Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce

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Today’s the last day of September and therefore the last day of our first month of the Kitchn Cookbook Club. We did an even better job than anticipated of cooking through Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat. We shared our Pasta with Clams & Sausage and Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Cream, but we also made a gorgeous salad from her Avocado Salad Matrix, a nice roast whole chicken, and some green beans that we didn’t love. We still have a few more recipes bookmarked – the Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts in Agrodolce, the Autumn Panzanella Salad, and the Vietnamese Cucumber Salad in particular. We clearly won’t get to all of them before the end of the month, given that we only have a few hours of September left, but for dinner tonight we riffed on the squash and sprouts recipe.

The dish as written is vegetarian and would make a beautiful side dish – Samin says she serves it on her Thanksgiving spread! (Selim wants to do the same!) We decided to throw some sausages in the oven with the veggies to make it a full meal with a protein. I was initially attracted to the recipe because of the vinegar. I love vinegar and have learned from this book how the punch of acid improves most dishes by brightening other flavors. And now, I know what agrodolce means! “Agro” + “dolce” = “sour” + “sweet” in Italian. At its most basic, an agrodolce is a sauce of vinegar and sugar. It can be adjusted in many different ways – various vinegars, subbing honey or syrups for the sugar, and adding other ingredients, like herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, olives, and basically anything else!

We both loved this recipe and plan to add it to the regular rotation. The roasting and the vinegar really brought out the inherent sweetness of the vegetables. The sausages were a welcome addition and their fattiness stood up well to the vinegar. The end result is a little messy, but really delicious. We both independently thought that it would have been better if we’d cut the squash into cubes, instead of slicing as the original recommended. I think we’ll try that next time, but left the recipe with the sliced recommendation since that’s how we made it.*

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Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce

(Adapted from Salt Fat Acid Heat)
Ingredients:
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • 5 Italian sausages
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/3 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh mint leaves
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice the squash in half, scoop out any seeds, and slice into crescents*. Halve these if too large. Place in a large bowl and toss with enough olive oil to coat and ~ 1/4 tsp salt and a few turns of fresh ground black pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet.
  3. Halve the brussel sprouts and do the same as above with additional olive oil, a pinch of salt, and pepper. Place them on a second lined cookie sheet.
  4. Place the sausages on another sheet, or on one of the previous ones if there is room without crowding. (Mine fit easily with the brussel sprouts.)
  5. Place the veggies and sausages in the the oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes, turning and adjusting the position of the cookie sheets in the oven about halfway through so everything roasts evenly. [Keep a close eye out towards the end – the brussel sprouts may cook faster than the squash. We like ours on the burnt side of crispy, but you may want to take them out about 5 minutes earlier.]
  6. Meanwhile, submerge the onions in the vinegar to macerate while everything is cooking (at least 20 minutes).
  7. In another small bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp olive oil, sugar, red pepper flakes, and garlic.
  8. Once the veggies are cooked, place them in large bowl. Slice the sausages into bite-sized rounds and place in the bowl as well. Whisk the onions and vinegar into the olive oil mixture and then, once well-combined, pour the mixture into the large bowl. Toss to coat.
  9. Serve on a platter topped with additional salt if needed and a handful of torn mint leaves.
Serves 4

Pasta with Clams & Sausage

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On Instagram a few weeks back, The Kitchn announced that they were creating a virtual cookbook club (ie: a book club, but with cookbooks…). I got really excited! I love cookbooks, trying new recipes, and getting inspired from different sources, but honestly sometimes I’m a little lazy about it. Frankly, a lot of times it’s easier to browse Pinterest or google “what should I make for dinner tonight?” I always am telling myself that I need to use my cookbooks more and trying to reign myself in from buying all the beautiful new ones. So, I joined The Kitchn Cookbook Club and have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the first selection. And finally it arrived!

