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Haul Out the Sausage. Wurstfest Begins.


If everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, then everyone must be German during Wurstfest.

So, get out your lederhosen and your Tyrolean mountain climber’s hat, because the fun begins this evening. For 10 days, the party goes on with sausage and other snacks as well as polka bands and fun for the whole family. Oh, yeah, and a beer or two will be poured. You can count on that.

This is the 51st year of the festival, which has drawn hundreds of thousands to New Braunfels’ Landa Park through the years.

The kickoff is at 5 p.m. this evening with a brief ceremony that includes the biting of the first sausage and the tapping of the keg. Wunderbar.

On the menu will be Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), potato soup, bratwurst, wurst tacos, chicken-on-a-stick and sausage sampler plates. Desserts include strudel, of course, as well as funnel cakes and fried Oreos.

According to a history of the event from the planners’ website, it began as a one-day affair called Sausage Festival and was designed to showcase the work of the local sausage makers. It was such a hit that it quickly evolved into Wurst Week before being christened Wurstfest.

Soon, tens of thousands of pounds of sausage were being consumed, while the bands played on. The year 1968 brought the first celebrity musician:  Myron Floren of the Lawrence Welk show put in appearance. Floren put in another appearance during the 25th anniversary celebration.

This year’s music lineup includes the famous Jimmy Sturr Orchestra as well as Alex Meixner, die Schlauberger, Master Yodeler Kerry Christensen and The Squeezebox. Die Bayrische 7 (The Bavarian 7), an all-girl group, will be traveling from Munich to perform.

Other events in town during Wurstfest include the Wurst Tour de Gruene, Wurstfest Regatta at Canyon Lake, the Wurstfest 10K Walk and the Wurstfest Skat Tournament at Landa Haus. A Veterans Day ceremony is also planned for Nov. 11, the closing day.

Admission at the gate is $8 for adults; children 12 and younger are free. Call (800) 221-4369 for information or click here.

 

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Sausage Lentil Soup


Sausage Lentil Soup

The last few weeks, I’ve had the time to make a big pot of soup on a Sunday afternoon in order to take to work with me each day.

Soup may seem an odd choice when the temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees, but my air conditioned office can actually make something warm most welcome.

My choice is usually determined by what I have on hand, and the following recipe is no exception. I had a little leftover sausage and some green lentils.

What really made the flavor spark to life was most was the addition of a few fennel seeds, which added a sweetness to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

Sausage Lentil Soup

1/2 to 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (16-ounce) package dry lentils, rinsed
8 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon garlic powder or onion powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Lentils

Place sausage in a large pot. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Add onion, celery and chopped garlic, and sauté until tender and translucent. Stir in lentils, water, chicken broth and tomatoes. Season with garlic powder, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, fennel, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until lentils are tender. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Makes about 1 gallon soup.

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

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WalkerSpeak: Pork and the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie


With the economy still in the tank and some of us marginally employed, why would we purchase Czech bacon at the price of $7 for a half pound?

First, it’s pork. Second, it’s one of our favorite artisan foods: charcuterie. This is the preparation of pork (mainly, though other meats can be prepared similarly) specialties such as pâtés, rillettes, sausages, and, of course, bacon.

If the product is made by those who adhere to a “slow-food” ethos, it becomes even harder to resist. This was our pleasurable predicament after sampling from the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie Saturday at the Pearl Farmers Market.

The Kocureks have been selling prepared sandwiches and packaged sausages, bacon and other hand-crafted foods at the Pearl market for some weeks now. Their stated mission is to “preserve the art of traditional charcuterie using local, free-range, hormone-free meat and game, and above all else, the preservation of our happiness in making authentic food with our family.”

Czech bacon, thickly sliced and seasoned with herbs and spices, comes from the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie in Austin.

Lawrence and Lee Ann Kocurek met at culinary school a decade ago, then moved to New York. Lawrence is an honors graduate from The French Culinary Institute and Lee Ann is a certified sommelier from the American Sommelier Association. They have a young son, born in 2009, who was their inspiration, after careers with top restaurants and wine merchants, to go into business for themselves in Austin.

As Lawrence described it, the bacon is not as salty as American bacon. It is seasoned, however, with a lengthy list of herbs and spices. The flavor was plenty bacon-y, and we didn’t miss all the salt we have become accustomed to. It sizzled nicely in the pan and turned very crisp. It was utterly delicious with scrambled eggs, green chile salsa and hot corn tortillas for breakfast, and in BLTs at lunch.

