Sunday, April 24, 2011

Turkey Breakfast Sausage

Sometimes I worry about our ever-growing distance from making our own food. Paradoxically, while the availability of artisanal, sustainable and small-batch foodstuffs is exploding, it seems we make our own less and less. Who do you know that makes their own fruit preserves? Cures their own meats? Bakes their own bread? A few of us, but not as many as our grandparents' generation, to be sure.

So here's a simple step back into homemade goodness. Store-bought sausages are typically laden with nitrites and other preservatives. You can make a simple, delicious, and healthy breakfast sausage in minutes with ground turkey that is leaner and tastier than store-bought varieties. I whipped this up for Easter brunch while the waffle maker was steaming away one-at-a-time on the waffles.

Turkey Breakfast Sausage
(makes about a dozen patties)
1 lb. ground turkey (I use Jenny-O 93/7, which is 7% fat)
1 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp rubbed sage (a bit more if it's very fluffy)
1/2 tsp dried onion flakes (or 1/4 tsp onion powder - no salt)
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on heat desired)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste - 2 tsp or more

Put all the dried spices (except salt and sugar) into a small mortar and pestle (or other grinding/crushing tool) and grind to a fine powder. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Now that critical step, tasting for salt. I have no issues tasting a bit of raw meat, but if you do, pinch off a bit and fry it up. If tasting raw, remember that the sausage will reduce in volume by about 1/3, so a moderately salty raw mix will be quite salty when cooked. I personally like my sausages salty, so I season until pleasantly salty raw, which will be bordering on the edge of too salty when cooked. Mmmmmm, salty!

Pour a little olive oil in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet and heat over a medium burner. Form the sausage into little patties and cook until brown on both sides. Deeeelish!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dragon Salsa

I've been craving something very, very hot for about 3 weeks. I've had several meals jacked up with hot sauces and hot ingredients, but nothing has rung my bell. When I was planning to make tacos for dinner tonight, I decided to unleash the nukes. This is dangerously hot, so beware! I ate one whole batch myself...which I will regret in the morning.

Dragon Salsa
(makes about 1 cup)
1 fresh habanero, lightly oiled and grilled until roasty-brown on all sides
2 fresh jalepenos, lightly oiled and grilled until blackened on all sides
Juice of 1/4 fresh lime
1/4 onion, diced
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
3 T chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

While the chilies are roasting, chop and mix all remaining ingredients. Allow the chilies to rest on a cutting board after grilling, to cool them down. Cut off and discard the stems, and mince the peppers, including seeds and skins. Add to remaining ingredients and mix well. Adjust salt as needed.

BE CAREFUL not to touch the chilies with your bare hands - especially the habanero. It will burn your skin, and if you touch your eyes, nose, or other sensitive parts, they will be burned. Use the knife and a spatula or other utensil to handle the peppers during mincing and placing them into the salsa.