Try making your own sausage 

I love making my own sausages. Controlling everything that goes Into them. You can try thousands of flavor combinations, not much as far as limitations go. It doesn’t require a lot of equipment either. All you need is a grinder, stuffer and casings. For the every once and a while sausage maker I reccomend a hand grinder. It attaches to the edge of the table. You can find them cheap and they do well for small batches. 

For larger batches or more often then I would go with an electric grinder. They are around 80 dollars and up, but make things go much more quickly. Another important thing is to keep as much of your grinder parts cold as possible. By this I mean your dye, the spinning parts and the tube it comes out of. Don’t put any electronic components in the fridge. It’s important to keep all this cool to keep the meat cool and firm. When you grind meat with a warm grinder it can make the meat less firm and the fat can melt. This won’t make your sausage as well. The texture will be off. Also when you mix your meat don’t over do it or it will get too warm and the texture won’t be as nice. 

I like to use beef that’s tougher. I like more connective tissue and flavor. Don’t use expensive pork or beef. You can make sausage out of just about any meat. The leaner the meat the more fat you’ll have to add. Lamb sausage is nice as well as venison. Adding fat is easy. Use bacon, or preferably pancetta. This will add a nice flavor and the fat it will need. You need the fat to keep your sausage moist. Do a little research to find out how much fat to meat you’ll want for what you grind. 

Now that your meat is ground properly and has the proper amount of fat content it’s time to season. Salt is a must, I also like to add a good amount of fresh chopped herbs. I decide on what i want dependant on what I’m going for and the meat I’m grinding. For my Italian sausage I use roasted fennel, chopped onions and mushrooms that have been sauteed off and drained of as much moisture as possible. I also use basil, thyme and oregano. I use pancetta and inexpensive pork for this sausage. 
You can also add things like cheese and fruit if you want. Pineapple and dried fruits can be good. Try sharp cheeses thru come through the best. With lamb I like to add dried apricots. 
At this point you stuff your sausages. You put them in the cylinder and press down. The tube will push your mix into your casings. 

When it comes to the casings of choice I always use intestine. It sounds gross, but it gets the job done and is the easiest to use. When you use the synthetic casings you have to remove them before eating them. In my experiance they’re also more of a pain to work with. 
You just need to press down on the lever slowly and constantly. You have to put the casing of the tube. Just press how much you need on it like a spring. The casing will come off the tube, just make sure the meat fills it up evenly. This is controlled by how fast or slow you press down. 

You’ll have a long sausage now. I usually make mine about 8 feet long into a curl. At this point you tie the ends when you’re done. Then you pinch 6 inch segments and twirl to make your links. 

Be gentle when you cook it. You can grill it or as i prefer to cook it all in a pan with a little beer. Let them poach until they’re at their desired tempature.
Like a lot of other things let them rest before you cut into them so they stay more moist. You can make any kind of sausage you want. Get creative with it. 


Enjoy your homemade sausages. Try some new things and let me know what you try. Ask me for some ideas. Share this with your friends and I’ll do a post about how to make your own salami in a later post. 

Try to dry age your beef

There are a few reasons why a dry aged steak is superior to a normal steak. I reccomend this for people who enjoy a strong beef flavor and are more patient. This is a blog post about why you should and how it works. To do it yourself it is easy, but do a little more research on your own. All you’ll really need to buy is the beef and a moisture level reader which isn’t expensive. 

Essentially all you do is clean a primal, which is just the side of uncut steaks like the picture above, above a pan of salt in a refrigerator. Preferably in a refrigerator by itself. You want to keep the moisture level down, this is where the moisture level reader comes in. Putting it above a layer of coarse sea salt sucks a lot of the moisture out of the refrigerator and aides in drying the steak. Don’t let the steak actually touch the salt though. 

A few things about what happens to the steak when it dry ages. The beef will shrink by about a third. The moisture being drawn out is water weight and mass and when you pull that out the steak gets smaller. Also it will form a not so appetizing crust like in the picture above. This is okay, you just need to trim it off and the steak underneath will look beautiful. A rich red color. 
I reccomend using a New York strip or a ribeye as your selected primal. It will shrink and you will have to cut the crust off so you want something bigger, not like a fillet or clod. 

