Poulet Normande – Because It’s Fall

Poulet normandeAs the calendar flips to October I feel it is time to start cooking more regularly in the kitchen. This week, in celebration of kicking off fall menus, I decided to make a simple one pot dinner: Poulet Normande, or Chicken Normandy. A delicious, early fall dinner to help warm up the now chilly nights. (more…)

Curry Brat Currywurst for Oktoberfest

Curry Brat CurrywurstIt’s that time of year again…Oktoberfest! Beer, pretzels, sausage. I don’t know if currywurst is a traditional Oktoberfest dish but it is for Cheryl and me. It’s one of our favorite German festival foods and I make some for our Oktoberfest party. This year I’m putting a spin on the currywurst with a new sausage: curry brats!

Currywurst is a delicious German treat which was invented in Berlin after World War II. Food and spices were scarce so a woman named Herta Heuwer traded some alcohol to British soldiers for curry powder in order to ‘spice’ up the common sausage. She made a sauce with the curry powder and tomatoes, then poured it over grilled, sliced, sausages. The rest, as they say, is food history. It seems Germans love currywurst so much there’s even a currywurst museum.

I don’t know if there’s a specific sausage associated with currywurst. From my research it seems there are many different variations of the sauce and they are all dependent on people’s taste. Some like it sweeter, some more curry, some more tomatoey, etc., but pretty much all of the recipes call for using a pork bratwurst. I suppose this is because all they had were plain pork sausages so no one ever thought to jazz up the sausage. Or wanted to.

However, I did stumble upon a separate sausage recipe which said curry seasoned sausages could be found in Berlin. If it’s in Berlin then there’s a chance it could be in a currywurst. That was enough precedent for me to start grinding pork and adding curry powder! Seriously, why hasn’t anyone thought of using a curry sausage in currywurst before?

Most key ingredient here: curry powder. Obviously, the better the quality you have, the better the flavor. I think this is especially important when making such a ‘one-note’ sausage as this where the only seasoning comes from curry powder. I used a mix of medium and mild curry powders so there’s very little heat, just curry flavor. The lack of heat in the sausage actually works well since it’s the sauce which gives the dish its spiciness.

For Oktoberfest I’m putting currywurst sauce on these, but I’d also recommend just dressing the curry brat with some sweet chutney.

CurryBrat w Chutney

Curry Brats for Currywurst (should yield 20 sausages at six inches long)

  • 4 lbs pork shoulder, diced
  • 1 lb fat back ,diced
  • 4 Tbs Curry Powder
  • 4 Tbs minced shallots
  • 40 gr kosher salt
  • About 10 feet of hog casings
  • 1 C ice water

Combine and mix the diced pork, fat, shallots, and curry powder. Chill until ready to grind or set in refrigerator and chill overnight.

Run water through the casings and let soak in a small bowl of water for 30 minutes or until you’re ready to stuff them.

Using the medium holed grind plate, grind the seasoned pork and fat into a mixing bowl set in ice.

When done grinding all of the meat, add the water and mix until it is absorbed and the pork gets “sticky.” If using a stand mixer it will take about 1 minute with the paddle attachment.

Make a small patty and cook to check the seasonings.

Stretch and push the hog casing onto the stuffer tube attachment, leaving an inch or two hanging off the end of the tube.

Stuff the sausage keeping one hand on the end of the tube where the casing is getting stuffed and help it along if it gets stuck.

Twist the sausage into 5-6 inch links.

Grill, slice and serve with Currywurst Sauce

Currywurst Sauce

  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 4 Tbs curry powder
  • ¼ C Red Hot sauce
  • ½  Tbs garlic powder
  • ½ Tbs Salt
  • ¼ C ketchup
  • 1 Tbs sugar

Combine all ingredients in sauce pan and bring to simmer.  Reduce by a ¼ to ½.  Ladle over the sliced sausage. Dust with curry powder and eat.

Lemon and Ricotta Cheese Tart

Lemon Ricotta Cheese tartLast week we were on vacation in Colorado, and if you’re like me you pick up a magazine or two at the airport for the flight. When we headed back to Chicago on Sunday I bought one of my traveling go-to magazines: Food & Wine. In it was a recipe for ricotta cheese and sour cherry jam tart. I wasn’t into the sour cherry but I did think I could I could easily come up with another flavor, like a lemon ricotta tart for one last bright taste of summer before the leaves start to change. (more…)

Travel Post: A Nice Hike in Snowmass

IMG_3841Out of town this week on a vacation with Cheryl’s family in the Colorado Rockies. We haven’t had much time to ourselves but were able to break away for a few hours the other morning for a nice hike along the ridge above where we’re staying in Snowmass. For all of my outdoors-y friends who rave about Colorado, I get it now. (more…)

Fried Pork Belly – Using Up the Bits

ChicharronWhat do you do when you have left over pork belly trimmings? Turn them into crackling, pork rinds, chicharrón…well you get my drift. There are many different names for this little porky treat but whatever you call them, they’re delicious and easy to make. You didn’t think I’d go six weeks without a meat post did you? (more…)

Summer Corn Chowder

Summer corn chowderEven though my favorite cooking season is fall, I do like summer cooking. Mostly because there’s just such an abundance of fresh vegetables which is constantly changing from week to week as the season progresses. As such, it shouldn’t be a surprise most of my summertime posts are vegetable-centric. Like this week’s post for example. We’re heading into the heart of sweet corn season and since it was rather cool and fall-like this week in Chicago I decided to make a quick pot of corn chowder. Correction, a chock-full-of-corn chowder! (more…)

Heirloom Candy Stripe Beets and Goat Cheese Salad

Beet and goat cheese saladI’ve been wanting to do something with beets and goat cheese since our dinner at Bistrot L’Entrepont in Montreal where Cheryl had a beet and goat cheese mille-feuille. I played with that idea a little, but alas I just can’t get everything to come together as well as the chef did that night, so I turned to the always popular beet with goat cheese salad. However, the one problem which always occurs is: red beets make everything they touch pink. Hot pink even. Not the most visually enticing. Ah but wait, there’s a solution. Use different beets! (more…)