May 13, 2012: Jane’s Sausage Bread Recipe

By popular demand, I’m finally putting my sausage bread recipe in writing. (Okay, I know that some of you asked for it several months ago, but…)
I’ve honed the actual prep and cooking down to its easiest, quickest formula. No more rolling and stretching fresh pizza dough, no more crumbling the sausage. The instructions look a lot more complicated than they really are, but that’s because I’ve added notes for guidance. So here you are:

You’ll need:

1 roll (16-oz) PARK’S HOT N’SAGEY SAUSAGE (In the frozen sausage section, the wrapper is bright orange)
NOTE: Keep it frozen until the night before (or morning before) you’re planning to start this; let it partially thaw in the fridge so that it will be easier to slice lengthwise, otherwise it’s messier to try to slice evenly.

1 roll Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough

1/2 lb. (approx) Muenster cheese (or provolone, or Monterey Jack, any mild cheese – I don’t use mozzarella ’cause it’s too stringy/messy.)
NOTE: I get the muenster cheese in the bar form, since I end up slicing it lengthwise. I thinly slice off the orange outer part of the muenster before slicing.

1/2 to 3/4 lb. mushrooms
NOTE: I get the pre-sliced white mushrooms, which come in an 8-oz package, but a bit more would be optimal. (For this Saturday’s event, where I made two breads, I had inadvertently bought one pack of sliced white mushrooms and one pack of sliced baby bellas. Mixed, it turned out okay, but the baby bellas are a little more rubbery, so I’d recommend just the white mushrooms.)

2 or 3 large cloves of garlic (or several smaller cloves, or a good heaping tablespoon of jarred pre-minced garlic)

a pat or two of butter

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Since I usually make this for a particular event or get-together, I like to get the prep part done the night before:

– Pre-heat oven to 325;

– Slice the sausage roll lengthwise into (approx) 1/2″-thick slices (easiest if you slice it down the center, then slice each half down their centers–you should end up with 4 slices); place the slices in a foil-lined (for easier cleanup) pan that’s at least 1″ deep – I use a brownie pan – because the sausage produces a lot of grease; place in pre-heated oven and bake for approx. 1/2 hour, turning slices halfway through cooking time; you’ll want them to be thoroughly cooked, but not browned or crispy; meanwhile:

– Peel the garlic cloves and mince them in a chopper (or whatever you more sophisticated cooks use);

– the mushrooms: whether you’re using pre-packaged sliced mushrooms or whole mushrooms, they’ll need to be chopped into smaller pieces–you can combine them with the garlic cloves when you chop them, or do it separately;

– Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the minced garlic and chopped mushrooms; cook on low heat (either covered or uncovered), stirring occasionally, until both mushrooms and garlic are well-softened (approx. 15 minutes)

If you’re doing these steps simultaneously, both the sausage and the mushroom/garlic combo should end up being ready around the same time; then:

– Remove the sausage slices from the pan and blot them thoroughly in a LOT of paper towels to absorb as much grease as possible;

– Drain the liquid from the cooked mushroom/garlic concoction (you can keep the liquid for other recipes if you wish);

At this point you can either refrigerate these ingredients and go to bed, or set them aside while you start playing with the pizza dough. Either way, when you are ready to finally put the whole thing together:

– Pre-heat oven to 350

– Open the pizza dough roll and carefully (try not to stretch it) unroll it onto a very lightly greased large cookie sheet or other large baking pan (can’t use round pizza pan, as the dough rolls out into a rectangle, more or less) NOTE: I spray a little Pam onto a paper towel and use the sprayed paper towel to grease the pan. You can use a little bit of butter the same way.

