Link Sausage

About Sausage and Weenies

I have to correct misimpressions about our encased meats about once a year as new customers come on board and are learning the rules of the road to good and wholesome eating. Some are surprised that JVF, a clean, wholesome and local farm would offer sausage and weenies. That’s understandable since these products have a deserved reputation that is less than savory.

Let’s start with the easiest one, link sausage, usually found in your cooler as bratwurst, andouille or Italian. What is the problem with commercially produced sausages? The answer is twofold. Long time manufacturers add all of the organ meats to their links. Organ meats are good but are also the quickest to spoil especially when being handled in huge quantities and then shipped all over the planet. Secondly, nitrate preservatives must be added to act as a failsafe against bad bacteria. Both of these hazards can be triggered by any number of intermittent failures. E.G., the coolers at the plant, on the truck, on the plane or in the grocery can rise above safe temperatures and trigger an outburst of bacteria. Not good.

How is our sausage different? We do not use organs, only meat and the animal fats and since we do not cook or even smoke the sausages, there is no regulation requiring the addition of preservatives. So what you have is meat and fat with seasonings in a pure protein wrapper. Clean and wholesome meat like everything else in your cooler from JVF. End of story.

Weenies are a bit different because they are a cooked product. All weenies wherever found are emulsified, explaining the more homogenized texture. The process of emulsification also cooks the meat simultaneously and this is when the big bad USDA steps in, mandating that all cooked meat products shall contain nitrates. No matter that we are not Oscar Meyer and our weenies only travel from Schulenberg to Houston. So, our weenies contain the minimum dose of nitrates considering how close they are to our eaters.

So what about the alternative to nitrates, substituting garlic powder and celery seed? Turns out the combo of natural ingredients form exactly the same result – nitrates. Molecularly indistinguishable. Same result in the weenie and in your body. So what’s the point? There is none.

Our last analysis involved researching the alleged harm of nitrates. The short answer is this: don’t eat 10 of our weenies a day, year after year. If you did, there could be a correlation but no demonstrable causative effect from consuming our weenies. We think you are fine, we eat them, our children and grandchildren eat them and they are very popular with our customers. We only send a 4-pack about 7 months of the year. You’ll be fine and you will enjoy an unadulterated weenie occasionally. Hot dogs almost define us as a nation! Teddy Roosevelt served them to world leaders visiting the White House for goodness sake! How could Teddy be wrong?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Recipe: Pot o' Beans

When winter arrives, I think of stews, soups and beans. Meals that warm the heart as well as the stomach. These are well-rounded meals when made with a varied mix of meats and vegetables, all of which are melded into one pot.

Today, think beans. Here’s one of my favorites and it’s a complete meal in a pot. The only meat you need pull from your freezer is a couple of links of sausage. And the bonus: you will make several meals all at once.

JVF Pot o’ Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 links sausage (brats or Italian)
  • a medium onion (I like yellow)
  • a bell pepper
  • a stalk of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a big carrot or 3 skinny ones
  • fresh parsley
  • a small box of fresh mushrooms
  • chicken stock (more than a can but less than the 32 oz. size)
  • ½ pound fresh frozen Navy beans (or blackeyes, crowders, purple hull. HEB has very fresh frozen ones this time of year in the fresh produce section. Central Market has them unfrozen from time to time)
  • 2 cup of rice (makes 4 cups cooked rice) Wild and brown mix, or “Cajun Grain” is best.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • A dash of Louisiana hot sauce

Procedure:

  1. Chop onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Begin saute’ in butter and olive oil until slightly softened.
  2. Slice carrots in fairly thick coins. Hold aside.
  3. Slice the mushrooms. Saute’ them in butter.
  4. Slice the sausage and add to the vegetable mirepoix you are sauteeing. When the sausage is half-cooked and the vegetables are softened, add the peas and cover with stock about a ½ inch above the peas. Add the carrots immediately and bring to a simmer. Saute’ the sliced mushrooms in butter until slightly browned. Simmer for 45 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and butter.
  5. Start the rice.
  6. Simmer another 15 minutes or until the carrots and beans are softened. Turn off fire, add a dash or more of hot sauce stirred in, cover and allow to sit about 15 minutes while it all melds. Serve over rice garnished with chopped fresh parsley. See the photo on Facebook.