Later on Sunday, my husband and I pan-broiled the Kocurek’s Saucisse de Toulouse, a half-pound French sausage made with pork, wine, garlic, nutmeg and other seasonings. Served with an herb-scented pilaf of tiny green French lentils seasoned with salt pork and sliced fresh tomatoes, it was a perfect Sunday supper.

John Griffin took home with him his own packages from the Kocurek booth, not being able to resist the Boerewors sausage, a taste of South African-seasoned beef, pork and bacon with red wine, garlic, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and Worcestershire sauce among the spices. We’ll look forward to the report on that— or, better still, a taste!

To look at a comprehensive product list of the Korcurek family’s charcuterie, a schedule of the farmers markets they visit, and to sign up for their newsletter, click here.

Saucisse de Toulouse, pan-grilled and served with French Lentil Pilaf with Wine.

For the French Lentil Pilaf with Wine recipe that we served with the Saucisse de Toulouse (see below), click here.

Photos by Bonnie Walker


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Grilled Cornbread Dressing with Sweet Sausage


Grilled Cornbead Dressing with Sweet Sausage

Fire up the grill to make your next bowl of dressing.

Grilled Cornbread Dressing with Sweet Sausage

12 ounces mild (usually labeled ‘sweet’) Italian sausage
2 large red bell peppers
6 large cornbread muffins
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, chopped
A handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock

Set up grill for direct grill method. Add soaked wood chips to the fire.

Grill sausage over direct heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Cut into thin slices, and set aside.

Roast peppers over direct heat until completely charred and skins blister. Place in a bowl and cover. Set aside for 10 minutes, then chop.

Grill cornbread muffins on all sides until lightly charred. Crumble and set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Add the onions and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes or until soft and caramelized.

In a large mixing bowl, add crumbled cornbread, sage, chopped peppers, thinly sliced grilled sausage, and caramelized onion and combine well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, cream and chicken stock. Pour mixture over the cornbread. Stir dressing together, spoon into buttered baking dish and bake 20 to 25 minutes at 300 degrees.

Garnish with chopped parsley.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From Garrett Stephens/The County Line

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Gianni’s Adds Pizzas to Menu


Gianni’s Italian Cuisine, 2602 N. Loop 1604 W., has added a new lineup of pizzas to its menu.

The list includes the Chermley, with pesto, grilled chicken, sautéed mushrooms and house-made mozzarella; the Quattro Formaggio with house-made mozzarella, ricotta, blue cheese and provolone; and the Gianni, with shrimp, oysters, calamari, clams and mussels.

Spinach Alfredo pizza, a Greek-style pizza with feta and Kalamata olives, a vegetable pizza and a classic margherita pizza with tomatoes, basil and the house-made mozzarella are also on the list.

Gianni’s has also started making its own pasta and sausage in house.

The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday-Friday and dinner Tuesday-Sunday.

Gianni’s Italian Cuisine
2602 N. Loop 1604 W.
(210) 233-9240
www.giannisialiancuisine.com

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Celebrate Mardi Gras With a Pot of Gumbo


Mardi Gras is just a day away. Time to start thinking gumbo. SavorSA reader Sandy White, originally from New Orleans, shares a recipe for her version of this favorite:

“Just about every Louisiana kitchen has its version of the soup/stew called gumbo.  The name is derived from the African word for “okra” – though it’s not necessary and you will see that this version does not contain any.

“Although various versions contain game, poultry, seafood or a combination thereof, one ingredient common to all is the roux, which is simply the combination of equal parts of flour and fat. It provides both thickening and color to the gumbo.

“Enjoy!”

Sandy’s Gumbo

1-1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
Good quality Creole seasoning
1 cup vegetable oil plus 2 tablespoons, divided use
1 cup flour
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced pepper (I use a combination of green and red bell pepper)
1 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
2 bay leaves
1 ½ pounds good quality smoked andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
8 cups broth (I use a combination of chicken and vegetable)
1 (14 ½-ounce) can of crushed/diced tomato
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)

Season chicken thighs with creole seasoning. Sauté chicken is 2 tablespoons vegetable oil until browned.  Remove chicken from pot.  In pot add flour and 1 cup oil together and stir to combine.

Cook the roux until it develops a medium dark brown color (dark peanut butter).  Be careful not to splash the roux on you – it is very hot! Paul Prudhomme refers to it as the “Cajun equivalent of napalm.” While cooking the roux be careful not to allow it to burn – if it does, you must start over.  Stirring the roux is a must, and the process can take 30 minutes or more. I have a Cajun friend who likes to time the process in terms of the number of beers consumed.  Based on his timing this roux would probably be a 3 to 4 beer roux!

