You'll Be Missed WCC!! :(
|So I gots this friend.. her name is Sara. Sara writes i like to cook. I love Sara. We clicked from the very beginning and although we've only known each other for a few years, it feels like I grew up with her.. we've got lots in common and she's just as warped as I am in the humor department. hehee!|
Anyhoo, my friend Sara, well she runs this lil monthly event that some of you may have heard about (if you haven't.. well where the hell have YOU been?) called The Weekend Cookbook Challenge or WCC. I've had a soft spot in my heart for this lil monthly event and even got to host it once! Aside from adoring the creator of the event, I think what drew me to it is how it's very laid back, meaning hey if you want to contribute but you didn't use a cookbook recipe, sokay. Your submission is kind of a stretch according to the monthly theme? Fogeddaboutit! It's welcomed warmly into the round-up. This group is more about the joy of food and playing with people who share your common interest in sharing recipes than about rules and regulations - and for me, that's a joyous reprieve. ;)
BUT with all of this said.. I'm a slacker. I didn't participate nearly as much as I wanted too and I missed out on a lot of excellent, fun themes over the years. *sigh* But I could not WOULD NOT miss this last "Hurrah!" for the WCC. This round-up is the last one, my friends. Sara has decided to shut the WCC down.
Alrighty then, the last theme for the WCC is LOVE. Of course my first thought was to make something chocolatey.. but after the last Daring Baker challenge, I got my chocolate fix and then some :) So next was something savory - but all of the foods I truly love LOVE, I've blogged about already.. so what to do? WHAT TO DO? I was going over some recipes on my hard drive that I've collected through the years - because seriously, I've only got about 100 cookbooks.. the event is called Weekend COOKBOOK Challenge.. and yeah, I don't think I've ever used a cookbook for a recipe submission to the WCC so why start now, right? Gah. Anyhoo, lately Hubbs and I have been into pickles. Oh we love 'em. I slap those pickle Stackers from Vlasic on anything that doesn't move too quickly. So when I came across a recipe that my friendJohn had made and raved about, I knew this would be a dish of Love. Called Romanian Garlicky Ground Meat Sausages (Carnatzlach) with Sour Pickle Vinaigrette and Roasted Red Peppers. Say that fast TWO times and you'll get a brain aneurysm. No.. no you won't. I don't think. :P
Okay so this is a dish all about homemade sausages without casings. It's very well seasoned ground beef, or as John says, ground turkey would be excellent as well, shaped into a sausage link and grilled, broiled or pan fried. The sausages are served over roasted bell peppers and topped with his very own pickle vinaigrette. Super easy to make.. you just have to remember that the ground meat should "marinate" with all the spices for at least 4 hours before shaping into sausage link shapes.
Hubbs did the marinating part.. and he followed the recipe to a T EXCEPT for the allspice.. we don't have any and frankly, I'm not a fan of it in savory dishes. He mixed it well in the food processor and we let it sit in the fridge for about 6 hours. When I came home from work, I shaped them into links, made the vinaigrette and *cough* roasted some bell peppers. When I say I "roasted" them.. I mean that I picked them out of a jar with a fork. Sue me. It was cold and rainy, I was home for the night and not going back out. :) Anyhoo.. I might have made the links a lil big because I only got 12, and the recipe said 14 to SEVENTEEN (bahahahhaa!). 'kay at 1.5 lbs. of ground meat, if you get 17 sausages.. I'd have to say they'd look a bit more like gherkins. ;)
I chose to pan fry in my cast iron skillet, as John prefers. They cooked quickly and smelled wonderful! Then I plated them, "nestled" in the "roasted" red and yellow peppers and poured spoonfuls and spoonfuls of that AMAZING vinaigrette over them. To say we were salivating when it came time to sit down in front of our faithful TV (the kitchen table is more of a place to dump unopened mail, thankyouverymuch).
The first thing we said to each other was "MEAT DOGS!" I about choked. So funny! These "sausages" are mighty tasty but not very "sausage-y". What we both thought was that this recipe would make a might fine turkey burger instead. But what we both flipped over was John's pickle vinaigrette. Holy mother of a bald goat! This stuff is to die for.. I want it on EVERYTHING now! Much MUCH better than any relish we've ever had.. super easy to throw together and just NOM NOM NOM SO GOOD!
