Sunday, September 14, 2014

Roasted New Mexico Hatch Chilies

I'm a fiend for roasted chilies!  A few years ago, while Vince and I were on a roadtrip to Northern Arizona, we came across a supermarket in Flagstaff roasting chilies in the parking lot.  I bought what was probably a five pound bag of them and ate them on everything! (I should note that the nice young checker who sold them to me assured me that I was purchasing mild chilies. He was so wrong! They were flaming hot but I still couldn't stop eating them.)  

The variety I ate in Northern Arizona was a Hatch or New Mexico chile. 
These long green chiles are grown in the small town of Hatch, New Mexico and are considered premium green chiles. Every year there is a Hatch Chile Festival on Labor Day where up to 30,000 people come to the little town to buy and eat these delicious chiles. Hatch chiles are sometime confused with Anaheim or California chiles which were brought from New Mexico in the early 1900's and were bred to be more mild to suit the taste of Californians at the time. They were originally brought to Anaheim, hence the association/name. Hatch and New Mexico chiles can be used for the same dishes as California and Anaheim chiles but they are significantly hotter.

I scrambled them with eggs, made enchiladas, put them on burgers and grilled chicken. You get the idea. Five pounds of chilies go a long way. 

Freshly roasted Hatch or Anaheim chilies are so much better than the bland canned variety and they are quite easy to make. The video below will give you an overview.

Once you've roasted your chiles, you might want to try this recipe I found in the Seattle Times for Green Chili Breakfast Quesadillas or maybe as the weather cools, you'd like to try some Chile Verde instead! Either way, you won't be disappointed, I promise.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Glorified Home Chef Jason Goertz Shows Chef Erin How to Make and Stuff Italian Sausage

Jason Goertz, The Techy Chef, and my featured Glorified Home Chef, showed me several sausage recipes (see Breakfast Sausage). I think my favorite was the Sweet Italian Sausage because I got such a kick out of stuffing the casings. I hadn't made sausage since culinary school so it was really fun to get a refresher course from such a knowledgeable sausage maker.

I called my dad afterward to ask if he had the KitchenAid Food Grinder and Sausage Stuffer Attachment. (Looks like I know what I'm getting him for Christmas!) I know he'd get as much of a kick out of it as I did. So, check out the video first and then the recipe is laid out below.

If you are interested in learning more about sausage making and other sausage recipes, Jason recommended a couple other sites including Sausage Recipe - Formulations and The Spicy Sausage.

Sweet Italian Sausage

Adapted from The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith
Makes about 8 to 10 sausages

1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
2 lbs coarsely ground pork shoulder, chilled*
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup ice water
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fine sea salt or table salt
1 tablespoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
Hog casings, soaked (optional)

Use a spice mill or mortar and pestle to coarsely grind the fennel seeds and bay leaves. Be sure that the bay leaves are well crushed so that you aren't left with large pieces.

Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl. Spread the crushed garlic over the ground meat.

Place the ice water in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add the red pepper flakes, black pepper, ground fennel and bay leaves, and salt. Stir to blend. Pour mixture evenly over the pork.

Sprinkle the parsley across the meat. Use your hands to mix in the ingredients. Be sure that the spices are evenly distributed throughout the ground pork.

Cover the sausage mixture and place it in the refrigerator. Chill for 2 to 24 hours. At this point the bulk ground sausage can be fried or simmered in a sauce.

If you plan to make Italian sausage links, we recommend using natural hog casings, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. All hog casings come packed in salt and sealed in a vacuum pouch. Natural hog casings come in bundles or hanks of between 14-18 strands. Most places that sell casings will tell you how many pounds of sausage a particular order (length) will stuff. Since this is a small recipe, you’ll only need one or two casings.

For best results soak the casings overnight in a bowl of water. Before using the casings, rinse them out by putting one end over a funnel and pouring lukewarm water through them several times. Place the rinsed casings in a bowl with fresh warm water. Remove the casings from the water one at a time, as needed. Store unused natural casings in a brine solution or well salted in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. NEVER freeze casings.

