Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pan Seared Five-Spice Duck Breast with Plum Wine Sauce

When I heard that Ott, A was going to be hosting an Iron Chef Challenge, I was intrigued.  I like to cook, but I can hardly call myself a chef.  I also enjoy eating duck, but I think I've only eaten it 3 times.  Once it was excellent (surprisingly at the Safe House one New Year's Eve many years ago), once it was ok (so unmemorable that I don't know where that was), and once it was awful (at a local Asian restaurant...good sushi, bad duck). 

I scoured my cookbooks and the internet looking for the perfect recipe.  I thought of doing a duck sausage, just so that I could use the grinder attachment for my stand mixer.  But I didn't want to get in over my head.  I still may try this option in the future.  Maybe stir fry the sausage with some veggies and a garlicy ginger soy sauce.  Yum!

I did narrow down my search to Asian recipes...when you've got a craving, you have to go with it.  I decided on a delicious sounding recipe I found at the Food Network...Seared Five-Spice Duck Breast with Plum Wine Sauce.  And the best part was that I loved all the ingredients!  Yay!  I've been known to be picky and leave out onions or other ingredients I don't like.  For the sides I chose Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and Orange Scented Snow Peas.  Since I was going all out, I made dessert...Plum Wine Poached Asian Pear.

The first step was to track down some duck.  The was easy once I found the right store.  I'm loving Grasch Foods.  They have an extensive selection of 'different' meats.  I saw ostrich, elk, buffalo, goat, wild boar, venison (although this can hardly be labeled as 'different'...probably half of the freezers in Wisconsin have venison), and duck!  They carried fresh and frozen duck, and a wide variety of Maple Leaf Farms duck products.  Because Maple Leaf Farms is sponsoring this month's Iron Chef contest, and they supplied me with a $5 off coupon, I picked up 2 of their frozen duck breast filets.  They are convenient because when you cook the breasts, you need to score the skin, and these come pre-scored.  For someone who's never cooked duck before, this takes the guesswork out of it!

I prepared the breasts to be marinated a day in advance.  The marinade included the chopped up ginger and the white part of the scallions, the five spice powder, freshly ground black pepper and some sea salt.

I added the sesame oil, mixed it all together, and put it in a Ziploc bag.  Then I added the duck breasts and refrigerated them for 24 hours.

The next day was D-Day...Duck Day!  I got my homemade chicken stock out, and some plum wine.

I heated a pan (NOT a non-stick pan) over medium high heat.  Then I added the duck with the skin side down until the skin was seared.  Do not touch the duck.  Don't poke at it and move it around.  Just leave it alone so it sears nicely.  Then flip it over and sear the other side.  We're not fully cooking the breasts, so don't leave them for too long.

See that nice sear?  Beautiful! 

After both sides have been seared, place them on an oven-proof plate (I used my knock-off Le Creuset Dutch Oven) and cook them at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

While the duck is in the oven, you've got to make the plum wine sauce.  Go back to the same pan you seared the duck in.  Pour off the fat, but leave the stuck on goodness that is left behind.

Add the wine and chicken stock and deglaze the pan.  I used a wooden spoon.  I don't know why you use a wooden spoon when you deglaze, but you do.  Let the sauce simmer and reduce to 1 cup.  After it's reduced, add the butter (of course I used my homemade butter).

This is what the duck looked like when it came out of the oven.  Let it rest for at least 5 minutes.  I let it rest for about 10 because it took that long to let the sauce reduce.

After the duck was rested, I sliced it, and added the sauce.  Check out this plate!

Here's some info about the sides I made!

For the Wasabi Mashed Potatoes, I roasted the garlic in the oven.  Mmm, I love roasted garlic!  If you've never roasted garlic, it's simple.  Cut the top off, drizzle a little olive oil on top of the garlic, and make a little aluminum foil packet to roast it in.

It comes out looking like this.  The cloves are mushy and squeeze right out.

Here's the wasabi powder.

I made a paste of the roasted garlic, wasabi powder and a little water.

