Ray gardner, sr

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Roasted Pork Tenderloin - ?

This is one of a number of recipes from the Internet that is simply too good to ignore. I suggest serving spatzle or noodles in butter with the pork and the braised red cabbage recipe in this book. The only ingredient that you might have difficulty finding, depending on time of year, is the apple cider. You can make that yourself with two apples and a blender and a sieve. You can also freeze small ice cube tray blocks of fresh apple cider and thus have them available anytime, or vacuum seal and freeze ½ cup of cider per bag, which is what I do.

3 pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds) (These must be very small tenderloins!)

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons of olive oil
Bourbon Glaze, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Season the pork with the salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over high heat and sear the pork on all sides.
Place the skillet into the oven and roast the pork for 8 to 10 minutes.
Let the meat rest for 5 minutes before cutting. Slice on a diagonal, cutting each tenderloin into 4 or 5 pieces.

Bourbon Glaze:
1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 cups of brown sugar

3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup of red wine

1/2 cup of apple cider

2 teaspoons of green peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 cup of seeded and chopped plum tomatoes

1/2 cup of chopped red bell pepper

5 sprigs of Italian parsley

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 1/2 ounces of bourbon

Heat the oil over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan.
Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft but not browned.
Add the brown sugar, balsamic, red wine, apple cider, green peppercorns, bay leaf, tomatoes, red peppers, parsley, and soy sauce. Simmer the sauce until reduced to ½ the starting volume.

Strain the sauce and add the bourbon.
Serve warm over the sliced pork tenderloin.

Breakfast Blend - ☺♥

This recipe is pure serendipity and it resulted from one of my experiments to perfect breakfast sausage. Here is what happened ... I kept changing the ratio of potato flour to pork, as well as doing herb and spice modifications with each experiment. What I wound up creating was a product that has characteristics and taste of both breakfast sausage and scrapple. Wow! I never ate anything like that before! It is really good and you sure do want to make some. I know you will be pleasantly surprised.
I am dedicating this recipe to my deceased best friend, Morrie Shaffer, as today is the anniversary of his death. Why Morrie? He would have eaten a ton of this stuff and loved it! And I would have really enjoyed making it for him.
I decided to call this stuff Breakfast Blend as I couldn't develop any meaningful combination of the words sausage and scrapple without creating something difficult to pronounce. Maybe I'll figure out a more appropriate name later ... Like "Cellulite Plus!" When fried it looks like scrapple but the composition and taste make it seem like a sausage/scrapple mixture.
Without further ado I will now proceed with providing this recipe to you, noting that I am experimenting further with this novel product and that means the recipe shown below has been changed already from my first attempt.
Ingredients: (makes about 6 pounds of Breakfast Blend ... [but a half recipe is much easier to make])

  • 3 pounds of boneless skinless raw pork shoulder containing 10 percent fat (start with a four pound piece of pork shoulder containing bone and skin)

  • 6 oz. of fresh beef liver

  • 1 cup of stone ground cornmeal

  • 1 1/4 cups of potato flour

  • 1 1/2 quarts of water

  • 1 tsp. of ground cardamom

  • 1/4 cup of dried sage

  • 3 tbsp. of dried marjoram

  • 3/4 tsp. of ground mace

  • 3/4 tsp. of ground thyme

  • 3/4 tsp. of ground coriander

  • 3 tbsp. of sea salt

  • 2 tbsp. of ground black pepper

  • 1 tbsp. of brown sugar

  • 1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper

  • 3 tbsp. of agar agar (you can buy this versatile thickening agent inexpensively at www.bulkfoods.com)

  • Crisco® shortening for pre-greasing baking dishes and for frying the completed Breakfast Blend

