Time really does fly when you’re busy. I think that’s how the saying goes (it is for us anyway). We’ve ben so busy lately, that we almost missed our one year anniversary of Big Bites Tiny Kitchen! Yes it’s been one whole year and we really hope you have enjoyed following along and reading our stories. We have much more in store for you. Now that you have the lay of the land, and have heard all about our holidays and traditions, we plan to get much better at recording and sharing our recipes. Most of them come directly from my mom, who as you might recall never writes anything down, but many are our own creations. They are often the product of limited time and limited groceries. Sometimes they come together based on one single ingredient we’re craving. Some of them are born out of necessity to fill a culinary void in our neighborhood, such as “The Bread,” where Mike describes in great detail how he makes our homemade bread. You can get the background in “Breaking Bread,” the starting point of Big Bites Tiny Kitchen!
That leads us to our favorite culinary project. It’s where we combine an old tradition with the desire to eat better than what our local grocer has to offer. In honor of our one year anniversary and just in time for Memorial Day weekend, we would like to share the results of our first attempt to make homemade sausage. It’s really too bad that we don’t have a grill on our fire escape! Before I go on, I have a confession to make. I don’t like hot dogs at all. I know. It sounds un-American. My perfect Memorial Day substitute for hot dogs is a nicely charred link of our homemade sausage in a perfectly grilled hot dog bun topped with long, thin slices of peppers and onions sautéed in garlic and olive oil. I can practically taste it right now. One bite and it would burst with savory juices running down the sides and hopefully being caught by the bread around it. I can taste the subtle flavor of fennel and the kick of hot pepper flakes and finely ground black pepper corns. You know you want this at your next cook out.
You might be wondering why, in the middle of Manhattan, would we feel the need to make our own sausage. To be fair we can find perfectly good options at a few nearby stores and we know the places to avoid too, but we’ve had the homemade stuff often enough to know that we prefer it. If you are a meat eater but think that you do not like sausage, consider the possibility that you haven’t had the right one. The families of my best friends, Mar and Ann make the very best and we’ve been so spoiled by them that we were inspired to make our own. Admittedly, I’ve already forgotten the tips that Ann’s mom gave me, but we found a way. There is so much variety in how sausage is seasoned and what goes into to those casings. It’s easy for the mass produced varieties to cut corners and make this food on the cheap relying mainly on salt and things we can’t pronounce to provide the flavor. With the homemade kind, you control the contents!
When I was a kid we used to go to my Uncle Frank’s house in the winter to make homemade sausage. I don’t remember all of the details that went into making it. I really just remember how much fun it was for my family to be with my cousins and aunt and uncle for this annual event. They had a big fireplace and I’m pretty sure we roasted up a link or two to sample our work. The funniest memory I have is spying my uncle blowing open a casing to start the process of filling and tying sections of the meat into links. I thought it was a little gross but I still ate the final product. I wish my uncle was around to see us restart this wonderful tradition. This time I was in charge of the casings, but we spared you those photos!
To get started we took inspiration from a really fascinating and informative book, The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who is Managing Culinary Director of Serious Eats. If you’ve never read it, we highly recommend this book. Kenji provides a solid guide for making sausage, but like most recipes we didn’t follow it exactly. The only way to do our process justice is to have Mike walk you through it. Find the recipe here and don’t forget to scroll through the pictures. You’ll want to catch this even if you don’t plan to make it yourself. Who knows maybe you’ll get so inspired that you’ll change your mind and make your own for your next cookout! We were quite pleased with our results and we think our friends, the Cannistraci’s and the Carrelli’s would approve! Happy Memorial Day and thanks for reading our stories and recipes. We’d love to hear from you in the comments.