We have high standards for barbecue in this apartment. Sarah’s from a barbecue-centric part of the world. We’ve been getting better at making sauces of all kinds (let me tell you about a recent Alfredo experiment that has bolstered my own confidence). Oh, and we live in Germany, home of the Champion Pork People. So why wouldn’t we want to try our hand at pulled pork sandwiches? Continue reading Pulled Pork
Sicilian Sausage with Fennel Seed
We got inspired by thespicysausage.com’s impressive array of recipes and had better-than-expected results with the first two attempts. We particularly liked the Sicilian one with the hint of nutmeg and lemon zest contrasting nicely with the underlying tangy bitterness from the red wine. But it distinctly lacked fennel, and also seemed unnecessarily salty (perhaps owing to the real Romano cheese we used this time instead of faking it with Grana Padano, like we usually do).
While whipping up another batch this morning, Sarah hit upon the idea of throwing in some fennel, too. Here’s our recipe, adapted from thespicysausage.com and scaled down.
1.9kg (4 lbs, 3 oz) pork shoulder (including skin and fat; discard the skin, but keep the fat)
1 1/3 cups grated Romano cheese
2/3 (158 ml) cups cold red wine
1 big clove of garlic, minced (a medium-sized clove is probably plenty for normal people)
1 tbsp salt — maybe even just 2 tsp
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp dried nutmeg or 1/2 tsp freshly grated (love my Microplane nutmeg grater!)
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 tbsp whole fennel seed
Get your butcher to separate the skin from your pork shoulder, but make sure to retain the fat!. Ask for a coarse grind, or take it home and skin it and grind it yourself if your butcher won’t do it for you (for whatever reason…and then seek out a new (old!) butcher).
Keep everything as cold as possible: the bowl, the meat, and the utensils you will use to mix the ingredients. You might find it helpful to mix all the dry ingredients and lemon zest together first in small bowl and then introduce that into the cold pork mass. Really mix it in there well: an uneven distribution means some diners get flavor bursts and others are bored. Fry up a golf-ball-sized lump to check for taste.
Then, make patties or fill up your hog casing, grill or fry, and enjoy. We knew in advance what shape of bread we’d serve them with, so we sized the links accordingly. For 13 adults, these 15 links were just barely enough. Next time we plan to make a little extra to freeze for later, too.
Homemade Kansas City Meat Action
We’ve been in Kansas City for the past week or so and have been enjoying local meat. My mother-in-law does these wonderful things called Country Ribs. A quick check at Wikipedia confirms that these probably don’t technically qualify as “ribs” — but who cares? The hard part for reproducing this at home in Germany would be getting the cut of pork necessary. We don’t know how to ask for it in English (other than “Country Ribs”) let alone in German. So maybe we’ll try it with what’s available.
First she marinates them. With magic.
Then onto the grill for a bit, just until the outsides are done.
Then bring ’em back inside for the final phase: baking. She separates them by thickness and size to make sure they all bake evenly — typically the smaller, thinner ribs are done more quickly. Douse with a local barbecue sauce, and bake them until they’ve reached the right internal temperature for pork. Yum! Goes great with scalloped potatoes.
We also got a chance to visit with pals Brian and Mikey. Brian showed off his mastery of the art of discada: essentially a Mexican wok made from repurposed farm equipment and any meat you can think of. Start with bacon on low heat, and use the grease it offers up to cook the rest of your meats in stages: loose chorizo, ground beef, steak chunks, even sliced vienna sausages are in the mix. Every time you get a meat partially cooked, spread it up on the sides of the disco, where the heat is less intense, and let it continue to cook. Between meat stages, bring it all back together in the center periodically to chat. Somewhere along the way, before the chilis and onions made their appearance, Chef Brian added the better part of a bottle of beer. A final touch, when we could barely stand it anymore, was a liberal dosage of taco seasoning. Insert it directly into your mouth if you can’t help it, or if you can manage the restraint, spoon your discada into taco shells with your choice of the usual subjects (guac, sour cream, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, salsa, whatever).
Southern Germany Sampler: Day Two — Strasbourg
We got started pretty early after the Winzerfest in Neustadt/Weinstraße. We checked out of the Deutscher Kaiser after a nice breakfast spread and drove over to France. It’s really not that far to the border — it only took about 2 hours (there were a few traffic issues; it should have taken about ninety minutes). Our GPS was pretty reliable, but we still drove past the hotel at least one time — maybe twice — on our “final approach.” Strasbourg is historically contentious; sometimes it’s German, sometimes it’s French. Sure seems French to me with regard to the traffic patterns and street signs. We sort of did the “Look kids, it’s Big Ben” drive-by thing while zeroing in on our hotel.
We had great luck with the weather in Strasbourg, too &mdash, that part didn’t change with the border-crossing. We dropped off our bags into our rooms (nice of them to let us check in early) and hit the pavement on foot for the obligatory Croque-monsieur lunch, splitting a pitcher of blonde beer between me and Colin as well (all remaining travel for that day was to be done on foot). Strasbourg makes a very pretty impression, with its tree-lined canals and bridges, and sorta-German Fachwerk architecture. It also has the sleekest-looking trams I’ve ever seen.
Click a picture in the flashy thing below to embiggen it, or get your slideshow on with it too, if you like.
We made an obligatory Cathedral visit and I got some shots of the stained glass that weren’t too bad. But this wasn’t the only impressive church in town: St. Paul’s first caught our attention, because it was visible from our hotel’s street. We would have gone in, but it was under massive construction.
All this tromping around in German France (or was it French Germany?) made us work up an appétit, so we consulted our trusty Frommer’s France book (2005 edition, but this place obviously doesn’t change so fast), and came up with L’Ancienne Douane for dinner. It was a huge restaurant with plenty of capacity, which made me wary, since it was obviously geared toward groups of tourist, but it turned out to not suck completely. We tried to get all fancy on the appetizer and Colin really got more than he bargained for in trying to get something specifc to the region without renouncing his avoidance of choucroute (Sauerkraut)…but that’s a post for another day. Suffice it to say that both and quality and quantity demands were more than exceeded.
I think living and working here, perhaps in some EU capacity, would be nice.
Homemade Sausage Patties
I had a hankering for some breakfast sausage patties recently. Checked with Mom via Skype and she said it would be easy to make ourselves. She was right. I cobbled the below recipe from stuff I found by googling and trial-and-error.
Here’s what you need:
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/3 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pinch ground cloves
1 lb. ground pork — finely ground, if you can get it.
This is not an exact science, so mess with the proportions according to your taste. I like it sagey and peppery (both red and black) and this recipe reflects that. Actually, I forgot the cloves in this trial run of the recipe, and they were great without it, but I’m putting them in next time for sure. And we didn’t have dried sage, but oddly enough, we did have ground sage, which worked fine.
Mix all that stuff up together in a bowl. Some advice I read said to mix the stuff together by hand; some said that the body heat from your hands will negatively impact the texture of the meat. I opted to distribute the herbs and spices throughout the meat by using a thin wooden spatula with sort of a chopping motion. Seems to have worked. I got 4 hamburger-sized patties out of that recipe.