Or maybe it is? It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to post much let alone have time for many cooking projects at home. Covid had an unexpected affect on business that we didn’t see coming. Demand has increased many times over and a day off is few and far between.
Last week I had a chance actually cook a meal at home and since fresh local produce is in large abundance I decided to go with stuffed bell peppers. I had made a ‘street corn’ sausage at the shop that week and I immediately knew that would be the base of the stuffing. The sausage had grilled corn, green onions, cilantro, cotija cheese and seasonings. I mixed that with a wild rice blend topped with tomato sauce and cheese. As soon as I had my first bite I was inspired…I need to make a stuffed bell pepper sausage!
Despite a long list of ingredients each component played perfectly together. All of the flavors I was going for shined through. I wanted a third of the farce to be fresh veggies, cheese, spices, etc… The ratio was perfect! The green peppers, onion and corn were all sauteed or grilled prior combining.
STUFFED BELL PEPPER SAUSAGE:
26 lbs. ground pork
236 grams plain or Kosher Salt.
650 ml Ice Water
1200 g. Green Bell Pepper
900 g. Walla Walla Sweet Rose’ Onions
1350 g. Sweet Corn
100 g. minced fresh Garlic
130 g. Green Onion
140 g. Cilantro
280 g. Tomato Paste
1100 g. cooked Basmati Rice
520 g. High Temp Swiss
520 g. High Temp Cheddar
20 g. Chili Powder
20 g. Cumin
20 g. Red Chili Flake
20 g. Smoked Paprika
20 g. Achiote Seasoning (Spiceology)
20 g. coarse ground Black Pepper
I ran the pork once through the grinder using the 7mm plate and on the second pass I added all of the fresh ingredients and rice. The ice water, spices, salt and tomato paste were mixed together and then added along with the cheese to the farce. I mixed until I just started to see signs of protein extraction or binding then stuffed into natural casings. The crew were all blown away by these brats and exclaimed they were the best sausage we’ve ever offered. I’m inclined to agree.
Mild, Medium or Hot?
In Walla Walla, WA., we have what seems like endless choices when it comes to Mexican food. I’m not taking about your average Mexican restaurants. I’m taking about truly outstanding Mexican food. There are numerous brick and mortar establishments and countless Taco Trucks dotting the valley. Fresh, local tortillas and chips are available at every grocery store. I don’t have a bad thing to say about any one of them…except Taco Bell, but that really isn’t Mexican food anyway.
My favorite places tend to be the Taco Trucks, and a big reason is the variety of salsa or a fresh Pico de Gallo. When asked if I would prefer the ‘mild, medium or hot’ I enthusiastically say “One of each!”. There is generally a mild Tomato salsa, a tangy Tomatillo, a Salsa Picante with a bit more heat or a creamy Jalapeno that can range from hot to fiery. All of them are delicious. All of them are unique. I will often throw back ‘shots’ of salsa if there are leftovers. I just can’t get enough.
…Because one salsa is never enough I wanted to experiment with several. After all…variety is the spice of life! I decided to use the Excalibur ‘Salsa Brat’ seasoning based on the many positive reviews and suggestions by Walton’s staff. This will be my base for all of the following pairing suggestions.
I don’t have exact recipes for any of these (yet). Cooking, IMO is all about improvisation and personal taste. Throw some stuff together, take notes and adjust if need be. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Come on in, the water is fine!
0_1548693603927_salsa-brat.jpgExcalibur Salsa Bratwurst Seasoning: This is a great place to start. The seasoning when used at recommended amounts adds a mild salsa flavor with hints of tomato, onion and pepper but doesn’t have much heat to speak of. This blend is going to please the masses and is unlikely to draw complaints from even the pickiest eater. It’s simply good. The addition of high temp cheese would be a welcome adjunct.
2. Salsa Brat + Fresh Pico de Gallo: Wow! Talk about a punch of flavor! Subtle flavors are out the window on this one. The addition of fresh Roma Tomatoes, Onion, Cilantro, Jalapeno and a squeeze of Lime highlight Excalibur seasonings quite well. The lime juice adds a clean and bright flavor to each of the ingredients and lets each one shine through…especially the cilantro.
