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Father Knows Best (or... Keeping the Flame Alive for Grilling Sausages)



My Dad has had more careers than anyone I know—he was a bricklayer in his early twenties and regularly points out the buildings around Chicago that he helped construct. For most of my childhood, he was a commercial artist creating charts and graphs for business meetings long before the computer age. But the job that gave him fodder for his best stories were his years in a local butcher shop.  His fingertips received so many nicks and cuts that they are now impervious to heat—allowing him to flip a spicy Hungarian sausage on the grill with his bare hands.


My father and his brothers still make that aforementioned pork sausage by hand for the annual family picnic. While stuffing 150 pounds of garlic and allspice seasoned pork into natural hog casings, they wax rhapsodic about the pork of years gone by—rich, tender and super moist. They reminisce about their mother’s cooking, their own father’s basement smokehouse filled with homemade hams and bacon while churning the sausage grinder.  They tell the next generation in attendance that today’s ground pork must be fortified with extra pork fat to render the sausages juicy when cooked over coals.


Which got us thinking. Serving the old guys pork on Father’s Day is a no-brainer. But how to make the ubiquitous pork chop memorable?  And with today’s leaner chops, how do we maintain juiciness? Bacon. That’s our answer for moist, flavorful pork chops (and many other kitchen conundrums). Thick, smoky bacon, emitting its goodness over and around a thick chop. Oh—and a generous basting of smoky spicy, barbecue sauce. Take that Dad and add it to your collection of tales.


Mad about March

We’ve been cooking like crazy around here all month getting ready for a mess of parties. First, we’ll host Saint Patrick’s Day for an open-house with the neighbors. The corned beef is already cooked—just waiting to be glazed and sliced. The beer is cold, too and the avocados are ripening as we speak.


Then, we’re anxiously looking forward to watching a bevy of college basketball games. We like to root for the underdogs.  Our brackets lean towards food and beverage playoffs—you know guacamole with tomatillo salsa versus hot cheese-beer dip. The winner goes to the next round for second helpings.


Tell us what you’re cooking as we await winners and warmer weather.  We may want to put the idea in our brackets.



Good food, close friends, sweet dessert.

We’ve hosted a party on New Year’s Eve for many years now—not so much because we’re big drinkers—but because of the food. We believe the New Year should always be ushered in after a feast of our favorite things.


Some years we’ve served hearty pots of stew or beer-braised short ribs, others a total appetizer extravaganza.  Cauldrons of seafood soup, a buffet of nothing but desserts and grilled sausages over a bonfire made for unforgettable fiestas.


No two parties are ever alike. The brother-in-law touts the glories of six-foot subs and six-packs.  The big brother enjoys fine wine and after dinner cigars (outside, I say, no matter the weather).  One girlfriend enjoys dressing up, the other opts for comfy. As for the teens in the crowd—no parents within earshot please, and keep the chips and salsa coming.


This year, we’ve acquired some new dishes, so we’re thinking of a sit-down dinner at the dining room table. Everyone will bring something. And we’ll leave the clean-up until morning lest a well-meaning partier do damage to the new dishes.


Good food, close friends, sweet dessert.  A fitting way to say goodbye to one decade and to welcome another.  If you have a better idea,  or believe in the foods meant to bring luck in the coming year such as Hoppin' John served in the South or the dozen grapes eaten in Spain as the clock strikes midnight, we’d love to hear it.


JeanMarie Brownson
Culinary Director, Frontera Foods

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