This time on Dude Food, I’ll show you how to make your own Italian sausage at home. The basics for making this sausage are the same for almost all sausages – you season chunks of meat and fat, grind it, then stuff it into hog casings. It’s that simple, and the variation between different types of sausages relies on the types of meat used and the seasonings.
And I can’t recommend the purchase of “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman enough. When it comes to Dude Food, it’s the bible.
• Make sure you cook some of the finished sausage before stuffing. This recipe goes light on salt, so you might want to add more. Just be careful not to over-salt. You can always add it, but over-salting is hard to recover from.
• Soak the hog casings for at least 2 hours. The longer they’re in water, the more pliable they become, and it makes it easier to get the casing over the stuffing tube.
• Keep your workspace clean. Clean everything that comes in contact with the meat and the casings. This includes your workspace (counters, cutting boards, etc.). And wash your hands a lot.
• If you don’t want to invest in a grinder, you can ask your butcher to grind the pork shoulder and pork fat for you. You made friends with your butcher, right? If not, go buy that man a beer.
With apologies to TGI McFunster’s, the potato skin is an incredible denigration of one of our greatest food gifts. Potatoes have nourished humans for hundreds of years, an in some parts of the world even provided a cure for hunger. Regardless, potato skins are on the menu this time on Dude Food.
I know it’s been around for over 20 years, but the potato skin plays right into the hands of the whole Atkins craze. I don’t know why else we’d bake these beautiful things, slice them in half, carve all the good stuff out, just to fill the empty cavity with meats and cheeses. But that’s what we’re doing today. And we’re doing it in style.
In 12 quick minutes, you’ll learn how to make your own potato skins. Trust me, it really doesn’t get much easier than this.
When you think of chicken wings, there’s no doubt that Hooters comes to mind. Their founder once said that Hooters is to chicken wings what McDonald’s is to the hamburger. But sometimes you simply want them in the comfort of your own home. Today, we’re making chicken wings that not only rival those found at Hooters — but possibly better.
Start with 1-2 pounds of chicken wings. Cut them up according to my directions in the video, and season with salt and pepper. Then prepare the “fry station” as follows:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Fry in canola oil (or vegetable oil) at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Coat with wing sauce, and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes. Enjoy on their own, or with blue cheese, ranch dressing (that’s for you, Baub) and celery sticks.
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce (Red Rooster, Crystal, Frank’s Red Hot, Tobasco, or your favorite sauce).
Today, we’re exposing the fraud that has been posing as bacon all of your life. If you think that watery mess you’ve been buying at the grocery store is bacon, you’re in for a pleasant surprise when you make your own bacon at home. Real bacon is simple, easy to prepare, and delicious. And unlike a lot of things we won’t talk about here, there’s very little shrinkage in the pan.
That commercially-made bacon not only uses inferior pork, it’s quick cured with a watery solution that injects water into the pork belly. Ever wonder why that bacon you’ve been frying up on the weekends shrivels to half its original size? That’s water leaving your bacon. So the bacon you’ve been spending $4 a pound on is actually costing closer to $8. And the bigger crime is that the flavor isn’t even close to what real bacon should taste like.
Here’s all you need to cure your own bacon:
3-5 pound slab of pork belly
1/4 cup of basic dry cure (see recipe below)
Place the pork belly in a shallow dish and cover the entire belly with the dry cure. Place the belly in a Ziploc® bag, and place in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. Turn the belly over once a day. This is called overhauling and ensures that the liquid that is exuding from the meat and mixing with the cure will completely cover all areas of the pork belly. When the belly feels rigid, it’s completely cured. 7 days on the short side, 10 days just to be sure.
Remove the belly from the Ziploc® bag, rinse off the cure and pat dry with a clean towel. The belly can now be sliced and cooked and will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze it if you need to keep it longer. If you wish to intensify the flavor of your bacon, you can smoke it over applewood or bake it in the oven. If you decide to do this, make sure the belly reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees. You can then slice it and cook it or taste it as is.
Basic Dry Cure (courtesy of Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman)
1 pound kosher salt
8 ounces granulated sugar
2 ounces pink salt (sodium nitrate – see resources below)
This will make a lot of cure, and you can use it to make more bacon, or some ham that we’ll be making later in the series. So put it in a ziploc bag and keep it around.
Q. What if I want to make a sweeter bacon?
A. No problem. Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar along with the 1/4 cup of dry cure. Or better yet, a 1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey.
Q. What if I want to make a savory bacon?
A. Why are you so un-American? Fine. Make the savory bacon. Along with the dry cure, crack some black pepper on that slab, along with minced fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, savory, whatever herb you’d like.
Q. What’s with the pink salt?
A. It’s pink for a reason. While nitrates are not harmful to you in the right amounts, overdosing on it can get you sick. And suppose you like to cook drunk and you forget whether or not you added the sodium nitrite, so you add it again. If it weren’t pink, you’d have no way of knowing. But because pink anything stands out like a sore thumb, you’ll know it’s in there.