3. Salsa Brat + Hatch Chile Salsa: Hatch Chiles are from the Hatch Valley in New Mexico and they are amazing. My Hatch Chile salsa consists of Chiles, Walla Walla Sweet Onions, Garlic, Cumin, Cilantro, fresh Lime juice with salt & pepper to taste. (If memory serves me right)
I took the base Salsa Brat mix and added a generous amount of salsa. Once again the lime really lets the flavors shine. The brats are tangy with quite a noticeable bump in heat . These are quite tasty! You are immediately met with an earthy and vegetive, green pepper flavor which leaves enough room for the garlic and onion finishing with a hint of cumin and cilantro. If I wasn’t running low on my salsa stash I would be making these again at my next opportunity. I have about 7-8 months before the peppers are in season again so I’ll just have to be patient…something I’m not known for.
4. Salsa Brat + Salsa Macha: These turned out to be my favorite of all. I am new to Salsa Macha and I would assume that goes for many people. I stumbled upon this variety of salsa after an accidental encounter with the TV Show ‘Pati’s Mexican Table’. My best description of this salsa is that it is a deep fried Chile, Peanut and Sesame blend…yes, peanuts! I’ve never heard of such a thing but the ingredients were intriguing and made sense so I gave it a go.
You will want a quality dried chipotle for this salsa. Look for a product that maintains good color, a leathery texture and a ripened raisin like aroma that is good and smoky.
Salsas tend to be regional and vary by available product and personal taste. My version of Pati’s recipe has a bit more vinegar, salt and brown sugar than was called for as well as the addition of Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and a double portion of garlic. I also substituted grape seed oil for the olive oil because it has a milder flavor and a higher smoking point. It is important to note that the peanuts, pepitas and sesame seeds be raw and unroasted as they would burn in the oil. Use Google to find a recipe…it might just change the way you think about salsa.
The Salsa Macha brats were noticeably darker than all of the others. The salsa itself has an almost inky deep reddish brown hue with orange highlights from the oil. It’s like a beautiful sunburst Fender Telecaster in liquid form. Guitar geeks may get the reference…for those that don’t, just imagine a totally rad sunset in the peak of Autumn color.
These brats have plenty heat but it’s not overpowering. The chipotles add an intense earthiness with a hint of raisin and deep Chile flavor. I think I could detect more of the peanut flavor of these in the brats vs. the salsa on its own. Acid brightens any dish and the distilled vinegar does the job in this one. The brown sugar doesn’t add much sweetness but it rounds everything out and creates balance. I’ve used this on chicken thighs, breasts, taco meat and as a topping…it’s simply outstanding in so many ways.
I would love nothing more than to destroy a bag of fresh corn chips and a copious amount of Pico de Gallo but as I walk the tightrope of diet and indulgence I will settle on a few of my favorite ‘salsa’ bratwursts.
0_1548694199465_Salsa brat patties.jpg
0_1548694307138_Chicks n brats.jpg
Last week I borrowed an Anova ‘Precision’ Sous Vide and cooked nearly every meal with it. I made boneless skinless Chicken thighs, Chuck Eye steak, Tri-Tip, Pork Chops, Apple Blue Cheese and Sage Brats and fresh local Asparagus. All the meat was finished on the grill. Everything turned out fine but there are a few things I would critique with this technique.
Texture: Sous Vide changes the texture of meat. There is no avoiding this. With tough cuts of Beef that could be a good thing. With pork and particularly Chicken. Both turned out good. Both were juicy. Both were flavorful. Both were…weird. I’m on the fence with the texture of Pork sometimes as is. I’ve never had much issue with Chicken unless it was under cooked and that’s exactly what it reminded me of. This time it wasn’t due to not getting the meat to temp. It was the cooking method. Overall the meat was fine and I finished all of it but I won’t be using Sous Vide on Chicken ever again. Same goes for Pork. The results were similar but the texture was not favorable. D**n you Sous Vide.