Cut up and grind the pork and pork fat from the pork shoulder using a butcher knife on a wood cutting board and, of course, your meat grinder or meat grinder attachment for your electric mixer. While cutting the meat to fit into your meat grinder remove and set aside any large areas that are entirely fat, but keep the smaller areas of fat.
You want about 10 percent fat and 90 percent lean pork. You can weigh the lean meat with a kitchen scale and then add enough fat to increase the weight by roughly 10 percent. Discard any excess pork fat. Note also that the weighing allows you to know exactly what weight of meat and fat that you are processing, so you can make any necessary adjustments to the amounts of other ingredients based on that weight.
Process the cut up pork and fat through your meat grinder. I like to do two passes through the meat grinder, the first time with the large holes disk and the second time with the small holes disk. Process the liver through the meat grinder during the second grinding with the small holes disk.
Use your electric mixer and regular beater on medium speed to pulverize and blend the ground pork meat with the ground pork fat and the liver to create a uniform pasty mixture. Operate the mixer at medium speed for five minutes. But stop the mixer every minute or two and use a plastic or rubber spatula to force the meat away from the sides of the mixing bowl above the beater and away from the top of the beater.
Note that the volume of meat and other ingredients processed at any one time may have to be adjusted based on the capacity of the electric mixer bowl and the size of the beater. The idea is you want to assure good mixing by not exceeding the capacity of your mixer bowl to hold and then properly mix all of the ingredients. If you need to do the processing in two batches then split the ingredients and processing described into two batches to assure the final product is uniform.
Add the water to the mixer bowl gradually while mixing on low speed. Allow time for each water addition to mix with the other contents thoroughly.
Add the potato flour and the stone ground cornmeal to the mixer bowl gradually while continuing to mix.
Add the herbs/seasoning ingredients and the agar agar to the mixer bowl and mix on medium speed for five minutes, pausing after each minute or two to use the spatula to force any part of the mixture from the sides of the mixing bowl above the beater and also away from the top of the beater.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F, using the convection setting if you have that option.

Dispense the mixture into two to three glass baking dishes of the size used to bake bread. Fill each baking dish to within 3/4 of an inch of the top edge. Insert a spatula to find and eliminate any air pockets. Smooth the top of the mixture in each dish with the spatula, making it even and flat. Cover each dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Put the baking dishes into the oven and let the Breakfast Blend cook for two hours at 200 degrees F.
Remove the baking dishes from the oven and let them cool on a wooden cutting board to room temperature, covered.
At this point the Breakfast Blend is complete. Uncover the baking dishes and, if necessary, use a regular kitchen knife to separate the outer surface of the Breakfast Blend from the sides and ends of the baking dishes. Then invert each dish over a wood cutting board to cause the loaf of Breakfast Blend to come out of the baking dish. Tap the baking dish gently, if necessary, on the cutting board to make the loaf of Breakfast Blend come out. Cut each loaf of Breakfast Blend into slices anywhere from 1/2 of an inch thick to 3/4 of an inch thick.
Melt 1 tbsp. of Crisco® shortening (or rendered bacon fat) in a small skillet on medium high heat. Alternatively, you can use a larger skillet and two or three tbsp. of Crisco® or rendered bacon fat. Add a few slices of Breakfast Blend to the skillet, allowing at least one inch of room on all sides to make later flipping of each piece easy. Fry the pieces of Breakfast Blend. Three to four minutes per side (the required time depends on the thickness you chose for the slices) is enough time if you start with a hot skillet on medium high heat. I flip the pieces over only once during frying with a spatula, once I am sure the first side exposed to the heat is crisp. Note that you can adjust the heat lower to a medium or medium low setting during the frying of the second side. That will avoid having the shortening or bacon fat smoke due to excessive temperature level.
Now we get to the fun part! Put the slices on a plate and enjoy eating them. You earned this reward! Actually, you might make a few eggs and a piece of buttered toast first to accompany this delight. Remember also to have a nice fresh cup of hot coffee.
Now it is time to process the sliced loaves of Breakfast Blend for freezer storage.

