Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween Candy for Adults: Chocolate-Bacon-Peanut Bark

Happy Clown

Great things come in threes: Mo, Larry, and Curly, The Three Musketeers, and chocolate, bacon, and peanuts.

This Halloween, instead of raiding your kids' Halloween sacks (oh, come on, you know you do), looking for the king-size Snickers bars, celebrate with bacon candy — easy-to-make and easier-to-eat chocolate-bacon-peanut bark. And the best part: You don't have to don a red bulbous nose and go door-to-door to get some.

Chocolate-Bacon-Peanut Bark

Makes 10 to 12 servings, depending on the size of the pieces

8 strips bacon

16 ounces semisweet chocolate (chunks or chips are fine)

1 cup unsalted peanuts

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, turning several times, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop finely.

2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Add chocolate to a double boiler. If you don't have one, fill a pan with a couple of inches of water. Place a glass bowl over the pan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water underneath. Once the water begins to boil, add the chocolate chips. Using a spatula, stir continuously, until smooth and creamy. Stir in the bacon and peanuts. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and spread to 3/8-inch thickness. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. The bark should be hard and chilled. Place bark on a cutting board and cut into pieces — any size or shape you'd like. Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.

Photo credit: FCC, ShawnCampbell


October is Eat Country Ham Month

peach_glazed_country_ham_recipeI knew there was a lot to celebrate in October: National Sausage Pizza Day, National Pork Month, Halloween. But I didn't know is was also Eat Country Ham Month. That's a celebration I can get behind.

Country ham is a dry-cured, salted ham that's usually sold unrefrigerated in canvas or netted bags and must be soaked before cooking. If you've never seen a country ham before, be warned: It's covered in a ghoulish green mold (the result of curing) that has to be washed off before soaking. But don't let that scare you away. When it comes to look and taste, country ham is akin to Italian prosciutto — burgundy-pink and enticingly salty, smoky, and savory. And, really, who could resist that?

So don't let October end without enjoying some country ham. This recipe for Peach Glazed Country Ham is a good place to start.


12 Pork Chili Recipes to Celebrate National Chili Month

Sure, beef chili is good, but pork chili is better. And it's versatile — make it with ground pork, pork tenderloin, pork butt, or pulled pork. Or sass it up with chopped sausage or bacon. Whatever you do, show chili some love this month by making one or more of the enticing pork chili recipes below.

Chili Verde from Simply Recipes (pictured above)

Pork and Black Bean Mole Chili from Seduction Meals

Pork Chili Express from Pork Be Inspired

Winter White Chili from Pork Be Inspired

Sweet Potato and Pork Chili from Fitness Magazine

Crockpot Spicy Bison and Pork Chili from The Cooking Photographer


One-Pot Sausage and Beans Ragout (a cousin to chili) from Dine and Dish (pictured above)

Slow-Braised Pork Shank Chili from Esquire Magazine

Italian Pork Chili with Polenta from Rachel Ray

Carolina Pulled Pork Chili from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp

Black Bean Chili with Crispy Pork and Poblano from Bon Appetit

Black Bean and Pork Tenderloin Slow Cooker Chili from Amee's Savory Dish

Photo credits: Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes, Kristen Doyle of Dine and Dish


The Kitchn’s Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan Dishes on Pulled Pork

115319According to editor, writer, and busy mom, Sara Kate Gilligham-Ryan, you can't beat pulled pork when it comes to delicious, easy, versatile dishes to make for your family. She says that pulled pork “makes it easy to make countless meals from scratch and actually sit down for meals with the people you love, day after day, without tearing a giant hole in your schedule.”

Easy cooking. Countless meal ideas. Sitting down for meals with the people you love. We could all use a little more of that.

So take Sara Kate's lead— Make one batch of pulled pork, then turn it into five fun meals that will last you all week:

Not Manic Mondays: Cubano Sandwiches

Turbo Tuesdays: Pulled Pork Hash

Wacky Wednesdays: Dinner for Breakfast

Twice-As-Nice Thursdays: Leftover Ingredient Soup

Fun Fingerfood Fridays: Larb Gai Lettuce Wraps

For more about Sara Kate's pulled pork ideas, please visit Pork Be Inspired.


