Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sausage Soliloquy

I do weird things when it comes to my moods and they usually have something to do with food.

When I’m having female trouble, I crave just one bite of Lindt dark chocolate covered marzipan, taco-flavored Doritos and Diet A&W Root Beer even though I typically abhor processed junk food and soda of any kind the other twenty-three days of the month.  When I was pregnant I could only eat cheese quesadillas with potato salad piled on top of them.  When I visit my family I wake up craving bagels with cream cheese and green olives.  When I travel, I wake up craving huevos rancheros.  When I am sick, nothing makes me feel better than curling up on the couch and watching reruns of horrible Food Network shows like Diners, Drive – Ins and Dives where I can shudder under my fever and imagine eating a bunch of deep fried and seriously fatty meals like patty melts with grilled onions without ever really taking a bite of one. When I am tired, I put myself to sleep by watching Anthony Bourdain shows with my sleepy time tea.

When I am stressed, I turn to sausages. I know it’s strange but it’s what I do. Last week contained one of those nights and I was coming up with slim pickings by the time I decided I was stressed enough to need a sausage tonic.

Not in the mood to go to the store and way overdue for dinner already, I was lucky enough to find two lonely chicken sausage links in the fridge and some fat grained mustard. The beauty of sausage is that it doesn’t take much to glitz them up. These just needed diagonal slices in the meat and a spin under the broiler to give them some good burned external textures that went great with the honey, multigrain toast that accompanied.

My sausage love started in Austria a few years back when my host Hans would feed me a long skinny link with sweet mustard from a tube (condiments come in tubes in European grocery stores) on late nights when we would stumble home from the hearty Linz beer bars. I ate sausages with dense breads almost daily there and lost six pounds anyways from my daily walks along the Danube River to go to the center of town.

Upon returning home, I found myself missing the Austrian links so much that I started to obsess over finding unique sausage combinations on American soil.  All you need to do is go into any Trader Joe’s today to see a mammoth assortment of sausage options from sweet (think maple and apple infused links) to savory (like spinach and feta versions).  One of my favorite finds were some skinny short chicken sausages from Whole Foods, which go perfect, diced up with figs in a pan and sautéed until all ingredients become fruit-caramelized.

My Top Five Favorite Sausage Experiences of the Moment
(Although this list will rotate continuously and that’s the fun of sausages!)

1.     My brother in law's ingenious way to feed ten crazy children and their parents at a recent birthday party for my sister was to cook about six packages of a variety of flavored sausages and chop them all up into slices. Then the slices were served buffet style with three choices of mustard flavors and toothpicks, making them easy to eat and discard.
2.     Old fashioned bratwursts rubbed with olive oil and rosemary and thrown on a hot outdoor grill until about to burst.
3.     Polsa kiebalsa cut long and lengthwise in half and fried in a pan and served with potato hash and ketchup.
4.     Chorizo crumbled into an egg scramble for breakfast.
5.     Whole Foods fresh deli hot Italian chicken sausage slow-cooked in a pan until dense and crumbly, sliced and dipped into hearty marinara sauce.

A few weeks back, I read about a restaurant in Beverly Hills that is now on the list of restaurants to go with the Cute Gardener. It’s called BierBeisl and touts itself as serving authentic Austrian food. I checked them out online and they have a regular menu and a separate sausage menu. Wow, surefire way to seduce me from the get go! I already plan on trying the classic Weisswurst pair, slow simmered in milk and served with sweet mustard and a salty pretzel.

A report is sure to come on that later…

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