The first book selected was Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. I was excited, like most of the group – Salt Fat Acid Heat has become a little bit of a cultural phenomenon. Ms. Nosrat now has a Netflix show, a column in the NYT magazine, and obviously a very popular book! This cookbook is less of a cookbook than most. It’s mostly an educational manual of food science with recipes and some general guidelines. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book – I learned a lot about some of the science of cooking! Honestly, I need to reread some of it to get these principles ingrained in my head even better. Now for my unpopular opinion – I found it a little disappointing as a cookbook. And really, she’s not going for traditional cookbook here so maybe that’s the point. But I was hoping for a bit more in terms of recipes. None the less, I really enjoyed the recipe I selected and had fun making it!

{Side note: if you’re interested in participating in the cookbook club, you can either request to join the FB group “Kitchn’s Cookbook Club,” or use/follow the hashtag #kitchncookbookclub on Instagram.}

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I love clams and have always loved traditional spaghetti alle vongole! My favorite part of the recipe section of the book is the fact that she shares variations of many of the recipes – the addition of the sausage was a variation that sounded excellent to me! I made a handful of adjustments, based on our tastes and my laziness (only cooking the clams one way instead of two). Most dramatically, I made homemade pasta, which was delicious in this recipe, but definitely makes it more of a two person endeavor and adds to your cooking time. [If you don’t want to make your own pasta with this recipe – skip all of the pasta-making steps, cook it in boiling water until just less than al dente, and then add it to the sauce as below.] I also added the lemon zest and omitted the lemon juice, added a little Aleppo pepper, and cooked the sausage in a separate pan. I was concerned that the sausage would release too much fat if I kept it in the main pot, but it probably would have been fine in retrospect. I really loved this dish! It has a great briny flavor without being too salty! I think I did a good job with all of the elements and can definitely see why she uses this recipe in the book about salt, fat, acid, and heat! They were all in beautiful harmony here!

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Pasta with Clams & Sausage

(Adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat)
Ingredients: 
  • Pasta
    • 2 cups AP flour
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Clams & Sausage
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced & reserving the root ends
    • 1 bunch parsley (3 whole sprigs & 1/4 cup finely chopped)
    • 4 lb littleneck clams
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 lb ground spicy Italian sausage
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
    • 1 lemon, zested
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 2oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
    • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the pasta: on a clean, dry counter-top or in a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt and form it into a volcano (a mound with a crater scooped out in the middle). Crack the eggs into that center well/crater.
  2. Using a fork, slowly mix the egg into the flour. Try to keep the eggs within the crater, pulling in more and more flour. (If you fail, don’t worry, life will go on.) Once the egg is mixed into the flour enough that it’s not trying to run away anymore, switch to use your hands. Fold together until well combined. Now add the olive oil.
  3. Continue kneading the dough, stretching and folding, for at least 5 and up to 10 minutes. By this point, the dough should be smoother and elastic, so that you can form into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours.
  4. Once the dough has set, roll out and divide into quarters. Using the pasta roller attachment on the stand mixer, flatten out (to #5 if using KitchenAid’s model). Let the flattened dough rest on a floured surface.
  5. Cut into spaghetti (or linguine or whatever pasta shape you desire). [Follow your particular pasta roller/cutter’s instructions for doing these things.] Tip: keep your hands and the surface of the dough lightly floured during this process.
  6. Now get to work on the clams/sausage/sauce. In one pan, cook the sausage until cooked through. Then remove to the side and drain of excess oil.
  7. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat in another large pan. Add the root ends of the onion, 3 sprigs of parsley, and one layer of clams. Pour in the white wine and cover. Steam for 3-4 minutes, until clams open.
  8. Remove the clams to the side with tongs or a slotted spoon and repeat until all of the clams are cooked. Discard any clams that do not open.
  9. Strain cooking liquid and set aside. Once the clams are cool enough to handle, remove from shells and coarsely chop. Place the chopped clams into the cooking liquid.
  10. Now, generously salt and bring another pot of water to a boil.
  11. Rinse the pan, then heat another 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion, a pinch of salt, and several turns of fresh ground black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes. Follow this with the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for just another 2 minutes.
  12. Now return the chopped clams and liquid to the pan, along with the lemon zest and sausage. Allow to cook together for 5 minutes over medium heat and then taste.
  13. Once the pot of water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for only 1-2 minutes. After this time, move the noodles into the pan with the clams, sausage, and liquid. (Reserve the pasta water.) Allow the noodles to continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to coat the noodles with the liquid and spread out the. Add additional pasta water if needed to keep it nice and juicy.
  14. Taste and adjust for salt, acid, and spiciness as desired. Add butter and Parmesan cheese, stir them to melt and coat the pasta.
  15. Serve topped with chopped parsley and more Parmesan if desired.
Serves 4-6