– Arrange the sausage slices along the center of the pizza dough, leaving about 1/2″ to 3/4″ of dough uncovered at both ends. The sausage slices should be arranged in two-by-two form, i.e. ==; it works best if you lay them out along the shorter width of the pizza dough;

– Using a cheese slicer (for uniformity) slice the Muenster cheese bar lengthwise in approx. 1/4″-thick slices; arrange the slices on top of the sausage slices;

– cover the sausage/cheese slices with the mushroom/garlic mixture, spreading evenly;

– carefully (again, try not to stretch the dough) fold the sides of the dough over the top of the whole concoction, and pinch the open ends together to close the bread;

– bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, until the bread is more-or-less evenly golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool for a few minutes, then carefully remove it from the baking sheet – I use two spatulas so that the bread is evenly supported. Either place the bread on a serving plate for immediate slicing and consumption; or, if you’re bringing it to an event, wrap the bread in tinfoil.

NOTE: When I do this for an event, I allow extra time to cool the bread in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour, then pre-slice it and reheat it for 10 or 15 minutes at 300 prior to final wrapping for transport. When I do the re-heating, I partially wrap the bread, leaving the top uncovered a bit so the top gets firm and a little crusty again.

As I said, the above looks like a lot of complicated work, but it’s really not, otherwise I would probably be too lazy to make it!

Try it yourself and enjoy!

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Sunday Roast: Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

This is my Mom on her wedding day, age 19, thirteen months before I was born.  Her own mother had died when she was 13, and her dad died when she was 18.  She was never afraid to try anything, and never had a problem telling someone where to go — in the nicest possible language, and always with a smile.

Dad was in the Navy then, so we moved around A LOT.  Wherever we went, Mom always seemed to find an older lady to adopt.  They’d have coffee together, go shopping, get to doctor appointments, etc.  It took a shocking amount of time for me to figure out that she was adopting a Mom everywhere we went.  I don’t think we ever talked about it…it was just something she always did.

When I was in junior high and high school, we managed to live in the same housing for about six or seven years — the longest I’d ever lived anywhere in my life at the time.  We lived on Fallon Circle, or as Mom liked to call it “Fallon Circus.”  She was the ring leader of a gang of moms who moved from apartment to apartment doing the coffee klatch thing and smoking like chimneys.  They  supported each other because most of the men were in Vietnam, and I swear, those women were a network of spies — because we kids got away with very little in those days.

Mom got to looking around Fallon Circus one day, and decided that she was sick of all the buildings looking the same.  The solution:  Everyone should paint their door a different color.  But this was Navy housing, and you can’t just paint your doors!  The housing authorities were aghast!!  Well, Mom kept at them for weeks and finally they said, “Fine!  Please go away!”  After all that, Mom painted our door the god-awfullest green I’d ever seen in my life.  Mom!?

At the end of the war, the dads were coming home all around Fallon Circus, and in May 1975, the USS Coral Sea was coming home.  My Dad was on that ship, along with a couple other dads from the Circus.  Mom got together with the other ladies, and they brewed up a plan…

A large “Yellow Ribbon” was created by the Navy Wives at Alameda Naval Air Station (NAS) and was installed near the top of the Coit Tower late May 1975 for the returning of the U.S.S. Coral Sea (CV-43) from an eight month WestPac tour (1974 – 1975) in the Viet Nam / West Pacific area. The Yellow Ribbon was made from a large chicken wire skeleton with hundreds of small pieces of yellow cloth tied to it to make the large Yellow Ribbon. Several Sailors (including Robert P. Hampton, Radioman, 17 years old, awaiting upon the ship’s return to Alameda NAS) carried the Yellow Ribbon up the Coit Tower inner-stairwell and with the help from a couple of San Francisco City workers draped the large and heavy Yellow Ribbon over the top arch opening, under very windy conditions. It was directed towards the Angel Island direction. A banner “U.S.S. Coral Sea (CVA-43) – San Francisco’s Own” was also [draped] below the Yellow Ribbon (Another similar banner was placed on the Golden Gate Bridge, ocean side for the returning Sailors to see).

It was a sight to see, let me tell you.  The men on the ship were thrilled!  I’m sure there’s a picture of it out there somewhere, but I sure couldn’t find it.

Anyhoo, that was my Mom.  What about your Mom?  If you’d like, you can share your Mom stories in the comments section — or whatever else you have on your mind.

This is our daily open thread — Happy Mother’s Day!