Ask the Butcher: What is Your Favorite Holiday Meal?

Many of you know Joe Parajecki, our master butcher and head of production. Joe works tirelessly to prepare amazing goodies for our customers to enjoy with their families. But this holiday season, we want to know what Joe is having for dinner.

I come from a Polish family deep rooted in tradition—especially when it comes to holiday meals. Fresh Polish sausage, sometimes with sauerkraut, sometimes with fresh grated Horseradish, has always been a staple at our holiday table. I remember fondly the smell of garlic and marjoram filling the house as my grandmother made sausages on the days that would lead up to Christmas. The smell would linger on and we’d wait in full anticipation during Wigila Dinner Christmas Eve (a tradition including foods that come from the four corners of the earth: forest, sea, field, and orchard).  But, we would have to wait until after Midnight Mass to enjoy it.  Each year I continue this tradition with my family using the time-honored recipe passed down from my grandmother. And this season, I’d like to share it with you. I’ve prepared fresh polish sausage using my grandma’s recipe for our Kettle Club members this month. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have over the years.

Dziękuję Ci (thank you) , Joe!

Sausage of the Month: Seasoned Sausage for Holiday Stuffing

We’re helping our Kettle Club members check a few items off their  grocery lists this Thanksgiving! This month’s sausage is perfect for that holiday stuffing recipe just like mom use to make! Here’s a holiday favorite from us.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
  • 2 pounds good-quality white sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (20 cups)
  • 4 inner celery ribs, finely diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced (1 cup)
  • 1 sweet onion, finely diced (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1-pound bulk pork sausage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 3 cups Turkey Stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and butter a large baking dish. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast for 25 minutes, stirring, until lightly browned and crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt the 1 stick of butter. Pour half of the butter into a small bowl and reserve. Add the celery, carrots and onion to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Scrape the vegetables into a large bowl. Add the sausage to the skillet in lumps and cook over moderately high heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Return the vegetables to the skillet, add the sage and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the stock and cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan, until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  3. Scrape the sausage mixture into the large bowl and add the toasted bread cubes. Add the remaining 2 cups of stock and stir until the bread is evenly moistened. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread the stuffing in the baking dish and brush with the reserved melted butter.
  4. Bake the stuffing in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until it is heated through and the top is browned and crisp. Let the stuffing stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Sausage of the Month: Apple Cider Bratwurst

Nothing pairs with pork like apples. And our butcher staff has prepared another seasonal delicacy for our Kettle Club members this month, Apple Cider Bratwursts. Made with fresh apple cider from Jacobson Orchards in Waterford, these delicious fall bratwursts are perfect for that last cookout or even this hearty breakfast casserole. Don’t skip out on these sweet and savory brats folks!

Apple Cider Bratwurst Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup non-fat or low-fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chopped sage
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound sourdough sandwich bread crusts removed and cubed
  • 2 apples peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 1 lb. Apple Cider Bratwurst cut into half rounds
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded and divided

Instructions

  1. Beat eggs, milk, mustard, sage, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl. Coat a large 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Layer half the cubed bread into the casserole dish. Top with half the apple, half the sausage and half the cheese. Top with the remaining bread, apple and sausage. Reserve the remaining cheese in the refrigerator for step 4.
  3. Pour the egg mixture over the casserole trying to moisten evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Bake casserole, covered, until it is steaming hot and the center is starting to puff, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove foil, top with the reserved cheese and continue baking until the cheese is melted and the top is golden 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Sausage of the Month: Door County Cherry Bratwurst

As Wisconsin as cheese curds and beer, Door County cherry picking is a time-honored tradition. And Kettle Range is excited to incorporate these delectable gems of the peninsula in this month’s Kettle Club shares. Our butchers have prepared a seasonal bratwurst with tart cherries straight from Wisconsin’s cherry mecca.

Door County Cherries

The history of cherries in Door County runs deep. The first European settlers to the peninsula could rely on vegetable crops for sustenance farming but due to the rocky terrain of the landscape, found it challenging to yield anything more than what they needed to get by. The search began for a cash crop that would flourish in the rocky soils of Door County.

In the late 1860’s, a Swiss immigrant named Joseph Zettel arrived on the scene discovering that fruits like apple trees prospered in the area because the shallow soils left only a few feet from the roots to the bedrock. This provided adequate drainage for such fruits that are prone to root rot, a devastating plant disease.

The success of the apple trees attracted two University of Wisconsin horticulturists who began experimenting with other fruits such as plums, strawberries, raspberries and the most famous, cherries, which proved especially efficient at growing in Door County.

Door County cherry production continued to prosper and hit its peak in the 1950s with 700 cherry producers growing nearly 50 million pounds of cherries annually. Today, the Montmorency cherries that grow in Wisconsin account for 90% of all the tart cherries grown statewide.

Like Door County cherry picking season, these brats have a small window of availability. Don’t miss out on these seasonal Wisconsin delicacies in August!

Kettle Club Sausage of the Month: Italian Beef

Joe the butcher has created a unique twist on a Chicago delicacy for our Kettle Club members this month. June’s Italian beef sausage has been prepared with mozzarella, fresh basil, oregano, and hot giardiniera. It makes a great sandwich right off the grill, or incorporate the flavor kick to your favorite pasta or pizza recipe.

What is Giardiniera?

Before you begin enjoying June’s distinctively delicious sausage, let’s talk a little about giardiniera. First off, let’s all say it together, “JAR-DIN-AIR-AH.” There, that’s better. Originating in Italy, the word giardiniera translates loosely to “female gardener” or “one who pickles vegetables.” And why not with all its fresh ingredients? Recipes differ, but most variations of the condiment include hot or mild peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower and olives. Italians used the method of pickling to preserve vegetables for the winter. It is thought that giardiniera was introduced to the United States in Chicago during the late 19th century following a wave of Italian immigration. The fiery condiment quickly became synonymous with Chicago’s famous Italian beef sandwiches and made its way into the hearts and refrigerators of area residents. For years, Chicago chefs and foodies have been perfecting their recipes and pickling techniques to bring giardiniera lovers a more heated version of the Italian original.

So, let’s tip our hats to our neighbors to the south and enjoy some great sausages this month!