All in all it was a dish we did like very much and will make again - but we'll try ground turkey or chicken next time.. and grill instead. Just to see. In the meantime, try ripping the bowl of pickle vinaigrette from my hands - JUST TRY. :P
Romanian Garlicky Ground Meat Sausages (Carnatzlach) with Sour Pickle Vinaigrette and Roasted Red Peppers
Recipe copied from John with my changes included.
Yield: 4 to 5 Servings
If you're cutting down on beef, well-seasoned turkey is a good substitute here.
2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic, or to taste
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
About 1 teaspoon salt (more if using ground turkey)
1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; or fresh, hot but not searing, while (preferably Fresno or serrano, but Hungarian wax, jalapeno, or other varieties will do fine), roasted (see Cook's Note), peeled and finely chopped (be sure to use rubber gloves when preparing)
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef (you can substitute ground turkey - the ground thigh meat will work best - with fine results, but you may want to increase the seasoning slightly)
Oil for greasing the broiler rack or pan, if needed
2 large red bell peppers, roasted (see Cook's Note), cut into strips, and seasoned well with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and a little vinegar or lemon juice to taste
Chopped scallions (both white and green parts)
Sour Pickle Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Half-sour or garlic dill pickles, sliced lengthwise; garlic dill tomatoes
In a food processor combine the garlic, paprika, salt, oregano or marjoram, allspice, black pepper or chile, and 14 cup water and pulse until the garlic is chopped very fine. Add a third of the meat and process until thoroughly incorporated with the seasoning. Add another third of the meat and pulse a few times. Add the final third and continue pulsing, stopping to scrape down the bowl, if necessary, until the mixture is well combined, very soft, and almost pasty.
Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight so that all the vibrant flavors will meld together.
When ready to cook the carnatzlach, set out a small bowl of cold water and a large platter. Moisten your hands with the water, take a small lump of the meat mixture, and roll it into a sausage 3- to 4-inches long and i-inch wide (about the size of your middle finger, but a little wider). Place the shaped carnatzlach on the platter and continue making more, wetting your hands as necessary, until all the meat is rolled. You'll have approximately 14 to 17 sausages.
Preheat the broiler, outdoor grill, or (my choice) a heavy ridged cast-iron skillet on top of the stove, to high temperature. (Spray rack or pan lightly with oil first, if not nonstick.) Grill or broil the sausages until beautifully browned, crusty, and cooked to desired doneness, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
To serve, arrange some roasted red pepper strips and chopped scallions on a plate. Nestle a few carnatzlach attractively over them, and spoon a generous amount of sour pickle vinaigrette over everything. Garnish with pickles and garlic dill tomatoes.
Cook's Note: To roast peppers, spear them with a long-handled fork, and roast like marshmallows over an open flame (a gas burner or outdoor fire). Or place the peppers on a roasting rack set directly over the flame. Keep turning the peppers until the skins are lightly charred on all sides. You can also roast them under the broiler. Place the peppers on a foil-lined rack under a preheated broiler, as close as possible to the heat source. Turn the peppers as the skins blister and blacken.
Put charred peppers in a paper bag and twist the bag closed, or put them in a covered bowl. Let them steam until cool enough to handle-this will make them easier to peel. Rub the skins off with your fingers (if preparing chiles, make sure you are wearing rubber gloves). Don't worry if you don't remove every piece of charred skin-a few bits here and there will add smoky flavor. Although this is messy and the peel will stick to your fingers, I don't recommend peeling the peppers underwater, as some suggest, because it washes away the flavorful oils, making the peppers soggy and flat-tasting. Instead, dip your hands into a bowl of water every so often or wipe them on a paper towel to clean them. Pull out and discard the stem, seeds, and ribs. The peppers are ready to be used in a recipe.
Sour Pickle Vinaigrette
Yield: 4 to 5 Servings
1 cup coarsely chopped half-sour or garlic-dill pickles I went with all dill)
2 tablespoons liquid from pickle jar (include peppercorns and other flavorings, if desired)
3 tablespoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh lemon juice Amazingly I had no lemons.. so I used a lil bit of red wine vinegar
Place the pickles and pickle liquid in a blender and process at high speed until pureed. With the machine on, slowly add the oil. Continue processing another minute or two, until the mixture is smooth and emulsified. Transfer to a bowl, and add salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. You can serve the sauce right away, but it's best to allow the flavors to mellow for a while in the refrigerator. Stir the vinaigrette before serving. I wanted more of a crunch, as you can see from the photos, so I just diced everything small and mixed with the juice, EVOO, red wine vinegar and S&P