Our Dublin Coddle

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While the rest of you are celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, I’m vacillating between the five stages of grief over UVA’s loss last night. I guess this post is helping me move past the denial stage, given that I just wrote the words “UVA’s loss.” My very caring and loving husband, is being even nicer to me than usual, which is actually relevant to this dinner. Selim is basically the opposite of a simple meat and potatoes kind of guy, whatever that is. This dinner, which not only checks the box of timely blog post, but also caters to my wanting to wallow in comfort food self, is definitely not what he wants to have for dinner tonight. Yet, here we are.

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I love this team and all of these guys! Proud of them & their season! We’ll choose to remember this moment instead ❤ [Photo by Matt Riley, primary photographer for UVa Athletics]
I, however, love a simple carb-filled dinner of sausages and potatoes. Dublin coddle is basically just that. Recipes for Dublin coddle should include pork sausages, potatoes, and onions. Many don’t include much more than that and water. Parsley is a common garnish. We’ve added a few more ingredients for a little more flavor, as you can see. We also didn’t cook the dish the way the Irish mothers back in the day would have. This hearty winter dish dates back to the 1700s and many believe started out as a way for Catholic mothers to use up meat before Fridays during Lent. I think we turned our version into a flavorful dish that still pays significant homage to the original. And honestly, since the “original” was basically a vehicle to use up leftovers, variations from household to household are basically a given. So, I give you our personal version! I’m not going to lie, though the sausage and potatoes are delicious, I think my favorite part is all the onions! They absorb all the delicious flavor from the broth and are just perfect! This dish may not look like much (the stews and braises that we tend to favor never do), get past our humble photos and give it a whirl the next time you’re feeling Irish.

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And, from an approximately 18.9462874% Irish person on the day when everyone claims to have Irish ancestors:

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! 🍀☘️🍀☘️🍀

 

Our Dublin Coddle

(Adapted from this recipe)
Ingredients:
  • 5 slices of thick-cut bacon
  • 1 lb pork sausages (traditional Irish bangers would be the most legit option)
  • 2 large onions, sliced into rings
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, etc)
  • 3/4 cup stout beer
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp brown mustard
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 lb potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh ground black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop the bacon roughly and cook in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Stir occasionally until they are brown, but not yet crispy. Then remove to the side.
  3. Place the sausage whole into the dish with the bacon grease, still over medium heat, and brown on all side. (You do not have to cook them all the way through at this point.) Once browned, remove these to the side as well.
  4. Now add the onions and garlic to the dish, stirring to coat in the remaining bacon grease. Top with 10+ turns of fresh black pepper. Partially cover and cook, until softened and browning, roughly 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together the broth, beer, worcestershire, mustard, and thyme.
  6. Remove the onions/garlic when they’re done and again set to the side.
  7. Add the potatoes and a splash of liquid stock mixture to the dish. Stir to coat and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook potatoes for ~5 minutes.
  8. Slice the sausages into large chunks and then return all of the removed ingredients to the dish. Remove from stove heat and stir everything together.
  9. Top with the stock mixture and add the bay leaves.
  10. Place in the oven, covered, for at least an hour. Keep cooking up to an hour and a half if the potatoes aren’t cooked to your liking at the hour mark.
  11. Serve in bowls with a good amount of broth. Add a dash of salt if you think it needs (save this for the end, given that your bacon, sausages, and even broth may have a fair amount of salt in them).
Serves 4-6

