Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Easy Scrapple

Jan 29 2015

This version of scrapple is more user friendly! It does not contain the usual pork offal, trimmings, head meat, heart and liver that the original was made from. Some even cooked the whole head. Scrapple came from the Pennsylvania Dutch and was cooked down, cornmeal added to thicken, poured into loaf pans and left to set up. It was then sliced and fried.

Some of the old German family butchers around here still make pan pudding, similar to scrapple but thickened with steel cut oats. I buy some from my butcher Kah Meats the they call grits. I buy it a couple times a year to fry for breakfast.

I have wanted to try scrapple for a long time and looking around the net I see a lot of recipes for the scrapple made with good meat. They use cut up pork butt, along with smoked sausage or fresh hocks. You could use smoked ham hocks and I would think it would have a ham taste. I chose to use ground pork and smoked sausage to make it as easy as I could.

I used two pounds of ground pork and a pound of smoked sausage. I boiled it in water with some sage for 1 ½ hours. I had cut up the smoked sausage in short links and split one side for the fat to render out better. After the 1 ½ hours I removed the smoked sausage and chopped by pulsing in my food processor.
I added it and the seasonings back in and cooked another ½ hour then stirred in the cornmeal. It was poured into loaf pans a let set overnight in the fridge.

I saw where you could put parchment paper in the bottom leaving some on the end to make it easy to pull out after setting out. Forget that; it did not work even after loosening the sides. I ended up banging it on my cutting board as usual.

I fried a slice of it this morning along with some eggs for my breakfast. I was not too hungry so only fried one slice. It was so good after eating wished I had done two slices. I will vacuum seal and freeze most of the two loaves for later breakfasts.

Click here for printable scrapple recipe

Some of the ingredients

Meat in the pot with water and sage

Thyme, sea salt, 4 pepper corn blend and white pepper

Sausage removed to chop and seasoning added

Chopped sausage

All in with the cornmeal to thicken

In loaf pans to cool

A slice for my breakfast

My breakfast

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cheesy Baked Mush w/ Beef Braciole and Italian Gravy

Jan 27 2015

I had a loaf of cornmeal mush and about half left after frying some that needed used. I looked at some grits and polenta recipes and came up with one to use what I had on hand. I melted a couple pats of butter in a 10 inch casserole dish; I sliced the mush a good ¼ inch and made a layer. I beat an egg and added about 1 ½ cups cottage cheese, mixed up and layered over the mush. I added a layer of some shredded sharp cheddar and some Colby jack.

I put in another layer of mush and sprinkled some Penzey’s sandwich seasoning; any good garlic based seasoning salt will work. I finished it with a good layer of shredded triple cheddar. It went uncovered into a preheated oven at 325 deg. for an hour. If I was choosing the cheese I would go with shredded gruyere or Swiss on the bottom, mozzarella and parmesan on the top. For this I used what cheese I had on hand.

I had a beef braciole thawed that had been seasoned with Tee’s Top Secret seasoning and smoked on my Traeger. It went into a casserole dish with some left over Italian gravy and in the oven with the mush.

When that was done I toasted some garlic bread under the broiler, sliced the beef and served. The wife and I both liked it. The beef was tender and all tasted good with some of the Italian gravy over. The daughter in law stopped in before picking up the grandson at a friend’s house and ate some of the mush casserole with the Italian gravy and said it was good.

Making up the mush layers

Braciole and gravy

Mush is done

My supper

Grits or Polenta or Mush?

Jan 26 2015

I get hungry for some fried cornmeal mush and when I fix some and post on Let’s Talk BBQ forum someone always asks what mush is. Grits are pretty widely known especially in the south; from the east coast to Texas. If you were born or lived there you know what grits are.

Grits, polenta and mush are made from boiling cornmeal in water in their simplest form. Grits can be made from yellow or white cornmeal, fine ground or coarse stone ground. Polenta; I have only seen it made with yellow cornmeal but can be fine ground or coarse stone ground.

