I say Knockwurst, you say Knackwurst

Or, this could have been called a sausage of two cities. In America we have regional areas that where settled by different ethnic groups.  For instance, you have the Cajuns and the Creoles, simplified into country folk and city folk.  Of course there is much more to it than that, but hopefully you get my drift. But no matter how you may wish to compare our regions, their history only goes back a couple of hundred years. We may have had our Civil war but that didn’t significantly alter the ethnic background of the local residents. This can’t said about Europe. Since this is about German sausage you need to realize that the German Empire is very old and has included many diverse cultures.  Parts of France and Spain to the South and West, Czechoslovakia and parts of Western Russia were part of the Bavarian States. It took WW I and WW II to define what what we now think of as Germany.
So when I say Knockwurst and you say Knackwurst, we may be talking about the same sausage. Each region made sausage, but there may have been a shortage of spice group A in region 1 so the same sausage took on a different flavor.  When you remember that spices where a commodity greater than coinage you can better understand how flavors and techniques moved about. And who can eat a coin? The flavors evolved back and forth across Europe but not always the ingredients.  Confused?   A bag of cinnamon is easier to transport that a sack of turnips, and less perishable. So while looking for recipes to make these two sausages I settled on a Knockwurst version, but to tell the truth, the same sausage could be called Knackwurst 100 miles away. The recipes I used as my starting ground came from the cookbook Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing” Book by Rytek Kutas.  It doesn’t matter which cookbook you select, or if you find recipes on the Internet.  Just don’t use the prepackaged packets of chemicals sold by’ Hunter supply outlets’.  Mix your own spices. Our knockwurst called for veal.  Veal is hard to find and expensive. It is also out of favor by a population that thinks it has been raised inhumanly.  So, let’s not talk about Chicken. To find a substitute for veal the best suggestions I found was to get extra lean pork, cut it up and soak in whole milk for a day or two.  Chicken could also have been used but then the sausage would have to be cooked to a higher temperature.
After all the meat had been ground and then weighed, it was divided into the different sausages that would be made. The only difference was the percentage of ‘Veal’ used.
Then the spices, dried milk, protein powder, etc as added and mixed in.
The knockwurst raw sausage stuffing was then bagged, tagged and put in the refrigerator to be stuffed another day. This was because the sausage was warming up and I had three more flavors to make.

Stuffing, cooking and smoking our sausage is here.

Sausage Stuffing Day, a day to remember

So here is all this sausage mix in the refrigerator and I am starting to dread forcing all through the Kitchenaid meat grinder and out the sausage tube.  It’s Friday afternoon and I have a job to do.  No, a real job that pays the bills.  So I decide to stop by Cabelas on the way home. There is a sausage stuffer in Portland on Craigslist by the Sausage Maker but I don’t want to drive downtown on maybe a lark.
I should have. Now there isn’t anything wrong with the Cabelas machine.  It’s quite nice actually, but if I had gone down town I wouldn’t have bought the collagen casings and used what I already had, real hog casings. I have to say after using the collagen casings, never again. The Collagen casings where supposed to hold 50 pounds of meat, mine where gone in 20 pounds. They also tore, split and ruptured in ways I have never had hog casings do. Also the Sausage Maker was a newer design and on Sunday when we finally got everything together two of the stuffing tubes where stuck together.   I had to do the round-trip thing delaying our day. Maybe the Craigslist one would have worked out of the box (they said ‘new in box’) Back to stuffing.  The stuffer should be mounted, but to what?   Drill holes in my island or counter.  I think not.  We settled on using the potting table.  We washed it off of course with a work slab of new wood on top of it.  We also had it set up on the patio so we had our little gas fire going for heat and ambiance.
After learning from our casing mistake, we ended up with 25 pounds of 4 different sausages.  If we had cooked and not smoked some of the Bratwurst and Knockwurst we would have had even more variety. After all this whole adventure was to get some good German Sausage.  See, there is even a can of German Beer on the table. In hindsight I should have had a roll of kitchen twine on hand and tied the links. The twine could have been removed after cooking and/or smoking. Smoking was the next step for the Brat and Knock Wurst, I have three different smokers and feel the Smokey Hollow upright unit would be best for this.  The Green Mount Pellet smoker/grill had difficulty maintaining an even heat when set to it’s lowest range of 150 degrees.
I believe it is better to hang the sausage in a vertical smoker if possible.
But the sausage would have to be hung in the Smokey Hollow instead of layered on racks. That’s where the kitchen twine would have come in handy. I was very unhappy with the Smokey Hollow at first.   It is a closed system so the smoke doesn’t leave.  It just builds up and will eventually over smoke, and over smoking is bitter. I installed a damper so I could have better control. There is a difference between a heavy smoke and smoking for to long. But at the end of the day we had 25 pounds of sausage that will enjoyed for a long time unless family begs it off of us, or we force it upon them.