Crust or Bark: After the cooking all of the previously mentioned meats I finished them on a searing hot grill. While everything came out tasty and picture perfect it didn’t quite have that crusty, caramelized exterior I enjoy in a steak. When you pull the meat from the Sous Vide it has been cooked in it’s own juices. While flavorful this makes it nearly impossible to get a good crust on the grill. Pan searing might be the way to go. It was good but not great. The Chuck Eye was super tender. The Tri Tip was already cut into small-ish pieces from the butcher so I prepared them as kabobs. They turned out great but could probably used a bit more time. That might be one I revisit in the future.
The good: The brats and sausage turned out perfectly. I’ve never made brats that retained so much of the juices. They were perfect. Likewise the asparagus was perfect. They turned a vibrant green and were still crisp but cooked through. If I decide to pull the trigger on a Sous Vide of my own, brats and veggies will be in the regular rotation.
I experimented with a smoked honey mustard recipe recently that you guys might like. While the smoke character didn’t come through as I would have hoped I think with some added time in the smoker it might just work. It’s a solid recipe either way.
For the smoked preparation you will need a something to smoke your seed in or on. I used brewing bags that would normally be used in beer brewing and doubled them up as to lose as few of the mustard seed as possible. You might also be able to use a sheet pan. I smoked the bags of seed for approx. 3 hours on Hickory but I’d suggest possibly doubling that amount of time.
I figured while I was doing this I would also add some smoke to salt, crushed red pepper and dried pinto beans. The smoke character came through nicely in all three with the beans and chili becoming the most fragrant. I feel the salt could have used some more time too but overall it was ok.
For the recipe you will need the following ingredients:
3/4 C. Smoked Yellow Mustard Seed
3/4 C. Smoked Brown Mustard Seed
1 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 C. White Vinegar
1/2 C. Honey
2-3 oz of your favorite Whiskey (in my case Weller)
1 t. fine sea salt
1 t. Tumeric
A pinch or two of Allspice (optional)
Combine Vinegar and Honey in saucepan and heat just until the honey dissolves and allow to cool to room temp. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive container such as Tupperware, cover and let rest at room temp overnight. Take a shot or two of Whiskey. The following day you may notice that the seeds have soaked up all of the liquid. If so, add a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar and/or whiskey and stir. If there is excess liquid add a bit more seed. Take another shot or two of Whiskey. At this point you will want to refrigerate the mustard for the next six days. Be sure to finish the remaining whiskey during this time…most important.
At this point the mustard is ready to be enjoyed as a whole grain version or you can use a processor to make it a bit creamy. While I haven’t tried it yet I’d bet that a big dollop of Horseradish would kick this one up a notch. Enjoy!
It’s been discussed here on occasion the desire for a patty maker for breakfast sausage. The Weston patty maker is great but the patties are substantial. I had some 100 mm casings that I had no immediate plans for so I figured that I’d stuff it with a breakfast mix, freeze and portion out on the slicer. It worked great!
This method is an inexpensive method for the home guy. I’ll be purchasing the large rolls of poly tubing for the shop soon. This is really going to speed things up!
Some of you have seen my ‘diet’ references around here. I have been on a low carb diet plan, along with exercise for the past 2 years…last weekend was the anniversary. It hasn’t been an easy journey but nothing worthwhile should come easy.
I’ve always been fat and I was always bullied about it. When I was about 8 years old I put an end to all photography as I couldn’t stand looking at myself. Every year my parents would get a call when it came time for school pictures. Often times this included the use of middle finger. As the years passed the only photos that I ‘allowed’ was for the purpose of an identification card.
2 years ago my parents rented a beach house in Oceanside, OR… Before and during the trip it was discussed that we all need to make a positive change in regards to our health. In particular our weight.
Knowing that it would be my last weekend of eating ‘real food’, I indulged. My plan was to eat as much seafood as I could that weekend being on the coast and all. When it came time to eating out I kept going back to my favorites…burgers, pizza, beer and Reuben sandwiches.
Upon returning from the trip I cleaned out the cupboards and fridge of ‘off-limit’ items. No more rice, beans, bread, sugar, corn, potatoes…beer (insert sad face and whimpers.) It was nothing but fresh meat and green veggies from now on.
When I make up my mind to do something I am more determined than most people and this was a ‘do or die’ decision. Failure means a premature death. Failure is not an option.