Celebrate National Sausage Pizza Day with Italian Sausage and Potato Pizza

Italian sausage and potato pizza

While millions of children across the country eagerly await October 31, I'm eagerly awaiting October 11. That's because October 11 is National Sausage Pizza Day, and unlike Halloween, I don't have to traipse all over the neighborhood asking people to give me some. I can make it — likely multiple times throughout the month — all on my own. And you should too.

This recipe for Italian sausage and potato pizza is simple to make and simply delicious. I suggest pairing it with a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon or a robust stout beer.

And though I'm not a fan of leftovers, I can say without reservations, that this pizza is killer when eaten cold straight from the fridge (at midnight).

Italian Sausage and Potato Pizza

Makes 8 slices

1 pound store-bought dough, brought to room temperature

Olive oil

1 pound Italian hot sausage, removed from casing and chopped into small pieces*

2 small russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed, with peels on

1/2 cup tomato sauce

3/4 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Roll out the dough on a floured flat surface and brush all over with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Cover with a dish towel and set aside.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add sausage. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned all over and no longer pink.

3. Microwave potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes or until just tender. Cool for 5 minutes, then slice.

4. To assemble the pizza, add tomato sauce, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the sauce. Arrange the potato slices, then top with sausage and remaining cheese.

5. For a pizza stone, bake at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted. For a baking sheet, bake at 450 for about 20 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

*I prefer spicy hot sausage from an Italian deli, but you can substitute sweet sausage if you'd like.


13 Oktoberfest Pork Recipes from Beer-Braised Brats to Beer-Grilled Chops

Humphreys hosts first Oktoberfest celebration

You gotta love October. It's the month for ghosts and goblins and beer and brats. All month long, there will be dozens of Oktoberfest celebrations across the county serving up heady beers and good German grub. And it's just about the best holiday for pork lovers. Go to any Oktoberfest, and you'll be greeted by brawny bratwurst and kielbasa sandwiches, colossal pork chops and cabbage, and oversized crunchy pork schnitzel.

Don't limit yourself to just one Oktoberfest. Go to several. How else will you discover more wonderful ways to enjoy pork? Or, better yet, throw your own Oktoberfest. Below are 13 tried-and-true recipes from Pork Be Inspired to get you started.

How about you? Got any favorite Oktoberfest pork recipes? Please share them in the comment section below.

1. Beer-Grilled Pork Chops

2. Stuffed Pork Chops with Beer-Glazed Onions

3. Grilled Brats with Onions Braised in Beer and Mustard

4. German-Style Bratwurst with Sauerkraut

5. Beer-Braised Brats with Cabbage-Apple-Caraway Salad

6. German-Style Fresh Pork Shank

7. German-Style Ham Sandwiches

8.  Double-Decker Schnitzel Sliders with Hot Pink Slaw

9. Smoked Pork Chops with Mustard-Cider Sauce

10. Braised Pork Medallions with Apples

11. German Potato Salad

12. Apple-Glazed Pork Roast with Sauerkraut

13. Kapusta Pork (pork slow cooked with bacon, cabbage, and sauerkraut)

Photo credit: FCC, USAG-Humphreys


Q & A with Jeff Fisher, Author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sausage Making


Would you like to experience “sausage nirvana”? You can with the new book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sausage Making by Jeff King and Jeanette Hurt. Like other wildly popular “Idiot’s Guide” books, this book is written in a clear, easy-to-follow manner, giving you all the techniques, tips and recipes you need to make honest, amazing homemade sausage.

King is a chef and head of The Sausage Guys, an artisan sausage shop in Chicago. He has been a chef and caterer for different Chicago area restaurants, but what he loves best is making brats, kielbasas, and game and international sausages. His quest for sausage nirvana knows no bounds: he has traveled to four different continents to taste sausages and charcuterie. I spoke with him recently, and here's some of what we talked about:

How did you start making sausage?

