Sanagan's TV Dinners

GeneralDeveloper Clermont
September already. It’s back to school. The days grow shorter. You can’t just walk around all the time in shorts and a T-shirt. Yeah, summer’s over. But there is some consolation — the sun’s setting earlier so there’s less glare on the TV screen! Whether it’s network, Netflix, box-set binging or sports, September is the beginning of TV season. Just wait until October when there’s hockey, basketball, football (round and oval), and the World Series all happening at once. Obviously, nobody’s got time to cook anything. But that’s okay because Sanagan’s provides any number of low-effort, high-flavour, flat-screen compatible snacks and meals. All you have to do is find the remote control. Please keep in mind, some of these items are only available at our Kensington Market location. To be sure if we have it, call us at 416-593-9747! JERKY: Chips are for kids. Up your snack game with our great selection of meat sticks, jerky and biltong. Serve these to your TV party guests and there will be no quibbles with your nibbles. COLD CUTS: Normally we call this stuff charcuterie but for the purposes of TVing, let’s go with cold cuts. We slice ‘em, you like ‘em; salamis, mortadella, capocollo and especially suitable, our dried sausages like kabanos or cacciatore. And while you’re at it, cube up some of our all-Ontario cheese, throw it on some crackers and you’ve got a lot of the food groups covered right there. CHILI: If you manage to hit us on one of the days we’ve got chili in the Grab and Go fridge, your weekend football party just got a lot better. PIES: Don’t let the wholesome, house-made, nutritious quality of Sanagan’s savoury pies throw you off. They’re perfect for the screening room. Just heat and serve. SALADS: We put the vegetable back in vegging out. Lentil and pear, kale and quinoa, beet and other seasonal favourites. Heck, even vegans watch TV. ROTISSERIE CHICKENS: Straight out of the heated display and onto your fold out TV tray. It’s the same high quality chicken we sell in the store, roasted with Sanagan’s bbq rub. Finger licking… FREEZER ITEMS: Mac and cheese, Shepherd’s pie, pasta sauce. We’ve done the cooking so you can keep on looking.
HIGHER FARE FROM LOWER CANADA

HIGHER FARE FROM LOWER CANADA

Product InfoSanagans

Tourtière is one of our best-selling items during the holidays. Quebecois in origin, the meat pie dates back to the region’s colonial settlements where it became part of the Christmas Réveillon feast. Luckily, the French-Canadians were kind enough to eventually disseminate their delicious dish across Canada and parts of New England. We sell it year round but for many people it’s still a holiday specialty.

If anyone doubts the exclusively Canadian origin of tourtière you need only to consult The Larousse Gastronomique to confirm that no such dish exists in France. It is the butter tart of main courses.

Like any good creation myth, the origins of the term tourtière are up for debate. There are two main schools of thought; the pan people and the pigeon people. The pan folk hold dear the notion that tourtière derives its name from the French ceramic tourtière dish in which you cook a pie or a tourte. Like how a casserole comes in a casserole. In the opposing camp are the pigeon people who believe, as states The Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook, that “originally this French-Canadian specialty was prepared with passenger pigeons or tourtes as they were known in French”. Regardless, we hold it as a matter of faith that our tourtières are the best in town.

When making tourtière the Sanagan’s kitchen starts with our house-made pastry which is filled with onion, bacon and ground pork simmered in milk with pepper, clove, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and thyme.

Purchased cooked, they only need to be reheated. Or take home a frozen one and finish it in the oven for a fresh-baked experience. Either way, they bring a delectable feast of culinary Canadiana to your table.

If you’re thinking of adding tourtière to your Sanagan’s shopping list for the holidays be sure to place your order soon. It’s an old-time favourite that sells out fast.

Valentine's Day Menu

News & EventsDeveloper Clermont
With Valentine's Day fast approaching, the former cook in me screams "No! Don't do it! Why put yourself through the madness of going out to eat on one of the busiest nights of the year!" As I've matured in life and career, I still feel the same way! Don't get me wrong, any night can be a great night to go out and experience one of the hundreds of excellent restaurants that Toronto has to offer, but during the mad rush of Valentine’s, why not let Sanagan’s transform your dining room into a romantic restaurant table for two. This year, we're offering the following menu for two, with only the beef requiring actual cooking on your end: House Made Duck Liver Parfait with Blackbird Demi-Baguette Winter Greens Salad with Vinaigrette 2 Beef Tenderloin Steaks, with Potato Gratin, Green Beans Amandine, and Brandy Peppercorn Sauce Cochinitos Cookies with Cinnamon Sugar All you need to do is pick up a beverage or two and settle in for the night. The entire package will cost $80 and quantities will be limited, so order yours today by emailing info@sanagansmeatlocker.com (for Kensington Market pickups) or gerrard@sanagansmeatlocker.com (for Gerrard St. pickups), or calling in at 416-593-9747