Bockwurst, Weisswurst, the great White Sausage

These two sausages follow the same story of Knack and Knock. They are almost the same and sometimes called by the others name.  We made both and I will show both recipes here.
Spices mixed into the meat mixture
Spices etc, mixed then added to the meat mixture

Sausage BOCKWURST

Bill’s notes: I will only make 5 lbs of Bockwurst so all ingredients will be cut in half.  Since all the sausage recipes will be made on the same day, it will be easy to combine and then divide the eggs. Ingredients for 10 Lbs. 2 cups of whole milk 5 b. Salt 2 Lb. powdered dextrose 1 Tb. Mace 1 Tb. Ground celery 4 Tb. Onion powder 1 Tb. Ground white pepper 6 pcs. fresh chopped chives or green onions 6 pcs. Chopped parsley 1 piece grated lemon peel 3 fresh whole eggs 3 lbs. boneless veal 5 lbs. lean pork shoulder 2 lbs. pork trimmings GRINDING Grind all the meat through a 1/4″ grinder plate, adding all the ingredients, and mix. Place in food processor and emulsify. STUFFING AND COOKING Bockwurst is stuffed into a 24-26 mm sheep casing and made in links 4-6 inches long, then hung on clean smokes-ticks. (Do not use a smokestick that can stain the casings, as bockwurst is a white sausage.) Sausage should be placed into the cooker or water and cooked until the internal temperature reaches 152° F. (Be sure the water temperature is not above 165° F). Place cooked sausage under cold shower for about 10 minutes to reduce internal temperature to 100° F and remove to cooler overnight. This sausage also can be frozen and cooked as it is needed. Bockwurst also is made as a very fine-textured sausage (emulsified) in the Western New York area. It is very popular at Easter time and also goes under the name of “white hot dogs”.
Water bath cooked with my Joule Souse Vide

Sausage WEISSWURST

Ingredients for 10 Lbs. 5 lbs. veal 5 lbs. lean pork butts 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk 4 Tb. salt 1/2 cup soy protein concentrate 1 tsp. onion powder 1 tsp. dry parsley 4 Tb. ground mustard seed 1 Tb. ground white pepper 1 tsp. ground celery seeds 1 tsp. mace 3 Tb. powdered dextrose 4 cups ice water Grind meat through a 1/4″ or 3/8″ grinder plate. Add all the ingredients except the water and mix thoroughly until evenly distributed. Do not pack soy protein concentrate when measuring. Then place the meat in the food processor, adding water as you go, to help emulsify the meat. Stuff into a 32-35 mm hog casing and make into 5″ to 6″ links. Place into 160° F water and cook until an internal temperature of 150° F is attained. Then shower the sausage with cool water until the internal temperature falls to 75° F. Place in cooler overnight before using. After the casing had been filled and twisted I needed to cook them in a water bath. Since already had a souse vide that will maintain a water temp +- 1.2 degree I opted for that route.
It’s here that I watched all the links untwist and casing get ugly, but you should remove the casing from both of these sausages before serving.
Finishing up on a bed of sliced potatoes, onions and mushrooms, Francene is not a sauerkraut fan.
Of the two, we prefer the Bockwurst.  The Weisswurst has less flavor and more of a dry hamburger texture.  I wouldn’t throw it out though. It’s still good eats.
Don’t forget the hot, sweet mustard.