I put my cooked potatoes through a potato ricer (I prefer this to a mixer...I tend to over-mix and make the potatoes to starchy).  Then I mixed everything all up and ate them!  I went easy on the wasabi powder because I've never worked with it before.  I could have added more, but they were still tasty!

Ah dessert!  Honestly...I'm not a huge fan of pears.  I find them too grainy.  But I was in an adventurous mood.  I picked up an Asian pear.  I did some of the prep work a day ahead of time.  I cut it in half and spooned out the middle.

I put the pomegranate juice and plum wine in a pot with the Asian pear (cut side down).  I simmered them in the wine/juice for 20 minutes.  After they cooled, I put them in a container with their juice in the fridge overnight.

This is what they looked like the next day.  I dried them with a paper towel then dipped them in sugar.  Meanwhile, I heated a grill pan on high heat (the recipe said grill, but hey...it's winter here in Wisconsin).

I put them on the hot grill pan until the sugar crystalized.  It took about 15 seconds!

Here's what it looked like!  Mmmm!  Pear!  I added some vanilla ice cream and pomegranate seeds.

This dessert was wonderful...and coming from someone who doesn't care for pears, that's huge!  I'd make it again!  And my 2 year old son loved it too.

My afterthoughts:  I really enjoyed the duck.  I've heard that duck is more like red meat than poultry.  I didn't quite believe it.  I've eaten it before.  But not like this.  Both my husband and I were shocked at the taste and texture of the duck breast...it was like eating a steak...a juicy filet mignon.  My diet-minded husband, who didn't even want to even try the duck, said he'd eat it again.  I'd call it a giant success.


Seared Five-Spice Duck Breast with Plum Wine Sauce


  • 10 ounces boneless duck breast with skin
  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • 3 scallion heads white part only, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces sesame oil
  • 2 cups duck stock or canned chicken stock
  • 1 cup plum wine
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter

Marinate the duck breast with 5 spice powder, ginger root, scallions, salt, pepper and sesame oil for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Heat skillet on moderately high heat, do not add any oil. Sear duck breast skin side down, brown both sides. Transfer duck to oven proof plate and cook the duck in the oven for 10 minutes for medium rare. Pour off grease form the skillet, add plum wine, add duck stock season with salt and pepper and reduce the sauce to 1 cup. Then incorporate the butter to the sauce and set aside and keep warm. Remove duck from oven let it set for 5 minutes before slicing.

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes


  • 1 medium head garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 potatoes
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons wasabi powder
  • water as needed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Remove papery outer skin of garlic bulb. Rub with olive oil and place on a small baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until skin can be easily pierced with a fork.
  3. While garlic is roasting, peel and quarter the potatoes. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow potatoes to simmer until very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain water and mash potatoes with butter until smooth and fluffy.
  4. Squeeze softened garlic cloves out of skin into pot; in a small bowl, mix wasabi powder with just enough water to form a thick paste. Mash garlic and wasabi paste into potatoes, pour in milk and continue to mash until mixture is light and fluffy; season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Orange Scented Sugar Snap Peas


  • 1 1/2 Pounds Sugar Snap Peas
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Finely Shredded Orange Peel


1. In a large saucepan, cover sugar snap peas with cold water. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer until crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
2. Drain well and return to same pan. Add butter, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until butter melts, stirring frequently. Transfer to a serving bowl; top with orange peel.