Cornmeal mush I have only seen it made with yellow cornmeal and any grind. It is made from cooking the cornmeal and water down pretty thick then pouring in a loaf pan and let set up in the fridge. It is then sliced a thickness you like and fried in oil, butter or bacon grease. It is usually eaten for breakfast.

Cornmeal mush I think came from the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Amish. It is mostly known in the mid-west. I grew up having mush a lot for breakfast, usually with bacon and eggs. We always asked Mom to fry it crisp. To get it crisp you have to cut it just ¼ inch thick and takes about 10 minutes on each side on medium heat. I like to fry it in bacon grease and then just add salt and pepper; some like it with maple syrup and I do have it that way at times.

I never had grits until I was in Turkey with the USAF. I was on a Turkish AFB with a small detachment of about 70 men. Our cook was from Texas and he fixed grits about every morning and usually he had ham and red eye gravy once a week. Simple red eye gravy is to just pour in some black coffee after frying ham and scraping up all the brown bits. You then have it over the ham and the grits. That is a taste treat.

Polenta is Italian and tastes the same as grits. They didn’t grow corn there until they imported it from the Americas. They use it in many different dishes and for any meal. If you search Italian polenta recipes they will call for a batch of soft polenta or a batch of hard. The hard polenta is made the same way as mush.

I think that grits are still mostly a breakfast item here but you are seeing more different recipes in the past 10 years. Shrimp and grits is a popular one and I have made shrimp and sausage over grits. Lately I have seen some different baked grits recipes too. There are recipes to cook some grits and then pour on a sheet pan and in the fridge to set up. You then slice in squares and fry like I do the mush. I like to use stone ground grits and prefer white if just a breakfast side; I like the yellow if having something over them. Sometimes I will use milk in place of water for creamier grits and like adding cheese too.

This is just my thoughts on the subject and wanted to let all know what cornmeal mush is and whether you have grits or polenta; it’s the same dang thing! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Italian Gravy for Meatballs and Fried Ravioli

Jan 24 2015

It has been ages since I made some Italian gravy. The recipe is from the Frugal Gourmet. I used to watch his show and have most of his cookbooks. I liked the guy until I found out he liked little boys. I made a batch early so it was ready to use for supper. It makes a large batch and will keep about a week. I will freeze some of mine too. The gravy would be great with any BBQ meats too.

I had bought some Italian meatballs at Krogers that looked good, Margharita brand. I got the idea of fried ravioli from the Mississippi Current cookbook and followed a recipe by Giada of food network for using frozen cheese ravioli.

Toasted or fried ravioli comes from the Italians in St. Louis. When I hear St. Louis I think of ribs and BBQ but the fried ravioli is another favorite food there.

I breaded the ravioli ahead; dipping in buttermilk then coating with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. I shallow fried them in a skillet with ½ inch of olive oil at 325-350 deg. about 1 ½ minutes per side. The meatballs I placed in a skillet and in my convection oven at 375 deg. for 20 minutes turning half way. I then poured the grease off and wiped out the skillet, put the meatballs back in and poured some Italian gravy over and heated up while I did the ravioli.

The grandson was here since his Mom had to go in for work and his Dad was working. I served the meatballs in a bowl with some of the gravy to dip the ravioli in too. I warmed up some of the Red Lobster biscuits to have too. The wife and I liked the ravioli but the grandson wasn’t crazy about them. He ended up eating 5 meatballs though!

The daughter in law didn’t get here until 7:00. I had 3 ravioli left so heated up the oil and fried them for her. She made a salad and had a biscuit. She liked the ravioli.  The ravioli would make a great appetizer or part snack too. It is usually served with marinara sauce and I think ranch or blue cheese dressing would be good too.

Click here for printable Italian Gravy recipe

Ingredients for the gravy

Sauteing the veggies

Gravy on to simmer for two hours

Breading the ravioli

Meatballs baked

Italian gravy added

My supper

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad

Jan 23 2015

We had been eating beef so told the wife to get a whole chicken to do. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but wanted some of the carcass for Italian gravy. I decided I would do a chicken Caesar salad for something a little lighter.

