Sausage with Bell Peppers and Onions, Confit

sausage with bell peppers and onions, confitI love Sausage with Bell peppers and Onions.  The slightly spicy Italian Sausage mixes well with the crispness and mild flavor of the bell peppers, and the onion just brings it all home.

I think I first tried it at Disney World some decades back when we lived in Florida.  We were 90 minutes from our doorstep to entering one of the parks, and back then was several years BC (Before Children), so we had a lot more time to play.  I would get off work, my sweetheart would pick me up, and off we would go to visit a theme park.  Our favorite was Epcot.  I know, Magic Kingdom is fun, and the MGM park had some very interesting attractions, but for us the Nations Lake around Epcot had the most variety.  You could get very small (and yes, slightly sanitized) versions of a handful of different cultures, along with some of their traditions, beliefs, and yes, food.  And being who we are, the food was the key.

Swedish pastries, Japanese bowls, Mexican plates, and German Bratwurst.  And of course, the Sausage with Bell Peppers and Onions.  i don’t even remember where it was, just that I loved it.  (Of course, I loved a lot of the other foods as well, but those are for another day.)

I finally got around to making it myself.  And it was good.  Then we made it confit, and it was great!  For those of you new to the term, “confit” simply means to cook food, usually meat, and then to marinade it in it’s own fats and juices.  This has the effect of blending and concentrating flavors in a way that other cooking methods don’t.  In the case of Sausage with bell peppers and Onions, it elevates it to the next level.

 

I start by browning the Italian Sausage.  I am particular to the Torino brand Italian Sausages, sold at Costco, but feel free to use whatever quality Sausages you can find.  Oh, and the legalese and Food Handlers warning: these things have raw pork in them, please be careful to not cross contaminate anything you aren’t going to cook well, and don’t taste test until it is all cooked thoroughly.

sausage with bell peppers and onions, confit sausage with bell peppers and onions, confit

While the sausages are browning, you can slice the Bell Peppers and Onions.  I like yellow, red, and orange bell peppers, but the green taste almost the same and are a half to a third the price of the more colorful ones.  If I am serving to guests and want the wow factor, I’ll spend the extra; if it is just for me and the family, it will be the green ones.  Also, I like the sweet yellow onions.  less bite, more onioniness…  err, onionier..  onion-esk.  Whatever.

And long quarter inch strips are good in this, as it’s good to see what you are eating.

sausage with bell peppers and onions, confit sausage with bell peppers and onions, confit

Once the vegetables are sliced and the sausage is browned on the outside, remove the sausage from the pan and toss in the peppers and onions.  And yes, the fats from the sausages are to be left in there, as they are flavor and will saute the vegetables.  personally, I add another tablespoon or two of vegetable oil, to make sure all of them get a good coating.  And yes, this makes a lot, so scale it down if you need to.  And whatever you do, don’t scrape out those wonderful brown bits stuck to the pan from the sausage!  That’s flavor!

sausage with bell peppers and onions, confit sausage with bell peppers and onions, confit

Slice the sausages on the bias and add them back into the pan with the vegetables.  And by bias I mean “an oblique or diagonal line of direction” (Dictionary.com).  It makes the pieces a little larger and more interesting than just little circles.  Add the salt, black pepper, and garlic powder or granules.

sausage with bell peppers and onions, confit sausage with bell peppers and onions, confit

Now stir, toss, or mix it all together and let it simmer.  Mix it around every few minutes until the sausage is fully cooked (no pink, etc) and the vegetables are softened, but still have a little texture in them (we don’t want mushy vegetables).

sausage with bell peppers and onions, confitAt this point, once it is all cooked through, you can put it on bread and have a sandwich.  It’s pretty good.  And even at this point it is worth making, but we can do better.

Pack it into a bowl, ziplock bag, or some kind of airtight container, including all the liquid from the pan.  You want a container that will allow you to pack it all in and have the fats and liquid fill all in between, and let you make an airtight seal.  Fats will pickup whatever flavors you have wandering around in your fridge, so please make sure this gets sealed.

sausage with bell peppers and onions, confitsausage with bell peppers and onions, confit

Put it into your fridge over night.  Yes, patience is called for.  That’s why I often have a sandwich as soon as it’s done, but I know better is coming.  Your patience will be rewarded.