With the steak shrinking the beef flavor intensifies. It consolidates the flavor. It makes it a rich and beautiful flavor. A typical first time dry age is 30 days. It intensifies the flavor and is easy to eat. The longer you dry age the steak the more rich the flavor gets and it will get a funk after about 70 days. Some people like it, but others don’t. I like it myself. I’ve had steak that was dry aged 90, 180 and 270 days and I think anything over 180 is too much. It starts to get way too funky tasting like a string blue cheese. 

When you go to cook your dry aged beef cook it medium or below. You’ve ready sucked a lot of the moisture out of It, so it’ll go dry quickly if you overcook it. Dry aged beef is more tender, however it will go dry more quickly. I love to pan sear mine and baste it with a compound butter. Always let it rest, this will also help your steak be more moist and pleasurable. Do some research and try it yourself. 

Tips for a better pizza 

Pizza is one of the most popular food items in the United States and other places in the world. So many kinds, so many variations. The debates they create like does pineapple belong on a Pizza, thick vs thin crust and how much sauce and cheese is too much? I’m here to give you some tips for making and ordering a better pizza.
First of all my number 1 pizza tip especially when your making it is this. Make every component equal. Make a decent crust, make a tomato sauce like the one i wrote a recipe for in a previous blog and don’t go overboard on the toppings. You want a pizza where every component comes together to make it a great pie, not just a little crust with toms of sauce and cheese and toppings. 
The crust is very important. I like to go with a medium thickness. Too thin and it will lack that texture you want. You want a little crunch a little bite. Too thick and it’s too bready and the pizza will just be unbalanced. Also a medium crust is good for cook time. 
The sauce is important. I have a recipe for a good tomato sauce in a previous blog post that can be easily modified for the purpose of a pizza. I never reccomend using a pasta tomato sauce. It never tastes right. You can also use a white sauce, pesto, or even just olive oil with some salt and pepper. Choose what sauce you’re going to select by what toppings and cheese is going on top of it. Be careful not to oversauce your pizza. This is very common and it will overpower the other components and make your crust soggy faster. 
Most of the cheese used for pizzas are mozzarella or provolone. I suggest using a mix. Mozzarella and provolone melt easy and have a nice mild flavor, this is why I always add parmesan or Asiago to give it some salty sharpness. Smoked cheeses are also a nice touch. Baratta is a stuffed mozzarella that’s nice to finish a pizza with as a topping too. 
This is where most of the debates begin. I personally really dislike pineapple on a pizza, but if that’s what you like go for it. As far as toppings go, keep it simple. Don’t just throw things on. Pick 3 or 4 things that go really well together and put those on proportionally. Try mixing some different textured ingredients. A little crunch, smooth and soft go well together. Maybe try something salty, something mildly spicy and something creamy. Maybe pancetta, pickled peppers and baratta. Balance is key when making a pizza. 

Braised Lamb Shanks 

As much as I like challenging myself with dishes that take multiple components and hours to cook, sometimes I like to make something easy. This is a really easy and delicious dish to make. Braised Lamb shank. You can do it in a Dutch oven or in a crock pot. Get it going and let it do it’s thing for a few hours and make a side and there’s your easy dinner. What you’ll need:

Lamb shank

Madera wine

Thyme 

Parsley

Rosemary 

Salt/pepper

Curry powder

Onions

Fennel 

Celery 

Chicken or beef stock 
First of all you’ll sweat your onion, fennel and celery until cooked and translucent. Add your Madera and deglaze. In a separate pan sear off your lamb shank. Then rub with curry powder. 
Add your lamb shanks and chopped herbs to the Dutch oven or crock pot with your onion mixture. Add your stock and a little more madera. Simmer for several hours until meat is falling off the bone.
Remove lamb from your Dutch oven or crock pot and set aside. Pour the left over liquid in a blender and puree. Pour this mixture through a fine strainer. Pour this into a pan and reduce, when only a little liquid remains finish with butter and mix vigorously. Pour this sauce over your lamb and serves.
This dish goes well with an aromatic cous cous or rice pilaf. This is a very flavorsome and rich dish in flavor. 