The ODB – The Ol’ Dirty Burger

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One of my all-time favorite restaurants is a breakfast and BBQ place in Charlottesville, VA where I lived for 10+ years or so. It’s called Ace Biscuit & BBQ. It’s a little bit of a tucked-away, hole-in-the-wall kind of place… with some of the best breakfast biscuits I’ve ever had. It used to be the best kept secret in C-ville, but the word has gotten out. If you ever find yourself in Charlottesville, I cannot recommend it more highly. Now maybe you’re asking yourself, why is this crazy woman talking about a BBQ joint in Charlottesville, when she should be telling me all about the burger she made for dinner? There is a connection, I promise. Plus, I like to send business towards my favorite places. (I act like this blog is so well-read that an established restaurant is going to benefit from my recommendation… 🙄🙄)

Anyway. Moving further into my tangent… In case you have forgotten, back in the 90s there was a rapper who called himself Ol’ Dirty Bastard, or ODB. He was one of the original members of the Wu-Tang Clan. The owners of Ace’s must share my love of popular 90s hip-hop, because two of their dishes pay homage to the era. There’s the Ace Doggy Dogg (their hot dog) and, you guessed it, the ODB! In this case, the ODB stands for Ol’ Dirty Biscuit. Y’all. You haven’t lived until you’ve clogged your arteries with this guy. Ace’s ODB consists of a homemade biscuit, topped with fried chicken, sausage gravy, pimento cheese, and pickles, all house-made. It is amazing! (And super low-cal, obviously.)

What does all of this have to do with the burger I made tonight? Really nothing honestly. For whatever reason, all afternoon as I’ve been mentally planning my decadent burger, the real ODB’s shout-out to himself in Mariah Carey’s Fantasy Remix, “Ladies and Gentlemen… Introducing the Old, Dirty, Doggy… Here we go now…” kept playing over and over in my head. I guess my subconscious was trying to tell me that tonight’s burger is to a standard boring burger what the Ol’ Dirty Biscuit is to a cheap fast food breakfast biscuit. The secret to making this burger over the top as compared to other burgers? Mixing sausage and ground beef! Ups the flavor and deliciousness! It’s still a simple burger, but the taste is 👌🏼👌🏼

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Humor me and pretend my ramblings were linear and logical. And enjoy an ODB – of any variety.

The Ol’ Dirty Burger

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb ground beef (85%-15%)
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion*
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.**
  2. Mix together all ingredients except for the salt.
  3. Form the meat into patties.
  4. Sprinkle salt and a little extra pepper on top of each burger.
  5. Place patties on a rack over a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. [Since the patties are on a rack, they don’t need to be flipped. We made six 1/3lb burgers and cooked them for about 12 minutes – yielding medium burgers. I was going for medium-rare and overshot, ho hum.]
  6. Top with your favorite burger garnishes!
*Do yourself a favor and pick up some granulated onion instead of onion powder – it’s so much better than that clumpy, powdery stuff.
**You can also grill these like a normal person would, if you don’t live in an apartment complex that doesn’t let you have them like we do…
Makes 6-8 burgers.

Hearty Hoppin’ John

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Technically this is our second New Year’s Eve living in South Carolina, but the first one barely counts. We had just moved here, in a whirlwind month that not only included moving to a new state, but also getting married, honeymooning in Puerto Rico, and spending Christmas with Ally’s family. I’m pretty sure there were boxes strewn about, half unpacked, while we watched the ball drop to close out 2015.

This year we decided to put a little bit of effort in and make a New Year’s Eve dinner. I strongly considered going Asian and honoring their traditional New Year’s noodle dishes, representing longevity for the next year. But instead, I decided to pay homage to our not-so-new-anymore home with southern Hoppin’ John.

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In researching Hoppin’ John recipes, I learned that like pimento cheese (see similar ravings in that post), everyone’s own grandma prepares it the correct way, while everyone else’s grandma is doing it incorrectly. Here are the facts regarding Hoppin’ John as best I can tell: It contains black eyed peas, although certain specific areas substitute field peas or red cowpeas. The peas are what makes Hoppin’ John one of the lucky New Years dishes of the American South – the peas represent coins and thus, wealth in the new year to come. The dish also must contain rice and some form of pork product. The dish almost certainly originated with slaves brought to the US from Western Africa. And most agree that the dish’s American origins began in the Carolinas, more specifically in the South Carolina Low Country. Now for the controversies: Which pork product to use – bacon, ham, pork sausage? Which spices, if any, to use? Where did the name originate? Does the rice have to be cooked in the same dish?

