Peameal Bacon

Click here to see the definition of Peameal Bacon on Wikipedia.

When we received the peameal bacon in our store we always sliced it thin and rolled the slices in cornmeal, that our customers get a nice crust when they fried them.

With boneless center cut pork loins well under the $2.00 mark again it is time to buy and cut up one of them.
Roasts, pork chops and even pork stew can be easily cut for a much cheaper price than in the meat counter. This is also the time to cut some thin slices and make some peameal bacon.
Sunny side up eggs or over easy with a couple slices of crispy peameal bacon and toast and jelly – what a great way to start a day.

If your pantry contains some cornmeal, the only ingredient you need, that you might not have in your house, is pink cure or DQ Curing Salt, which can be ordered from a supplier like Butcher and Packer Supply Company in Michigan.

For the easy recipe go to our Inge’s Kitchen website. Once you bought the curing salt, also check out our base recipe for Wurst to make a higher quality lunch meat for the price a pork butt.

Also see the post “Why waste Time to make Wurst?” for some IMHO pretty good reasons! .

Corned Beef

As the definition of Corned Beef is already explained at Wikipedia there is no need for me to go into this. Let me also restate that this post presents my taste and my opinion and that I do not have any financial gains from it.

As St. Patrick’s Day is here again many of our taste buds are craving for our annual Corned Beef pilgrimage.
Looking through the meat counter nowadays it always amazes me how all the former “cheaper” cuts are now right up there in price with the steaks. Beef shanks, oxtails, short ribs, skirt steaks and all those nowadays fancy chuck cuts used to be the affordable beef dishes. Among these was also the beef brisket. As these cuts were harder to sell we cut some into stew or use them up in Hamburger. In the case of briskets we placed them in a saltwater cure and cooked them to sell as sandwich meat.

To speed up the process at commercial processors the meat was injected with the brine and ready to be sold in a couple of days. Naturally if the meat would retain more of the water in the brine the profits would be much larger.
Read the package label as the success story here is right on it: Contains up to 40% added water. I think it does not take a math genius to figure this one out.

Back to the hype of St. Patty’s Day. Every meat department is promoting corned beef briskets this week with many samples given out, especially with the ready to eat kind.
A sample from one of the well known manufacturers was 80% bun, raw Sauerkraut any decent Bavarian would consider way below standards and a little bit of corned beef you could not even taste; Good Job trying to sell your product or as Clara said: Where is the Beef?

The Sauerkraut: A decent Sauerkraut should be drained, washed and cooked for at least a couple of hours and has to have onions and diced Bacon added (see our recipe at Inge’s Kitchen), which is by Kosher standards impossible.

If we find a corned beef brisket at the right price during the year we have a boiled dinner occasionally. Usually you have to at least double the poundage you buy as they shrink heavily while you cook them.

Deciding to join the crowds and have a traditional Detroit area St. Patty’s Day dinner, boiled with potatoes, cabbage, onions and carrots added to it the last hour, I wanted to go the extra mile (actually 40 miles round trip) and buy the right stuff.

So for our weekly coffee outing my butcher friend Steve and I went to the Gratiot Central Market just outside of the Detroit Eastern Market.

wigley1Wigley’s Corned Beef is, IMHO, one of the best corned beef suppliers around. Even if the package has the same water added statement as all the other brands, this piece of meat did not shrink down to nothing. The taste was very mild, salted just right and if sliced properly against the grain it could be cut with a fork while still retaining a “bite”**.

I bought enough for one meal for us on Sunday and to my surprise we ended up with enough leftovers for a second meal on St. Patty’s Day itself.

 

**   A “bite” is very important to me, it is something to chew, like a kielbasa made from meat, without all the soy products and other fillers. As an example, if I want an apple to bite into I expect a “bite” not apple sauce!

Our Glorious Regulators

With all my years working in the food industry I came across some real asinine decisions coming from our regulators.

When labeling our food we now have to list all ingredients with allergens separate, so when picking up a carton of eggs, the ingredient list actually states contains eggs. A package marked Wheat Flour actually lists allergen: Wheat. Peanut Butter really has peanuts on the allergen list and even the carton of milk has, you guessed it, contains milk on the label.