When tomarrow comes around, heat up the Sausage with Bell Peppers and Onions, Confit.  And put it on bread.  And eat it.  And eat some more.  And show off to your friends how good it is, but never tell them how easy it is.  Unless they ask, since recipes should be shared.

sausage with bell peppers and onions, confit

Sausage with Bell Peppers and Onions, Confit
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Italian Sausage with bell peppers and onions is elevated to a new level by making it a confit
Ingredients
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 3 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 10 Italian Sausages

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder (or granulated garlic)
Instructions
  1. Brown Italian sausages on medium heat. Remove from heat and slice.
  2. Add bell peppers and onions to pan and stir in vegetable oil to coat. Add sliced sausage, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Stir to combine.
  3. Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage is fully cooked and vegetables are softened, but not mushy.
  4. Pour entire batch of sausage, peppers, and onions, plus all liquid, into an airtight container, making sure the liquid covers as much as possible.
  5. Refrigerate overnight. Heat through and serve on buns, hoagie rolls, or garlic bread.

 

Cheese Drop Biscuits

I love biscuits.  I mean, who doesn’t, right?  Those fluffy, tender, savory quick breads are just the right start to many a morning, a perfect side for casual or formal dinners, and balance soup perfectly.  You can eat them with butter, jam, honey, sausage gravy, or just by themselves.

The problem for me is the time they take.  You mix them up, then roll them out.  You cut those circles out, making sure to not twist so they will rise as high as they can.  then you gently mix the rest back together, and do it again, making them a little less tender each time.  They are simple, yet require practice to master them and most of us have to try several times to get past ok, and up to good.  great is a ways off for the beginning biscuit maker.

What if there was a better, easier, faster, and more simple way to make great biscuits?  I am talking dump it all into a bowl, mix it, slap it onto a pan and bake it.  I am talking about wonderful flavor, that most people will snarf as many as you will let them.  I am talking about Cheese Drop Biscuits!

 

Start by making sour milk.  It’s really easy, and can directly replace buttermilk in many recipes.  For each cup you need, put one tablespoon of lemon juice into the measuring cup, then fill the rest of the way to the cup mark with milk.  Wait five minutes.  Use like buttermilk.

Having said that, you are free to use buttermilk in any recipe that asks for sour milk, and vice versa.  The main thing to keep in mind is that buttermilk may be thicker, so pancakes and biscuits may have a little more structure to them.  Both are good; see what you like best.  I tend to use a lot more sour milk in recipes than buttermilk, simply because lemon juice in the fridge will last a lot longer than buttermilk.

cheese drop biscuits

Meanwhile, stir together the dry ingredients in a bowl.

cheese drop biscuits

Add the butter, right from the fridge.  Pastry cooking almost always does better with really cold butter.  (sometimes it will specify ‘room temperature” or “melted”.  I usually suggest following a recipe the first time you make it, then adapting as you feel you should).

Chop, and blend the butter into the dry ingredients until the largest pieces are about the size of a pea (1/4 inch).  You can use two knives, or you can chop a little and then pinch the bits of butter into the flour.  Or you can use a pastry cutter.  They make this step really fast and easy, and anyone who bakes should have one.

cheese drop biscuits cheese drop biscuits

Now add the grated cheese and stir it together.  This will help it stay throughout the entire biscuits once the liquid is added.  Adding the cheese after the liquid is a battle to get it all mixed without pulverizing the cheese.  And yes, I like medium or sharp cheddar.  Oh, and the cheese amount is fairly forgiving, so if you put in too much, or sampled the cheese and have a little less, you’ll be OK.

cheese drop biscuits cheese drop biscuits

Now add the sour milk (or buttermilk), and stir it all together just until all the dry bits are gone and nothing is overly goopy.  Yes, goopy is a highly technical term.

cheese drop biscuits cheese drop biscuits

 

Now drop big blobs, chunks, or whatever you want to call them, onto a cookie sheet.  I suggest a non-stick cookie sheet, or put down parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, like the famous Silpat).  Try to make them about the same size.  I usually end up with 12 or 15, but 18 will also be fine.  just keep in mind that 12 will take a little longer to bake than 18.

cheese drop biscuits

Bake them at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes (again, less for 18 biscuits and more for 12 biscuits).  Check them when you think they may be done by breaking one open.  Tender and full of steam (but not dry), it is done.  If it’s sticky or gooey inside, put it back into the oven for a few more minutes.