Polenta 

Polenta is one of the most versatile sides I’ve come across. It’s not even limited to side dishes, I’ve made it into an appetizer and a dessert as well. Easy to cook and inexpensive. Polenta is a ground corn meal that’s usually cooked with water, or cream. Simmered until it’s cooked and finished with cheese and butter. Creamy polenta can be served with almost any protein.
As an appetizer polenta is nice, because it can take on so many forms. I like to make polenta cakes. I make my polenta and put it in a dish and chill it. Then I can cut shapes out of It once it solidifies and toast them. Toasted polenta cake with a bell pepper, onion and mushroom gravy is a breakfast dish I made for myself all the time in the past. A good appetizer is toasted polenta cakes with sauteed mushrooms and a sunny side up egg, finished with basil and oregano. 
As a side polenta cakes are nice too. With a chicken dish try using chicken stock. With shrimp use a shrimp stock. Asiago cheese is very nice inside a polenta cake and creamy polenta. Asiago goes well with all sorts of stock too.  Creamy polenta is a nice side too. It’s smooth and creamy with a nice neutral texture. Try it with maybe a braised lamb shank or ox tail. 
Dessert polenta was an idea I had in culinary school. We had to make a dish out of polenta, but that wasn’t really challenging enough for me so I decided to make a dessert polenta. I used orange juice and heavy cream as my liquid. I chilled it and cut it into rounds. I toasted it and cut orange Supremes. Fanning them out over top of the cake and dusting it with sugar and took a blow torch to it like a creme brulee. It came out pretty nice and I’ve been meaning to do it again with lemons. 

Ceviche the perfect summertime dish you don’t even have to cook

Ceviche is, in my opinion, the perfect summertime dish. It’s light, it’s refreshing and you don’t even have to cook it. This is a recipe where having really nice fresh ingredients is the key. Ceviche pairs well with crisp, fruity white wines or summery cocktails. The only down side to this dish is you have to eat it the day you make it or the day after. The acid in the lime juice will turn the tomatoes mushy after a few days. What you’ll need: 

Cilantro 

Lime juice 

Salt/pepper 

Jalapeno pepper 

Tomatoes 

Red onion 

Avocado 

Halibut or some other white fish 

Shrimp 

Olive Oil

First of all you’ll dice your fish and Prawns into the desired size. About a medium size is what you’ll want. If you cut your fish too small the fish will taste too acidic. Cover just slightly with lime juice and season. The acid will actually almost cook the fish 
Then you’ll want to dice your tomatoes, red onion and avocado. Mix with olive oil, salt, pepper and jalapeno peppers. At this point you can mix with your fish and lime juice mixture. Finish with chopped cilantro. Serve with chips. 

For a nice touch try making plantain chips. Slice a plantain into quarter inch slices and deep fry. When they come out of the fryer, smash them flat. It’s crispy in the outside and fluffy on the inside. This is a fun and different alternative for a tortilla chip. 

Cajun risotto 

Risotto is a simple Italian rice dish. It’s almost like a blank slate of flavors. You can take it in many directions. One of my favorites started as an experiment. It’s now a common weekday dish I cook for my fiance and I. This is a simple recipe and very tasty, Cajun risotto with prawns and sausage. What you’ll need:

Butter 

Bell pepper

Onion 

Garlic 

Spicy andoulie sausage

Mushrooms

Chicken thighs 

Shrimp 

Aborio rice 

Cajun seasoning 

Salt
First of all you’ll hear your butter and sweat your onions, mushrooms and bell peppers. Season and add your diced sausage, chicken and whole prawns. Sautee until meat is cooked, then add your rice. 
Add water and stir. At this point adr your cajun seasoming. Continue to add water and stir. The dish will be cooked and thicker when it’s done. This usually takes about 35 minutes. 

