Sunday, July 5, 2015

Proud to be an American - Smoky Sausage and Peppers in Alfredo Sauce - BOGO Ribs

Happy Independence Day!  At the risk of being accused of jingoism, I just want to say that I am forever grateful that I was born in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world.

God bless America, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. No matter where I have traveled, and the wonders I have seen, I am always glad to come home, sometimes deeply relieved.  Like after I spent some time in the Munich airport waiting to change planes.  You really don't want to be a Jew in Munich. (Of course, you also don't want to be a Jew driving through Mississippi).

Time to move on to reruns of "BBQ Pitmasters" and some cooking.

Chile rellenos, like tamales, are a major pain in the culo to prepare at home.  I now understand why Mexican restaurants do not keep these regularly on their menus, or run out before the lunch time rush begins. So it is no surprise that these are two of my favorite things to order on those rare occasions we eat out.

Four poblano peppers, unstuffed, waiting, waiting ...

I don't know why chile rellenos are so damn labor intensive. They are stuffed peppers, for heaven's sake, and I've been whipping up stuffed peppers since 1971. But there are extra steps, and recipes-within-recipes, so that by the time you are done you are ready for a quick trip to Taco Bell, for an unauthentic Mexican hot pocket whose one virtue is that you can hold your entire breakfast in one hand, while texting or driving or making obscene gestures with the other.

Counter Cat

I could take another route - there are chile rellenos casserole recipes out there that even bypass the use of fresh chiles - but I would like to get as close to real as possible.  I have an idea.  Several ideas.

Greek oregano, flat leaf parsley, and sweet basil, from my garden

So we did our shopping today, and Publix did not fail to please.  Except I forgot to pick up the egg roll wrappers and the buttermilk for the fried pickles, but I have so many projects on my table that those can wait a day or two until I can make another run to Publix.

How could I pass up a BOGO on St. Louis ribs?

After all my talk about chile rellenos, it turns out that today is going to be about St. Louis-style spare ribs and smoky sausage and peppers in Alfredo sauce.  Two recipes for the price of one!  Happy Fourth of July!

Good things from the garden

These green bell peppers were a gift from my next door neighbor, who also has a yard garden which is much better established than mine.  I love the idea of folks who have business with the court having to pass our urban gardens. I was never the type of lawyer who wore suits or high heels, and Kissimmee has never been the kind of venue that supports attorney egos. Or judicial egos, but that's another blog post. I like to think our little Victory Gardens bring people down to earth.  I decided to make a variation on sausage and pepper, and filled a small baking dish to share with my neighbor, my way of saying "thank you".

So here's where we start; I had two packages of Guy Fieri sausages in the freezer.  I like Guy Fieri and I like the sausages. I really like Andrew Zimmern, but he has no sausages named after him.

Smoky Sausage and Peppers Alfredo

2-12 oz. packages Guy Fieri sausages, cut on the diagonal
2 tablespoons garlic flavored extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced thin
4-6 large cloves of garlic, sliced thin
8 oz. sliced button mushrooms
3 medium bell peppers, cut into strips (I mix the colors)
1 tablespoon garlic flavored extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
kosher salt, ground black pepper, granulated garlic, Raging River Five Pepper Blend (all to taste)
2-15 oz. jars good quality Alfredo sauce with roasted garlic (I used Publix Premium)
1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

In a large deep skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil.  Add the sliced sausage and cook for 6-8 minutes.  Remove the sausage from the skillet, using a slotted spoon, and set it aside.  Let the skillet cool; pour off the excess fat, and then use paper towels to wipe out the pan.

Put the pan back on the stove, and add the 1 tablespoon of oil and the butter.  When they are hot and melted, add the onions, garlic, and bell peppers.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Continue to cook until any extra liquid from the vegetables is mostly gone and the vegetables are tender.  Add the basil, oregano, salt, pepper, granulated garlic and Raging River.  Cook for a few more minutes, and lower the heat.  Now add both jars of the Alfredo sauce and simmer for a few minutes, then add the cooked sausage and stir it into the sauce.  Add the Parmesan. If the sauce becomes too thick, stir in up to 1/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk. Garnish with parsley before serving with noodles, pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes.

This is a wonderful alternative to tomato-based sauces, which neither Rob or I can eat later in the day, and Cory doesn't really care for.  Also, the Guy Fieri sausages are all smoked, and I just thought the flavor would be clearer in a white sauce.  This is really delicious, and I can't wait to present it to my neighbor.

Now, about those pork ribs - St. Louis is my favorite cut to cook and to eat.  When I walked into Publix I had no intention of looking for ribs, but there they were in the "buy one, get one" case.  Great googly moogly, that's a beautiful rack of nicely butchered ribs for free.  Free is good, folks, especially when the quality is excellent and the product is something my family loves almost beyond reason.

My grandmother made the best spareribs in the world.  The goodness relied on her sauce, and getting that recipe from her was harder than getting a nuclear non-proliferation agreement from Iran. It wasn't that she didn't want to give me the recipe; she just didn't know how to convey the information. It took years for me to work it out, and I'm quite pleased with it.

By the way, I did not use her sauce when I prepared the ribs.  Sorry for the build-up, but I headed in another direction, which I will share with you ... tomorrow.

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