The final chapter of the “venison scrap transformation” story proved to include a bit of a plot twist. I wanted to make a fresh sausage with jerk spices and wanted to mimic the flavors of oxtail stew in a sausage. My flaw here was in the conception phase as it may not be possible to get the flavors developed by stewing a cut rich in collagen for hours in stock, aromatics and chili into sausages cooked for mere minutes. On the flip side, what sprung from this attempt was a sausage which was both unique and delicious. It was not an encased form of the Caribbean dish, but it proved to provide insights on the benefits of tasty mistakes. Continue reading
In round two of turning venison scrap from my father into something more edible, I made a dangerous choice – a sausage of great familiarity. Summer Sausage. It is easy to cook without context when the only question is “Does it taste good?” I guess easy is relative, because it seems easy in comparison to when you are cooking something familiar and add “Does it taste right?” to “Does it taste good?” Venison summer sausage is, when combined with Ritz crackers and cheese, the most popular pre-dinner, post-lunch food in Wisconsin. When given venison scrap, how could i have ignored the opportunity to stock the pre-dinner, post-lunch larder for the year, or more likely, the remainder of April?
Every now and again I get venison from my father. He is generous with the venison he hunts with his cousins and while the hunting aspects have never taken with me, I have become comfortable cooking venison. As I have grown more comfortable preparing venison in different ways, I have tried to repay his generosity with giving some of the venison back, in the form of sausage, ham, etc. After cleaning out his freezer, he found nearly eight pounds of venison scrap and asked if I could do something new with it that he might like. Continue reading
Sometimes having zero context gives freedom, but there is a fine line between having the freedom to use your own style and messing up what others hold very close. Food, on top of being nourishment, is such a sentimental thing. People talking about food go on about grandmothers. Cooks with amazing training and mind-boggling skills devote hours recreating junk food from their childhood. It goes even further when things get cultural. It goes back far further than grandma in cases like these and my instincts, as I found in this case, are often wrong. Continue reading
We host a dinner party periodically which is actually just a book club to which my wife belongs. Typically those types of groups are simply drinking clubs, but this one adds food and actual books. About a week before book club, I realized my original plan of serving cassoulet had been done before. By me. Last winter. It seems as when the weather grows cold, I cook beans – large pots of beans with sausages and off cuts.
Actually I should have never been surprised. Beans and meats are fantastic and this weather has forced my hand. Only, I am not a repeater. Knowing fabada is a not-so-distant cousin to cassoulet, I figured there must be more cousins. I just needed to look. Continue reading
In preparing for a dinner party, I started by making a batch of linguica. A fresh sausage smoked like Andouille, but with the flavors similar to Spanish chorizo, linguica is delicious and versatile. Great in beans, with vegetables, and on a bun, this sausage of Portuguese origin deserves more recognition. Continue reading
Usually when I make sausage, I do so thinking of flavors I like together and keep the circle relatively closed. In this case, I made sausage thinking about how I was planning to use them, in a cassoulet, and how I wanted the sausages to season the cassoulet. There are plenty of great flavor combinations in sausages, but I really wanted to add the punchy flavors of bay and peppercorns to the super-rich cassoulet along with the pork drippings themselves and how better to transfer the flavors than by attaching them to pork fat? Continue reading
There are perfect pairings – peas & carrots, chilis & mint, peanut butter & jelly, ham & everything – and then there is the combination of lamb and anchovy. There is no Smuckers jar with alternating stripes of lamb and anchovy, but rest assured, there should be. The salty depth of the anchovy combined with the gaminess of the lamb work together to create an amazingly forward and deep savoriness (see lamb neck, as an example). When I was looking for a new sausage pairing, I saw a deli of salt-cured anchovies sitting next to a plate of lamb leg and it made me think “Why is there no standard lamb-anchovy sausage?” Continue reading
With the weather growing colder in the fall, a feature of our new home finally took shape. I would no longer need a curing fridge. I had a garage that, while slightly colder in the deep winter months, could safely cure and dry meats. On the first weekend where temps dropped into the 50s, I grabbed a freezer bag of venison and a package of bacon and go to it. Continue reading