The list goes on and on with obvious examples. I can see that in some cases listing allergens are important and will protect the few of us with these allergies, especially if they are life threatening.

Now here is another one. There are cans that are cooked to a specific temperature that do not need an expiration date on it. This reminds me of the “Gourmet” (LOL) canned rations the US Army served us in the 70’s that were still Leftovers from World War II. But now if you produce cans under the same procedures mentioned in this paragraph and have a larger production run (make more cans), they have to have an expiration date on it. Duh!

The best one of them all:

There is a food that does not spoil. They found it in the tombs of the pharaohs and it was still edible (between you and me, I would not have wanted to be the one eating it!). It is HONEY!  (see the article at the Smithsonian.com).

Yes, every jar of Honey I look at has an expiration date on it!!

 

Hamburger Versus Ground Beef:

According to the USDA: Beef fat may be added to “hamburger,” but not “ground beef.”

They both can contain up to 30% fat. Where does the fat come from in the ground beef if you are no allowed to add it?

And it is getting worse as time goes by. After I sold my store I heard stories where the inspector finding a minor violation was not worried much about what was done to correct it, but only concerned that the proper paperwork was filled out.
I know of one of our states that in order to vacuum pack items when a customer asks, there has to be a procedure filed on how it is done and every time you do it, it has to be recorded, making this service almost too cumbersome.

While we ran our store our inspection reports were always great, with just minor infractions, like storing a ladder behind the door in one of the bathrooms, but hearing about all these unnecessary changes makes me glad that I do not have to put up with them anymore.

I remember that smoking was allowed in food stores, which is unthinkable nowadays, but now a saw people bringing their dogs (pets, not working dogs) into stores that sell food, that seems to really be an improvement in the laws, dog hair all over the merchandise and the occasional accident on the floor.

In my time in the business I came across many more of these tidbits and I will add them as I can think of them, if they are appropriate.

And it seems that all those lawyers in Washington (I think there are way too many) have too much time on their hands and come up with more and more of these “…….” rules and regulations. I admit a few of them are to our benefit, but many just cost us more of our hard earned money!

Bacon vs Bacon IMHO

The other day we were in the mood for BLT’s and still had a package of Bacon in the fridge from Ilowski Sausage Company on St. Clair Highway in East China, Michigan.

My Conclusion: Not all Bacon is Bacon.

IMHO Joey Ilowski’s Bacon is by far the best bacon in South East Michigan that I know off. I found comparable bacon sold at the Sparr Mall close to Gaylord, Michigan but can’t remember the manufacturer and also at Geier’s Sausage Kitchen in Sarasota, Florida.

Cooking and eating bacon, that does not curl up too much when frying, has just the right amount of salt and does not burn in the pan from all the sweeteners in it makes me wonder why we need all that added sugar/corn syrup/ dextrose and all that added water in it.

In my opinion bacon should be trimmed pork bellies, either dry cured or cured in a brine, not pumped with all the added stuff in it. It should be kind of firm to the touch before you fry it and the only thing coming out of it during frying should be the rendered fat.

Make it a point and try some of what I consider the real stuff and see if you agree with me.

But again I might be wrong, after I had about 20 people sample Kielbasa from two different suppliers, one gentleman told me that he really liked the one with all the fillers and sweeteners in it, so go figure!
May be it is the sweet stuff in the bacon that makes it the favorite to put on anything.

Bacon should not be made from Beef or Turkey.

With Bacon – PORK RULES!

I love Bacon, but I am still a purist, there are occasions which call for bacon and others which are over the edge.
Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches are great on a hot summer evening, bacon with eggs for breakfast, it belongs there, but already when you buy the more expensive Black Angus Ground Beef to get that added taste profile, why would you want to change the taste and add bacon?
It belongs in a Bavarian Style Sauerkraut, German Potato Salad and many other dishes were it was used already for centuries.
It does not belong on Hamburgers or even worse covered with chocolate, as a syrup for milkshakes, bacon flavored ice cream and all the other bacon based products they are trying to convince us to buy.

But hey this is only the opinion of this guy!

The Basics of making Fresh Sausage

Geier's Nuremberger Bratwurst, Picture courtesy of Geier's Sausage Kitchen

Geier’s Nuremberger Bratwurst, Picture courtesy of Geier’s Sausage Kitchen

During the Wurst Party we ran yesterday a few questions came up which I would like to answer.

