Archive for the ‘sausage’ Category

SHEET PAN EGGS

Posted: August 27, 2017 in breakfast, Food, Recipes, sausage
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When you’ve got 20 people showing up at your house for breakfast the morning after hosting a 165-person party the night before, you want to make it all as easy as possible for yourself. Sheet pan eggs are the answer!

I pre-cook everything but the eggs the day before…I caramelized some onions, cooked sausage patties and cut them into small cubes, and wilted a couple of handfuls of spinach…then kept them in the fridge, ready to use. Grating or crumbling some cheese–cheddar or feta–is also a good idea.

2 dozen eggs, scrambled
12 sausage patties, pre-cooked
2 large handfuls of spinach, wilted in a pan with some olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced, and sautéed until caramelized in a little olive oil
cheddar cheese or feta, optional
milk or cream, optional
butter
olive oil

 

The next morning, I get a large bowl out and scramble 2 dozen eggs. A touch of milk or cream is optional. Then I add all the pre-cooked ingredients, stirring well.

The secret to successful sheet pan eggs is to make sure the pan is greased really well. Using a cube of butter, I cover every inch of the sheet pan thoroughly. Then, I pour a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in the pan, and spread that around with my fingers.

Once the pan is nicely greased, I carefully pour the contents of the bowl into the sheet pan and place in a 300-degree oven.

Let the sheet pan eggs bake at this temperature, resisting to hurry the process by cranking the heat up. Higher temperatures will burn the bottom before the top is properly cooked.  Eventually, you’ll see the bottom of the pan solidify while the top is still a bit runny. Be patient! When the top is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and let it cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing it into squares.

To serve, either go the sandwich route by toasting some fresh slider buns. Or simply serve a square on a plate, garnishing as you like, a little Tabasco on the side.

 

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The latest rage in food is finding new uses for cauliflower. Personally, I love the taste of it so I don’t really need alternatives. But my wife’s on a gluten-free diet, I need to reduce my carbs, and we both love pizza. It seemed that maybe a cauliflower crust could be the answer.

The key to the crispiest crust possible is to make sure you bake it thoroughly before you put the toppings on.  Even if the crust comes out a bit soggy, all is not lost. Just grab a knife and fork… It’ll still taste pretty darn good.

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2 cups riced, then cooked cauliflower
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
mozzarella cheese
tomato sauce
additional pizza toppings of your choice

 

Cut the cauliflower florets into chunks and toss them in a food processor. Pulse until you get the consistency of rice. Don’t over-process, or you’ll get mush.

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Microwave the riced cauliflower in a bowl for about 6 minutes on high. No need to add water. Depending on the amount of liquid in your cauliflower, you may need to transfer it to a fine mesh strainer to let it drain. Once it has drained, transfer it to a clean dish towel and wrap the sides around the cauliflower, gently pressing out the excess water. You want to get it as dry as possible. Dry = crispier crust. But be careful…let the nuked cauliflower cool first or you could burn your hands!

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. (I like to use my large toaster oven, with the convection feature turned off.)

In a large bowl, use 2 cups of the cauliflower. (Depending on the size of the cauliflower head, you may have a little left over.) Add the parmesan cheese, the eggs, garlic salt, oregano and parsley. Mix well until it forms a sort of ball of “dough.”

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Grease a 9″ stainless pizza pan with olive oil. (Lining it with non-stick foil first is an option.) Take your ball of “dough” and press it evenly into the pan, making sure you don’t get it too thin, or you’ll get holes.

Bake the “dough” in the oven for 20–25 minutes, until it looks brown and crispy and is fully cooked. You don’t want it to be soft or soggy.

Remove the pizza from the oven, and add the tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever other toppings you like. (I used some pre-cooked chicken sausage and a sprinkling of oregano.)

Return the pizza to the oven, only this time place it under the broiler, and cook until the toppings have browned and the cheese has melted. Keep an eye on it…be careful not to burn it!

 

asparagus pastaAsparagus season has arrived in my garden. This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.
4 mild Italian sausages, sliced into pieces 1/2″ thick
1 lb. penne pasta
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh trumpet mushrooms (white button mushrooms work, too)
2 cups fresh asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, passed through a garlic press
1 cup homemade chicken broth
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Have the pasta water boiling, and add pasta, cooking until just a bit more undercooked than al dente.
Heat a large pan, and drizzle in some olive oil. Saute the sausage pieces until browned and cooked through, but not over cooked. Remove the sausages from the pan and place them in a separate bowl. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat left behind in the pan.
Place the pan back on stove and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, and saute for 10 seconds. Add the sage, and saute for 10 seconds, stirring. Add the chopped mushrooms and saute for a few minutes, then add the chicken broth, and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Pour the contents of the pan into the bowl with the sausages.
Return the pan to the stove, add a little more olive oil, and on medium heat, saute the asparagus pieces. Cook until they are al dente, not too soft. Once the asparagus has reached this stage, return all the contents of the sausage/mushroom bowl to the pan to heat through. Drain the pasta, and add it to the pan as well, combining all the ingredients. If it looks too dry, add a little pasta water to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Make sure you serve this hot, with grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top, and drizzle lightly over the top with extra virgin olive oil.

