of all types as much as I do, Jungle Jims is the place for you with dozens and dozens of varieties from producers all over the world.

I picked up this one as an afterthought, an impulse item, stock stuffer, what have you.  I’ve written so much about processed meats over the past ten years that I’ve committed to memory (mostly) an awful lot of the USDA plant numbers you will see on processed meats in the US.  And I recognized this one – Jungle Jims is no slouch in who they dole out their in-house product manufacturing to, this salami is made by Busseto in California, one quality operation (Link leads to their Facebook page, their website is a little wonky today).

You can’t find many salumis (the word means Italian cold cuts in general) purer than this product, which contains pork and salt and traces of flavors and cures. Nothing alarming at all. And the true measure of any processed meats for me these days, and you know this if you’ve read any of my posts, is DOES IT TASTE LIKE THE ANIMAL?  So many processed foods have been over processed as to not really resemble the original muscle meat anymore.

Not so with Jungle Jims. Bite after bite, it tastes like pork off the farm, before one even gets the sense of the seasoning.  And that’s important to me.

Their dry salami is very mild, great ‘bite’ (texture), and is great for snacking, or appetizers, even a sandwich, depending on how thin you slice it. I’m having some tonight as an accompaniment to fondue, both perfect for a chilly winter night.  Wish I’d picked up multiples.  Next time.

A pic of one of Busseto’s ultra-modern processing plants is below.

Jungle Jims Dry Salami Review

Jungle Jims Dry Salami Chub

Jungle Jims Dry Salami Review

Busseto’s California Processing Plant

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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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