The definition of Fresh Sausage is that it is raw meat and the most common ingredient in it is Pork, to be even more specific the Pork Shoulder Butt or Boston Butt is the cut that is very often used.

The easiest to make are Sausage Patties, which is Ground Pork, which should have at least 10% fat, mixed with the seasoning of your choice, formed into patties and fried before consumption.
No equipment needed and it is excellent with a Pork sausage seasoning, Italian, Polish or any other seasoning mix you prefer.

If you want to make Sausage links you will need a contraption to transfer your seasoned meat mixture into a casing. This is called a sausage stuffer.
Using natural casing, hog casings will give you an Italian Sausage size diameter, while sheep casings are used for breakfast sausage. If you use edible collagen casings instead, 30 mm diameter replace the hog casing and 21 mm the sheep.

As Sausage is a matter of personal taste, any recipe should be tried in a small amount and adjusted to your liking. As we cooked some samples right away at the above mentioned party, some of the guys thought that the amount of crushed red pepper in the Hot Italian was not enough, while others thought it was just right.

Seasoning: I premix the herbs and spices if there are more than 2 in the recipe, see the Bratwurst recipe on Inge’s Kitchen. That way the sausage always tastes the same and it is a lot easier to weight at the time of making the Wurst.
I always weigh up my spices in grams, it is a lot more exact and there are gram scales out there that are easily affordable.

When you make sausage at home you are not bound by the rules and regulations that commercial sausage kitchen have to adhere to. This brings me to Water.

I learned a long time ago that “dissolving” the salt and seasoning in water and pouring it over the meat makes the mixing process a lot easier. The amount of water is up to you. A little bit of advise, if you make a breakfast sausage size Wurst I would add a little more water, as it is a lot easier to force the meat through the thin tube on the stuffer to get it into the casing.
One of my friends asked me why I list the water in pounds and not in ounces. During the time we made sausage in our store, the scale was always right there, but a measuring cup was usually hard to find and if you want to make a specific amount of sausage for a custom order, adding the weight of the meat, water and seasoning together was a lot easier to calculate the final weight.

Grinding your own meat: Meat will warm up a little during the grinding process, so push it through the grinder as fast as possible. If you want to grind the meat multiple times to make a finer sausage, like a fine Bratwurst, add chipped ice or ice water to keep it cold. For the Sechsaemter Bratwurst listed on Inge’s Kitchen, I weigh some water in a bowl and set it in the freezer until it is frozen around the outside perimeter and mix it in while grinding.

So once you get started, make a smaller batch, adjust your seasoning, salt and other ingredients, be it cheese, onions, green peppers, to your liking and make sure to record the changes for future times.

 

Making Wurst!

Last week I found Ground Pork for under $2.00 lbs at our Kroger store, it was very lean and even organic. So I bought 2 -1 lb packages to make the Wurst – Base Recipe posted on our ingeskitchen.com in the Lunch Meats and Sausage section.

Threw the meat in a bowl, weight up the 6 different ingredients, to keep the story true, I added 2 tsp whole mustard seeds, mixed it all together.

Transferred it on to aluminum foil and wrapped it tight. In less than 10 minutes I had the Wurst ready to go in the oven.

The Wurst was almost too lean and was a little try, after adding some mayo or butter to the rye bread and a crunchy pickle with it, it tasted great.

Could have used 1 lb of the Pork and a pound of 80% lean Ground Beef.
I usually grind my own meat (Pork Shoulder Butts) which gives me the right fat content.

Total Price under $4.50.
End product about 2 pounds with the spices and water added so cost is $2.25 per pound compare with $6 to $7 per pound in the Lunch Meat counter of your Deli.

So a saving of at least $ 8.00 for a high quality product.

 

Why waste my Time to make Wurst?

Let me first refer you to my post Wurst – Sausage and Luncheon Meats to explain why I use the German word.

I will cover the “why” here and also a simple way to start this hobby without buying all the expensive equipment and finally I will cover for you the basic machines you will need if you want to go further into the art of Wurst making and some of those Tim, the Toolman, Taylor gadgets which really make it fun.