JK: I was 18 when I first made sausage and definitely fell in love with it. It was towards the end of my first year in culinary school…. we made a few different varieties of sausages, and I realized what sausage is and what it can be. It's not a package you buy in the store. It's not just Polish sausage or bratwurst or hotdogs. It's limitless. You can do anything with it… I loved being in control of every element of the flavor. My friends and I started making sausages in our classes, then I started making it with my friend at my house, and it kind of became what I do. I think of myself a chef and sausage maker. Not a chef who makes sausage.

It seems to me that sausage is experiencing a heydey. It’s everywhere from charcuterie plates in urban gastropubs to farmers markets. What do you think is spurring this growth?

JK: It's definitely the case in Chicago as well. In the city, lots of higher-end places are doing sausage. But low-end  places are doing house made sausage too…. There's a general movement of consumers wanting higher quality things to consume. It's happening across the board from food and drinks. It's happened to beer, cheese, liquor, bread, and it's sausage's turn now.

You advocate making “artisan” sausages. Could you explain what that means?

JK: What I am advocating is at-home or at-business sausage making that is small batch. What I mean by artisan is either making it by hand or with minimal machinery. Smaller batches are customizable so there's a higher likelihood of a superior product being used. People tend to put more love and attention into it when it's smaller batches.

I recently made sausages at the CIA in Napa Valley and forgot how much fun it is. Is that weird?

JK: People always have a good time making sausage. You don't need to know anything to make sausage. I explain everything in the book. It's so simple, yet you can do so much with it. It's not too labor intensive. It's kind of a straight-forward process. You don't have to worry too much about messing it up. It's a good small group activity. You can even have a party and do it. Have friends come over, make sausage and cook it.  You can also pair different sausages with different drinks, wines, and beer. It's such a versatile project. You can do it in lots of different styles.

As you say, “pork takes the starring role in most sausage recipes.” Why is that?

JK: I've eaten over 20 different land animals. Pork is my meat of choice for sausage. Pork fat rules, as Emeril Lagasse would say. It doesn't have any off flavors like some other game meats. It has richness and a great flavor that's a good base, so you can season it with different spices. It's versatile. You can do almost anything with it. Pork is a great meat to blend with other meats too.

Should people buy their pork from the supermarket or a local butchery?

JK: You definitely don't have to go to a local butcher. You want your meat from a location who knows their meat. That might be a local butcher. Ethnic markets are  a great idea too, especially if you're looking for different ethnic seasonings and ingredients. Mainstream markets are fine too. Just make sure that it has turn-over and that it's clean. Make sure you see people buying meat.

What are some tips you have for first-time sausage makers?

JK: The biggest thing is cold, cold, cold. You want your meat cold throughout the process. For grinding especially, if your meat isn't cold it won't grind as smoothly. And for safety. Store it in the refrigerator immediately or cook it. Clean everything before you start working and when you're done. Have a buddy the first time you make sausage. It's much, much easier to have a buddy. It's really difficult to do it by yourself.

Why do you have to boil fresh sausage before grilling or roasting it?

JK: The reason I recommend it is that you want to cook it all the way through. If you grill it it burns outside and doesn't cook through and it'll get dry. Store bought brands have higher fat content so they don't dry out as quickly. That's why you can just grill those. Homemade sausages have lower fat, do boiling first will help it stay moist. And it'll help keep it from breaking or bursting.

What do you think the the next trend in sausage making will be?

JK: For me personally, I've been doing sausage now for a few years. I've been doing traditional sausages from different regions of the world. I've made bacon sausage before. That's a little different. I plan to do more infusion including things like adding blueberries to bratwurst sausages, adding fresh ingredients so that it's not just meat. I want to explore flavors that are kind of out there… taking two or three different cuisines and combining those flavors into one sausage. Sausage is the perfect medium for combining different flavors. I hope what happens in the next frontier of sausage is a created element. We've brought back the original sausages like bratwurst. I want to see new sausages made with fresh fruits, cheese, wines, beers. It has a lot of potential. It's limitless.