I put the Breakfast Blend slices on waxed paper on cookie trays and freeze them in the deep freeze for a few hours.
I then vacuum seal the pieces of frozen Breakfast Blend, two slices per bag, and then immediately put the sealed bags back into the deep freeze for storage.
Use the Breakfast Blend within three months for optimal quality/taste. Take a bag of the frozen pieces, open it and place the frozen pieces into a skillet in which a tablespoon of Crisco® shortening has already been melted and the heat turned off. Allow fifteen to twenty minutes for the frozen pieces to partially thaw, and then turn on the heat to medium high and fry them as described above, allowing some extra time for the skillet to get hot.
I know you will really enjoy this unique breakfast food. It is very tasty, crisp on the outside and tender and moist on the inside.
Breakfast Sausage -
Making sausage at home is a fine idea because there are only a few brands of breakfast sausage you can buy that have seriously good flavor, like that of the old time "loose sausage" made by our ancestor farmers when they slaughtered hogs. Mailhot’s® is one good tasting but very expensive brand of loose breakfast sausage that you form into patties. All the link breakfast sausages like Johnsons® ($5.32/lb.) sold by supermarkets, and a few loose sausages like Jimmy Dean® ($3.99/lb.), etc., are so unreasonably expensive or fat laden that you might/should decide to stop eating breakfast sausage altogether. And note these are 2011 prices.
The recipe below originally came from the Internet and I modified it, tried it and modified it yet again in meat handling and in quantity and variety of spices. It is mild and moist and tasty, and once you make it and taste it you will sneer at the breakfast sausages available in your supermarket.
I added a new step that isn’t in any sausage recipe I have ever seen. That step is to take the ground pork and pork fat and process them with an electric mixer to pulverize and blend the meat and the fat. That creates a completely uniform texture … and after the spices are added the process is repeated to cause perfect blending. What a great idea! The effect on the finished cooked sausage is superb.
The economics of making the sausage with raw pork shoulder are amazing. I buy it boned and skinless for $1.29 per pound at the supermarket. At other times of the year I have found it with skin and bone in place for only 99 cents per pound.
The prices I showed above are no longer accurate. The supermarket has reverted to sneaky tricks, where the cheaper cut is now $1.29 per pound and the trimmed version $1.69 per pound and sometimes it has some bone, skin and a lot of fat hiding on the underside of the package. Well, it didn’t used to be that way but now they can’t be trusted. My advice? Visit a butcher who slaughters live animals, and there you will get a far better deal. Depending on where you live that can be a challenge.

The boneless, skinless version is much easier to use, and it turns out to be cheaper. I recently discovered that the skin and bone version only gives about a 70 percent yield, so the boneless skinless version is the best deal. Thus, you are able to make sausage patties for only about $1.75 per pound including the cost of the spices.
Compare that to your supermarket prices for commercial sausage links or patties (by the pound … don’t be tricked by the 12 ounce packaging) and you will quickly understand why it is dollar smart to make sausage at home.
I like to use pork shoulder instead of leaner cuts like pork loin because it has near perfect fat content for making sausage and the final sausage comes out very moist … more so than when using lean pork loin. If fact, if you use any lean cut you have to add either pork fat or beef suet to get the meat to fat ratio where it needs to be to create good sausage, both in taste and texture. Sausage made only from lean cuts tends to burn and dry out in the skillet rather than fry well. When I buy a pork shoulder I cut it into pieces about two pounds each and then I vacuum seal it and freeze it. When I want to make sausage I simply thaw the pork in the microwave oven on a defrost cycle for six minutes, after which I cut the still partially frozen meat into 3/4" slabs with a large butcher knife. At that point I may or may not decide to separate the fat from the meat ... it all depends on whether the pork appears to have at least 15% fat but not more than 20% fat. Finally, I cut the slabs into strips about 3/4" wide and then each strip into chunks about 1 1/2" long. At that point the pork is perfect to use with the meat grinder.
Here is yet another update. I wasn't satisfied with the texture of the sausage as it was somewhat tough compared to commercial varieties. Thus, I did yet another Internet search to see what other ingredients might be used to affect texture. I found a gold mine ... figuratively speaking ... at a British website created by a guy who simply makes a lot of sausage varieties for the fun of it. I downloaded his PDF and it has a wealth of useful information for making many different types of sausage, and it had exactly what I was looking for regarding texture. In short, he adds water and a small amount of filler, of which many types will work fine. I also looked at various of his recipes to improve my spice mix. Then I created a composite recipe that I tried this morning, and I made four and ond half pounds of great sausage from a three and three quarter pound boneless skinless pork shoulder. The recipe I show below now incorporates the ingredient changes, and the directions are updated as well. Let me know by email if you want a copy of the PDF to make other types of sausage.
Overall, it is very easy to make sausage at home. The procedure is simple and there is little work involved. The results will make you cheer.
Ingredients: (makes about 4 1/2 pounds of sausage)