Therefore, I make absolutely zero claims to the authenticity of this Hoppin’ John. In fact, I guarantee you that it is not authentic. I skimmed probably 20-25 different recipes for inspiration, but did not follow any one in particular. With the base of the aforementioned black eyed peas + rice + pork, people toss in all sorts of different additions. I certainly did. This is quite a stretch from the plain, historic version that only contained the three base ingredients. But to be honest with you, I doubt I’d really enjoy plain rice, peas, and bacon.

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Happy New Year! We’re looking forward to 2017 and hope everyone else is too!

Hearty Hoppin’ John

Ingredients: 
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepped, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of dry rice
  • 6 cups of stock (chicken, turkey, vegetable)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15 turns fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 large spicy sausages, sliced
  • 4 cups of cooked black eyed peas*
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (we like Frank’s)
Instructions: 
  1. Slice bacon into lardons. Toss into a large pan with tall edges. Cover and cook over medium heat until the bacon begins to release its fat, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and stir to coat in the bacon fat. Re-cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Now add the garlic. Cook uncovered for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the next 10 ingredients to the pan (peppers through sausages). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover the pan. You want the liquid to be just slightly simmering while the lid is on.
  5. Uncover and stir briefly every 15 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, add the black eyed peas.
  6. The dish is done when the rice is fully cooked. This took us ~45 minutes. You may require slightly more or less time, and/or slightly more or less liquid.
  7. Before serving, stir in the hot sauce.

*You may choose whether or not to use canned black eyed peas or soak/prepare dried peas yourself.

Serves ~10 people.

Post dinner notes: We soaked our own beans, instead of using canned ones. We overdid it in the preparation phase, and the beans were fairly mushy. Next time, we need to be a little more attentive when preparing dried beans.

Cleveland Polish Boy

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For those of you who are living under a baseball-free rock, Game 6 of the World Series is tonight! The Cleveland Indians are currently beating the Chicago Cubs 3-2 in the series. The series has shifted back to Cleveland for the last two games, and Cleveland fans everywhere are on edge, hoping that the Indians will clinch it at home! Selim is from Cleveland and is a die-hard loyal Cleveland sports fanatic. Ally has adopted Cleveland sports teams as her own, with the highs & lows that come with being a Cleveland fan. We’re all crossing our fingers for potentially the second high of 2016 with the Indians winning the World Series for the first time since 1948. (The first high of 2016, for those who also live under a basketball-free rock, was when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship this summer. The Cavs’ win marked the first championship for a Cleveland-area professional sports since the Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship [the “Super Bowl” didn’t exist then…], ending 52 years and 147 seasons without a championship.) Let’s just say Clevelanders are pretty happy about the year 2016.

In order to help our team win tonight, all the way from South Carolina, we decided to be as “Cleveland” as possible. We’re both rockin’ Cleveland t-shirts today and cranked up some Machine Gun Kelly Cleveland hype music in the car. And we decided to make the most Cleveland dinner possible to eat while watching the game!

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Enter the Polish Boy. The epitome of Cleveland, right there on a bun. This traditional Cleveland food embraces the city’s melting pot, working class heritage. Several articles tentatively attribute the first Polish Boy to Virgil Whitmore, who operated Whitmore’s BBQ in the 1940s. His grandson acknowledges he’s not sure exactly where the idea originated, but that, “It wasn’t Poland, that’s for sure.” Maybe we should rename it the Cleveland Boy.

So what is a Polish Boy? It’s a bun with kielbasa on it, topped with coleslaw, French fries, and BBQ sauce +/- a little hot sauce. If that doesn’t sound indulgently amazing to you, we can no longer be friends. To make the best Polish Boy possible, you want your bun to be toasty, your kielbasa to be hot, your slaw to be creamy, and your fries to be crispy! Bon appetit baby!