Store remainder in fridge because it’s even better the second and third time around. Can it get any better than this? One meat, butter, chicken stock and 8 vegetables in one pot, packed with protein, carbs, a little fat and lots of vitamins and minerals. We are eating grandly on a budget, folks. Live the dream of good food!

Recipe: Pot o' Beans

Yes, you are eating the premium locally-grown-grass-fed-drug-and-steroid-free-on-organically-grown-pasture-and-forest meats in this region, priced accordingly, (that’s a mouthful!).
So how can you stretch that budget and still eat grandly? Occasionally use JVF meat as a flavor enhancer rather than the entree’ itself.

Here’s one of my favorites and it’s a complete meal in a pot. The only meat you need pull from your freezer is a couple of links of sausage. And the bonus: you will make several meals all at once.

JVF Pot o’ Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 links sausage (brats or Italian)
  • a medium onion (I like yellow)
  • a bell pepper
  • a stalk of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a big carrot or 3 skinny ones
  • fresh parsley
  • a small box of fresh mushrooms
  • chicken stock (more than a can but less than the 32 oz. size)
  • ½ pound fresh frozen Navy beans (or blackeyes, crowders, purple hull. HEB has very fresh frozen ones this time of year in the fresh produce section. Central Market has them unfrozen from time to time)
  • 2 cup of rice (makes 4 cups cooked rice) Wild and brown mix, or “Cajun Grain” is best.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • A dash of Louisiana hot sauce

Procedure:

  1. Chop onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Begin saute’ in butter and olive oil until slightly softened. Slice carrots in fairly thick coins. Hold aside. Slice the mushrooms. Saute’ them in butter. Slice the sausage and add to the vegetable mirepoix you are sauteeing. When the sausage is half-cooked and the vegetables are softened, add the peas and cover with stock about a ½ inch above the peas. Add the carrots immediately and bring to a simmer. Saute’ the sliced mushrooms in butter until slightly browned. Simmer for 45 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and butter. Start the rice. Simmer another 15 minutes or until the carrots and beans are softened. Turn off fire, add a dash or more of hot sauce stirred in, cover and allow to sit about 15 minutes while it all melds. Serve over rice garnished with chopped fresh parsley. See the photo on Facebook.
  2. Store remainder in fridge because it’s even better the second and third time around. Can it get any better than this? One meat, butter, chicken stock and 8 vegetables in one pot, packed with protein, carbs, a little fat and lots of vitamins and minerals. We are eating grandly on a budget, folks. Live the dream of good food!

Housekeeping

Preservatives, Not.

It’s time for the semi-annual explanation of a number of issues, starting with how our foods are unadulterated despite required labeling that might lead to a different conclusion. The prime contradiction is found in our link sausage packaging which declares that our sausage contains preservatives - they don’t! So why the label?

The only label our Mom & Pop butcher shop has is for smoked sausage. Smoked sausage must have preservatives added. However, all of our sausage is “fresh” (uncooked) sausage, which does not require preservatives. Nonetheless, on goes the preservatives label because, they say, it “keeps the inspector happy”. Oh well. Take it from us, our sausage does not contain preservatives.
Weenies are a different story. They do contain preservatives, but the very minimum allowed by the regulations. We were allowed that because our weenies don’t travel long distances. Brenham to Houston is a lot shorter trip than Chicago to Houston.

Packaging.

We seemed to have a spike in broken seals lately which of course defeats the purpose of paying for vacuum-sealed meats, for us and for you. We are on this problem like ducks on a June bug. There are 3 points at which the packages might be handled too roughly and we are inspecting at each of those points. If we find broken seals, they are corrected immediately. Please let us know if you receive any broken seal packages.

Two New Cuts

A few of you will find 2 new cuts in your coolers this month. We have tried them and plan to make more in future months. Here they are and what to do with them.

  • Tenderized Round Steak: These are huge cuts, so you may want to cut them into smaller steak size pieces, then fry them or smother in onions and cook slowly for a smothered steak.
  • Pork Stew Meat: Think pork stew here - braise or cook in your slow cooker with potatoes, bell pepper, carrots, onion and garlic. Makes a great stew.
  • Sausages by the link: You will find 2 packages of sausage in your cooler. If one is unlabeled, that will be the Jalapeno/cheese sausage. A reminder that while our fresh sausages do not contain nitrates, the butcher shop often puts that warning label on the package because that is the only label it has to satisfy State labeling requirements.