Add vegetables and sauté until translucent.  Add cayenne, pepper and salt.

Add broth and stir to dissolve roux.  Add bay leaves. Add sausage, browned chicken and tomato.

Simmer, covered, over low heat for 1 – 2 hours.

At the end of cooking turn off heat, add shrimp (if using) and cover the pot.

In 5-10 minutes the shrimp will be cooked and the gumbo ready to eat.

Serve over steamed rice and garnish with thinly sliced green onion.

Note: I am convinced that it is the sausage that makes the gumbo. I use two sources for my andouille.  The first is Jacobs in Laplace, La., (www.cajunsausage.com) and the second is The Best Stop in Scott, La., (www.thebeststopsupermarket.com).  Both places will ship overnight.

I find that this gumbo is best if made 2-3 days ahead and reheat when ready to serve.

Makes 8-10 servings.

From Sandy White

If you have a favorite recipe to share, e-mail info@savorsa.com.

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Substitution Is the Name of the Game


caldoverdeI wanted to make some Portuguese caldo verde the other day, but I didn’t have a few of the major ingredients on hand. For one, it’s hard finding Portuguese-style sausage at your neighborhood grocery (yes, Central Market often carries it, but, again, it wasn’t nearby). Also, I didn’t have kale or collard greens in the refrigerator.

What to do? Substitute, of course. I used kielbasa instead of chouriço; both are garlicky and complement the greens and potatoes well. Then I cut up strips of green cabbage instead of collards. I had new potatoes on hand, not Maine or Eastern potatoes.

The end result was slightly different from the traditional recipe, but it was still satisfying on a cold winter evening.

The following is the basic recipe I followed. Make it your own with what you have in your pantry and refrigerator.

Caldo Verde (Green Soup)

1 large yellow onion, peeled and minced fine
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
6 Maine or Eastern potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
2 quarts cold water
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 ounces chouriço (Portuguese-style sausage) or garlicky kielbasa, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound collard greens or kale, washed, trimmed of coarse stems and veins, then sliced thin. (The easiest way is to stack 6 to 8 leaves, roll crosswise into a firm, tight roll, then slice with a very sharp knife.)

Sauté the onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy saucepan 2 to 3 minutes over moderate heat until they begin to color and turn glassy; do not brown or they will turn bitter. Add the potatoes and sauté, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes, until they begin to color also. Add the water and salt, cover and boil gently over moderate heat 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are mushy. Meanwhile, fry the sausage in a medium-size heavy skillet over low heat 10 to 12 minutes until most of the fat has cooked out; drain well and reserve.

[amazon-product]0688134157[/amazon-product]When the potatoes are soft, remove the pan from the stove and with a potato masher, mash the potatoes right in the pan in the soup mixture. Add the black pepper, sausage and greens and simmer uncovered 5 minutes until tender and the color of jade. Mix in the remaining tablespoon olive oil and taste the soup for salt and pepper. Ladle into large soup plates and serve as a main course accompanied by chunks of rustic bread.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Adapted from “The Food of Portugal” by Jean Anderson

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Jalapeño, Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing


CornbreadStuffingThis stuffing was adapted from Women’s Day. I added minced jalapeños and chopped pecans to add a bit of local flavor.  If you purchase an already-made cornbread, or use boxed cornbread mix, remember that it might be sweet — unsweetened cornbread would be better in this savory dressing.

Jalapeño, Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

1 box cornbread mix, prepared,  or your own recipe for cornbread that makes a 9-by-9-inch pan
1 cup herbed dry bread stuffing mix or 4 slices stale or dried white or wheat bread, cut into ½-inch dice
¾ pound country sausage
1-2 large jalapeños, seeded and chopped fine
2 cups sliced celery
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 large twigs of fresh thyme, just the leaves or 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
1 cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted in skillet until fragrant
6 tablespoons butter, melted
16 ounces chicken broth (half of a carton of broth, or 2 cups)
3 large eggs, beaten
Kosher salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a 1 ½ quart baking dish, lightly buttered. (If using to stuff a turkey or crown roast of pork, see note below.)

Cut cornbread (slightly dried, either in the oven or left out overnight) in medium dice (about ¾ inch) and put into a very large bowl. Add the dry bread mix. Cook the sausage, crumbling it in the skillet, along with the minced jalapeño, until sausage is just cooked through. Add this mixture to the bread in the bowl.