Plum Wine Poached Asian Pear


  • 2 small firm Asian pears, peeled
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups Japanese plum wine
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Mint leaves [or pomegranate seeds], for garnish


Cut the Asian pears in half vertically. Use a small spoon to scoop out the core. Put the 4 halves in a pot large enough to fit the pears in a single layer.
Cover the pears with the pomegranate juice and plum wine. Add more juice and wine if the pears are not completely covered. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and let the pears come to room temperature in the pot. Remove the pears and juice from the pot and put in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat a grill [or grill pan] to high.
When you're ready to serve the pears, dry each half thoroughly using paper towels. Put the sugar on a shallow plate and dip the flat side of each half in the sugar. Put each pear half, flat side down, on a very hot grill and grill until the sugar is brown and bubbly.
Transfer the pears to serving plates, flat side up. Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle of each pear and garnish with mint [or pomegranate seeds]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Homemade Chicken Stock

After making beef stock, chicken stock was the next thing to tackle on my to-do list.  Because this was my first time, I wanted to do it right and 'by the book'.  In this case, 'the book' being Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, of course.  I wanted to track down some happy, pastured chickens, and I knew just where to go.  If you happen to live in the Milwaukee area (or even in the Madison area), then you should check out Ruegsegger Farms.  I was referred to Ruegsegger Farms this summer by Annie Wegner LeFort, master food preserver, pastry chef, urban homesteader, among other titles.  They specialize in 'all natural meats'...pastured chickens, grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and many other animal products.  And what is extra special is that you can place an order early in the week and pick it up at your local farmers market (St. Ann's Center on a Saturday morning, anyone?).  They even deliver!  I've placed several orders and have been more than pleased every time (seriously...try their bacon!  Yum!).

For this recipe, I ordered their stewing hens (which are old egg layers and come 2 in a pack) and a package of chicken feet.  Honestly, I wouldn't know where else to go to get chicken feet.  I guess my backup plan would be an Asian market.  After watching Top Chef last week, Casey fried up some chicken feet for dim sum (and apparently they weren't very good...) that she got at an Asian market, but I think that was in New York.  I don't know how popular chicken feet are in Milwaukee.

The beginning is going to look familiar.  You start out just like the beef stock.  I was using my giant pot and 2 chickens, so I really considered myself as doubling the recipe.  Otherwise, you would only need to roughly chop 1 large onion, 2 carrots and 3 celery stalks.

Here are my 2 stewing chickens, still in their packaging.

I cut the wings off the chicken.  I wish I would have a nice, heavy cleaver, but I don't.  The recipe says to cut the wings up, but I couldn't.  I was able to cut the neck up into a few pieces.

L to R:  Chicken, neck, innards (gizzard and liver?) and wings
The lovely chicken feet.  I know.  They look disgusting, but at least they had the nails trimmed off!  The feet are important to broth because they add lots of gelatin (which is what you want for a thick, healthy broth).  Don't worry.  You strain them out.  I won't make you eat them.  I did have fun with them, though.  While they were cooking, I'd fish them out and tease my son with them.  He thought they were funny.  If you want to read more about chicken feet, check out this post at Nourished Kitchen.

You'll need 2 tablespoons of vinegar.  I chose raw apple cider vinegar.

Hmmm...I seem to have stopped taking pictures at this point.  I don't know what happened.  I'll just talk you through it.  Put everything in your pot, cover it with filtered water, and let sit for about 30 minutes to an hour so the vinegar can do it's thing and get some of those wonderful minerals out.  Then you can add more water if you want, bring it to a boil, skim off the icky stuff that floats to the top, then turn down the heat so that the water is just simmering.  Leave it on for 6-24 hours. 

Mine ended up cooking for about 16 hours because I had to go to work.  I ended up setting an alarm for 3:30 in the morning to turn off the stove so that the stock could cool. 

After the stock cools, you strain it through a fine strainer.  I put it in quart jars and some juice pitchers, then into the fridge.  I was expecting there to be a thick layer of fat at the top, just like the beef stock, but there wasn't.  I don't know if the chickens I used weren't fatty, or if chicken stock just doesn't produce as much fat.  There was a slight layer of fat on the top that I just skimmed off the fat with a spoon.

I froze the stock in plastic freezer bags and ice cube trays again.

You may be wondering what I did with all of the meat from the chickens.  I did save it.  I had planned on making chicken enchiladas.  But, I was surprised at how many small bones there were mixed in with the meat.  Plus, because I had used stewing hens, their meat was a bit drier...it really is meant to be used in soups.  So I made some chicken noodle soup with it.

