Sunday, December 9, 2012

Estonian Barley Sausage

My dad was from Estonia and came to Canada as a young boy. He brought with him traditions from his homeland, many having to do with the Christmas Holidays. One of my favourites is making traditional barley sausages, made with barley, onion, pork, bacon, salt and spices (marjoram, thyme, and sage).

In the old days dad and mom would dice the meats by hand and stuff using a manual stuffer my dad made in a tool & die shop when he was a young man. About 5 years ago (a couple of years before his passing) we upgraded to a LEM 5 pound stuffer and that makes short work of even the largest batch of sausage. We also invested in our own meat grinder (but find it easier to have the butcher grind pork shoulder for us). What used to take us most of the day, can now be whipped off in a few hours.

We never really use a recipe for our sausages as we have differing amounts of ingredients every year, we make a test batch before stuffing and decide if it's up to snuff, if it is, we stuff, if it isn't we adjust the seasoning accordingly. You can use this recipe as a start, it'll give you the flavours you're after.

We cook the barley according to the package directions, we add some salt to the barley as it boils as well, we let the barley cool overnight and then add the the ground pork, bacon, onion, salt and spices and then mix well. We cook up a test patty to check seasoning before stuffing.

We start by soaking the casings to rinse the salt and rehydrate them.

We then rinse the casings to wash out any debris and loosen them up.

I lightly oil the stuffing tube and load the casing onto the filled stuffer.

We crank and coil the sausage, this was our first coil of the year so it's a bit ugly.

We portion out individual links.

Boil to cook the meat through and set the casings.


Then package and freeze.

On Christmas Eve we take a pound of thinly sliced bacon, and place half of it on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. We lay three sausage links on top of the bacon and then layer the rest of the pound of bacon slices on top of the sausages. cook at 425°F until the bacon is crispy. Eat with lingonberry jam (usually found at Ikea in their food department).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Domino's Pizza

In terms of food I'm able to grab on the run, I love shawarma, burgers and pizza. I have written extensively about all three in previous posts. If I was only able to eat three things in life I think I'd be fine with these three (sushi and BBQ would have to be thrown into the mix).

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying I don't buy pizza out very often because a) I think mine rocks and b) I can make a kickass pizza for half of what takeout places charge for their pizzas loaded with mystery meats.

In university, long before I cared about food quality (heck, I ate residence food for 2 years) Domino's pizza was on the menu at least once a week. Back then it was the best bang for your buck chain pizza wise. Most chains give you pizzas that once topped, you can still see the bottom crust through the ingredients, read: most chain pizza places rip you off by skimping on toppings, cheese even sauce.... Domino's doesn't, at least in my experience.

Recently Domino's had a promotion giving you 50% off any regularly priced pizzas on their menu, I wholeheartedly took them up on their offer. I ordered an extra large (16") ExtravaganZZa, which comes with pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, beef, onions, green peppers, black olives and extra cheese ($11.50 after my 50% discount).

My tastebuds traveled back to a place in time where my university buddies and I sat huddled around a small table after a night of one too many pitchers, soaking up the excess fluid with a salty, greasy, cheese and carb bomb. In fewer words, Heaven.

Even though it's a chain, I still love the occasional Domino's pizza, you know, for the memories.