Musings on Cotechino

GeneralDeveloper Clermont

It was very early into my time working at Mistura, a mainstay of Toronto’s Italian dining scene, that I had my first exposure to cotechino. Bollito misto may not be the most well known Italian dish, but it is very classically Italian, relying on quality ingredients that have been simply prepared. This was the first time I had seen the dish, but while it was new to me, most of the ingredients were pretty common. The one that stuck out was the delicious cotechino sausage with its exceptional texture. It isn't a common ingredient in Toronto, and I haven't had much of a chance to work with it since, until our resident Charcutier Scott started making his own.

Like most great charcuterie, cotechino was born of a need to conserve limited meat supplies for the longest possible time. Rumour has it that this sausage's use dates to the early 1500's in Northern Italy. It is very similar to the traditional zampone, with the main difference being that zampone are typically stuffed into the hind trotter from the pig. The French produce a version of their own (which Scott has also played around with) called sabodet.

Our house-made cotechino is a combination of pork meat, fat and skin, and flavoured with ground coriander and warm spices such as allspice, cinnamon and ginger. It's the use of the pork skin that leads to the unique texture of the cotechino.

While you could, I suppose, use cotechino in most any instance where you would use regular pork sausages, there are a couple of applications we would specifically recommend for you. The combination of most accessible and traditional would be as part of your New Year's Eve dinner, served with lentils (which represent the prospect of money to come in the new year). Less traditional but equally delicious would be in place of our regular breakfast sausages at any holiday brunch. And then there’s bollito misto. This is a fantastic use of the product, but much better suited to someone who has a full day to devote to the prep, and 11 friends to share the meal with. However you choose to enjoy our cotechino, come in for it soon as we only make it through the holiday season. Felice anno nuovo!

FAQ

FAQ

Product InfoSanagans
Does anyone else remember what was written on Ben Affleck’s cricket bat – the one he used to beat on little kids – in Dazed And Confused? Fah Q. I was sixteen when that movie came out and I thought that cricket bat was hiiiiiilarious. So decades later, when the internet became as ubiquitous as caesar salads, web pages would have all of their Frequently Asked Questions jumbled together under a heading that I thought sounded like the website was telling people off. I seriously thought it was a nerdy web joke that nerds high-fived each other over as if they just beat level a billion on World Of Warcraft or something. (Same with “lol”, the WORST acronym ever, which I assumed meant “lots of love”.) Anywho tiddlywinks, I’m going to try and answer some of the more common questions people have when they come into the shop. All questions, by the way, are valid and NOT stupid. You know the old saying “there are no stupid questions, just stupid people”? Well, that’s a bit of a mantra of mine. If you never ask the questions, you’ll never get the answers, and that would just be stupid. So with that in mind, here we go! Q. Why is there sawdust on the floor? A. The sawdust helps us keep the floor clean, actually. When bits of meat or drops of blood fall to the floor they’ll get balled up with the sawdust to make for an easy sweep. Same as when you were in kindergarten and you drank too much paint and had to barf it all over little Suzy and the floor. The teacher would put sawdust down to clean up your mess. Little Suzy would just have to spend the day covered in barf. Q. Is all of your meat organic? A. No, it’s not all certified organic. I source my meat from small local farmers who raise their animals humanely and without the use of antibiotics and hormones. We try to have a close relationship with the people responsible for the animals; I find it’s more personal this way and we know what we’re getting. I do bring in certified organic products from time to time, and our chicken eggs from the Webers are organic, but I find it is hard to have a reasonably priced meat counter when everything is certified organic. Q. How often do you get deliveries? A. We get our meat in at different times of the week, but generally it goes like this: lamb comes in either Monday or Tuesday; chicken, Tuesdays and Thursdays; beef, Tuesdays and Wednesdays; game, Thursdays; pork, Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. Q. Have you ever cut yourself on the bandsaw? A. I nicked myself twice (Peter). Never, because we’re not that careless (everyone else). Q. What are Silkie Eggs? A. Silkie is a breed of chicken that is smaller than the usual hen that we normally get eggs from. Therefore the eggs may be slightly smaller, but they are huge in flavour. The Silkie eggs we get are organic and pasture-raised from the Webers out near Paisley, ON. Oh yeah, and they look like this: I know, right? Q. (This one usually directed towards the women who work in the shop.) How did you get into butchery? A. Well, we all come from a restaurant background, where we loved to cook and produce beautiful food. It is a challenge at the restaurant level to experience butchery though, so working at the shop satisfies our desire to learn this trade. You sexist pig. Q. How do you cook goat? A. Well, that is a question best answered in an entire blog post, but basically goat is cut into smaller pieces and stewed, although I have heard of recipes for roasting whole goats or simmering it gently in milk. Think of goat like lamb’s tougher older cousin. Joe Pesci to Justin Bieber, if you will. Q. Do you accept stagiers? A. Of course! Just pop by the shop or email us with your info and we can chat about opportunities. Q. How are your chickens raised? A. I get in a few types of chickens from a few different farms. We get certified organic pastured birds from near Paisley, which are raised in an open cage system. Basically these chickens are out of doors, weather permitting, in a large fenced-in area. The fence is moved around a few times a day so the chickens have fresh grubs to eat. We also get Rhode Island Red chickens in from Elora, which is a heritage breed of chicken that has a delicious meat; some compare it to chicken eaten in France (where chickens are treated like gods, so I’ve heard). Finally I get the majority of my conventionally raised birds from Sharon, ON, where King Capon Farms raises a lovely cross-bred bird without the use of antibiotics or hormones. They are fed grains supplemented with vitamins and are air chilled (this means they aren’t tumbled in a nasty ice water bath after the kill. Yummy! Q. Who did your design work? It’s amazing. A. That would be our dear friend Scott McKowen, whose illustrations can be seen internationally from book covers to theater posters. His company, Punch and Judy, has been instrumental in creating the Sanagan’s identity. It helps that he seemed to understand exactly what we wanted from the get go. And c’mon, that cleaver is boss. You can find examples of Punch and Judy’s work at www.punchandjudy.ca. Stay tuned for more answers to common questions. We’ll call the next entry Fah Q 2. I swear.
My Very Own Sausage Party