But...the next time I make chicken stock, I will not be using whole chickens.  I'll just use a chicken carcass (bones) and chicken feet (I plan on keeping some on hand in the freezer).  And...I'll use my crock pot so I don't have to worry about leaving it on while I'm at work (and I won't have to wake up at 3:30 in the morning).

Another great post on Chicken Stock is at Cheeseslave.

This post is linked to:  Simple Lives Thursday and Real Food Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What's your decorating style?

What is the style in your kitchen?  Do you go for modern furniture when it comes to your dining set?  I must admit that I'm style-less.  I'm terrible at anything related to decorating.  In my entire house, there is barely anything hung on the walls.  It looks like we just moved in, and we've lived here for 5 years!

I was browsing the furniture at AllModern.com, and they have some cute stuff!  I love this dining set, although I'd never be able to pull it off!


And the items in the kitchen department?  Too adorable!


If you're looking to update your home, check out AllModern.com!

Disclaimer:  I am compensated for this post with a gift certificate to CSN Stores.  I will receive a product and review it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Beef Stock

I wanted to make Beef Stock following the recipe in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.  I've never made stock before, but it seemed easy and very nutritious.  According to Sally Fallon, if stock is properly prepared, "meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate." 

I have a huge stainless-steel 21 quart waterbath canner that I used to make my stock.  No need for me to run out and buy another pot!  You could also use a crockpot (this is a good choice if you are uncomfortable leaving your stock on the stove overnight or have to leave the house).  The drawback of the crockpot is that you get less stock.

My first task was to track down some beef bones.  I wanted some bones from pastured cows, so I called Whole Foods.  They set some aside for me...at the hefty price of $3.99 per pound (I got $20 worth).  In the future, I don't think I'll be so picky.  We recently went out to dinner and 3 of us had prime rib.  I could have saved those 3 bones in the freezer, but at the time, I didn't know I was going to be making beef stock.  I put out the word to my family and coworkers to save any beef (and chicken...for chicken stock) bones they may get for me.

While I was at Whole Foods, I also picked up 3 yellow onions, 3 carrots, celery, fresh thyme and parsley (which, I forgot to use).  I wanted to use organic produce because I was trying to make a healthy stock, and pesticides aren't my idea of healthy.  If it were the summer, I would have picked up the produce at the farmers market.

One thing I might change next time is to attempt to track down a calves foot (which was an optional ingredient in the recipe).  I really don't know where to begin to look for one.  My stock turned out great, but it could have been thicker...meaning it could have contained more gelatin.  According to Fallon, "proteinaceous gelatin in meat broths has the unusual property of attracting liquids-it is hydrophilic-even after it has been heated.  The same property by which gelatin attracts water to form desserts, like Jello, allows it to attract digestive juices to the surface of cooked food particles."  She also says that gelatin is a digestive aid...great for people with intestinal disorders, as well as a protein sparer, meaning it helps the body use the proteins that it takes in.  So, it's great for people with anemia, diabetes, muscular dystrophy and cancer.

Ok, now on to the cookin'.  First I roasted the bones in the oven at 400 degrees until they were browned. 

While the bones were roasting, I cleaned the carrots and celery, and cut up the vegetables.  There's no need to chop them up really small.  A rough chop is fine.

One more important note is the vinegar.  The vinegar is important because it, "helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth."  After reading about real food, I chose fermented raw vinegar.

I put the roasted bones, vegetables, and a 1/2 cup of vinegar into the giant pot.  Then I covered them all up with filtered water and let them sit for an hour.

After an hour, I added more filtered water and turned the burner on to high.  Once the water was boiling, I turned it down to a simmer, and skimmed off all the nasty stuff that floated to the top.  Then I added a bunch of thyme (tied together with kitchen string) and about a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.

I let my stock simmer for 36 hours.  The recipe says anywhere from 12 to 72 hours is good.  During the last 10 minutes I was supposed to add a bunch of parsley, but I forgot. 

