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Polish and Polished

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  • Jamie Rahm
    Polish and Polished By Reagan Walker, Palm Beach Post-Cox News Service Thursday, October 25, 2001 Nothing says Sunday morning like country sausage sizzling in
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2001
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      Polish and Polished

      By Reagan Walker, Palm Beach Post-Cox News Service
      Thursday, October 25, 2001

      Nothing says Sunday morning like country sausage sizzling in the
      skillet. And there are those who wouldn't dream of Sunday afternoon
      tailgating without some brats.

      But these days the traditional favorites are sharing the skillet and
      the grill with more ethnic, regional and designer cousins.

      Sausage, briefly out because of concerns over its high fat content,
      is back in, from Mexican-style chorizo to fancy combinations such as
      lemon/tarragon/chicken at upscale groceries.

      After being flat in the early '90s, sausage sales have begun to climb
      again. Part of the increase is led by dinner sausages, sales of which
      have jumped about 6 percent to 7 percent annually the past three
      years, according to market reports. Even Bon Appétit named sausage
      the best ingredient of 2000.

      "I call sausages flavor bombs," said Bruce Aidells, a California
      sausage-maker who markets his products nationwide. "Each sausage is
      packed with a specific flavor profile that really develops when you
      cook it or use it in a dish."

      Aidells was a front-runner in the new trend toward poultry and fish
      sausages that incorporate popular food flavors -- sun-dried tomatoes,
      artichokes, pesto, habaneros and even whiskey. Aidells recently wrote
      a cookbook with Denis Kelly that offers recipes for making sausages
      and cooking with them: Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book (Ten
      Speed Press, $21.95).

      Aidells found a need to make sausage while working in England. The
      sausages there were "loaded with bread crumbs and really awful," he
      said. So he set about making some of his favorite kinds in his home
      kitchen. That was the beginning of a hobby, which grew into a passion
      and then a business.

      His retail career started with andouille sausage back in the '80s,
      when Cajun and Creole cuisine was hot. As customers began asking for
      lower-fat sausages, he turned to poultry. A 3 1/2-ounce portion of
      poultry sausage can range from 8 to 16 grams of fat, depending on
      other ingredients; 3 1/2 ounces of a pork breakfast sausage can
      contain as much as 30 grams of fat. And poultry worked well with a
      wide range of less traditional flavors, such as Thai lemon grass.

      Lately, Aidells credits the convenience of the product as another
      plus. Most packaged dinner sausages are already cooked and take only
      moments to heat up. While the pasta is boiling, sear and slice a
      fancy link and then serve on the side or mix in with the pasta. Or
      simply heat and plop a link on a hoagie roll or soft bun and top with
      complementary condiments. Dinner doesn't get much easier.

      But true sausage devotees don't leave all the fun up to
      professionals. In fact, Chip Gallagher, a sociology professor at
      Georgia State University and a sausage aficionado, doesn't like
      processed and already-cooked sausages. He makes his own and last year
      invited 80 or so friends to join in.

      He bought six or seven Boston butts, ground them and then seasoned
      the meat in different batches, for Italian, chorizo and plain. Guests
      were invited to bring additional ingredients.

      "I gave everyone their own bowl to work in, and you wouldn't believe
      the ingredients people brought -- basil, garlic, walnuts, sun-dried
      tomatoes, Parmigiano-Reggiano, wild mushrooms," said Gallagher, who
      helped each guest stuff their mixtures into casings, using the
      sausage-making attachments for his KitchenAid mixer. Then they
      grilled and ate their creations, taking home what was left.

      He plans to make it an annual event.

      Homemade isn't complicated

      When Chip Gallagher was growing up in Philadelphia, family meals
      often featured big, fresh Italian sausages.

      Those meals made a lifelong sausage lover out of the Georgia State
      University sociology professor. So much so that he prefers to make
      his own sausage and sometimes invites friends to join in the fun.

      He uses a KitchenAid mixer with attachments for grinding the meat and
      stuffing the casings.

      He buys casings, which usually are made of hog, lamb or beef
      intestines, at his local Publix, calling ahead and making a special
      arrangement with the meat department.

      We also found some sites on the Internet that will ship casings.
      Check out www.wassis.com, a Melbourne company that offers casings and
      seasonings to home sausage-makers.

      But those interested in home sausage making can make do with even
      less. You can grind meat in a food processor or ask the butcher in
      your grocery's meat department to grind the meat for you. Then you
      mix in the flavorings and cook loose.

      If the accompanying recipe for sausage with cabbage and rhubarb stirs
      up interest in more, we'd recommend Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage
      Book (Ten Speed Press, $21.95), which offers more than 60
      combinations for sausage making.

