which is a detailed “How-To” on all the facets of making fresh sausages and a good introduction to making smoked-cooked sausages. Instruction in the basics, plus a number of recipes, are summarized here. (Click on the link to see the various topics.)
…but now, back to
Herbs and Spices
… a post by Chuckwagon on March 29, 2015 at 21:51
Goodness, Gracious, Garlic! Garlic! Garlic!
My ol’ pappy used to say… “Son, there are two things you just don’t do… get on the right side of yer’ horse and cook without garlic”. Shucks, our ranch cook “Dutch Oven Dick” wouldn’t even speak to people who didn’t eat or cook with garlic. He believed anyone not loving the stuff should be deported… from Earth! The opinionated sourdough, wearing the stuff around his neck, told me that garlic falls into two primary categories – hardneck and softneck. As the man spread it upon his toast, he explained that the garlic most of us cook with is of the “softneck” variety, which contains a circle of plump cloves shrouding a second circle of smaller cloves, all enveloped by layers of paper. Its neck is soft and pliable, it is heat-tolerant, stores well, and has become the country’s favorite commercial garlic. Hardneck garlic is distinguished by its stiff center staff, around which large uniform cloves hang. It is considered superior in flavor and more complex and intense than the softneck varieties. The original cultivated garlic, hardneck has a relatively sparse parchment wrapper making it easier to peel (and damage) than softneck and its thinly wrapped cloves lose moisture more quickly than the softneck variety. Dutch Oven Dick’s favorites? The robust flavored hardneck varieties of course, including Porcelain, Zemo, Rocambole, and Carpathian.
Garlic, (allium sativum), just like the onion, belongs to the lily family! It was first found near Siberia although it was discovered later to be growing wild in Sicily. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed a curious superstition – if a man running a race chewed a morsel of the bulb, it would prevent his competitors from getting ahead of him. Grown in England about the year 1540, the name garlic, derived from gar (a spear) and lac (a plant), is of Anglo-Saxon origin.
The majority of garlic in the United States is cultivated near Gilroy, California, and the use of it becomes more popular each year. Gilroy’s Garlic Annual Festival is something to behold! Surprisingly, although the ancient Romans enjoyed garlic, it was believed to be poisonous by many people scarcely over sixty years ago. Today a multitude of disorders are treated with garlic including hypoglycemia, arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes. Pappy used it to treat colds, ulcers, and insomnia. Now, doctors believe it has anti-carcinogenic properties, so cook with lots of it or eat it raw. If your horse complains about your breath, remove garlic’s aroma from your mouth and hands with coffee beans. If your mate objects to the odor of garlic, find a new mate! Drive ‘em off with 12 gauge buckshot, write his or her phone number upon several restroom walls, sue for divorce including punitive damages, and marry a garlic-loving individual, as he or she will most certainly exhibit a much higher intelligence quotient than your previous partner.
Many cooks claim that crushed garlic added directly to mashed potatoes has too much of a “raw edge” and recommend toasting several unpeeled cloves of garlic inside a dry, cast iron skillet over medium heat to tame the harsh flavor a bit. Shake the pan regularly until the skins are golden brown in about five minutes. The skins will almost fall off the cooked morsels. If you prefer creamier texture, increase the cooking time to as much as fifteen minutes. Quite a number of good panjanglers toast the stuff in a little olive oil and then add the oil to the spuds along with the garlic. In any event, be careful not to burn it as it may become bitter. The amount of flavor extracted from garlic depends upon the extent to which a clove is cut or crushed as the cells of the plant are ruptured releasing allyl sulfenic acid – an odorless chemical – combining with the enzyme allinase. The compound created is known as allicin – the stuff directly accountable for the fundamental aroma and flavor of garlic. The more the plant is broken down, the more enzymes are released as its “bite” becomes stronger. Cooks should realize that allinase becomes inert whenever heated beyond 150 degrees F. and no new flavors may be rendered from the plant – a desired characteristic when it comes to the preparation of “baked garlic”.