The Great Brat. No, not our child, the Sausage

Bratwurst, glorious bratwurst. The term has been used to label many different sausages.  Technically it is a sausage made from fresh pork or veal, or both. But for my purposes, it is that great linked sausage served by the Sausage Kitchen in Regensburg Germany.  And to be served over a bed of caramelized onions and Sauerkraut .
Bratwurst may be linked or roped, it can be frozen raw, it can be pre-cooked (generally in a hot water bat) or it may be smoked.  I like my Bratwurst well seasoned, spicy and tangy. The spices will include mace, cinnamon & nutmeg to name a few. The recipe I used  can be found here.  We graduated to a sausage stuffer instead of the Kitchenaid mixer. If you are going to make links, we found hog casing to work better. We were going to prepare 5 pounds smoked and 5 pounds pre-cooked, BUT I got carried away and smoked it all….YUM.
I guess I will just have to make another batch 🙂
One Bratwurt, one knockwurst and one Bockwurst sitting on sauerkraut and onions.
It’s difficult for it to get any better than this.   Oh yeah, add Mustard.

Why you should make your own sausage

I enjoy a good sausage; one with personality. It was about 20 years ago I started on a creative cooking adventure.   I added Paella, Gumbo, Jambalaya and even dishes that where about the sausage it self. I would read these recipes for inspiration & then head off to the mega mart for the ingredients. It’s here that the spice rack evolved (that and Alton Brown).  It was where I learned to dump last years paprika and replenish the can  with fresh.
So off I would go.  Where is the Andouille?   Where is the Chorizo?  If you can’t find it, use  smoked Garlic-ed sausage. That sure sounded vague. Speaking of Chorizo, there is a Spanish-Portuguese version and the Mexican version. They are not the same. I was getting frustrated.  I wanted to make these dishes and have them taste authentic.  No matter how good they turned out, I always felt a bit cheated. Cheated by America’s sausage makers. Here is where I started loving the idea of making my own sausage.  Homemade, ethnic sausage.  Not the stuff from the mega mart.  Not the same packaged links with different names that all taste the same.
What you put into it, is what you get
I have voiced my number one argument to make your own, the spices vs the chemical list, and second which could also be number one, the fat content. In the United states, any meat mixture containing over 30% fat can not be labeled sausage.  Keep this in mind when picking up a of hot dogs that conveniently does not say sausage on the label.

Make the sausage yourself and you control what goes into it.

Wonderful Sausage, a dying art

Sausage, where would civilization be without sausage?  A poorer place indeed. I would say 99.9% of those reading this blog have never had to do with limited or no refrigeration.  I can’t find the picture of Skip and I standing next to the Ice Truck, but do have one that shows Mom getting milk from the Milk Truck.

The first refrigerator I can remember had a freezer about the size of a gallon milk container on its side. If you ever put anything into it, it stayed until the next global warming because it soon became iced in.

So, back to sausage. Man didn’t have a way to store fresh meat for very long so people found that cooked meat and salted meat would last much longer. They also convinced themselves aged meat became a delicacy. So man learned how to make sausage, chop the meat up, add salt and other seasonings. Then smoke it if you wanted to store the meat for the season.

Today, we generally do not make our own sausage, it comes from the mega mart, air sealed in plastic and containing an ingredient list that I can’t pronounce. The list containing everything but flavor.

The art of sausage making has all but disappeared for most of us. If you’re a hunter, then you will either have your game made into sausage for you or learn to do it yourself.  Even then you are missing out on the real treat, flavor.

The local game processor more than likely buys and then adds seasoning and preserving packets containing all the ingredients mentioned earlier.

I always used the stuffing tube on my Kitchen Aid meat grinder but with 25 pounds of ground meat looking at me, I decided to buy a 5 lb sausage stuffer from Cabelas, 12 miles away, so I didn’t have to wait for Amazon to have it delivered.

While shopping, I noticed a 10 to 12 foot section of wall with hundreds of little boxes with titles like, Cajun Andouille, Bratwurst etc, all with an ingredient list of chemicals that I can’t pronounce and a seasoning list that consists of ‘seasoning added’.