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Polish Boy

Ingredients: 
  • 1 large link of kielbasa
  • 1 hoagie roll
  • 1/4 cup of coleslaw (Try our homemade version!)
  • A big handful of French fries
  • A healthy drizzle of BBQ sauce
  • A dash of hot sauce, if desired
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare your French fries as your prefer (bake, deep-fry…)
  2. Grill or pan-fry your kielbasa. Slice it in half length-wise.
  3. Toast your bun.
  4. Put the kielbasa on the bun. Top with coleslaw, sauces, and fries. Fries go on top!
  5. Try to close the bun around all this deliciousness. Fail miserably. Eat anyway. Get really messy. Love it.
Obviously this only makes one sandwich. You’ll want to make more to share.

 

Slow Cooker Cider Brats

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Fall leaves, looking towards the Blue Ridge Mountains ❤ ❤ ❤

Not going to lie. I’m mildly obsessed with fall. It’s my favorite season. I may or may not have mentioned this in pretty much all of our posts since the beginning of October. Since this is our first fall in South Carolina, I’m learning that fall comes slowly down here. It’s halfway through the month; the majority of the leaves are still green and we’ve hit the upper 80s several days this week! Ho hum. But fall peeks through now and then. We’ve carved some pumpkins. We’ve made and eaten chili. I’ve worn jeans a few times (albeit with short sleeve tops and sandals…) There are decorative gourds topping every surface in our house. Our neighbors are rockin’ some Halloween window decorations and fake spiderwebs. And best of all, we’ve turned off the A/C and had the windows open for several days!!

So when thinking about making some brats for dinner tonight, I logically wondered how I could make them “fall brats.” Because the traditional and perennially delicious, grilled, topped with mustard, peppers, and onions, tailgate brats apparently don’t scream fall loudly enough for me? (Could have something to do with the fact that we don’t have a grill…)

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Peeking in the fridge/brainstorming, I noticed a bottle of my favorite cider.

[Side note: if you have access to Bold Rock cider, you should check it out. They distribute pretty much only in the Mid-Atlantic. As of today, you can find Bold Rock ciders in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. They have a variety of ciders for your tasting pleasure. My personal favorites are the Virginia Apple, which is a bit more tart, thanks to its origins as a Granny Smith apple, and their drier, champange-style ciders. And if you want to make an amazing and low-key road trip out of it, you should check out their Cider Barn in Nelson County, Virginia. It’s a gorgeous (especially in the fall!) and fun place to visit. Even better, you can combine your visit there with a trip to one of the many wineries and breweries in the area! (In all seriousness, if you want some suggestions of places to check out in the area, we love pointing people in the direction of our favorites!) End side note.]

Deciding to combine my favorite, quintessentially fall cider with these brats was an interesting experiment. I wanted the sweetness of the cider, but didn’t want to ruin the brats with a cloying sweetness. Hence the other ingredients. I think it worked out pretty well. For me, it definitely was a new, sweeter flavor profile. It’s interesting that there is still a strong “meaty” taste and smell, that is countered with the sweetness of apple cider. I think the other new and interesting part of the dish for me was the texture of the brats themselves. I’ve never had brats any way other than fresh off a grill or sauteed in a pan. They’re essentially braised in the crockpot, which gives them a softer texture, without that tautness you would normally feel biting through the sausage.

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Slow Cooker Cider Brats

Ingredients: 
  • 5 large bratwursts
  • 1/2 of a large onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 12oz bottle of hard apple cider
  • 12oz bottle of ginger beer
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 turns of black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Place your vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with the bratwursts.
  2. In a bowl, combine the ingredients from cider through black pepper. Whisk a few times to combine.
  3. Pour liquid over top of brats & veggies in the slow cooker.
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Serve however you’d like! Throw the brats and veggies on a bun like a traditional brat or serve them with a little bit of the liquid over top rice or lentils like we did. (I wasn’t really intending the liquid to be a “sauce,” which it’s not, but I enjoyed topping my bowl off with a bit of it.)