Tips and ideas for shrimp 

Shrimp are a fan favorite, ask my fiance. Packed with flavor and numerous ways to enjoy them cooked or raw. Every part of the shrimp can be used. I really dislike food waste.
Shrimp go very well with pasta dishes. I reccomend shelling your shrimp and making a stock out of the shells and heads, you can make the stock into a sauce, cook your pasta in it for a unique flavor or poach your prawns in it. If non of that suites your fancy than you can make shrimp oil. Take some neutral oil, such as canola oil and simmer your shells in it. Smash the shells with a potato masher and drain the oil from the shells. You can also make a compound butter out of shrimp stock simmered way down. 
Shrimp also go well with things like tacos and fajitas. Be gentle with your shrimp when sauteeing them for things like fajitas. They don’t take long to cook at all. Shrimp can go rubbery quick. If you cook them too long they also begin to lose some of their flavor. When making shrimp fajitas I season them gently with salt and cumin and add them once my onions and bell peppers are about halfway their. Also you can sautee your veggies in shrimp butter or oil if you made it. 
Try them on their own. Sautee them in a compound butter. Maybe add a little white wine and lemon juice. Finish with some herbs. All this in mind try to buy good shrimp that really helps. The shell bring good is important.

Tips for cooking a better egg

One of the simplest staples of every kitchen, the humble egg. So simple and perfect. You can do endless things with eggs beyond an egg dish, I put egg in my pastas, pastries and cakes. However this post will focus on how to do egg dishes better. So many people cook eggs wrong, or in a way that could be done better.
My tips for a really good scrambled eggs is this. Try using a double boiler, a metal bowl over a bowl of boiling water. This is very gentle and let’s you have complete control over your eggs. Add a little heavy cream to your eggs, just an ounce or two, this helps them be richer. Add chopped herbs. I even really like a little curry powder on mine. I like to keep mine simple, without too many other items like ham or peppers. I really like the egg to shine through. One of my favorite dishes is a piece of toast with herbed scrambled eggs and sauteed mushrooms over top. I cook my eggs to where they still look a little wet, scramble is meant to be served like that not hard cooked. 
Poaching an egg is one of the most annoying things for egg rookies to master. It can be so disastrous. The egg could break and now you have to start a while new pot of boiling water. I crack my egg or two into a little dish. Something like a small souffle dish, I know they won’t be cracked and I can set them down in the water as gently as I desire. When your eggs are in the water, don’t fuss with them. Breaking and egg that’s almost there is so frustrating.
To boil an egg is pretty self explanatory. I reccomend, however, you look up the doness of a boiled egg. Cook your egg too long and it won’t be very tasty, too short and it will be underdone. I personally like a 7 minute egg. The egg will be cooked, except the middle of the yolk will be runny. This is perfect for a salad. 
Frying an egg. The flip is the trick. When you fry an egg always use gentle heat, let it take it’s time. For a sunny side up egg just make sure the white is cooked. For an over easy flip and immediately turn off the heat. An over medium is a little longer than that. Flipping the eggs can be a little challenging. I reccomend using rice in a pan to practice the flipping motion. Having a little rice on the ground is better than egg all over your stove. 

Porchetta one of my favorite Italian Dishes 

I really do love Italian food, the flavors, the ideas, the simplistic beauty of it. Of all the Italian Dishes Porchetta is one of my favorites. The most beautiful roast of a stuffed pork belly. It looks incredible and tastes amazing. It’s actually fairly easy to make too. What you’ll need: 
Pork belly
Pork sausage 
Butcher’s twine
Onion
Fennel
Celery 
Oregano
Basil

Thyme
Olive Oil 
Salt/pepper 
The first step is optional. I like to brine my pork belly. It gives it more flavor, moistness and it crisps up better I think. I can make a post all about brines if you’d like let me know. 
Next you’ll want to skin and butterfly your pork belly. Now that your pork belly is open I leave it like that for a minute. You’ll need to cook your onions, celery and fennel with your herbs. Just sweat them down well. Make sure to season your mix and ssusage. I lay this mixture on my pork belly. Then I lay my pork sausage over that and spread evenly. Then roll it tight onto itself.
The your pork at this point. Have a local butcher or YouTube video show you how to do this it’s pretty simple. Just a simple roast tie. Once it’s tied tight I score my belly making sure not to cut my twine. Then I rub Olive Oil and a little salt over top. 
When it comes time to roast I start it in a 500 degree oven for about 20 minutes, then drop it down 350 until it has a nice crispy crust and temps to the right temp in the middle. Remove from the oven and let rest. Slice into rounds and serve.