This is the reason why I called sausage making a dying art. Not the grinding and stuffing, but the chemical packets instead of spices.

Read a recipe instead of opening a package of chemicals.

I have mentioned that I use a cookbook of sausages.  I believe it’s a great starting place and there are hours of just enjoyable reading as well. “Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing” Book by Rytek Kutas.

This isn’t the only sausage cookbook.  There are many excellent ones available. But if you’re going to make your own sausage, then start with a cookbook, not a box of ingredients.  Also make sure you read the recipes a couple of times before embarking. Mistakes have been made and with a little investigation, can be avoided.

We make Andouille and use a Food Network recipe from Emeril Lagasse. We love it, but the first batch was horribly over seasoned, we re read the recipe.  The mistake is in the list of ingredients. They said.

  • ingredient
  • ingredient
  • ingredient
  • ingredient
  • ½ cup Emerils Cajun Seasoning
  • ingredient
  • ingredient
  • ingredient
  • ingredient

They should have said.

    • ingredient
    • ingredient
    • ingredient
    • ingredient
    • ingredient
    • ingredient
    • ingredient
    • ingredient

or

  • ½ cup Emerils Cajun Seasoning

Second, third, and fourth batches turned out fantastic.

Casings to use: We have always used natural 32-36 mm hog casing. While purchasing the 5lb stuffer I talked myself into using the artificial casings. Big mistake. Others may swear by them, but to me they are just junk. They may work well with high end equipment making a continuous link or equipment that automatically squeezes and cauterizes the casing into links. But if you’re going to twist your own links, then stay away from this stuff, as it splits, tears and just doesn’t want to be handled after the stuffing.

And to make matters worse, the package said they would hold 50 pounds of meat, and mine were gone at the 20 pound mark and when compared to real hog casing, they are very expensive.

On twisting, if you’re going to smoke your sausage you can not twist into links and then hang, they will unwind. You must either smoke the links on racks or cook them on racks. Some sausage is water cooked, twisted links will unwind when floating in a hot water bath. I know.

If you want to hang your sausage, after all we always see sausage hanging, then I suggest you get a hand crimper and use sausage staples. After the smoking and removal from the smoker, you may cut off the metal clips.

I became so frustrated trying to spin sausage in and then out (sounds strange, but you spin link 1 up and away from you, link to 2 back and down towards you, repeat sequence for 3 and 4, etc.) it creates nice links only to have all that work undone during smoking or precooking. I  searched YouTube to see how that store bought stuff looks so perfect. Prefect making sausage machines was the answer, machines that cost as much as a car does.

At least now I don’t have to feel apologetic when someone sees my home-made sausage.

I will also have a Smoker Primer posted in the near future. I have 3 different smokers and although they all will smoke the protein, they each work quite differently.

Roast it, Smoke it, or Deep Fry it, a Thanksgiving Turkey Dilemma

  • Roast Turkey
  • Smoked Turkey
  • Deep Fried Turkey
  • Or, maybe a combo?

Thanksgiving is on the way, the trees are changing color, the weather is cooler, and we are already starting to think about the holidays. No, we aren’t buying Christmas ornaments or hanging lights yet, but we know what’s coming.

I have seen many Thanksgivings come and go, some with family, some alone, but always with the thought of turkey. I have probably cooked turkey just about any way possible, I have roasted them, stuffed them, smoked them, deep fried them with and without being stuffed with mote fowl. I have removed the entire carcass (except leg, thigh, and wing bones) double stuffed, and reshaped and roasted, but that’s another story.

But when all is said and done, my favorite bird is one that has been smoked and deep fried.

If you have ever deep fried a turkey you know the most dangerous part is placing the bird into the hot oil as then you can create boil-overs, and minor to major liquid explosions, thus burning the house down to name a few.

My way eliminates or at least reduces these concerns tremendously. Why, because you work with a dry turkey.

To start with, you must first brine the bird. Brining is the act of soaking the meat in a sugar and salt water solution overnight. This will not make the bird salty or sweet, it will just enable the meat to encapsulate the moisture so you don’t dine on dry, tasteless turkey, you know, that stuff we used to eat at Thanksgiving.