      -- Reagan Walker

      Chicken and apple sausage

      1 cup apple cider
      3 1/2 pounds chicken thighs with skin (about 4 1/2 pounds with
      bones), or 3 1/4 pounds ground chicken
      3 ounces dried apples, coarsely chopped
      4 teaspoons kosher salt
      2 teaspoons black pepper
      2 teaspoons dried sage
      1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
      1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
      1 chicken bouillon cube, dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water

      Place the apple cider in a small nonreactive saucepan over high heat.
      Bring to a boil and cook until reduced almost to a syrup. There
      should be about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Set aside to cool.

      If you are using chicken thighs, coarsely grind with a 3/8-inch plate
      the boned chicken and skin or chop coarsely in batches in a food
      processor. (This is most easily accomplished if the chicken is very
      cold.) Transfer the ground chicken to a large bowl and add the cooled
      cider, apples, salt, black pepper, sage, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and
      dissolved bouillon. Knead and squeeze the mixture until well-blended.
      Fry a small patty until done and taste for salt, pepper and other

      Divide the sausage into 7 or 8 portions (each about 1/2 pound), wrap
      tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate or freeze
      for later use. Will keep three days in refrigerator or two months in
      the freezer.

      When ready to cook, place the patties in a large skillet over medium
      heat and cook until lightly browned and cooked through, about 10
      minutes. Cooking time will vary according to thickness of the
      patties. Makes about 4 pounds.

      Notes: If you are interested in trying your hand at a homemade
      sausage, this is a good one. It has the essential flavors of country
      sausage. If you don't want to grind the chicken, look for ground
      chicken at the grocery. No casings are required. A patty of this
      sausage makes a main course with a spicy sauce or relish, or use it
      with veggies, beans and rice. It also makes a nice stuffing for

      From Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book, written with Denis Kelly;
      Ten Speed Press, $21.95.

      Rotini with broccoli rabe, sausage and balsamic vinegar

      1 pound broccoli rabe
      3/4 pound dried rotini, rotelle, fusilli or other curly pasta
      1 tablespoon olive oil
      1/2 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage, homemade or good-quality
      store-bought, removed from casings
      1 onion, chopped
      1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, deveined and chopped
      4 cloves garlic, chopped
      1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
      1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
      Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
      Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

      In a small amount of salted, boiling water in a tightly covered
      saucepan, steam the broccoli rabe for 2 to 3 minutes.

      Be sure not to overcook; the rabe should be bright green and very
      crisp. Cool under cold running water, drain and reserve.

      Boil the pasta until al dente, following package directions; drain and reserve.

      Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the
      sausage and fry for 3 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks. Add the
      onion, bell pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for
      another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cooked broccoli rabe
      and the balsamic vinegar and stir well.

      Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the
      rabe is tender but still crisp. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

      Transfer the sausage-broccoli mixture to a large serving bowl.

      Toss with the pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve hot or
      at room temperature.

      From Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book, written with Denis Kelly;
      Ten Speed Press, $21.95.

      Hot sausage po' boy

      6 tablespoons Creole or Dijon mustard
      3 tablespoons mayonnaise
      1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
      Tabasco or other hot sauce
      4 links hot Italian sausage
      4 (6-inch) sections French bread
      3 cups finely shredded cabbage or lettuce
      12 to 15 dill pickle slices
      1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
      1 large tomato, sliced (optional)

      Preheat oven to 350. In a small mixing bowl, combine the mustard,
      mayonnaise, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Stir together until smooth.
      Set aside.

      In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausages for
      about 15 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Meanwhile,
      place the bread in the oven to warm for about 10 minutes.

      Remove the bread from the oven and cut in half lengthwise. Spread
      both sides of the bread generously with the mustard-mayonnaise sauce.
      On one side, heap the shredded cabbage and lay over it the pickle
      slices and onion and tomato, if using. Split each sausage lengthwise
      and place on top. Close the sandwich as best you can, and get to work.

      Note: Use good bread, which should be very fresh and soft inside,
      with a slightly chewy crust. If the crust is too hard, the fillings
      will ooze out on first bite.

      From Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book, written with Denis Kelly;
      Ten Speed Press, $21.95.

      Sausage with cabbage and rhubarb

      4 of your favorite light-textured sausage links, such as chicken and apple
      2 tablespoons butter
      1 medium onion, thinly sliced
      3 cups shredded savoy cabbage
      Juice of 1/2 lemon
      Salt and pepper to taste
      2 stalks rhubarb, cut into 1-inch dice
      1/2 to 3/4 cup water
      1 tablespoon granulated sugar

      In a medium nonstick skillet, cook the sausages over medium heat
      until lightly browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

      In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
      Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage
      and cook, stirring constantly, until it wilts, about another 2
      minutes. Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper.

      In a small saucepan, combine the rhubarb with enough of the water to
      just cover and the sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over
      high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer until the rhubarb is tender,
      about 8 to 10 minutes. Place the mixture in a blender and purée until
      smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and sugar.
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