My Very Own Sausage Party

Product InfoSanagans
As many people know, the Meat Locker has a Twitter account. When I signed up for it I didn’t really understand Twitter. My sister told me “it’s a great way to immediately hear thoughts from a bunch of people, then immediately forget those thoughts”. She also told me that John Mayer is hilaaaarious on it. After a pitch like that, I couldn’t resist. So I linked my Facebook page to my Twitter page and the rest is history, or at least as “historical” anything on a social medium can be these days. Like most Tweeters, whenever I log on, I check @mentions to see who’s saying stuff about my store. Perhaps this is #self-obsessed, but I do find out what people like or dislike about the shop. And the other day the following tweet popped up. IanKiar wrote: FOR THE 4th TIME IN A ROW ALL YOUR GODDAMN SAUSAGE CASINGS BUSTED 3 MINUTES AFTER PUTTING THE GODDAMN SAUSAGES ON THE GODDAMN BBQ! @sanagans Wow! All caps means I’m being yelled at. The G-Damn is pretty emphatic; I get the dude’s mad. And you know what? So would I be. I don’t want my customers to pay for a perfectly good, well-seasoned sausage and have it blow up like an over-pumped bike tire whenever they cook it. So Ian Kiar, this is for you. I’m going to attempt to explain why this occasionally happens, and how the customer can avoid it from occurring, at least 99% of the time. First, I’ll explain how we make our sausages. We make our pork sausage fillings from primarily shoulder and belly meat, with added back fat if necessary. We also use the trim from the loins and leg cuts, as long as we keep a good 25-30% fat content, necessary for a moist sausage. This meat is well chilled before being ground, after which it is seasoned with whatever tickles our fancy. As flighty as this part sounds, we have actually solidified about ten good recipes and rotate through these, with the occasional new one popping up from time to time. Now the sausage is ready to be piped. We use all natural casings from hogs and lambs. These are the intestines of said animals that have been washed out and packed in salt. There are different types of natural casings; beef is used for salamis for example; but we just use hog for big sausages and lamb for small, thin ones. You must fully rinse the salt out of the casings before using them – this takes about half an hour. The sausage mix, or “farce” as it’s commonly called – goes in the sausage stuffer. The casing gets fed onto a cylinder that is attached to the stuffer and a hand crank is used to coax the farce from the stuffer into the casings. The sausages are then twisted, pricked for air holes (which relieve pressure from the farce when it gets cooked) and separated before going onto trays into the display cabinet. I would prefer to air dry them in my locker for at least six hours before the display stage, but demand and real estate doesn’t allow me this luxury. It is VERY IMPORTANT to realize we use only natural casings. Most commercially prepared sausages are made with collagen casings, which actually aren’t as bad as they sound. Collagen casings are processed from cattle hide. They are thinner and stronger than natural casings. They don’t break as easily, and they don’t have that same “bite” as the natural casings. By “bite” I am referring to the toughness that sausage casings can have after they’re cooked. Collagen casings also don’t produce that natural curve to the sausage that ours do. I chose to use hog and lamb casing because I wanted to produce a sausage that was a made with the least processed ingredients, and something your grandparents would have made. I’m no enemy of advancements, as can be witnessed by my (eventual) acceptance of Twitter, but when it came to the sausages, I wanted to go with the intestines. If the Egyptians did it, so could we. Unfortunately natural casings have the disadvantage of bursting when being cooked. This can be due to a couple of reasons, but the two I feel are the most responsible are tightness of the stuffing and the method of cooking. One reason is our fault, and the other is not. We conduct spot checks to ensure the sausages are being piped properly and are not over-stuffed. If I feel they are too taut, they are to be re-done. They should feel like a man feels in his