During the first few weeks of the diet I observed immediate results. I also came across Walton’s Inc. and Meatgistics at about the same time. I noticed that many of the sausage seasonings were mimicking the very things I was now trying to avoid on the diet. Most notably Pizza and Reuben sandwiches. I could now enjoy my favorite meals with a product that is easy to portion and has virtually no carbs.
I was determined to lose 100 lbs. by my 1 year diet anniversary. I lost a steady 10 lbs. per month for the first 6 months but was frustrated that I didn’t lose any ‘girth’. I was still huge and the lack of physical results was frustrating…but I kept going.
I was having a discussion about this with my dad and his friend which gave me a pat on the back and put things into perspective. It was also at this time that my dad divulged that he had taken a picture of me while were on our trip without my ‘permission’. Had I known at the time I would have likely demanded that he erase the image immediately. Had he not taken that photo I may have lost my way. When I saw my before image I was more determined than ever…this s**t is real. I am really losing weight!
By August of 2018 I was down 90 lbs. and finally to a size that I could start exercising without wanting to die. I didn’t want to wait until October to hit my 100 lb. goal. I wanted to get there by my birthday in early September…so I did!
It was at this point that my clothing really started ‘hang’. Pre-diet I was wearing a 4X shirt and had a 66" waist. One year later I dropped one shirt size. By Thanksgiving I was a 2X. When Christmas came I was into my first 1X shirt since 2003…most notably my Audioslave and Lollapalooza concert shirts that I had saved. Luckily and ex-girlfriend had saved all of my prior clothing. There is no way I would have been able to afford clothes had she not done that for me.
When I first started the diet I was using an app on my phone that wanted me to enter my ‘goal weight’ so I threw 200 out there thinking I would never get close to that in a million years. When I hit 225 lbs. I knew that the goal was well within my grasp. I got this.
Over the next few months my weight loss slowed and my size remained steady but I was still at a decent pace. I had been working out an hour per day 6 days a week on an elliptical/recumbent hybrid since August. On April 6, 2019 I hit my ‘unreachable’ goal of 200. Whoa!
I could have easily stopped there. Nope. I need to push goal posts to better myself. I only needed to lose 15 more lbs. to be half the man I used to be…so I did! At this point I was wearing a large shirt and had a 32" waist. These are numbers I hadn’t seen since I was 12!
I promised myself that when I hit 185 that I would reward myself with a burger. By June 1st I hit my next goal and was ready for my reward. My son who lives a few hours away wanted to be there for the occasion but I knew it would be a while before we could get together…so I moved the goal posts yet again.
It was too hot for working out at my place so I decided my reward for now would be less exercise unless it had a negative impact. It slowed progress but I still managed to drop weight. That’s a reward I can live with!
Lots of people lose 100 lbs. and that is certainly something to brag about. Many people lose 150 or more. Few people can brag that they weigh half as much as they used to. Far fewer can say they lost over 200, so why not try?
In mid August a new butcher shop opened up in my area called ‘Butcher Butcher Walla Walla’ On my first visit the owner mentioned they might be looking for a sausage maker. Over the next few days I visited his shop and made purchases daily. Each time I would ask questions about the shop, their process, equipment, etc… It has been a while since I’ve looked for work so I was cautious. Rather than filling out a resume I delivered 14 different kinds of sausage and threw some jerky in for good measure. I was hired!
By August 20, 2019 I weighed in at 170 lbs… Boom! It’s burger time! One problem…my son wasn’t here. We had been planning on visiting the same beach house to take a before and after photo of my weight loss. I figured this would be a good time for a burger with the kid. This would also give me a little more time to go beyond the 200 lb. barrier…so I did!
I left for my trip last Friday morning weighing in at 164 lbs with a 31" waist and totaling a massive 206 lbs weight loss. I drove 4 hours to Vancouver, WA. to a Killer Burger location and had my first burger in 2 years accompanied by my son and parents. I can’t imagine a better group to celebrate with!
I’m not the only success story here though. As I mentioned in the beginning, this was a group effort. My father lost over 60 lbs and my mother lost over 40! As a family we have lost well over 300!