4 pounds boned skinless raw unsmoked pork shoulder

1 cup of corn flour or potato flour

1 1/4 cups of water

1 tsp. of ground cardamom

1 tsp. of ground coriander

9 tablespoons of dried sage

3 tablespoons of dried marjoram

5 tablespoons of sea salt

3 tablespoons of ground black or white pepper

4 tsp. of Wright's Liquid Smoke®

2 tablespoons of brown sugar (optional)

You may want to add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup if you are serving highly seasoned omelets for breakfast, for flavor contrast across the different served foods. You may also simply like a sweeter sausage, regardless of what else you are serving, which is the very nice result from using the maple syrup.

•1 to two tbsp. of peanut oil or melted bacon fat, used when frying the finished sausage.

You cut up and grind the pork and pork fat from the pork shoulder with a butcher knife on a wood cutting board and, of course, your meat grinder or meat grinder attachment for your electric mixer. While cutting the meat to fit into your meat grinder remove and set aside any large areas that are entirely fat, but keep the smaller areas of fat.
You want about 15 to 20 percent fat and 80 to 85 percent lean meat so that the sausage will fry well instead of burn in the skillet.
A good way to be certain about the fat and meat ratio is to separate them during cutting and weigh them on a small kitchen scale. If the amount of fat is too low, as it may be, cut up some of the large areas of fat you removed earlier and add them in and weigh the fat again. If you still have too little fat then use beef suet, which you can buy cheaply in your supermarket, to make up the difference. Alternatively, if you visit a local butcher/slaughter house you can often find pork fat for as little as 65 cents per pound, and it is the best fat to use.
Process the cut up meat and fat through your meat grinder. I like to do two passes through the meat grinder, the first time with the large holes disk and the second time with the small holes disk.
Use your electric mixer and regular beater to pulverize and blend the ground pork meat with the ground pork fat to create a uniform pasty mixture. Run it at medium speed for five minutes. Stop every minute or two and use a plastic spatula to force the meat away from the sides of the mixing bowl and away from the top of the beater.
Mix the corn flour and water in a large bowl.
Add all the other ingredients, except for the peanut oil, and mix them very well.
Turn the mixer to a slower speed and put the herb/spice/flour/water mixture into the mixing bowl gradually, allowing each addition to mix into the meat.
When all the herb/spice/flour/water mixture has been added increase the mixer speed to medium. Run it on medium speed for three minutes, pausing after each minute or two to use the spatula to force the sausage mixture from the sides of the mixing bowl and away from the top of the beater.
At this point the sausage is complete. I recommend making and frying one patty right away to check the taste. Do not fry it for too long. Three minutes per side is fine if you start with a hot skillet on low heat. I recommend flipping the patty over a few times during the frying to heat the pattyevenly from both sides. You will then see each side gradually browning and you will know when it is time to remove the patty from the skillet.
Now it is time to taste the sausage patty. If you are happy with the taste then proceed to vacuum seal the rest of the sausage. Otherwise, add whatever additional herbs/spices you want and mix for an additional three minutes. Then test fry and taste test another sausage patty. Repeat as necessary.
You can vacuum seal the sausage in eight bags, about ½ pound each, and then freeze it. I flatten the sausage in the bag after vacuum sealing so that it is already the right thickness (3/8" to 1/2") to fry when I am ready to use it, which means I use a three cup vacuum sealing bag. Later, when the sausage thaws after deep freeze storage it is easy to use. You can make patties simply by cutting the thawed sausage into four or six rectangles with a knife.
Put the flattened vacuum sealed bags of sausage into the deep freeze. Use them within three months for best quality.
I know you will really enjoy this breakfast sausage. It is tasty, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside and moist.

