Tricks with Plastic Bags & Vacuum Sealers
(casing-less sausage-shaped sausages, patty partial freezing).
Recipes: Bronsonville Jots, Chuckwagon’s “Hip Shot” Hamburgers
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We’ve already hinted at this sneaky little trick, back in the section on chorizo. If you want sausages, but don’t want to stuff casings, you can get by, kinda sorta, by developing a good primary bind, then either rolling portions of mince on wax paper or (my favorite) putting a glob of mince into a small plastic bag, compacting it to form a sausage shape, then either leaving it in the bag for storage or pulling it out to cook it. DO NOT attempt to cook it in the plastic bag. The bag will melt before the sausage cooks. …mess! But if you want to avoid stuffing, you can make just about any “normal-sized” (whatever that means) sausage this way.
Let’s try it. First, we’ll make a clone of the widely-sold “Johnsonville Brats.” This one has been given wide circulation on the internet, so the Copyright Police won’t come knocking on your door unless they’re hungry. Then, we’ll cover a hamburger recipe that Chuckwagon swears is the best on the planet. Seeing as how Chuckwagon is not given to swearing much (except for that time that I was pulling Kitchen Police duty and handed him a hot cast iron pan without warning), I think he sincerely means it.
We’ll pull a second handy trick with those burgers- – how to seal them in a vacuum bag without squishing them together. The secret: form your patties, then partially freeze them before sealing them in the bag. No more running together, no more appearance of that southern delicacy, “possum with tread marks.” …a simple idea that works!
“Bronsonville Jots” – Hip Shot Burgers
Bratwurst: Bronsonville Jots http://sausageswest.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Bronsonville-Jots.pdf
(This is very close to the “Johnsonville Brat™” recipe) Let’s not scale this one. You’ll want enough for the neighborhood. (** – see note below)
- 5 lbs. (1600.0 g.) lean pork
- 6 lbs. (750.0 g.) pork fat
- 7 Tbls. (154.0 g.) corn syrup
- 5 tspns. (35.0 g.) salt
- 3 tspns. (13.0 g.) sucrose (table sugar)
- 2 tspns. (8.0 g.) MSG **
- 2 tspns. (7.0 g.) phosphate **
- ½ tspn. (2.0 g.) mustard seeds
- ¾ tspn. (1.8 g.) white pepper
- ½ tspn. (1.0 g.) marjoram
- ¼ tspn. (1.0 g.) citric acid
- 1/8 tspn. (0.3 g.) ginger
- ¼ cup (60.0 ml) icewater
(Ed.Note: You may wish to reduce or eliminate your consumption of MSG and phosphates. MSG stimulates a taste sense called “umami.” You may recall “Chinese Food Syndrome” a couple of decades ago. Most people have tried to avoid recipes containing monosodium glutamate and glutamic acid since then.
Phosphate food additives are used to enhance tenderness and juiciness of meat products. However, they have been associated with vascular damage and renal (kidney) problems. . Foods with added phosphate tend to be eaten by persons at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, who consume more processed and “fast” food.
We suggest leaving the “MSG” and “phosphate” ingredients out of the above recipe.)
Says Chuckwagon, “I can’t remember where this recipe came from. It’s been in my files through several computers. It may have been from a Len Poli original that was passed around the net several times… When you get to be over 167 like me, you just can’t remember these things. (Shucks, my horse has a better memory than I do, and he doesn’t even recall his own name!) “
Grind all dry spices, salt, and sugar in a spice grinder to a fine powder. [Grind the pork and fat separately through a ¼ plate while it is 32°F.] Add the ground spice mixture to the meats with the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly to develop the primary bind. [Stuff into casings and twist 5 inch links.] Without casings, place meat into a plastic bag, squish it down to compact it, and roll to form a sausage shape. Sausages may be stored this way,refrigerated, for up to three days.
Prepare the brats by simmering sliced onions and brats together in beer. Do not boil them! Finish the brats over charcoal fire on a grill.
If you are not using casing, it may be best to skip the beer step and grill directly. Remove from plastic bags before grilling.