Walton’s Inc and the Meatgistics community were a huge part of my success. I really could not have done it without all of you. Food related hobbies gave me the drive and focus to stay on task and the camaraderie here is an inspiration. Thank you for making this, my 1000th post, possible!
-Joel (aka Joe Hell)
We get some pretty random requests for sausage at the shop and the boss just can’t say no…I think he does it just to mess with me sometimes. lol. Oddly this one was requested twice in the last week.
The latest request was for a Swedish Christmas Sausage called Potatis Korv, or simply ‘Korv’. Apparently the boss wasn’t aware that this is a holiday thing! I browsed several recipes online and all of them seemed pretty similar. Equal Parts Pork, Beef to Potato/Onion with Allspice and Black Pepper.
5.5 lbs. Pork trim
5.5 lbs. Beef trim
I did not get an exact measurement on the potatoes and onion but it was 7 good sized Yukon Gold Potatoes (raw) and two medium Sweet Onions (raw) equaling a total of 5.5 lbs. for a combined total of 16.5 lbs. ingredients. Feel free to play with ratios.
150 grams Kosher Salt
4 t. Black Pepper
4 t. ground Allspice
I ran all of the meat and veggies through the #32 grinder using the coarse plate and laid out on a sheet pan evenly. I sprinkled about half of the salt and spice mixture over the top, tossed lightly then sprinkled the remaining spices. I then set the pan and grinder head in the freezer to chill for about 30 minutes.
Next step was a final grind through the coarse plate, a quick hand mix to ensure uniformity before covering and resting overnight in the fridge. I made a test patty for the crew and it turned out great. Cooking over low heat produced a great crust from the potatoes. I’d describe this as a breakfast in a sausage. The potatoes and onion reminded me hash browns and gave a soft yet defined texture. The Allspice and Pepper gave it a mild and savory finish. I’me sure I’ll be making this one again!
We use the Tubed 35-38mm casings at the shop for everything which makes for a nice, plump sausage. Many recipes called for links at about 4" in length so that’s what I went with. These eat like a meal so the smaller size seems to work well. If you try these for yourself let me know how it goes and post pics!
Part of my diet success was due to replacing every day foods such as pizza and Reuben sandwiches with a sausage alternative. So long as the flavors were there the craving for bread was easier to deal with.
Bagels with cream cheese are delicious but loaded with 4 days worth of carbs in my case. I’ve been toying with the idea of an everything bagel fresh brat for several months and finally got around to it…it’s everything I hoped it would be! Here is my easy recipe for a scratch made fresh brat.
My first step was to come up with the seasoning. I looked at numerous recipes online and came up with a blend that I was happy with.
Everything Bagel Seasoning:
1 C. Poppy Seeds
1 C. Sesame Seeds
1 C. Dried Chopped Onion
1/2 C. Black Sesame Seeds
1/2 C. Dried Minced Roasted Garlic
Everything But the Bagel Brat:
11 lbs. Ground Pork
100 grams Kosher Salt
250 grams Everything Bagel Seasoning
300 ml Ice Cold Water
Mix salt, seasoning and water and let hydrate for 5-10 minutes. Mix with well ground pork and let rest overnight. Stuff into natural casings. Let sausages rest in fridge for several hours uncovered to dry the casings slightly. I’ve found you get better snap when biting into them after drying.
I know I’m not the only one around here that is maintaining a lower carb or keto lifestyle so I figured I start a thread about side dishes. The diet can be challenging so quick and easy recipes with healthy side dishes would be welcome!
Roasted vegetables are a staple in my house. This time of year squash is on the menu. Drizzle with olive oil along with whole garlic cloves, onions, carrots, etc… It takes about 45 minutes in a 425 degree oven is all it takes. Leftovers are easily made into soup with chicken or veggie stock and a splash of cream.
Do you have a favorite healthy side dish you want to share? If you have any ideas post them here!
If you haven’t had beef bacon you should really try it. I’ve had it a few times prior to trying this recipe from Jess Pryles. It’s been hit and miss at best. This recipe is super easy and provides excellent results every time. It’s been a hit at the shop and even sought out by Adventists buying meat on the down low. Resist the urge to cut thick slices as it tends to be chewy. Thin sliced is the way to go!