Q. Can I make it without using pink salt? I’m worried about ingesting nitrates.
A. Don’t be a pussy. Use the pink salt. It’s not going to kill you. You don’t have a problem doing 5 shots of tequila, but you’re all up in arms about nitrates? Just like tequila, it comes from nature. It’s taken from leafy greens. Just don’t use too much. Everything in moderation.
Q. Why does my bacon have to reach an internal temperature of 150 degrees if I decide to smoke it?
A. Because Michael Ruhlman said so, and that’s all you need to know. Buy his book. You’re welcome.
Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman
It’ll become your new bible, trust me. If there was ever a follow-up to the New Testament, this is it. It reads like the “Book of Delicious” from page 1 to 320.
One bag of this will last you a very long time. It’s not expensive, and you need this. If you try to make bacon without it, you’ll still create some tasty bacon, but it won’t taste like real bacon. Sodium Nitrite helps prevent botulism and keeps all of that fat in the pork belly from turning rancid on you. It’s pink, so keep it away from children and all of those Hello Kitty dolls you’ve been collecting.
See Heath Putnam’s article for more information about how controlling fat composition in pigs is very important. It turns out that if pigs are raised to have large amounts of polyunsaturated fat, it can go rancid over time. But if the pigs are fed a proper diet, this would not be the case. It’s another reason why spending your money on properly-raised heritage breed pork products is the best thing for you.
Oh, and sausagemaker.com may soon become your new favorite web site to spend your money. It’s like Disneyland for carnivores.
Looking for some very good pork belly and other quality pork products? Check out Wooly Pigs.
If you can’t find some good quality, farm-raised pork belly in your area, you owe it to yourself to try Heath’s products. It’s also a good idea talk to your local butcher and see if he can hook you up. Make it a priority to make friends with a butcher this week. They’re good men, doing God’s work, and they like the attention. They want to help you, trust me. Then next week, bring him a few slices of your bacon. Grease the wheel, my friends. Go local or go home.
If you have any further questions, need help with smoking, or anything in general, email me. I want to help you, and I want to see you making your own bacon. You will never pay money on that commercial crap again. phil [at] mylifeasafoodie.com
Introducing “Dude Food” – a new video series from My Life as a Foodie and Zeroface Project designed to teach men (and women) how easy it is to cook the things men (and women) love to eat. The recipes are simple and approachable, and the pay off is enormous.
In our first episode, we’re making the king of snacks – beef jerky. Because nothing goes better with beer than beef jerky, it’s the most important snack food you need to learn to make. Ingredients are simple (lean beef, salt, pepper, liquid smoke), preparation is a breeze (slice the beef, season it, place it in a dehydrator), and the equipment necessary (sharp knife, cutting board, container, $30 dehydrator from Target) is very accessible.
3 pounds eye of round or london broil, trimmed of fat
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
liquid smoke (optional – see note below)
Freeze meat until firm, but not completely frozen. Remove from freezer and, on a clean cutting board, slice the roast into 1/8″ slices.
Place the sliced beef in a container, one layer at a time, salting each piece generously, then seasoning with cracked black pepper. If using liquid smoke, add 1 to 3 drops to every other layer.
A NOTE ABOUT LIQUID SMOKE:
This stuff is not a marinade or seasoning. It’s like aroma-therapy for meat. You add a couple of drops to every third layer of sliced jerky. While the meat is curing for 48 hours, the liquid smoke permeates the entire batch, so you’ll get an essence of smoke throughout. Use too much, however, and you’ll be eating dried campfire sticks instead of beef jerky. So go easy, cowboy.
Once all of the meat has been sliced, layered, seasoned, and granted a splash or two of (optional) liquid smoke, cover and refrigerate for 48 hours. I like to turn the container over after 24 hours, but you don’t have to do that. But if you want to be cool like me, turn that container the following day.
When you’re ready to start drying your jerky, take the container of cured meat out of the refrigerator, allow to come to room temperature (3-4 hours), then start laying the meat on dehydrator racks, or (if using an oven) on the racks in your oven. If you decide to use the oven, remember to lay down a few sheets of aluminum foil along the bottom to collect any drips coming off the meat as it dries. Your wife will thank me later. Remember to keep the meat from touching. Although the meat will dry considerably, you don’t want any pieces to touch, or you’ll end up with undried areas.
If using an oven to dry your jerky, set to the lowest possible setting, and leave the oven door cracked a little to allow air to escape. If using a dehydrator, simply cover and plug it in. If you’re using an off-set smoker (and God help us, haven’t used any liquid smoke) make sure the meat is at least 18 inches away from the heat source, and keep a consistent low fire fed with fresh wood every 30 minutes or so.
If using a dehydrator, start checking your jerky (bottom racks first) after 5 hours. If you’re using the oven, after 3 hours. If you’re using an off-set smoker, after 4.
When your jerky is dry to the touch, semi-pliable, and does not appear to be partially cooked in any areas, it’s finished. It’s OK if you dry the jerky out beyond this point, but it’s best when it has a bit of a soft bite.
This recipe is very basic. Feel free to embellish as you wish. You can marinate the meat with various spices and sauces (worcestershire, teriyaki, honey, hot peppers, etc.). It’s open season on beef, so go nuts!