Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Balkan Brat!








     Balkan Brat!
     Today the goal was to make a good hot grinder style sausage sandwich that features some Balkan region flavors.  When making a new sandwich, one simply has to give the sandwich a catchy name!  The name Balkan Brat kind of has ring to it.
     Sandwich shops and street food vendors always think up catchy names for sandwich creations.  Some are named after neighborhoods, countries or famous people.  Some popular sausage sandwich names include New York Greaser, Maxwell Street Polish and Coney Dog.  

     Bulgaria is famous for producing some of the finest pork in the world.  Pork is a main staple in the Balkan region.  Bulgarians butchers make a wide variety of sausages.  Probably the most common and most popular sausage of them all is plain lightly seasoned fresh pork sausage, which is also called Bratwurst or Fresh Kielbasa.  Fresh Kielbasa is not smoked and the seasonings are nearly the same as Bratwurst.  A plain fresh bratwurst sausage is fine for today's recipe.  The size of the sausage for a belly buster sandwich should be big.  For example, belly buster hot dogs weigh a minimum of one quarter pound. 
     The ingredients in today's recipe support the Balkan Brat sandwich theme.  Ajvar is a Balkan region specialty and it is often used as a sandwich spread.  Pan fried potatoes and onion often accompanies sausage in Eastern European cuisines.  Bulgarian Kaskaval sheep milk cheese was melted on the sandwich.  Marjoram is a common herb in the Balkan region. 

     Ajvar Mustard Sandwich Spread:
     This recipe yields enough spread for 2 to 3 sandwiches!
     Jars of Ajvar Spread can be found at nearly any Greek, Mediterranean or Eastern European food market.  Ajvar is basically a mild red, yellow or orange bell pepper spread.  It can cost ten times as much to make fresh Ajvar than it does to purchase a jar of pre-made Ajvar.  Pre-made Ajvar is a very high quality product and there are many brands to choose from. 
     Place 4 ounces of mild avjar in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 ounce of dijon mustard.
     Add 2 ounces of mayonnaise.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the Ajvar Mustard Sandwich Spread, till it is needed.

     Bulgarian Belly Buster:
     Step 1:  Place an 8 to 10 ounce plain fresh pork sausage in a pot.  (Plain fresh bratwurst is fine for this recipe.)
     Cover the sausage with water.
     Place the pot over medium low heat.  (A low temperature will prevent the sausage casing from splitting.)
     Gently simmer the sausage, till it is fully cooked.
     Set the cooked sausage aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/3 cup of coarse chopped onion.
     Add 4 to 5 ounces of peeled russet potato that is thin sliced.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the potatoes are halfway cooked.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved poached pork sausage.
     Sauté till a few brown highlights appear on the sausage and the potatoes are fully cooked.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 4:  Select a sub sandwich roll that is about the same length as the sausage.
     Split the roll open from end to end.
     Spread a thin coating of the Ajvar Mustard Sandwich Spread on the sub roll.
     Step 5:  Place the potatoes and onions on the sub roll.
     Place the sausage on the sub roll. 
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 ounces of Bulgarian Kashkaval sheep milk cheese on the sandwich.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of marjoram over the sandwich.
     Step 6:  Place the sandwich on a baking pan.
     Bake the sandwich in a 350ºF oven, till the roll is lightly toasted and the cheese melts.  (Do not brown Kashkaval Cheese or it will taste very bitter!)
     Step 7:  Place the Bulgarian Belly Buster on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs and pickles of your choice!

     Viola!  A tasty new kind of grinder sandwich.  The Balkan Brat!  

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