I had some old crusty bread and made some croutons that would be good in the salad. I drizzled on some olive oil and seasoned with Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle and toasted them in the oven. I had spatchcocked the chicken and in brine overnight in the fridge.

I rinsed and dried it this morning and back in the fridge to dry for 4 or 5 hours. I tucked a pat of butter under each breast and seasoned with some Penzey’s Northwoods seasoning and a little granulated garlic. I got it on the smoker at 3:30 at 200 deg. grill level for ½ hour then ½ hour at 270 deg. then ½ hour at 340 deg. to 170 deg. breast IT. I let it cool for about ½ hour before slicing the breasts for the salad.

I baked some Red Lobster cheese and garlic biscuits to have with the salad. I made each salad with ½ head of Romaine,  croutons, Newmans Own creamy Caesar dressing, sliced breast, and shaved parmesan. I nuked each breast skin for a crispy chicorone to top the salad.

It all tasted pretty good!


Ready for the smoker

About ready


My supper

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beef and Noodles over Mashed Potatoes and Dessert

Jan 19 2015

I haven’t had beef and noodles for so long I almost forgot how good it is! After more than 2 weeks of frigid weather I am hungry for something from my smoker too. This week end was nice enough but I am still not up to par yet.

For good beef and noodles you need homemade noodles. Since I am not good at making them I am lucky and have been buying them for years that come from a small bakery in Van Wert, OH near my hometown. They are better than any homemade I have ever tasted. I used to drive over and get some when I visited my Mom. Then a guy that cans beef and chicken, Waltz Meats buys them from the bakery and has them along with his canned meat at groceries around the area.  Now I can buy them locally.

I bought a small chuck roast, 1 ½ pounds from my butcher to use. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and browned it on all sides. It went into the Crockpot I had sprayed with a little olive oil and laid it on some sliced onions. I deglazed the skillet with some beef broth and poured it over the roast. I added enough beef broth to come up half way on the roast and sprinkled in some dried garlic flakes. It was on low about 7 hours total.

For our dessert tonight I made a peach and cream cheese pie after I got the beef on. I make it a lot since you don’t need to roll out the dough. I am not very good at rolling dough for noodles or pies! With this one I just place the dough in the pie pan and press it out with my fingers.

After I got the pie done I made my potatoes. I like russets for mashed potatoes but I had some baby yellow potatoes the needed used. I trimmed the ends leaving the skins on, cut up and boiled 15 minutes.
I drained them and added 4 Tbs. butter and 2 Tbs. sour cream to mash up. They would be easy to just nuke in the microwave at supper time.

At 4:30 I removed the roast and let it cool some the shredded and removed fat. It went back into the Crockpot and turned it up to high. A little before 6:00 I buttered some bread sprinkled on some Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle, some dried garlic flakes and a little parmesan Romano cheese. I toasted it under the broiler.

I served my wife then made up my plate. That sure tasted good!!! My dessert later was good too!

Beef chuck roast

Browning the roast

Deglazing the skillet

In the Crockpot for a while

Mashed potatoes made ahead

Crust and peaches for the pie

Cream cheese topping added with some sugar cinnamon

Done baking

Shredding the beef

The noodles

My supper

My dessert

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pork Cutlets and Fried Potatoes

Jan 17 2015

After eating supper last night I was glad to be back cooking some; it tasted good! It was pretty simple; pork cutlets fried in a little bacon grease and potatoes fried in bacon grease and olive oil. The cutlets were seasoned with a little Penzey's 4S salt and some pepper. For a side we had some of my fermented beets; that were extra good! The only thing missing was some applesauce; we usually have it with fried potatoes but we were all out.