Ham Loaf - ☺♥

Ham loaf is comfort food that originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch (Germans) back in the 1800's. Basically it is a meatloaf made with ground smoked ham and some regular ground pork, along with a variety of other common ingredients. There are many recipes for ham loaf on the Internet and I reviewed a number of them and then combined the information with what I remember from the ham loaf my mother used to make. This food goes well with dishes like potatoes au gratin or macaroni and cheese. A side salad is also a nice addition to the meal.
Ham loaf can be served like meat loaf and it is excellent for making sandwiches. The recipe I provide is slightly on the sweet side as I use some crushed pineapple like my mother did, and which is not found as an ingredient in the Internet recipes I reviewed. My mother's ham loaf did not have a glaze but the Internet recipes I reviewed do use a sweet and tangy glaze, so I decided that would be a nice thing to have in my recipe.
Ham loaf is quite simple to make provided you have a meat grinder. If you do not have one then go out and buy one as that device is very useful for many recipes in Food Nirvana. I use the meat grinder attachment with my Kitchen Aid® mixer.
One of the Internet recipes indicated that in raw form the ham loaf or loaves can be wrapped in aluminum foil and frozen for later use. In other words the product stores well when frozen. If you do that then I suggest using it within three months. Personally, I will freeze it unwrapped and then vacuum seal it and return it to the deep freeze. That will provide at least twice the storage life as no oxygen will be present and there will be no possibility of freezer burn.
I have yet to test this recipe but I know it will be excellent. I will report back with results and maybe some modifications.
2 lbs. of ground lean smoked ham
1 lb. of ground lean pork
2 extra large or jumbo eggs
1 cup of canned crushed pineapple
1/2 cup of cracker crumbs or bread crumbs
1/2 cup of moistened regular oatmeal or quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/8 tsp. of sea salt
1 cup of either dark or light brown sugar
1 tsp. of ground mustard powder for the ham loaf
1 tsp. of ground mustard powder for the glaze
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
If you are using regular oatmeal then combine it with 1/3 cup of water in a 2 cup Pyrex® measuring cup and microwave the mixture until it boils.
Combine the ground ham, ground pork, oatmeal, bread/cracker crumbs, and the crushed pineapple in a large bowl. Mix well by hand.
Combine the eggs, mustard powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk the mixture until it is well blended. Add the milk and whisk briefly.
Add the egg mixture to the meat mixture and mix well by hand.
Form the ham loaf mixture into one large loaf or two smaller loaves. One large loaf should fit perfectly into a 9" by 13" glass baking dish. I prefer to use two glass baking dishes about 4" by 9", like those typically used when baking loaves of bread.
Combine the brown sugar, mustard powder and vinegar in a small saucepan. Mix the ingredients. Add up to two tablespoons of water if the mixture is too dry. Heat the mixture over low heat while stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the glaze from the heat.
Pour about one-third of the glaze over the ham loaf (loaves). Cover the ham loaf with aluminum foil and bake it for 50 minutes.
Uncover the ham loaf. Pour the remaining glaze over the loaf, basting frequently until the glaze begins to get thick and sticky and the ham loaf is browned and cooked through completely. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove the ham loaf from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving it.

Italian Sausage Seasoning - ?