 

asparagus pastaAsparagus season has arrived in my garden. This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.
Ingredients:
4 mild Italian sausages, sliced into pieces 1/2″ thick
1 lb penne pasta
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh trumpet mushrooms (white button mushrooms work, too)
2 cups fresh asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, passed through a garlic press
1 cup homemade chicken broth
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Have the pasta water boiling, and add pasta, cooking until just a bit more undercooked than al dente.
Heat a large pan, and drizzle in some olive oil. Sautee sausage pieces until browned and cooked through, but not over cooked. Remove sausages from the pan and place in a separate bowl. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat left behind in the pan.
Place pan back on stove and saute onions until translucent. Add garlic, and saute for 10 seconds. Add sage, and saute for 10 seconds, stirring. Add chopped mushrooms and saute for a few minutes, then add chicken broth, and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Pour contents of the pan into the bowl with the sausages.
Return pan to the stove, add a little more olive oil, and on medium heat, saute the asparagus pieces. Cook until they are al dente, not too soft. Once the asparagus has reached this stage, return all the contents of the sausage/mushroom bowl to the pan to heat through. Drain the pasta, and add it to the pan as well, combining all the ingredients. If it looks too dry, add a little pasta water to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Make sure you serve this hot, with grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top, and drizzle lightly over the top with extra virgin olive oil.

 

Sausage, like bacon, is magical. It contains but a handful of simple ingredients. But when you mix them together, they form a truly flavorful food that is far more than the sum of its parts.
What has always kept me from trying to make my own sausage at home was that it seemed like a very complex process, from mixing and grinding all the ingredients, to stuffing them into casings. But then I thought about it: most of the time when I cook sausage at home, I remove the casings beforehand anyway…so why put them into casings in the first place? Once I realized I didn’t have to deal with the hassle of stuffing casings, making sausage became something I knew I really wanted to try.
The best book for anyone interested in making their own sausage, bacon, salami and more is called “Charcuterie,”by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. It shows you step-by-step how make these meaty creations, and I used their basic garlic sausage recipe to make my first-ever batch, though I did add a tweak of my own.This recipe makes a 5 lb batch of sausages…enough for you to pig out for some time, and still have enough to share with your friends.
Cutting the pork and bacon pieces into small cubes that grind more easily.
Ingredients:A total of 5 lbs of pork, containing 25% to 30% fat. I used lean pork loin, and then added pork fat to bring the fat level to around 30%. My special tweak was to include a half-pound of my home-made bacon (a future blog), to add some salt and smoky flavor.

3 Tablespoons kosher salt

1 Tablespoon ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons fresh finely minced garlic

1 cup chilled good red wine…I used Pinot Noir

It’s important to use at least 25% fat (or you’ll have dry, tasteless sausage) and I keep the meat as cold as possible at all times, so that the fat doesn’t break down or melt. I chop the meat and fat into small-sized bits that will be easier to grind…place them in a bowl, adding the salt, pepper and garlic. I mix the ingredients really well, place in a Ziploc bag, and store in the refrigerator overnight to chill and marinate.
The next day, I set up the grinder, keeping the meat in the fridge until the last minute. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer with a grinding attachment that does a great job of grinding the sausage. Using the smaller die, I grind the contents of the Ziploc, letting the ground meat fall into a bowl that sits in ice.
Ready to grind!
Once all the meat has passed through the grinder, I place the meat in the bowl of the mixer and, using the mixing paddle, mix the meat slowly for about 1 minute. I then add the 1 cup of cold Pinot Noir and mix for another minute, on medium.
If the sausage meat is sticky, I know I’ve reached the stage where it can go into casings–after I fry up and taste a small sample piece to make sure all of the seasonings are just right. If you do plan to use casings, keep the sausage meat in the fridge until you’ve set your casings equipment up.
As I said, I totally skip the casings part of the equation. So once the sausage meat has chilled for a bit, I roll them into small meatballs, placing the meatballs on trays lined with non-stick aluminum foil for easy removal later. These trays of meatballs go into the freezer, and once the meatballs freeze up, I can place them in freezer bags and properly store them.
I’ve also made sausage patties using a mold I have for beef sliders. Any shape will work.

Once you’ve made your own sausage, you will never settle for store-bought again. Knowing every ingredient that goes in…knowing the quality of the meat you’ve used…binding (and flavoring) with a quality red wine instead of simple water…it makes an incredible difference!