The brine is simply one cup of iodine-less salt, one cup of sugar, and enough water to cover the bird.

It’s cooking day, more than likely Thanksgiving day itself. It should be noted that this can be done a day or two ahead of time and just reheat the bird before serving. You will still have a moist bird.

Remove the bird from the brine and allow to drip dry for a minute. Then season the outside and cavity, and place the turkey in a heavy-smoked smoker for 20 to 30 minutes.

The deep frying will destroy the flavor of pepper and aromatics; that is why you add them during the smoke, to allow for a little penetration. We don’t want the turkey to smoke for very long, we are not cooking it, we are adding a flavor layer, and we are thoroughly drying the bird’s surface.

Now move the bird from the smoker to the hot oil, still lower the bird slowly and carefully. I once had a mild boil-over while the deep fryer was set up in the street, and that oil stain lasted a year or two

You will notice from the pictures that there is almost no bubbling of oil as the bird is lowered into the oil. BUT, that lack of surface water /moisture is still a presumption.

The rule of thumb is to fry the turkey for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes per pound, I go more towards the 3 minute per pound myself, but then I don’t buy the biggest bird I can find.

Remove the bird from the oil, and if possible hang above the post to allow all of the oil to drain from the bird.

Let rest, carve, and enjoy the praise for a job well done.

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Where oh where have all the good shows gone.

Where have all the shows gone and where did all the reality shows come from? After all, the first where real and latter, not so much.

Maybe I have always been a foodie.  It seems that I have always stopped channel surfing when I came a cross a food show.  Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. He was a real kick, especially the size b onion. Then he stopped drinking. Oh well.

Who can ever forget Julia Child.  Such fun and we even learned something. To bad she bled out on Saturday Night Live.

The Iron Chef, Japan of course. I never learned how to do anything other than drive a spike through a live Eels head and filet it.  So much fun. Of course, sea urchin and fish brains never appealed to me, but I loved that program.

Then we had to make an American version of it. Just like the Magnificent Seven, the Last Man Standing, Outrage etc. Good, but not the same.

Later we had greats like Emeril Live and Barefoot Contessa. Jamie Oliver cooking in a 6 foot square London Flat, the kitchen was even smaller.

Jamie does have a YouTube show where he creates dishes with only 5 ingredients.  A must watch.

Ming Tsai's East meets West.  Talk about a small kitchen, I seem to recall he used a portable station the size of a camp stove and table. But I loved the ceramic knife he used. Or Tyler Florence showing up to show some frustrated house wife how to cook eggs.  Food 911.

Bobby Flay can cook, whether you like him or not. My favorite show of his was Thowdown! with Bobby Flay. I loved it because he lost. No, I don't wish Booby ill.   I just believe that show proves what this site is all about.

Bobby would create his Signature version of whatever, say Cioppino.  He was cooking against a San Francisco Chef that made his name making authentic Cioppino.   Well no wonder Bobby Lost.  You just can't beat the real deal by adding chilis from New Mexico.

Now, to the present. I don't think there is much worth watching anymore.

Anthony Bourdain didn't teach us to cook, but his show was fun to watch. Too bad he left us.

I really don't enjoy elimination reality shows (except for one). They all are talented Chefs creating stuff I could never duplicate and recipes that will never be shared, then they are kicked off the show.

That one elimination Reality show. Well that’s just the best show out there. It’s the one that inspires me, amazes me and entertains me.  Then they don’t eliminate someone for 3 shows, I scream foul.  When they do eliminate someone because they didn’t work well with another contestant, I scream foul.

Because they could still cook circles around the remaining CHEFS.   Yes, Chefs in uppercase.

I have never seen such talent as when I watch Gordon Ramsey’s MasterChef JUNIOR.  Darn,  those 8 to 12 years old’s sure can cook. That’s inspiring.

Leave a comment, share you views on today’s cooking shows.  What do you like and what don’t you like. Who knows, we may start watching it as well. Or even better, Food Network will read the comments.