The Eaters Write

We always appreciate hearing from you. It gives us a chance to explain our mission when your letters sometimes express misconceptions about our meats. We recently got a note that expressed a desire for more ground pork and beef but less sausage because, “I don’t know what sausage is made from.” The concern was understandable — sausage, including hot dog weenies, have had a deservedly bad rap sheet for a long time. The bad rap comes from the fact that otherwise unsellable (and often inedible) parts were blended in to add weight and avoid waste. On top of that, sausage factories were neither the cleanest places in the food world but also were dealing with meat that was well beyond its fresh state, always transported again from the point of original processing to the ‘junk yard’, the sausage maker. That was not so in every case but probably was the dominant process. So the only way to make that sausage work was to add bacteria killing bleaches and then injecting preservatives out the wazoo (in some cases in the wazoo). BUT that’s not us! Here are the differences:

  1. Sausage is ground pork or beef, the same fresh and balanced stuff you have in your package labeled as such. In most cases, these ground products come from the rear leg of the pig or beeve, in other words, the hams or the hindquarter respectively. Why? Because these are often the toughest part of the cuts and grinding them breaks the tendons that are causing the toughness.
  2. We never put inedibles in our sausage.
  3. Grinding and sausage making all happens simultaneously at our same butcher shop in La Grange.

These cuts are treated no differently than say a porterhouse chop or a ribeye steak. Bottom line: if you like our ground meats, then you must like our sausage. It’s just ground meat with spices added.

It’s good for us all.

Recipe: Sausage & Kale Soup

Having made your beef bone stock, you’re ready to make this cold-night soup. It’s even better if it’s cold and rainy. Serves 4-6.

Sausage & Kale Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 JVF link sausage
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. Butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 12 oz fresh kale, stems removed and leaves chopped

Directions:

  1. Cut sausage link into 16 pieces. Warm a 5 qt soup pot on medium heat
  2. Add oil and butter. Cook sausage until done, remove. Sauté onion, potatoes and garlic until softened.
  3. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer
  4. Add sausage and kale and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve in warmed bowls.

Recipes

As we face the prospect of a real winter, is there anything better than a rich and hearty meal as the wind howls about the frosted windows of our house? How about beans, pork, chicken and sausage, with plenty of tomato and wine  blended in? That’s known as Cassoulet, and it is a peasant’s concoction taken from leftovers, made to nourish, fortify and satisfy inexpensively. The recipe originates as a variation on peasant stew and is intended to incorporate leftover items in your fridge into an elegant dish. Our recipe uses chicken instead of duck, and butter and oil instead of duck fat. But if you have those tidbits, go for it.

Jolie Vue Cassoulet

The Greatest of Winter Dishes (adapted from the recipe of Chez Allard, a Paris bistro) for 6 people
 
Ingredients:
 

  • 2 c. plus a little, Great Northern beans, dry
  • 2 onions, cut ½ of 1 into quarters, chop the rest
  • 2 bouquets garnis (each in cheesecloth to include 1 small parsley sprig, 1 small thyme sprig, I peppercorn, ½ bayleaf)
  • 2 T. butter and 2 T oil, or an equal quantity of rendered JVF pork back fat (the best)
  • 1 ½ tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 ½ t. tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 c. dry white wine
  • 6 c. veal or beef stock
  • 1 & ½ lbs JVF pork roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • both legs and thighs of the JVF big fat hen, cut into serving pieces
  • 2 JVF pork sausages, browned and sliced (either the country sausage or the sweet Italian, as you prefer)

Method:

  1. Rinse the beans overnight, drain, rinse and set aside
  2. In a soup or stockpot, add beans, the quartered onion, 1 bouqet garnis, and cold water to cover by about 3 inches. Boil first, then go to low heat, cover and simmer stirring occasionally until beans are soft, 1.75 to 2 hrs. Add salt and pepper to taste at 1.5 hrs.
  3. While the beans are cooking, add oil and butter to a dutch oven and brown the pork chunks, the sausage and the chicken on both sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate and sauté the chopped onion until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Return the meats to the vessel and cover with the browned onions and add the quartered tomatoes, the tomato paste, the garlic cloves, the bouqet garnis, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle in 3 T. of flour and stir in well. Add the wine and broth.
  5. Cover and simmer over medium heat until meats are tender, about 1.5 hrs.
  6. Combine all meats and beans and include all of the drippings from the meat vessel, stir well but gently until combined. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until a crust has formed on top.  EAT!!

A Rub for Ribs

  • 1 T salt
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T chili powder