Category Archives: sourcing

heaven on route 1

Karl's Sausage KitchenRoute 1 North from Boston is congested, tacky and, at times, terrifying. It runs up , close to the coast, through Chelsea and Saugus until it breaks west a bit to run alongside U.S. 95. The real estate along the road is stuffed to the gills with American commerce: a miniature golf course with a giant dinosaur, an Italian restaurant complete with 1/4 scale leaning tower of Pisa, and a steakhouse with an enormous, glowing cactus. On the right side, as you drive north and reach the end of the stretch of Route 1 that cuts through Saugus is Karl’s Sausage Kitchen, marked with a sign that looks straight out of 1962.

Karl’s is part German butcher, part specialty grocery. It’s the place to go if you are looking for any variety of Haribo gummy candy. They also have about 15 kinds of mustard. But the heart of Karl’s is the butcher shop. They make their own sausages, smoke their own bacon and pork chops, and carry several types of imported deli specialties (like ham, cured sausages, liverwursts, and cheese). My German neighbors tell me that Karl’s doesn’t really specialize in any one region of Germany, but offers up a kind of greatest hits of German charcuterie.

Karl's BaconWhen you go, you must get the bacon. It is amazing. You will never be able to eat grocery store bacon again, so you should buy at least 2 — 3 lbs (that’s as much as I can order without feeling totally embarrassed; otherwise, I would order more). You’ll freeze it and it will be gone before you know it. I also enjoy the house-made bologna — it’s meaty deliciousness without the greasy, gross feeling of the bologna of my youth. As for sausages, I love the fine bratwursts (made with — gulp — veal). Also excellent are the coarse bratwursts (these are a traditional mix of beef and pork) and the plump, red knockwursts. All of these work great in the following recipe, which is an excellent way to enjoy your Karl’s bounty.

Bratwurst & Sauerkraut

Bratwurst & Sauerkraut
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 — 8 bratwursts or knockwursts (about 4 oz. each), punctured several times with a skewer
1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
10 whole juniper berries*
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
1lb sauerkraut, drained and well-rinsed
1 medium sweet-tart apple, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper

Heat the butter in a 12” skillet with a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, add the wursts, and reduce heat to medium. Brown the wursts, turning after about 1 minute. Remove to a plate.

Add the sliced onion, grated carrot, juniper berries and about ½ teaspoon salt to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and begin to brown. Add the drained sauerkraut, grated apple, brown sugar and chicken broth to the pan, along with another ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt (depending on the saltiness of your broth). Increase heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Return the wursts to the pan and nestle them in the sauerkraut. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes or until almost all the broth is evaporated. Taste the sauerkraut and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 — 6. Serve with boiled potatoes or noodles and spicy mustard.

*If you’re around these parts, you can buy juniper berries (along with about any other spice you can think of) at Christina’s in Inman Square, Cambridge. And after you’re done shopping, you can go next door to the ice cream parlor for a scoop of burnt sugar, khulfi, pumpkin, fig, fresh mint or Mexican chocolate ice cream.

egg obsession

Last summer, I became somewhat obsessed with the farm eggs I was able to purchase at the Government Center farmers’ market. The eggs were beautiful and fresh with bright orange yolks and thick whites. Everything we made with them tasted better, from basic scrambled eggs to cheese puffs. My whole summer revolved around ensuring continued access to these eggs: getting my name on the weekly pick-up list, asking friends and co-workers to pick up eggs for me when I had a meeting on the day of the market or when I was on vacation. Even when we had plenty of eggs in the fridge, I’d buy another dozen, just to be safe. Then, in November, the farmers’ market ended and, with it, my supply of farm eggs.

Farm Eggs

Going back to grocery store eggs was difficult — the yolks were depressingly pale, the whites a little watery and the flavor lack luster. On my to-do list since the farmers’ market closed for the season was to find a new source of farm eggs that was reasonably close to home. On Friday, I took my first trip to Codman Community Farms in Lincoln, Mass. where they sell farm eggs and humanely raised beef, lamb and pork. The farm store operates on the honor system — take your eggs and leave $2.75 per dozen in the drop box.

The eggs are wonderful, and to celebrate my find, I made a cheese soufflé for dinner Friday night. The thing about soufflé is that it seems daunting, but it’s really not. The only special skill you need is the ability to fold beaten egg whites into the creamy base, and that’s a skill anyone can master with a little practice. The other thing that’s great about soufflé is that it seems like company food, but chances are, you already have all the ingredients you need in your refrigerator. Sure, cheese soufflé is fancy enough to serve company, but I like to make it for dinner on a week night for just Anne and me. With a salad and a glass of wine, it’s a perfect meal and it makes a Wednesday night feel like a special occasion.

Cheese Souffle

Cheese Soufflé
Adapted from The New Basics, Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the dish
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks at room temperature
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese*
2 tablespoon minced chives
4 egg whites at room temperature

Preheat oven to 400º. Butter a 6 cup soufflé dish, sprinkle the buttered dish with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, and turn the dish to coat the bottom and sides with the cheese. Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter stops foaming, whisk in the flour and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, forming a thick paste. Slowly whisk the milk into the roux. Add the salt and pepper and cook the mixture, stirring often, until it comes to a boil and is thick, about 5 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Working quickly, whisk the egg yolks, one at a time, into the hot milk mixture. Add the shredded Gruyère, remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan and chives. This is the base. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they just hold stiff peaks. Stir a heaping spoonful of the egg whites into the base to lighten it. Carefully fold the remaining egg whites into the base. You don’t want to deflate the whites too much, but do make sure that the whites and the base are completely incorporated into one, cohesive batter.

Pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350º and bake about 10 minutes more until the soufflé is puffed and golden. The soufflé will still be a little wet inside, but cooked through. Serve immediately. Serves about 4 as a main dish, and 6 – 8 as a side dish.

Whisking the BaseAdding Whites to BaseFinished BatterSouffle Interior

* If you don’t have Gruyère, cheddar will also work well.