This recipe is for a seasoning mixture to create either a sweet or a hot Italian sausage that uses two pounds of ground pork. Simply eliminate the red pepper flakes to make the sweet sausage, or add even more red pepper (or even some cayenne pepper) than indicated if you want a very hot sausage.
Casings are not used so stuffing is eliminated. This sausage is what we used to call "loose sausage" many years ago. It is suitable to be used in making and frying patties or for breaking up and browning to add to sauces or to other recipes, like stuffing for chicken or turkey.
Making sausage is simple and fun, provided you have a good meat grinder and do all mixing with an electric mixer.
2 lbs. of ground pork (with 20 percent fat content)

1 teaspoon of black pepper

2 teaspoons of dried parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons of dried Italian seasoning (see the Food Nirvana Italian Seasoning recipe)

1 teaspoon of garlic powder (you can use 2 tablespoons of fresh minced garlic instead of the powder)

1/8 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes (use more if desired)

3/4 teaspoon of crushed anise seed (or you can crush dried fennel seeds in a small food processor)

1/2 teaspoon of paprika

1 teaspoon of minced dried onions

2 teaspoons of salt

Add this mixture to 2 pounds of ground pork and mix well using an electric mixer.
Note that the ground pork should be 20 percent fat if you plan to make and fry sausage patties. Too little fat will result in a sausage pattie that will burn in the skillet and be dry rather than fry properly. Lower fat content is acceptable if you are not making sausage patties.
Use the sausage by forming patties or by breaking it up with a spatula in a skillet while browning it for use in a sauce or in some other recipe.

Hot Italian Sausage - ☺♥

As usual, I studied various recipes and I created a composite that produces a delicious hot Italian sausage. But here is where personal preferences become very important. Different folks want different degrees of hot. What I show below in the ingredient list creates an extremely hot sausage suitable only for those who love hot stuff. After the directions I discuss how to vary the ingredients to have anything from mildly hot to fairly hot, so that you can decide what you want.
The addition of the garlic makes this an interesting and tasty departure from the typical basic Italian sausage recipe, which lacks garlic as well as the red pepper flakes. The addition of the cayenne pepper turned this sausage into a superb, very hot Italian sausage, perfect for “HOT” aficionados.
I made this sausage and it is excellent. Try it and you will agree.


  • 5 pounds of boned pork shoulder, about 80% lean

  • 3 tablespoons of cracked fennel (crush whole seeds)

  • 3 tbsp. of red pepper flakes (see variations following directions)

  • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon of coarse ground black pepper (or crushed fresh peppercorns)

  • 2 tablespoons of granulated garlic

  • 1 cup of ice water

  • 1 tbsp. of Cayenne pepper (optional, see variations following directions)

Trim the pork and cut it into 1 inch cubes, including the fat, and grind it through the fine (1/8") plate of your meat grinder. Then use your electric mixer with the beater attachment to finely blend the ground pork and ground fat for about three to five minutes on medium speed so that no fat pieces can be seen.
Put two tablespoons of the fennel into a one quart Ziploc® freezer bag. If you decided to use black peppercorns, put the tablespoon of them in the freezer bag. Crush the contents of the freezer bag using a kitchen mallet, first with the flat side and then with the side with indentations, until the fennel/peppercorns are no longer whole.
Put all the dry spices into a small bowl. Add the ice water and mix for about 30 seconds or until the salt is dissolved.
Pour the spice and water combination into the ground pork and fat mixture and mix thoroughly for at least 3 minutes. I use the beater attachment of my electric mixer and run it on medium speed for about three minutes to blend the spices into the ground pork.
Once the sausage is fully mixed, either stuff it into casings or make it into patties or bulk packages. This sausage should be refrigerated as soon as it is made. It can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or vacuum sealed and kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To create a mildly hot Italian sausage, eliminate the cayenne pepper and reduce the red pepper flakes from three tablespoons to two tablespoons. To create an average hot Italian sausage, simply eliminate the cayenne pepper and otherwise use the other listed ingredients. To create a yet hotter sausage, use one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, not one tablespoon. Any amount of cayenne pepper adds a notable amount of heat, so try using a small amount first.

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