This is what it looked like when it was done. 
After letting it cool, I pour it through a fine strainer into a bunch of quart jars and a couple of juice pitchers.  There was some meat left in there from the bones, and I ended up giving that to my dogs as a special treat.  They loved it.

Then, they were refrigerated overnight.  As it cools in the refrigerator, the fat rises to the top and gets hard.  It makes it easy for you to take it off (I just used a spoon).  I just threw it in the garbage, but you could always render it if you want.

See the fat at the top?

Ewww...congealed fat!

All of my stock with the fat removed.
Now I had to decide how to store it.  I like to make French onion soup, and the recipe I use calls for one can (which is 15 ounces).  I decided to freeze most of the stock in 15 ounces in plastic bags.  EDIT:  oops.  I guess it calls for a 14 oz. can.  Oh well.  Close enough.

I also froze some in ice cube trays.  They'll be good for stir frys.

I laid the bags flat in a pan so that when they are frozen, they won't take up much space.  I have 14 bags, so I had to make sure to take up as little space as possible.  I'm glad I had them in the pan, too.  One of the bags leaked, and that would not have been fun to clean up if it was all over the freezer.

I thought I'd post my costs.  If I had some FREE bones, this broth would be much more economical.  Even still, I got 14- 15 oz. bags, plus 6 ice cube trays (which each have 14 ounces).  That is roughly 20 cans of beef stock.  I'm not sure the cost in the store, but the organic broth is probably at least $2 per can.

Beef Bones from Pastured Cows  $20.15
Organic Onions  $2.65
Organic Celery  $1.36
Organic Carrots $0.71
Thyme  $2.00
Apple Cider Vinegar  $1.25
TOTAL  $28.12

A couple of great posts about making your own beef stock are at Nourished Kitchen and Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

This post has been linked up to:  Simple Lives Thursday and Hearth and Soul

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

20% Off Healthy Meal Plans at Nourished Kitchen

I just wanted to let you know about a sale over at Nourished Kitchen.  Right now Jenny's meal plans are 20% off with the code RFM20.  You can read about her sale here (as well as the other real food bloggers sale items).  You'll want to hurry, because I don't know when this sale ends.  There are 2 subscription options.  You can pay weekly or annually.  And, if you aren't happy, you can get your money back within the first 30 days.

These meal plans are really cool.  I recently purchased these meal plans, and I love them!  The instructions are very concise and there is even a shopping list.  Every week you get an email with a link to the meal plans.  Each meal plan includes:

  • 3 Full Simple Dinner Menus Each Week

  • 1 Dessert of the Week

  • 1 Probiotic Fermented Food of the Week

  • 1 Soup of the Week

  • All whole foods, no refined or processed ingredients

  • Easy-to-follow Recipes

  • Simple to-do lists

  • Information on health and wellness

  • Suitable for Gluten-/Grain/Dairy-/Soy-free and GAPS Diets

  • Recipes serve four, but can be easily halved, doubled or tripled

  • Most menus can be prepared in under 40 minutes

  • I just got done making one of the bonus recipes from last week...orange creamsicles!  I can't wait until they are frozen to try them out.  But I must admit that I did taste them before I poured them into the moulds, and they tasted just like the frozen treats you can buy in the store, except with healthy ingredients!

    If this sounds like something that is interesting to you, click here for more info, see a sample or to order your own menu plans.

    Disclaimer:  I was not offered anything in exchange for this post.  I purchased the meal plans, and I love them.  This is my own opinion.  I do not receive any commission if you purchase the meal plans.

    Monday, January 3, 2011


    I mentioned Piima in this post, but I thought I'd dedicate a whole post to it, because I like it so much!  The taste is so rich and delicious and the texture is wonderfully creamy.  It's one of my new favorite foods.  Plus, it's good for you.  It has beneficial bacteria (probiotic) that is great for your gut.  You can go here to read a little bit more about cultured dairy products.

