The Three Pillars of Sausage-Making Wisdom

A really great sausage is not as common as you might think.

I have a vested interest in saying this because I’m in the sausage-making business, but it’s the truth.  A lot of the sausages that I eat have dry, mealy, sometimes even crumbly textures.

The primary goal of my sausage-making classes is to teach people that these are not matters of personal taste, but objective flaws in a sausage, plain and simple.  A sausage should have the well-bound fat content that makes it decadently moist in your mouth.  If there is any sense of abrasion on your tongue from dry, crumbly meat, the sausage was not properly made.

I’ve identified what I believe are the three most common roots … Continue reading.

Devilled Eggs

Devilled eggs and their natural companion, beer

Devilled eggs: no dish so readily conjures summers on the back deck, picnics, barbecues, church basements, impromptu patio gatherings…

As discussed in my poetically titled Simmering Eggs in their Shell post, old eggs are the only eggs that will peel easily.  They are ideal for devilled eggs.

My personal recipe for devilled eggs follows, a little more complex than the standard mustard, paprika, and white vinegar. Mighty tasty with a beer or cider.

Devilled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs – preferably eggs that have been in your fridge for a couple weeks
  • water for boiling those eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp hot mustard
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black
Continue reading.

Kim Chi

Homemade kim chiKim chi is an ace up the sleeve, delivering instant, intense flavour to bland ingredients like rice, flour, and eggs.  And unlike most condiments that pack that kind of punch – things like hot sauce or fish sauce – kim chi is quite wholesome.

Kim chi fascinates me because it is simultaneously very similar to and wildly different from a preparation that I am much more familiar with: sauerkraut.  Both are ostensibly fermented cabbage, but where sauerkraut is thinly sliced and acidic, with an almost floral, yeasty aroma, kim chi is chunky, salty, often burn-your-face-off spicy, with something of a fishy aroma.  Sometimes, amazingly, it is also effervescent.

Sauerkraut is made with European-type cabbages like savoy.  The relatively low … Continue reading.

Cocktail Equipment and Technique

A bartender's took kit, with all the equipment required for making stirred and shaken cocktails.We often describe cocktails as “mixed drinks”.  In this post we will discuss the two main ways we mix drinks -stirring, and shaking – and the equipment required for each.

Before diving in, two important points on consistency: the dry build, and accurate measures.

Dry Build

  • Whether shaking or stirring, best practice is to “dry build” your drink, that is, combine all of the liquid ingredients together before adding any ice.
  • This is a technique from professional bars where consistency is paramount. The idea is that you want total control over the time that your drink spends on ice, so that you control the dilution and the final concentration of the drink.
  • If you were to put ice in the
Continue reading.

Greek Lamb Sausage

I have Greek food on the brain.  The current infatuation has many diverse origins.  For starters this summer is the ten year anniversary of an epic trip through southern Greece, and I have been reading old food notes from the journey.  Also I’ll be doing a class on Greek mezze for Metro Continuing Education this fall.  With all this in mind last week I made a Greek lamb sausage.

Coils of Greek lamb sausageIn 2008 I spent five weeks in Greece, eating in tavernas two or three times a day.  I don’t think I ever had a sausage like this.  In other words this sausage is not traditional, but it is very much inspired by Greek loukaniko, a pork sausage flavoured with orange … Continue reading.

Papa Suds’ Pizza Dough

This is my family’s pizza dough recipe.  We make pizza almost weekly, so it is a workhorse recipe, one of the most important in our kitchen.

People familiar with our neighbourhood have asked why we make our own pizza when we live literally one block from a pizzeria.  The answer is that it’s easy and good and fun and cheap.  The scaling and mixing of the dough take less than ten minutes.  All together the ingredients for our homemade pizza cost under $5 per 12″ pie, something that we pay $18 plus tip for down the street.

I feel obligated to mention that our recipe is adapted from the little booklet that came with our KitchenAid stand mixer.  I resent … Continue reading.

Buranelli Cookies

Buranelli cookies in the traditional "esse" shape.One of my favourite Italian desserts is simple, elegant, and endlessly adaptable: cookies and sweet wine.  In Italy I’ve seen this dish served with every manner of cookie, from amaretti to lady fingers to biscotti, and sweet wines as various as Vin Santo, Recioto, and Pantelleria.  You could easily take the dish outside the realm of Italian cuisine and try something like ginger snaps and sweet applejack.  A particularly memorable experience was being served s-shaped Buranelli cookies with a glass of sweet Zibbibo in a small restaurant in Venice on a wet, chilly September afternoon.

Buranelli are from the Venetian island of Burano.  The dough is a bit like shortbread (more sweet and less buttery than my preferred Scottish-style Continue reading.

Mayonnaise

Making mayonnaise for chicken saladI am very interested in foods that I only knew in their industrial form for decades before I understood what they actually were.  Mayonnaise may be the supreme example.  It was a ubiquitous component of my childhood.  I’ve written about this before, but I sat at many family suppers that featured three different mayo-based salads side by side by side, what I call the holy trinity of Ontarian side dishes: cabbage salad, macaroni salad, and potato salad.[1]

Mayonnaise was such a ubiquitous part of my youth it wasn’t until my mid twenties that it even occurred to me that mayonnaise must be made out of components.

So, what is mayonnaise?  Mayonnaise is a sauce, an emulsion of oil and … Continue reading.

Chili

A bowl of chili with sour cream and cilantro.Chili is one of the great North American dishes, and one that is especially relevant and useful in modern life, as it is a hearty one-pot meal that can be put together and left to cook in a crock pot or low oven for several hours.

I’ll argue that the only two essential ingredients in chili are meat and beans.  When I was growing up that meat was always, always ground beef, though I have to say I really like using shredded or cubed braised beef like brisket or chuck.  For beans you are not beholden to the canned red kidney beans of my childhood: any and all pulses are great.  These days my kitchen always has dried pinto and … Continue reading.

Introduction to Charcuterie

This is the information I provide students in my Charcuterie at Home class, which I run a few times a year for Metro Continuing Education.

A charcuterie plate with air-dried beef in the top right.

What is charcuterie?

  • Charcuterie is a French word, from char for flesh or meat, and cuit for
    cooked.
  • Originally this was a medieval guild that was allowed to prepare certain cooked
    meat dishes like pâté and terrine.
  • These days it broadly refers to cured meat, whether bacon, ham, salami,
    prosciutto, or even duck confit and jerky.  It also encompasses other meat preparations like fresh sausages.
  • Most charcuterie techniques – salt-curing, smoking, and air-drying – were
    developed as a way to preserve meat.
  • Even though we now have ways to pasteurize, refrigerate, and freeze
    meat, we
Continue reading.

The personal website of Edmonton chef Allan Suddaby