Assemble your KitchenAid sausage stuffer attachment or other sausage stuffer. Lightly oil the extruder tube. Feed a piece of casing onto the sausage extruder tube, leaving only an inch or two of the casing hanging off the end of the stuffer. Tie a knot in the end of the casing.

With the mixer on the slowest speed, take small handfuls of the sausage mixture and feed them into the hopper of the sausage grinder. Use the tapper to push the sausage through. You’ll get a little air that fills up the casing like a balloon at first. You can prick the casing to release the air. Hold the casing in place until the sausage begins to fill it, then slowly guide the filled casing off the extruder. This might require two people; one person to add meat into the hopper, and one to hold the sausage as it comes off the stuffer. Continue to fill the casing as evenly as possible. Leave about 4 inches of empty casing on the end so that you’ll have room to work when twisting the links.

Coil the sausages on a sheet pan and puncture any visible air bubbles. Starting at the knotted end of the sausage, measure off the desired length, usually about 4 to 5 inches. Squeeze to mark the end of the first sausage and then twist between the first and second sausages about three times. Measure another length, squeeze and twist again, alternating the directions in which you twist. At the end of the chain of sausages, tie a knot after the last sausage.

For best results, refrigerate the sausages, uncovered, overnight before cooking. Cook as desired – poach, grill, pan-fry or simmer in your favorite pasta sauce.

Note: This is small recipe for making sausages. Since making sausage can be a bit labor intensive, you may want to increase the amount and make 5 to 10 pounds of sausage at a time.

*We started by grinding our own pork shoulder with a KitchenAid Food Grinder but you can also simply purchase ground pork, or even ground chicken or turkey, if you prefer. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Make Your Own Breakfast Sausage

One of my students, Jason Goertz, joined me recently to share a few recipes.  He's a great cook, a true glorified home chef, and amateur sausage maker. I had a wonderful afternoon working with him on several recipes that I'll be sharing here on my blog.  The first is for homemade breakfast sausage.

When I was young, my dad made homemade breakfast sausage from time to time. I remember the savory smell of the pork and the sage drifting out of the kitchen on a Sunday morning. There's nothing like the taste of homemade sausage along side a steaming stack of pancakes swimming in butter and maple syrup.  Look at me getting all misty and nostalgic. 

Anyway, you are going to love this recipe. It's so simple and tasty. Consider it a jumping off point. From here, you can try playing with the recipe to suit your taste. Maybe you like more sage or black pepper? Perhaps you'd like to add a little allspice? Or, if you are a die-hard breakfast junkie, you can take Jason's advice and grind up a little bacon in your sausage! 

Sage Breakfast Sausage

Serves 4 to 8
2 lbs ground pork shoulder, course or fine, depending on your preference*
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fine sea salt or table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the spices evenly across the pork. Using your hands, gently knead the spices into the ground meat. Work until well blended.

The sausage can be used immediately, however it will develop more flavor over time. You can refrigerate it, covered, for up to 24 hours to enhance the flavor.

When you are ready to cook, preheat a skillet or griddle to medium heat. 

Form the sausage into even patties, approximately 2 to 3 inches in diameter and 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Use your thumb in make a slight indention in the center of each patty. This will keep the patty from shrinking and puffing up during the cooking process. 

Place the patties on the preheated skillet. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the patties and continue to cook until the sausage is fully cooked, approximately 4 to 5 minutes longer. Cooking time will vary so be sure that the sausage is cooked through. There should be no pink visible when you cut it open. You can use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. The temperature should read between 160 and 165F. Let the sausages rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Note: This sausage recipe can also be made into breakfast links. If so, use finely ground pork, add 4 tablespoons of ice water when mixing in the spice. Stuff the sausage into lamb casings. Brown and serve.

*We started by grinding our own pork but you can also simply purchase ground pork, or even ground chicken or turkey, if you prefer. You will see that we used a KitchenAid Food Grinder attachment to grind our pork shoulder. I think it's the perfect size for beginning sausage makers.