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  • chicago hot dog 1

  • By Blake Royer Usually, when you're buying cookware, the rule...
  • Ssp1

  • smashburger1

  • Our own version culled from a few different recipes, an emulation of the classic recipe of homemade tortillas, lightly fried tempura-style fish, a dairy-based white sauce, and fresh, crunchy, gently spicy cabbage.

  • carnitas 15

  • Ginger Beer

    File this one under projects that seem a lot harder than they actually are.

  • pc britishbangers 8

    As I was digging into making my own British bangers for my Full English Breakfast challenge, I kept stumbling onto the same sad story which may or may not be complete bullshit: During the early 20th century thanks to two World Wars, meat was scarce in England and pork sausages were padded with some grains and extra liquid to help stretch the meat reserves. When cooked, these padded sausages had the tendency to burst out of their casings and the "banger" was born.

    Exploding sausages! How cool is that?

    Though this tale may be made up, it oddly shines a light on one aspect of the banger--besides the exploding part--which turned out to be absolutely essential: filler. There are stories about percentages, discussion on what kind of cereal to use, and cautionary posts about other nefarious ingredients that are included, but the case remains the same: Bangers must have filler or they simply aren't bangers. 

    pc britishbangers 10

    Even famed British chef Heston Blumenthal seems to agree. In his book and TV show, In Search of Perfection (check out the episode on Youtube) he sets out to create his perfect banger. At first he figures that the sausages should have no filler at all, just meat and seasonings. But the results seem to sever the tie with the sausages of his youth--his 8 year old self that cooked sausages over a campfire. The filler-less sausage may taste great, but it doesn't taste right. Heston eventually embraces the filler to a uniquely obsessive level (let's just say that toasted bread water is involved).

    So for my bangers, I knew I needed some filler of some kind, and I figured that breadcrumbs would be the logical choice. But what was most fascinating was that the many recipes I found called not for breadcrumbs, but for rusk. And thus a new question was born: What the hell is rusk?


  • homemade bratwurst 24

    My little adventure with bratwurst reached its pinnacle after a tortuous three hour process of grinding, mixing, stuffing, poaching, and charcoal grilling.  What I faced, fortunately, looked a lot like the bratwurst of my wildest fantasies.  It was perfectly plump, gushing with juice, and absolutely haunted by charcoal smoke.  I stuffed that sausage into a huge roll and piled it high with sauerkraut and grainy mustard.  The meat was layered with spices like nutmeg and ginger, and had a major snap from the hog casings.  My homemade bratwurst had worked.  

    Which isn't to say that the road to here had been easy.  Last post I didn't have a clue where to start.  My problem was that I didn't know there were so many styles of bratwurst out there.  Finding any kind of "perfect recipe" was nearly impossible.  But I did narrow my search, after realizing that the style that I was salivating over was Wisconsin-Style Bratwurst.  The German style is richer and, from what I can tell, emulsified.  The Wisconsin-Style is chunkier, and features no eggs or cream.  

    But I still didn't have a recipe.  For help I questioned Mr. Hot Doug himself, and finally asked all of you for help.  I received it in droves.  In fact, I was intimidated by how much information I got.  While trying to sort through the half dozen or so bratwurst recipes the number of suggested ingredients called for started to balloon to over 40.  So I did what any normal person would do and created an Excel spreadsheet with the dozen recipes and every single ingredient.  I sorted through the info, eliminating all ingredients that were only mentioned once, and finally came up with a kind of mathematical equation for what should go into a bratwurst.  It was made with pork, pork fat, and a plethora of spices including nutmeg, ginger, coriander, and marjoram.     

    What I was left with looked an awful lot like the recipe that commenter P.M. left for me.  Upon rereading the comment P.M. claimed he was a commercial sausage marker, and has "set up many people with formulas and procedures for making it commercially."  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  The only problem?  Since he is a commercial sausage maker, the recipe was for a 100 pound batch!  I was making a 5 pound one.  So, first order of business was converting his mammoth recipe into ounces, which I did with a calculator and some handy Google converter program.  That left some ingredients with insane measurments like 0.0025 ounces.  So I decided to attempt to convert the ounces by weight into tablespoons and teaspoons by volume.  Luckily, Michael Ruhlman listed many of his measurement in his Charcuterie book in both weight and volume.  

    Finally, I had recipe.  But then I had to face the hassle of actually stuffing.