    I'll let you know how to make your own Piima.  You will need 1 tablespoon of Piima starter culture, 16 ounces of heavy cream, and a clean glass jar.  It would be best to have raw cream, but it's not available in my state.  The next best option is pasteurized heavy cream.  This is surprisingly difficult to find.  Locally, I've only found it at Outpost Natural Foods...even Whole Foods didn't carry any.  Do NOT buy ultra pasteurized heavy cream.  It will not be able to support the culture, plus there are other icky additives in it that you don't want.

    First, you have to get your hands on a starter culture.  If you're lucky enough to know someone that has some Piima, all you need is about a tablespoon of their Piima.  If you're not that lucky, I know of 2 places where you can order some.  I got my Piima from Moonwise Herbs when I took a Fermentation for Health class.  You can order some online and it will be shipped to you with instructions on how to make more.  Go here for ordering information.  Another online source is from Cultures for Health.  I don't have any personal experience with their Piima, but I have heard great things about Cultures for Health, and I would order from them.  They have great instructions online, and I'm sure they also come in the package.  Go here for ordering information. They are $12 from both places, but I'm not sure of the shipping charges, so you'd have to look into that yourself.

    These are the instructions for the Piima cream that I have from Moonwise Herbs.  The one from Cultures for Health is dried, so I'm not exactly sure how to get it started.  Refer to the instructions provided.

    Piima cream, clean empty jar, 16 oz. of heavy cream
    Next, add your starter culture to the clean glass jar.  I then add enough heavy cream to cover it and stir it up well.  I've read that you aren't supposed to used any metal utensils with it, but I use a regular spoon, and haven't had any problems. 
    Piima cream (starter culture) in jar & 16 oz. of heavy cream
    After the Piima starter is mixed well into the heavy cream, I pour the rest in and stir it some more.  Then put a cover on the jar.  I love the plastic covers that you can get for mason jars, but the metal covers are just fine too.  Don't tighten it.  Just place it on top.  You want air to get it, but you don't want bugs or dirt to get in.

    The next part was difficult for me the first time.  You leave it out on the counter for 24 hours.  Yes...you don't refrigerate it.  You want the good bacteria in the Piima to multiply and do its thing.

    Here's a tip that I learned the hard way.  Piima needs a temperature of 70-78 degrees to culture.  It's winter in Wisconsin and I'm not rich, so my house isn't quite that warm.  The first time I attempted Piima, it didn't thicken like it was supposed to.  It actually didn't get any thicker than the heavy cream because it just wasn't warm enough.  I ended up turning that 'failure' into some delicious cultured butter (and a learning experience).  On my second attempt, I placed the jar in the oven with the light on.  I also turned the oven on for about 5 seconds to get it slightly warmer than our current room temperature.  This trick worked like a charm.  After 24 hours the Piima cream was nice and thick.

    After the Piima cultures for 24 hours, you need to refrigerate it.  It will thicken even more.  My Piima is thicker than sour cream.  It's not jiggly at all.  The taste is very similar to sour cream, in my opinion, only slightly more sour.

    It should be good for 6 months.  Save a little bit for your next batch.  It could be never ending, as long as you save a bit from your previous batch.  I keep a small 4 ounce mason jar in my freezer just in case something ever happens to my Piima cream and I need a backup starter.  Of course, I could always order a new one if I had to, but I'm cheap.

    Now what do you do with all of that Piima cream?  Here are some ideas:
    • Turn it into butter (called cultured butter).  Check out this post on how to make your own butter.  Just add it to your mixer as is.
    • Use it like you would use sour cream.  It's great on baked potatoes.  Or use it in dips.  How about on top of pierogies?
    • Dip fruit in it.
    • Put it in smoothies (recipe to come in another post).
    • Add beneficial bacteria to pasteurized milk (same process as making Piima, only use pasteurized milk instead of heavy cream).  [Also, from my internet researching, it seems that after the Piima is cultured in milk for 24 hours, it is technically Piima yogurt, even though it's much more runny than traditional yogurt...it's more like a drinkable yogurt]  This can then be turned into cream cheese and whey (recipe to follow in another post).
    • Pan-fried brussel sprouts with Piima cream
    • This Piima bread recipe looks interesting.
    Those are all of the ideas I have for Piima for now...if I come up with more, I'll come back and update this post.