Best Wishes, Chuckwagon
Crumbling, Dry, Hamburgers? Try “Hip Shot” Burgers (by Chuckwagon )
We’ll talk about meat color and flavor as we mix two different meats together. We’ll learn about “binding” and the reasons we use soy protein concentrate. No more shrinking, dry, hamburgers! “This burger will knock yer’ socks off!”
(Ed.Note: You can find soy protein concentrate at your local health food store, and often in regular supermarkets. …dextrose, too. If you can’t find dextrose, you can substitute table sugar, but only use 70% as much (by weight). …and if you live really far out in the sticks and can’t find protein concentrate, use the same weight of powdered milk, preferably “dairy fine” type, which is more finely powdered.)
Have you ever wondered why the burgers down at “Al’s Malt Shop” always keep their shape as well as their juices? And just where does that particular special flavor come from? Whenever many people make a burger at home, it crumbles and shrinks and the juices remain upon the griddle as the burger is removed from the heat. The secret for making the best burgers is the addition of the natural “binding” power of soy protein concentrate. The product is natural and, as its name implies, it is simply concentrated soy bean protein. Soy protein binds comminuted (ground) meat together, and for that reason, it helps in retaining its natural juices. This of course, keeps it from shrinking. It has one shortcoming only – the meat becomes a little more difficult to “sear” or brown while cooking. However, adding a little powdered dextrose or corn syrup solids, adding their own flavors as well, easily solves this problem.
Please note these products are also “natural” and used in most commercial sausage kitchens today. Don’t be hesitant to use these products in your cooking as they are completely safe and contain no additives, preservatives, or foreign chemicals. Powdered dextrose is only 70% sweet as sugar and its lower molecular weight forces itself into the cells of the meat more readily than other types of sugars, for complete distribution.
Years ago, the best burgers were charred outside and barely pink inside. People would then – and still do – judge the “done-ness” of a burger by its color. That “technology” is old stuff and went out with Betty Boop and running-boards! Today, we must protect our guests against possible salmonella, listeria, e-coli, and a host of other bacteria, by cooking the burgers until their inside temperatures register 150 F. or thereabouts, allowing the “carryover” to finish bringing it up to a preferred temperature – regardless of the color or char on the outside. Burgers are “medium” at this point. A professional always uses a thermometer. The “baby-dial” is perfect for grilling burgers.
The combination of beef and pork along with the listed ingredients make a burger most folks rave about. Why not give them a try. Here’s a good recipe for tasty non-shrinkin’ burgers that hold their juices and won’t fall apart on you. You’ll want to make more than one lousy pound of this, so we didn’t scale it down. (Besides, you know how, now, right?) …and besides, the Chuckster fergot ta weigh his ingredients. I’ll take him out back while you make your burgers, and we’ll “discuss” it.
Chuckwagon’s “Hip Shot” Hamburgers
- 2 lbs. pork shoulder
- 3 lbs beef chuck
- 1 tblspn. powdered dextrose
- 3 tblspns. soy protein concentrate
- 1-½ tblspns. un-iodized salt
- 1 tblspn. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tspn. coriander
- 1/2 tspn. nutmeg
- 1/2 cup ice cold whole milk
[Trim the shoulder and chuck and cut it into inch squares. Grind the nearly-frozen meat with its fat through a 3/8″ plate.] Mix all the other ingredients into the meat and distribute them thoroughly as you develop the actin and myocin. When pulled apart, the meat should be slightly sticky with soft peaks. Be careful not to over-mix the meat.
Form 1/2 pound patties, flattening them evenly with a rolling pin. If you prefer burgers “griddle-fried in smoke”, simply place your portable griddle (or cast iron black skillet) on top of the grilling bars of your gas or charcoal grill using plenty of dampened hickory or other hardwood to provide the smudge. Try apple, mesquite, alder, and oak.
Don’t even think about pressing the patties down while they’re cooking! Put them on the griddle and allow them to sear before turning them over. You should only have to turn them once.
Best Wishes, Chuckwagon
To make up a bunch and freeze ‘em for later, form your patties on waxed paper, then place them in your freezer for a half-hour to an hour, until they are partially frozen. You can now take them out and seal them in vacuum pack bags without squishing them.