3-4lb beef navel
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon pink curing salt
CURE: Add all the dry ingredients together to create a rub mix, then rub into the surface of the beef, pressing it onto the sides to make sure it’s well coated. Place the belly into a large zip top bag, making sure as much of the cure mixture as possible makes it into the bag. Place the bag into a fridge to cure for 3-5 days. Once a day, massage the liquid that accumulates in the bag and flip it over.
DRY: After the curing process is complete, remove the meat from the bag, and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat the belly dry with paper towel. Ideally, you will now return the uncovered belly to the fridge to dry out overnight, but if you can’t wait for this step it’s not essential.
SMOKE: Preheat a smoker to 200-215f. Place the belly into the smoker and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 150f. Once at temperature, cool then return to fridge to allow for easy cutting.
COOK: Thinly slice the bacon and cook in a medium-low heat skillet until crisp. Bacon will last up to 14 days in the fridge - simply slice off pieces as needed. Unlike pork bacon, beef bacon is best when thinly sliced.
Jalapeño Poppers have been a diet staple for the last couple of years. They are a quick and easy low-carb snack, side dish or main course. The filling can easily be adapted with taco meat, sausage or bacon for a heartier meal. They can be wrapped in bacon, ham, etc… Leftovers go great in a number of egg dishes!
1 - 8 oz. package room temperature cream cheese
1 C. Shredded cheese of your choosing
1/2 pickled Jalapeno
3 TBL Hot Sauce
Crushed Tortilla chips or Bread Crumbs
Cut opening in peppers lengthwise and remove seeds and pith. Finely dice leftover pepper and pickled jalapeño. Whip room temp cream cheese with fork until fluffy. Add shredded cheese and diced peppers and Hot Sauce. Mix thoroughly.
Add cream cheese mixture to quart sized zip-loc and remove corner. Pipe cream cheese into the cavity of each pepper until overflowing. Dip exposed cheese into bread crumbs or crushed tortilla. Omit this step if wrapping in bacon. Drizzle peppers with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until crumbs are browned and peppers slightly wilted. Let rest 5 minutes.
These also work well in a smoker or on the grill using indirect heat.
Supreme Pizza Supreme Pizza
Over the last weekend I finally had a chance to put the Excalibur ‘Supreme Pizza’ bratwurst seasoning to use and It’s everything I hoped it would be. It’s been approximately 458 days and 16 hours since I last had pizza (seriously, lol) so this is something I was really excited for. It has slight sweet tomato flavor with hints of pepperoni and fennel sausage. The addition of high-temp mozzarella really brought this together. The aroma reminded of walking into my favorite pizza place. The only thing that I was missing was the crust…and toppings!!! I’ve never been a big fan of cheese pizzas so why would I settle now? They taste just fine, but can be boring. I like a large variety of toppings. I need some color. In my opinion visual appeal is just as important as anything.
After grinding meat, adding seasoning and throwing my cheese into the mix I tried a small sample prior to stuffing to see if I needed to adjust the seasoning. The flavor was great but I craved an intense punch that I could only get by loading this pizza up with toppings. I NEED real pizza in my life!
To 10 lbs of ground pork I added a good portion of minced vegetables (pulsed in a cuisinart) after pan frying them for a few minutes to sweat them. My toppings included the following:
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Medium Sweet Onion
1 pkg Sliced Mushrooms
1 can sliced Black Olives
1 bunch fresh Basil
10 cloves garlic
1 TBL dried Oregano
1 tsp. crushed Red Pepper
a pinch of salt
My first impression of the Excalibur Supreme Pizza Seasoning was great. My second impression was nothing short of amazing. The seasoning holds it’s own but adding your own ‘toppings’ will really elevate your bratwursts to a whole new level. The seasoning really complimented the toppings well and brought subtle nuances (Umami?) to the end product. Visually speaking…they were beautiful. A simple sausage patty was stunning and full of color.
Whether making patties for burgers or in the form of a brat these would be incredible on a bun with marinara, mozzarella and a sprinkling of fresh chopped basil.