The Why:

  • Price – A pound of Ground Meat is a lot cheaper, than finished Lunch meat.
  • Fat Content – Especially if you grind your own meat at home you can easily keep this under control.
  • Salt – Most commercial Wurst is made with a large amount of salt, which can be cut down to where you still like the taste and off setting it with other herbs and spices.
  • Unnecessary Ingredients – Go and read the labels and tell me if you need all that extra sugar in the forms of sugar, dextrose, sorbitol, corn syrup and whatever else they find to make more money during production.
  • Taste – If you make your own you can (probably after a few tries) get the taste to exactly what you like.
  • Health in General – Besides the above mentioned points you can select to use the meats that you consider like buffalo, ostrich, turkey or other poultry. Here I mean the good stuff, not the mechanical de-boned ingredients you find in many Lunch meats.

I could come up with more reasons but I do believe I made my point, so let us look into what you have to buy to get started with your first attempt.

Two ingredients are needed:

Pink Cure and Smoke flavored Salt

The Pink Cure can be ordered online from places like Butcher and Packer in Michigan and the Smoke Salt can be replaced by Liquid Smoke.

And if you don’t own one already you need an inexpensive gram scale.

There is no other special equipment needed that is not found in any normal kitchen.

It really is easy to make!

If you want to try it go to our Wurst – Base Recipe – on our Inge’s Kitchen website.

So you made the sausage and liked the taste.

It is time to buy some equipment.
First I would invest in a meat grinder. Followed by a 5L Sausage Stuffer and if you want to turn into “purist” you will have to get yourself a smoke house.

I will add a list of helpful equipment soon.

A Restaurant remembered

I know this post only fits into this blog because I want to reminisce about a remarkable restaurant which only lives on in our memories.

The idea for this post came to me when a friend send me a truly well made picture comparison of today’s Detroit to times gone by. You can find it at detroitturbex.com with the, in my opinion, fabulous slide show which you can enter by clicking here.

Since I came off the boat from Germany in the late, late 60’s I called the Detroit area my home and as my wife was born in the city, these roots go even deeper.

One picture in the slide show mentioned above made me think of the time when I worked at the largest German Sausage Manufacturer in the city. In particular of one wholesale customer, a chef and his wife, who stopped by at least once a week to pick up salamis, heavy smoked hams and more for their restaurant. So I looked if I could find some information about that restaurant on the net and came across only one article.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The original can be found in an archive article from the Ann Arbor Sun in October 1976.

In the paragraph directly under the Red Wing picture Arminio’s Villa Venice is mentioned.

As described in the article it was a restaurant on Woodward, north of East Grand Boulevard, which is now an empty lot.

The set up was unique, as you entered there was a Grand Piano sitting on a podium to the left, where the chef sat down a few times a night to skillfully play some classical music. Straight ahead was a large show window giving you a glimpse of the nicely stocked walk-in wine cooler. The seating areas were on different level overlooking the Piano. On the walls were pictures from the chef’s life, some of them were when he was active in movies and if I remember right one was with him and Vincent Price.

Once seated they brought you a nice size antipasto platter, before they even took your order. I thought that taking care of the owner at my place of work gave us special treatment, but then I looked around and noticed that all customers were treated that “special”.

I remember the different Italian dishes our group ordered were all delicious and plentiful. After Arminio’s wife recognized me, he prepared a special desert for us and came out and joined us with a bottle of his excellent house wine. This evening was truly remarkable and at repeat visits the food was always terrific and the treatment was the best.

This was really a unique restaurant well worth remembering and an excellent example of a good thing that was and is close to extinct nowadays.

Natural

The other day my wife was asked to pick up some chicken breasts for a dinner at our church from a membership warehouse, as the local supermarkets did not run any specials that week.

The conversation I overheard came to the added water contend of the chicken. I wrote an article about this in a previous post and would just like to add that the word “NATURAL” on a package nowadays can include also any “natural” ingredient like water and other “natural” flavorings. This will again give you a good chance to pay a relatively high price for water. Check your packages it has to be stated on it somewhere if it is more than minimal processed.

The lady my wife talked to was actually surprised that “natural” on the packages she checked does not mean that there is no water added.

Here is the link to my previous article.