ithaca brunch sausage

Ithaca, NY. One grey October Sunday morning in 1999, I was shockingly out of supplies for breakfast. After an hour or so of mental dry-spinning – a consequence of my yawny hungry-ness – I fetched my coat and went down the hill to see where I’d find some food. First I meandered through the whole downtown without much success. When I finally entered the DeWitt mall, the cafe was just about to open, and completely empty.

Cafe DeWitt lies right across the world-famous Moosewood restaurant. I used to visit the mall for other reasons than breakfast: around the corner is the Oasis, an organic food store with a large selection of vegetables, grains, teas and, of course, the Natural Brew Draft Rootbeer, Outrageous Ginger, Vanilla Creme Soda and Ginseng Cola (one cannot drink wine all the time). Inside the mall is the Bookery, a used-and-rare-books store where I found, amongst others, a used copy of Frank Hubbard’s Three centuries of harpsichord making for 20 bucks.

What I did not know was that Cafe DeWitt is the favorite churchgoers’ meeting point for brunch. I sat down, a very friendly waiter took my order, Farmer’s breakfast, and when I looked again, the place was suddenly ab-so-lu-tely full of people. I was lucky to have chosen a small table off the main track.

The breakfast was delicious – a more than worthy reward for my earlier procrastination: rosemary-fried potatoes, amazing sourdough bread (well, and egg, of course) and their Apple-Chicken sausage. I noted in my diary that this sausage made the impression of a Weisswurst in terms of juiciness and texture, while it also contained bits of apple and an occasional bit of sweet corn.

Last week I had a length of sausage casing left, and so I improvised a Farmer’s Breakfast Chicken Sausage à la Me. My apple chicken sausages are spicier than those from Cafe DeWitt.

I mince a pound of chicken bits with some fat and a large hot red pepper with the seeds in the fine meat grinder. Ideally, one ought to buy a true second-hand sausage grinder, but there’s no space left in our kitchen for stuff like that. I add:

Dried sage, a cup full of frozen corn, salt, pepper. While this combo turns around in my bread kneader, I saute a chopped clove of garlic and a diced apple in some goose fat. As soon as the garlic gets soft, I add this to the sausage mix, including the cooking fat. Then I pour enough ice-cold water into the still turning chicken-goo to make a smooth paste. I mix the mix some more. A fry-check in the goose fat pan shows whether I have to add more salt or other spices.

Finally the chicken goes into the casings (I have a filling funnel for this task that attaches to my meat grinder). While I shape the sausages, I heat up a big pan with water. The sausages are, in the usual manner, cooked at a bare simmer, in order to prevent them from bursting open. They can be eaten in various ways: still hot; dismantled, sliced and fried; grilled. The lucky survivors are kept in the freezer for later use.


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One Response to “ithaca brunch sausage”

  1. Tess Says:

    Your stories, your blog, and your cooking experiments have made me avoid my “real-work-with-a-deadline” for 2 hours this evening. Thanks. Your posts are fun and informative.

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