If you are on the Low-Carb torture diet plan like I am do yourself a favor and order some Excalibur Supreme Pizza Seasoning and load it up with toppings. I’d suggest doing the same with the Philly Cheesesteak (Peppers and Onions), Reuben (Sauerkraut and Caraway) and any number of the others. Fresh Pico De Gallo in the Salsa Brats would be totally rad. It might just change your life.
We have an unofficial motto at the shop…Eat less meat. Know where it comes from!
It may seem odd that a butcher shop would recommend that you eat less of their product but portion size was key to my weight loss and my ongoing ‘maintenance’. I try to use the palm of my hand as reference. One handful of protein and two handfuls green veggies with every meal. That comes out to about 6-8 oz meat and 2-3 cups of veggies. This will vary from person to person of course but I think proportionately speaking those with larger hands probably need a higher caloric intake than the little guys.
Last night I went with a green salad with cucumber, avocado, pickled jalapeno, Mexican crema, shredded cheese, pepitas and fermented hot chili sauce. I love spicy everything including my salad!
For my protein I chose a glorious 26 oz. rib steak from Upper Dry Creek Ranch in Weston, Or… This was a grass raised and finished Angus. This is the first time we have carried this particular product in our shop as we have 2 other sources for beef but we do carry their lamb which is quite good.
I kept the seasoning simple with salt, pepper and a touch of granulated garlic and reverse seared perfectly on the Pit Boss. There was far more than I needed for a meal so I took it back to the shop and shared it with the owners. They both exclaimed that it was one of the best cuts of steak they have ever eaten.
I have found that the grass fed is a bit more tender than our barley finished option and has a much more pronounced beefy flavor. The grass fed Corriente is much smaller and less fatty than the Angus by a long shot. The fat on the barley finished however is quite delicious.
0_1547232663965_potpie.jpgI dream of Chicken Pot Pies… XXXXXX Recipe
Sometimes I have surreal dreams. Sometimes mundane. Sometimes I wake up craving a food that I haven’t had in what seems like forever. I recently dreamed of Chicken Pot Pies. I love them.
I like to make just about any dish from scratch. You name it, I’ll try to make it. I’ve been avoiding carbs for 15 months now but that doesn’t mean I can let my sourdough starter go idle. I bake bread and give it away or turn it into croutons and save them for a rainy day. It’s pure torture.
There is nothing like a homemade Chicken Pot Pie, but my guilty pleasure is the cheapo, store bought, frozen variety. They aren’t anything special but they are comforting…nostalgic…reminiscent of times gone by. How I crave thee.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the dream and I can’t shake them from my mind. I need a pot pie fix. Chicken Pot Brats?
I borrowed from Jonathon’s recipe for ‘Chicken Brats from Chicken thigh meat’ but put my pot pie spin on it. I used the recommended addition of Cold Phosphate and Carrot Fiber Binder. I didn’t have any Walton’s seasonings on-hand with the profile I was looking for so I used what I thought would give the sausages the pot pie backbone I was looking for…gravy mix.
Normally I would use all fresh ingredients but you just can’t find peas and corn this time of year. Besides…I never worried about that when eating the frozen pies. Luckily we have had a mild winter and I still have access to fresh Thyme and Rosemary. For the filling I went with the standards:
8 oz. Duck Broth (why the duck not?)
For the preparation I diced all of the veggies into ‘pea sized’ bits and sautéed with a good amount of Irish butter. Potatoes, Green Beans and Onions first. When the onions start to go translucent I add the Carrots and Celery. A minute or two later the Peas and Corn make an appearance ending with the minced Garlic for another minute or so. I kill the flame and add the fresh Thyme, Rosemary and chopped Italian Parsley and let cool.
While the veggies cool I grind my partially frozen chicken thighs bits through the 3/16 plate on my Weston #8 grinder and return the ground meat to the freezer while I measure out the phosphate and carrot fiber and prep the stuffer.
After removing the once ground meat from the freezer I mix in the veggies and gravy mix and go for another grind through the same 3/16 plate and end up with a perfect grind. A quick sample patty hits the fry pan…just a touch more salt & pepper and I should be good to go. I mix in the phosphate, binder and broth but the mix is a bit loose so I add a sprinkling more of the carrot binder. One more test patty to be sure…perfection!