My supper

Saturday, January 17, 2015

No Beans Chili

This is a little different since I usually have beans in my chili. There are some who will argue that it’s not chili if it has beans in it. I am just the opposite, it’s not chili without the beans so just call it what you like!

I went to my butcher’s Thursday to buy some meat and got 2 pounds of ground chuck for my chili. This was my second time out since my back operation just a month ago and my first time driving. When my wife fixed some store bought crab cakes that neither one of us could eat; I decided it was time to get back into doing the cooking!

I browned up the beef in two batches; draining the first batch and leaving the grease in the second; a little fat makes it better.  I added half the chopped onion to each batch when it was getting browned and let them get soft.  I put the beef in a large pot and added the 3 TBS. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin and some dried garlic flakes. I let that cook a few minutes then added most of a bottle of stout beer; I had to save a few sips for me! I let that simmer about 15 minutes.

I pureed the can of fire roasted tomatoes, can of Rotel tomatoes and stirred that into the pot. I added the can of tomato paste, a tsp. of 4S salt and about 1 TBS. of mustard powder. When that returned to a boil I turned it down to simmer and covered. I let it simmer an hour and a half. For the last half hour I added a TBS. of smoked paprika and a TBS. of brown sugar.

It hit the spot for cold weather food, even without the beans! I had some leftover rice so added some to the bottom of my bowl topped with the chili and a handful of shredded cheese. My wife did not have the rice. We both like buttered saltines with our chili.

I will probably freeze up most of the leftovers, some for Coney dogs and some for on top of spaghetti.


Browning the ground chuck

Chili powder and cumin added

Beer and tomatoes added

Ready to serve

My supper

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Baked Steak and Parmesan Potatoes

Jan 13 2015

I really had my taste buds set for some good beef tenderloin steaks. Our Sam’s club has the best ones a good 2 inches thick and 4 inch diameter, about 6 oz. each. My wife went to Sam’s after a movie Sunday and I told her to get some, I told her the nice thick small tenderloins we always had. I should have known better. She came home with a package of six eye of round steaks about 6 inches diameter and ¾ inches thick!

So tonight we had baked steak, the only way I know to make round steak so it’s tender and good. My Mom used to fix this a lot and used cream of mushroom soup for the gravy. I did it that way a lot then found I liked using Campbells beefy mushroom soup better.  I didn’t have either soup but it’s been so cold and icy out I didn’t want the wife to run to the grocery; it’s 3 deg. right now and supposed to get -4 deg.

I had a package of Pioneer brown gravy mix so I made that up and added a teaspoon of porcini mushroom powder and a couple of dashes of Kitchen Bouquet.

I used 3 of the steaks and pounded with a meat mallet on both sides then cut in half. I seasoned with a little Penzey’s 4S salt, dusted with a little wonder flour. I browned them in a skillet with a little olive oil on med. high heat about 3 minutes per side. I poured half the gravy in a baking dish, a little dried garlic flakes, layered in the meat, poured the rest of the gravy over and some dried onion flakes. I poured the excess oil out of the skillet and then deglazed it with a little beef broth and added that to the dish.

I covered the dish and in the oven at 275 deg. at 4:00 pm. I got the potatoes ready to go in at 5:00. I melted some butter in a baking dish, added some parmesan cheese. The Kraft’s powdered works best for this. I had some baby gold potatoes and cut them in half then placed cut side down in the dish. They went in the oven and upped the temp to 300 deg. I heated up a can of green beans for a side veggie.

At 5:35 I removed the lid from the steak and gravy. I checked the potatoes and they were not browning well so I upped the temp. to 325 deg. I served it all up at 6:00 and it was tasty. The grandson ate with us and had a nice plate full. My wife had some bread and butter with hers; I saved the bread and after I finished my plate I had some gravy bread. I thought the gravy was extra good and the wife said she liked it better than the beefy mushroom soup I usually use.

Tenderizing the steaks

Seasoned and dusting with flour

Browning them

Deglazing the skillet

Ready to bake

Potatoes ready to bake

My supper