Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Have a Happy National Hot Dog Day with Homemade Bratwurst and a Garbage Plate!

If you had grown up in my hometown of Rochester, NY, you wouldn't flinch if I asked if you wanted to get a garbage plate for dinner.  Instead, you would likely first ask “from where?”  Would it be the original, from Nick Tahou’s?  Or would it be one of the many copy-cat versions that have popped up in nearly every burger joint and diner within 50 miles of Rochester?  The original, of course, is often purported to be the best, but a trash plate, dumpster plate, or more commonly, simply a "cheeseburger plate" or "hot dog plate", are widely available.

In honor of National Hot Dog Day, I decided to make homemade bratwurst for my plates.  My husband had recently taken a sausage-making class, so I relied on his newfound knowledge for this undertaking.   Although technically not a hot dog, Bratwurst was the closest thing I could think of to a Zweigle’s White Hot, another Rochester original, which are hands down my favorite.

Step 1!
The construction of a garbage plate is simple:  the first layer on your plate should be half home fries and half macaroni salad.  Top that with 2 hot dogs (or hamburgers, pork chops, fried eggs, etc.), then top with ketchup, mustard, chopped onion (we omitted this) and Rochester-style hot sauce, which is key to any plate (recipe below).

Step 2!
I’ve omitted the recipes for the macaroni salad and home fries.  You can use your favorite macaroni salad recipe, and cube and fry up some seasoned white potatoes for your base.

The original certainly would have been better - the ambiance of Nick’s alone is worth the trip.  But, this is a pretty good substitute for us when we're not up for the 16-hour drive!

Step 3!
It's Not Supposed to be Pretty- it's a Garbage Plate
by Jennifer

Homemade Bratwurst
adapted from Wisconsin-Style Bratwurst at The Paupered Chef
2 pounds pork butt, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried ginger
1 Tablespoon beer
hog casings

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.   At this point, you can start soaking your casings if you are using the dried, packed in salt variety.  Soak a few feet of casing in a bowl of water for about 30 minutes. Change the water a couple of times during this process.  Keep in water until ready to use.

Set up grinder (we used our KitchenAid with the grinder attachment).  Grind the meat mixture with the small grinding plate.  When all meat is ground, grind a second time to get a fine texture.   At this point, you can take a small amount of the meat and cook a small patty to check for seasonings.   Adjust as needed, and place mixture back in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes while you set up your stuffer.

Right before stuffing sausage, rinse casings with cold water, getting inside of the casing, as well.  Thread the casing over the stuffing tube, leaving a few inches hanging off the end. Place some of the ground meat into the hopper and turn to speed one or two.   Once some of the sausage has entered the casing, turn off the mixer and tie the end hanging off.   Continue stuffing casing until all meat is used up (this was definitely a two-person job for us-one to feed the meat in and the other to pull the casing off of the stuffing tube as it fills).

Twist the sausages into the desired length by pinching the casing at where you want the end to be, and twist several times.  Find your next two end points and twist the middle sausage in the opposite direction of the first.  Repeat until all sausages are formed.   Poke the sausages with small holes to let any air bubbles escape.  Fold up sausages, still connected, and wrap in butcher paper.  Place in refrigerator for a day or two to let the casings dry out.  When you are ready to cook them, you can either poach them in beer to par-boil, or cook them directly from the fridge, using low heat to be sure they get cooked through.

Hot Sauce for Garbage Plates
The hot sauce that goes on a hot dog or cheeseburger plate is not the kind made of peppers and vinegar.  It’s a sauce made of ground beef, water, and spices that resembles a thin chili with a very fine texture.  Of course, each restaurant has its own version as far as spices and seasoning go.  This is a recipe given to me by a friend years ago.  I’m not sure where it came from, but it makes a good sauce that is definitely typical of the kind you find in Rochester.

1 Tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 pound ground sirloin
½ cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Cook onion and garlic in oil until soft (approximately 5 minutes- do not burn).  Add ground sirloin, stirring constantly with a fork to keep the texture fine.  Once the meat has browned, add the water and the tomato paste. Simmer 10 minutes.  Add brown sugar and the rest of the spices and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add water if needed to keep it moist, but not soupy.

This also freezes well, so make a double batch if you like it!

Just to be clear, I realize I won’t be winning any food photography awards for these pictures.  I suppose I could have moved potatoes around and cleaned the plate a little better, but with a name like Garbage Plate, I didn’t think that beauty was the main focus here.  Also, the original has TWO hot dogs or hamburgers, etc., but that was a bit much for me so I just went with one.

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