Add a little cooking oil or oil spray to the pan you just used and sauté the celery and onion for a few minutes, until the onion is tender. Add this mixture to the bowl. Add the sage, thyme, parsley and pecan pieces to the bowl. Very gently, with your hands, mix the ingredients. Pour over the melted butter and the broth, then add the three large beaten eggs. Add salt and pepper, to taste. (I would add at least one generous tablespoon of kosher salt. Now, mix again, gently but thoroughly. (I like to keep some of the cornbread in cubes, as the dressing looks nicer, though much of it disintegrates when you put in the liquid ingredients.)

Scrape into the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake about 30 minutes. Take the foil off and bake another 10 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

Note: If you are using this stuffing in a Crown Roast of Pork, put as much of it as you can into the center of the roast, mounding it up slightly. The dressing supports the racks and helps the roast stay round. Cover the stuffing with a piece of foil as you cook the roast. Take it off about 15 minutes before the roast is done so that it will brown. Put any additional stuffing into a baking pan and cook it separately.

Makes about 10 servings.

Adapted from Women’s Day/Bonnie Walker

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Basil Blast: Verdant and Versatile


BasilAs I filled my hands with freshly snipped stems of basil for a sauce recently, a familiar, spicy scent suddenly spoke its name, loud and clear: clove.

I’d thought of basil as a member of the mint family. The two herbs thrive side by side in large pots on my patio. Basil is especially famous as a pesto ingredient as well as a remedy for an upset stomach, as is mint. But the sudden scent of clove gave me another clue as to why basil works so beautifully in a range of dishes.

Here’s one example: In December I prepared one of the dishes from the “Cooking with Les Dames d’Escoffier” for a function at the Culinary Institute of America. The committee for the event had chosen the appetizer recipe I would prepare. When I looked at Abigail’s Crusty Sausage Rolls I was intrigued at the combination of herbs in the ingredient list: fresh basil, allspice and sage.

The resulting appetizer was very good. A filling of the pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean’s) was seasoned with the above ingredients, mixed with Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella cheese. Then, a pizza crust (pre-fab) was rolled around it and it was baked. The long roll is supposed to be served on a large cutting board, a knife handy, so guests can cut off what they want and move on to the next appetizer. (We cut it into slices and served as a passed appetizer.)

Basil, with its clove-y, somewhat anise-like taste, allspice and sausage, along with a bit of sage, turned ho-hum sausage into a dish with personality. And I now had a new seasoning combination to experiment with.

Basil is so familiar to us, but lovers of this herb might consider its interesting, ancient history. In Italy it is used as a love symbol. When a woman puts a pot of basil on her outdoor balcony, it means she is ready to accept her suitor, according to “Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs”.

The Greek word for basil is derived from the word for “king.” The plant is thought to have originated in Africa, but first cultivated in India. (An in-depth discussion on the origins of the plant and the word can be found on Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages, www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/index.html.)

Basil, and some of its many varieties (such as lemon basil or Thai basil), is used in many of the world’s cuisines. It marries famously with olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmigiano-Reggiano for pesto. Its deep green, cushioned leaves are perfect for garnishing dishes in which the herb is used. One can add it to sachets or potpourris. It is pretty in a flower garden as well as an herb garden. It thrives happily in a pot on a balcony or deck, contributing lush, deep green color and a warm fragrance.

Use basil for more than pesto. Traditionally used in the Mediterranean and Thailand, warm climates such as ours, many foods and summer dishes will love a touch of basil:

  • Veal, pork and fish
  • Light summery vegetables, such as summer squash, zucchini and eggplant
  • Green salads (Fresh basil is very pungent, so use it judiciously.)
  • Soups, stews and sauces
  • Winter vegetables, such as cauliflower
  • Just about anything that is good with thyme, garlic or lemon juice. Also a natural with olive oil (put some in your bread dipping sauce).
  • Cooked white beans, pasta
  • Omelets (such as a Fresh Tomato and Basil Omelet) (for recipe, click here)

Finally, if you have an abundance of basil this summer, share it. Give it to non-cooks to use as an aromatic in the kitchen or for tea for a stomach ache. Suggest they use the stems, if long enough, to add color and fragrance to a bouquet. If you want to preserve it, chop it finely, add water and freeze it in an ice cube tray. When frozen, pack the cubes into zip-tight freezer bags.

Cooks might also want to add these recipes to their fresh basil repertoire: Abigail’s Crusty Sausage Rolls and Fresh Tomato Omelet.

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