    What are you waiting for?  Go order your culture!  Or, if you know me and live in Milwaukee, I'd be happy to share mine with you!

    This post was linked to:  Tuesday Twister and Real Food Wednesday

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Breakfast Sausage

    I just HAD to try out the new attachment for my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer...the KitchenAid FGA Food Grinder Attachment for Stand Mixers (which I got for $37, and as I type this it's down to $33!).  I picked a relatively easy sausage recipe from The Mixer Bible: Over 300 Recipes for Your Stand Mixer, breakfast sausage!  Next to bacon, breakfast sausage is my second favorite breakfast meat.  The most difficult part was tracking down the meat I needed, pork shoulder and pork fat.  I like that I know exactly what is in the sausage.  I can control all of the ingredients and the spices.  No high fructose corn syrup 'maple syrup' included in these puppies.  No MSG.  No nitrates or nitrites or whatever that stuff is.

    Here's what's in Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage Links, according to their website:

    I think I'll pass on those, thank you very much.

    Slightly better is the breakfast sausage that is the favorite in our house, Jones Dairy Farm All Natural Golden Brown Maple Pork Sausage Links.  Their ingredients are significantly better than Jimmy Deans, but there you will never know what all of the ingredients are.  Here they are per their website:

    pork, water, maple sugar, salt, spices, sugar, maple flavor (caramelized sugar syrup, flavorings, maple syrup, brown sugar)

    The recipe I used called for 2 1/2 pounds of pork shoulder and a 1/2 pound of pork fat.  The smallest pork shoulder I could find was 3 1/4 pounds, but I still only used a 1/2 pound of pork fat.  A note about the pork fat:  it wasn't out in the meat department.  I asked the meat guy if they had any, and he packaged some up for me.

    The not-so-appealing pork fat and pork shoulder.
    First, I had to chop up the meat and fat into 1 inch cubes and place into a shallow-sided pan.

    Next, I placed the pork in the freezer for 30 minutes (ok...it was a bit longer because I ate lunch).  When you grind meat you don't want it to be too soft.  And let me tell you that fat is really, really soft.  I think it gets stuck in the grinder, but I don't want to find out, so I made sure it was pretty hard, but not totally frozen.

    Mmmm...cubed up pork (I know, it doesn't look too delicious).
    Then I put together the brand new grinder.  I was so psyched to give it a try.  It was so easy to put together and attach to the mixer.  Even my husband was excited.  You know how men are with meat!
    Isn't it cute?  I just love the new grinder!  You just put the bowl underneath the grinder to catch the meat, and you're ready to go!
    Then you just shove the meat down the grinder.  It actually kind of pulls it through itself.  It was fun, and took less than 10 minutes.
    I had to throw in a picture of the meat coming out.
    After I ground up all of the meat and fat, I added pure maple syrup (the real stuff, not the fake stuff), thyme, sage, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a little bit of allspice, as instructed by the recipe.
    Everything in the bowl before being mixed.
    Finally, it was time to test it out.  I cooked a little bit up in a frying pan to see how it tasted.

    The cooked up sample.
    The first test sample was pretty bland.  I added more of the maple syrup and spices.  Cooked up another sample.  Still too bland.  I added even more syrup and spices.  It was finally where I wanted it to be.  I'm not sure if sausage is one of those things that tastes better as the flavor sinks in or not...

    If I had sausage casings, I could have made little sausage links, but I didn't buy any.  So I decided to make little breakfast sausage patties.  I shaped them all on wax paper and froze them on a cookie sheet.  Once frozen, I transferred them to freezer bags.  I ended up with 57, so with the 3 test sausages, that makes 60 sausages total.  Those will last us a long time!

    I had to include a photo of my helper/taste tester!
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