cheese drop biscuits

 

Cheese Drop Biscuits
Author: 
Recipe type: bread
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Fluffy, tender, simple to make, flavorful biscuits
Ingredients
  • 3½ cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cold (1½ sticks)
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Make the sour milk by putting the lemon juice into a measuring cup and filling the rest of the way to 1 /12 cups with milk. Set aside.
  2. Stir together dry ingredients.
  3. Cut into dry ingredients the cold butter, until the largest pieces are the size of a pea (1/4 inch)
  4. Stir in grated cheese.
  5. Add sour milk. Mix together just to the point that there is nothing left dry.
  6. Drop onto non-stick cookie sheet into 15 even portions.
  7. bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the insides of the biscuits are no longer gooey (moist is fine).

    Buttermilk may be substituted for the sour milk.

    recipe may easily be halved if less biscuits are required.

 

Peach Ice

When I was young, my Grandparents owned a peach orchard.  That meant that when summer came around, we had peaches.  Good, ripe, delicious peaches.  Peaches and Cream.  Peaches over ice cream.  Even just biting into a sweet peach and having the juice drip down your chin.  It was wonderful.

The season each year would end too quickly.  She would can a lot of peaches for the winter, and it was good to have them.  We always appreciated it.  But what made the best treat for us, even better than ice cream, candy, and cookies, was Grandma’s Peach Ice.

It’s a frozen treat, with the almost-fresh taste of the peaches, but cold, slushy, and amazing.  We always wanted it, and Grandma would horde it a little and dole out potions throughout the winter.  We always wanted more.  I find that I am doing the same thing with my kids.  They would eat an entire batch in one sitting if I let them!  But I know better now.  A little at a time, over the winter months, and they will always appreciate it.  Just like Grandma used to do.

 

This is best with good, ripe, sweet peaches.   And of course that orchard is long gone, so we find the best peaches we can.  The better the peaches taste, the better the Peach Ice will taste; but you knew that already.

peach ice

Start by making a simple syrup, by simmering the sugar and water together, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside and cool completely.  And yeah, the photo looks like a pan with water in it.  That’s what the syrup should look like when dissolved.  Really.

peach ice.

Meanwhile, you need to remove the fuzzy peel of the peaches.  It’s good on a plain peach, but not so much in the ice.  David Lebovitz suggests cutting an X on one end of each peach, then putting them in boiling water for twenty seconds.  From there, put the into ice water just enough to shock them, maybe another 20 seconds, then onto a towel to cool.  Once cool, the peel comes off very easily.  It worked quite well, and you should totally check out his site, as he has some amazing recipes, and an incredibly good ice cream book.

peach ice peach ice

(boil then shock and peel)

peach ice peach ice

Remove the pits, and add the juice of one lemon.

peach ice

peach ice

Now crush the peaches.  I like to use a potato masher, but use whatever you have.

peach ice peach ice

Mix in the simple syrup, and put it in the freezer.

peach icepeach ice

Scrape the ice every hour or so while it freezes to introduce air.  You don’t have to do this step, but it makes it a lot easier to scoop later if you do.  (and if you don’t, just let it thaw a little on the counter before you try and scoop it)

peach ice

Once it is completely frozen, scoop some into a cup or bowl and add just a little bit of one of those lemon-lime soft drinks.  I like Sprite, but 7-Up, Fanta, Sierra Mist, etc, should all work.  And you just want a very little bit, then mix it into a slush.  If it doesn’t slush, add a little more.  if you past the slush state, you can add more Peach Ice, or drink it instead of eat it.

Experience the sheer Awesomosity of Peach Ice!

peach icepeach ice

And yeah, my wife reminds me that Awesomosity is not a real word.  And again, it should be, if for nothing else than to describe Peach Ice.

 

Peach Ice
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Best, most amazing, icy, cool, slushy peach awesomosity ever eaten!
Ingredients
  • 4 cups water
  • 1½ cup sugar

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 6 cups crushed fresh peaches, peel removed
Instructions
  1. boil water and sugar into a simple syrup. Set aside to cool.
  2. peel and crush peaches. Add lemon juice.
  3. stir in cooled simple syrup
  4. Put into freezer. As it freezes, occasionally scrape and mix to add air. Freeze completely.
  5. To serve: scoop, crush, etc, some into a glass and add a very small amount of Sprite to make into a slush.

 

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