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Archive | March, 2012

Isernio Sausage: Slime-Free Sausage

Isernio Sausage Hold SugarBy now we have probably all heard about the dreaded Pink Slime being used in ground beef (a.k.a. lean finely textured beef), which is a paste-like mixture of beef scraps that are treated with ammonia before being added into ground beef as a filler.  Some claims state up to 70% of America’s ground beef contains the stuff, although many supermarket and restaurant chains are now getting rid of it due to consumer complaints. 

Reaction to this ingredient has overall not been positive at all – when you think about biting into a juicy all-American hamburger, a pink slimy paste is not what comes to mind!   We think most of you are probably very turned off by the mysterious fillers and processes used to make many of your favorite foods.  As a meat producer we take this very seriously, and our stand on this issue is simple:  real, whole food makes for a healthier you.

While we don’t produce any beef products – only pork and chicken – we have no problem showing you there’s absolutely no mystery in our meat.   In fact, here’s a photo taken of a whole chicken thigh in our plant right before it was ground and combined with spices to make our all-natural chicken sausage

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Raw Material used in Isernio’s Chicken Sausage: Whole skinless chicken thigh

 

We feel it’s important to know what you’re putting in your body, and that eating “real” food and ingredients is key to a healthy lifestyle – which is why we’ve never used any sort of fillers, binders, extenders, artificial colors or flavors, or unnecessary sugars and corn syrup. 

Nothing too mysterious there – ours is really the sausage you want to see made!  For more info on our company and production processes, check out this video of sausage production that takes you behind the scenes.  We’re proud of what we make, and hope you and your family enjoy it too!

 

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Mixing the ingredients for Isernio’s all-natural sausage

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with hearty sausage dishes

Healthy Sausage Isernio's“Sausages (or “Bangers”) are an essential part of a traditional Irish breakfast”

Are you preparing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this weekend?   If you’re preparing an Irish-themed meal for your family or a group of guests, why not try a recipe using sausage, which is an essential ingredient in many traditional Irish dishes.  Isernio’s makes a British Banger, which is also very similar to a traditional Irish sausage, and could be considered a decent state-side substitute!  Here are some Irish recipes to try using our Bangers or other varieties of sausage:

Dublin Coddle  (Irish comfort food!)

Irish Sausage Pie

Irish Pie with Chicken and Sausage

How to cook the Traditional Irish Breakfast

True Bangers & Mash with Onion Gravy

Irish Champ  (a potato dish that is a perfect complement to sausage)

Look for our Bangers this week at QFC, Top Foods, Haggen and Metropolitan Market (check our Where to Buy zip code finder to find out if there is one near you).  If you can’t find the Bangers, or are looking for a non-pork substitute, our low-fat Chicken Breakfast sausage would be great in any of these dishes as well.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Our Friend, Fennel

describe the imageIt’s fun to take some time and research the history of ingredients we use in our sausages here at Isernio’s.  We thought we’d start out with fennel seed – where would we be without this little kernel?  We certainly wouldn’t be making traditional Italian sausages, as fennel seed is really the cornerstone ingredient in a true Italian style sausage.  The flavor is unmistakable – a slightly sweet, licorice flavor that adds that distinctly Italian taste to our sausage.

The fennel seed comes from, of course, the fennel plant.  Aside from being used in sausages, tdescribe the imagehe seed is often used in Mediterranean vegetable or fish dishes, baked into bread, or even used in tea.  The bulb of the plant is absolutely delicious – sweet and crunchy – and is often sautéed or baked with meat or vegetables, or julienned raw into salads or sandwiches. 

Fennel originated in Europe and has long been revered for its medicinal purposes, in addition to its culinary appeal.   For centuries it has been recommended as a digestive aid (by chewing the seeds or brewing into tea).  

In medieval times, hung over doors, fennel was thought to ward off evil spirits. Fennel has also been used as an appetite suppressant; Puritans in America used to bring handkerchiefs filled with the seeds to church to nibble on, to stave off hunger, and so the seeds were often called “meetin’ seeds.”  (although we recommend eating our sausage – including the fennel seeds – for maximum hunger satisfaction!)

Medicinal and spirit-warding abilities aside, we still think the best way to use fennel is in creative and delicious recipes.  Frank Isernio’s favorite ways to use fennel (besides sausage of course) include:

    • Braised as a side dish
    • Sliced into salads
    • Grilled (cut into wedges, coat in olive oil and grill)
    • Use in place of celery in almost anything  – it adds an extra aromatic touch to the dish
    • Eat raw, sliced, drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with a little salt (this was one of his father’s favorite ways to eat it too)
    • Use fennel pollen (in powdered form – find it in spice shops) sprinkled on pork
    • The green fronds of the fennel plant are excellent with fish.  Try them in a fish soup base, or stuffed into the cavity of fish that will be roasted.  Also wonderful chopped into fine pieces and sprinkled on salads
    • When using fennel seeds for anything, be sure to crack them with a mortar and pestle to bring out the best flavor

Here’s a salad recipe from Margaret Isernio that utilizes fresh sliced fennel as well as the seeds.  Give this a try as a first course during your next dinner party:

Dressing:

    • 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
    • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp. minced shallot
    • 1 tsp. fennel seed, crushed in a mortar
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 Tbsp. good olive oil

 Salad:

    • 1 bunch fresh Arugula or 4 cups bulk
    • 1 cup fresh fennel shaved or sliced very thin (I use a truffle shaver)
    • 2 medium size navel oranges or blood oranges, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds

 Salad Option Additions:

    • 1/4 cup Radishes, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup oil cured black olives, slivered
    • shaved Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:  Whisk the Dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. You can do this ahead and leave out until right before serving.

Clean the arugula leaves and place in a large bowl, add the shaved fennel & radishes, if using. Add the dressing and toss to coat well. Lay down the orange slices on a large platter, or individual plates and top with the salad. Garnish with olives and/or shaved Pecorino Romano.

What are some of your favorite ways to use fennel?  We’d love to hear your ideas and recipes!