loins when he is making time with his lover. Sorry, I should have preceded that with “earmuffs”. (“Earmuffs” is what I say to the younger staff at the shop when I want to have “grown-up” talk with the other adults. Borrowed from Old School, I know, but it’s useful in real life too.) The sausages can’t be too hard or too soft. As Goldilocks would say… So if the sausage bursts because it is over-stuffed, I blame myself. The cooking, though, is up to the cook. We have been telling our customers to cook the sausages over a low heat for a long period of time, but I think there is still some confusion. What I have been telling people is to cook the sausages slowly and evenly and the chances of splitting are minimal. I thought that was enough but obviously I was wrong. Ian Kiar’s Tweet proved that. Maybe I wasn’t being heard, or perhaps people are so used to cooking Johnsonville Brats that they forget our sausages need a little more of a tender touch. So I want to be more clear. I decided today to make a tutorial showing no fewer than four different methods of cooking sausages that we made fresh today. So without further blabbering, here is how it went down. First – Lisa made these beautiful Italian sausages. Pork, toasted fennel seed, chili flakes and fresh garlic. I took home four. Second – I have prepared four cooking methods. I preheated my oven to 350˚F. I preheated my barbecue to 400˚F. I turned a pan onto medium-low and poured a tablespoon or so of olive oil into in. And finally I put a pot of water on to simmer. (That’s right, a Broil Mate!) Notice the element is set to 4. Do whatever the equivalent is on your stove. Third – I set my timer to twenty minutes and put each sausage into its hot prison. The poached sausage simmered, the pan-fried sausage sizzled, the oven-baked sausage roasted, and the barbecued sausage grilled. The poached one is pretty straightforward. I left the heat exactly the same and didn’t really do anything, other than turn the sausage over in the water at around the ten-minute mark. The oven baked on was the same. I flipped it once at the ten-minute mark. The grilled one required a little bit of thought. I didn’t want the grill to be too hot, so after it was pre-heated I put the sausage on an indirect area of the grill and left the lid open. I turned the sausage a couple of times during the twenty minutes to ensure even cooking. The pan-fried sausage was pretty straightforward. It started to sizzle after four minutes and I turned it after ten minutes. I turned it once more at the fifteen-minute mark to get a little extra colour on the one side. And here are the results. In terms of appearance, the poached one looks kind of dry; the grilled one didn’t achieve the colour I wanted, so I think it could have used a little higher heat; the baked sausage also didn’t have the desired caramelization; the pan-fried one did, though, and looks the most appetizing. And now for the taste test. I found the poached sausage to be a little dry, which I totally predicted. The grilled sausage wasn’t even fully cooked! I put that one back in the oven to finish. Next time I’ll leave it on the grill for another five to ten minutes. The baked one was very good, less dry that the poached sausage but not as browned as I like my sausages to be. But the pan-fried one – oh snap! That was daaaamn tasty! The caramelized exterior somehow made the interior taste better. It was juicer, saltier and more satisfying than the others. I think I need to give the grill another chance, but for the purposes of this experiment, let’s just say the pan wins. Now, at the end of the day the sausages are just one part of the meal. I chose to slice the sausage and eat them with a smoked ham and kidney bean thing I made a while ago. Delicious.. And then I just ate more sausage on a cutting board with mustard. Because I’m a fat pig. Oh and guess what. THEY DIDN’T BURST! I COOKED THE GODDAMN SAUSAGES FOUR GODDAMN WAYS AND NONE OF THEM BURST! Having properly made sausages are the beginning of any well-made meal. I hate to hear that something we produced turned an otherwise delicious mealtime into a sad affair. So I will continue to have properly stuffed sausage in my display case. I hope this tutorial helps you have properly cooked sausages on your table.