In order to give myself an accurate idea of the total amount of carbs per sausage I planned on measuring every ingredient down to the gram but in my rush for pot pie satisfaction, I forgot. I ended up weighing the total amount of veggies (11.10 oz.) and went with the highest weight/carb ratio of the most ‘dangerous’ ingredient…the sinister and addictive potato.
If my calculations are correct (no guarantee) there is approx. 4.5-5 grams carbs per 4 oz. sausage. Not too shabby. My limit is 22 per day so 5-7 per meal is acceptable.
All in all I made a pretty reasonable facsimile of the Chicken Pot Pie. You can certainly distinguish the gravy profile from the veggies and pick up on the herbal notes. The aroma is spot-on. The flavor is everything I hoped it would be. Dreams really do come true!
The only thing missing is the pastry crust and extra gravy…or is it? I made a quick pastry crust, wrapped a pre-cooked Chicken Pot Brat, applied an egg wash and baked until golden brown…served in a pool of gravy! (disclaimer: I did not eat the crusty Chicken Pot Brat…I gave it to my momma)
As I experiment with new flavors and seasonings I will get on a serious kick and apply it to everything I am making that week. A couple weeks ago I put Harissa seasoning on everything…meat, veggies and pineapple. Think of it as a cousin of Chorizo seasoning.
This week I’m all about Chinese BBQ pork or Char Siu. It’s what you find at Chinese restaurants on the cold pork and mustard/seeds…and it’s delicious. Recipes abound online and the ingredients are easy to come by.
Last week I experimented with pork tenderloin and the results were great!. My first thought was this would be a perfect flavor profile for ribs so I grabbed some St.Louis and Baby Backs from the shop and got to work.
I marinated the meat for about 36 hours and threw it on the Pitboss. My temp for the first 2 hours was set to 200 and then I wrapped them all together in foil and increased the heat to 225 for the next 2 hours. After the first 3 hours the loin had hit 160 so I pulled that and let rest. At the 4 hour mark I unwrapped the ribs and increased the temp to 250. As the ribs continued to cook I was thinking that the proper way to finish this would be over searing hot coals. It only took about 10 seconds per side to get some good char and color on them. I transferred back to the Pitboss and shut down the heat and let them rest while I cleaned up.
To serve I went traditional with a seriously hot and slightly sweet Chinese style mustard and sesame seeds. I nailed it! If the weather holds out tomorrow I might just cook ‘chicken on a string’ over an open fire with the same marinade. In any case there WILL be Char Siu chicken in my near future!
We had some lean stew meat at the shop that was destined for grinding so I intervened and figured I’d make jerky out if it.
I used the Jalapeño jerky seasoning and the much discussed vegetable glycerin from a previous thread or two. Because I was bringing to temp in the oven and finishing in the dehydrator I also added some of the hickory smoke powder at approx 2/3 the suggested rate. I brought the meat to 160 in a 350 degree oven for approx. 15 minutes and then transferred to the dehydrator.
I absolutely love this seasoning and the soft, chewy texture of the end product. Don’t let the jalapeño scare you off if you aren’t a fan of ‘hot’. I found the heat level to be low but the pepper flavor itself is robust. I personally can take some heat so the next batch will be getting a dusting of pepper flakes before the cook. The hickory powder was a great addition and gave a great smoky flavor and aroma. Since going to the dehydrator I’ve missed that smoke aspect so the powder comes in handy.
I had a roasted garlic and honeynut squash soup with broccoli and homemade crostini, a meatloaf brat and bacon wrapped meatballs. The the shop lately we have been combining the sausage that doesn’t make it into casing with an equal amount of ground beef, eggs and breadcrumbs for a take and bake meatloaf. They have gone over really well. This week I figured I would stuff the meatloaf into casing. Who doesn’t like a meatloaf sandwich? I had just enough leftover after stuffing today to make a few meatballs too. I cooked these on the pit boss and glazed with a quick made bbq sauce. Everything turned out great!
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