Artichokes, one delicious thistle

Artichokes, big, delicious artichokes. Boy have they gotten expensive. Sometimes I feel like a nice artichoke, I go to the produce section of the grocery store and buy something else. After doing a 3 minute research; it seems they are slow growers, take up a lot of space for what you get, and must be picked when ready to eat, not before or after. So, okay, artichokes are expensive.

Luckily we have a local outlet that occasionally has some beautiful artichokes for around 2 bucks each (2018). Beautiful is subjective, to me a great artichoke is of good size, a softball will do as comparison. They are of good color with maybe some freeze burn. They are firm when squeezed, not soft with open leaves.

A soft artichoke is past it’s prime, either on the vine or on the shelf too long. They have started to dry out.

There are many ways to trim and cook an artichoke. Some trim right down to the choke, but for us, we enjoy the meat on the leaves. We will discard the first couple of layers, then start scraping the underside of the leaves with our teeth. It’s perfectly alright to use either your upper or lower front teeth.

Some prefer to eat their artichokes with a dip, generally melted butter or mayonnaise. I am a mayonnaise fan and Francene takes hers straight.

Preparing the artichokes couldn’t be simpler. Cut off the stems at the base and about 3/4 of an inch off the top to allow seasoning and moisture to get inside the leaves. Now if for a party and you want them to look pretty, clip off the tips of all the top layer leaves and remove and discard the bottom 1 or 2 rows. We like to pour a tablespoon or so of Italian dressing into/onto the top and give it a chance to soak in.

The stems we cut off can either be discarded or peeled with a potato peeler and cooked and eaten as well. If you use the stem, trim off the bottom dried end.

There are several ways to cook an artichoke and we prefer steaming them. This can be done with either a steamer or a pressure cooker. Allow 45 minutes with the steamer and our ‘big’ artichokes take 15 minutes in the pressure cooker, high pressure. I am sure there is a time that would work with the new Instapots available.

Eating artichokes is pretty straight forward;  as I mentioned above scrape the meat from inside the leaves with your teeth until they get too small and become thistle. Remove the last of the leaves and use a spoon to scrape out the ‘choke’ bed of tiny thistles. The remaining cup, the heart, is the last and best of the meat, enjoy.

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Why Jonesing For Food

Jonesing, a craving or need for food, is something we can’t do without.  Jonesing For Food’s mission is to bring back some of the excitement over just good food.

In a world of Signature dishes, recipes that trace their roots back to a local dish and then are corrupted into a celebrity Chef’s ‘new creation.’ I felt it would be enjoyable to share stories and recipes that are closer to the original dish, and just maybe, much better than the new Signature creation.

Now I am not against fusion and blending of cultures, heck, we have been doing that since man got a move on. In recent times we can blame cheap air travel, a few years before it was war and war brides, before that some Royal Russian nephew was married to a French Princess to strengthen allegiances to stave off wars. Of course we can all see where that inbreeding led us. No, I don’t mean the Souffle.

We can enjoy a fantastic curry in an authentic (or our case, a modern version) tajine, we can enjoy almost any cuisine we desire. Why not make it authentic. It may take a little longer and we may decide we don’t really care for it. But that’s okay as long as we enjoy the trip.

For a Thanksgiving, many years ago I made a Turkey Mole. I spent hours tracking down the correct chilies, all evening blending the chocolate and spices, preparing the most fantastic surprise meal I could. I was divorced and had all my children there, my brother Skip and his companion, my lady friend as well. We set down to this fantastic turkey and I don’t believe a single one of us will ever forget that meal, it was that bad. Now those memories need to be cherished right along with the deboned and double stuffed turkey everyone raved about.

So crack open a cook book, do some internet research, and get brave, also remember the journey or trip can be just as good as the destination.

We have also provided some quick links to help you find content. First is a search bar (top menu), enter a word or phrase and all of our content will be searched. Two is the categories menu item (sidebar menu), looking for articles on Cajun, select it and go. Third is the everything menu item (top menu). Alphabetic and with pictures. Enjoy.

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Comments are welcome, we love a discussion and it lets us know someone is reading this 🙂