ITALIAN SAUSAGE PATTY WITH MONTEREY JACK CHEESE, GRILLED PINEAPPLE SALSA AND POACHED EGG ON HOMEMADE ENGLISH MUFFIN
BY DUC NGUYEN
Being my first throwdown, I was really nervous about what to expect. Plus I ran into Many 2 weeks before and he confidently stated he knew what he was doing, and then came the trashtalking (all Many). I love brunch, so I wanted to make a breakfast sandwich based on a homemade sausage and tomato salsa I had in NYC a few years ago. I figured I should make my own bread – have you seen the previous entries on this blog? candied bacon?? I wanted a twist on tomato salsa and settled on pineapple. Awesome.
The evening of the throwdown I was crestfallen the lottery left me last up of 9. Judging all the sandwiches took 3 hours, and half-sandwich portions were cut to quarter portions just so we can get through all the food. It was close to 11pm before I was up, and I opted for half portions, each shared by two people. Twelve judges, 6 half portions. Despite that, everyone gawked at the size of the half sandwich. I don’t blame them, it had been a long night.
All in all, super enjoyable, delicious food. Unfortunately, Many took first place (I fell for his sob story about never doing well in the throwdowns and gave him the bonus point). I didn’t know what to expect, but came away inspired by everyone’s passion for cooking and entertaining. Thanks to everyone for welcoming me to my first throwdown. I also love going down to Vermont and want to thank our hosts for letting a gang of foodies descend on their location for a couple of days to brawl it out. On to the next one! – Duc
Start with preparing the English muffins, as they need time to rise. While they are rising, start with the pineapple salsa.
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 and 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/4 cup melted shortening
6 cups bread flour (all-purpose is OK)
1 teaspoon salt
- Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the milk, yeast mixture, shortening and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add salt and rest of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise.
- Punch down. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut rounds with biscuit cutter, empty tuna can, or small bowl with thin edges. I like mine larger than the store-bought size, because the sandwich is tall and will spill if the bread is not large enough. Sprinkle waxed paper with cornmeal and set the rounds on this to rise. Dust tops of muffins with cornmeal also. Cover and let rise 1/2 hour.
- Heat greased griddle. Cook muffins on griddle about 10 minutes on each side on medium heat. Keep baked muffins in a warm oven until all have been cooked.
4 (1/2-inch-thick) round slices fresh pineapple (1/2 pineapple)
1/4 cup mild olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
1 large Jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine salt, or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- If not grilling on the BBQ, set the oven to broil and position the rack 8 inches from the heat source.
- Brush the pineapple slices with some of the oil and broil or grill them until they’re browned on both sides and tender, approx 8 minutes a side under the broiler. Let them cool to room temperature.
- Dice the pineapple (about 1/8 inch), discarding the core, and mix it in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste with additional lime juice and salt.
This salsa keeps in the refrigerator for up to one day.
- Buy your favorite fresh sausages, I prefer a mildly spicy pork sausage.
- Remove the meat from its casing (you can use a pairing knife to slice from one end to the other and peel it off), shape into patties approximately 1/2 thick and cook over medium-high in a large nonstick skillet. Keep the heat low enough to avoid burning your sausage too quickly, until both sides are brown and there are no remaining pink spots. Expect to cook at least 4-5 minutes per side this way, depending on the amount of sausage and the heat of the skillet.
- When assembling your sandwich, place the sausage on the cheese so that the residual heat melts the cheese.
- Add water to a high-edge skillet until it reaches near the top. Add 2 tbs vinegar and a tsp salt, and heat the water to a boil. The vinegar will help decrease the temperature at which the egg whites set, which lets you remove the skillet from the heat to stop the boiling and keep your egg whites from spreading too much.
- Crack each egg into an individual bowl. When the water is boiling, tip each bowl into the water to let the egg slide in. Cover the skillet and remove from the heat.
- Leave the eggs 4 minutes in the water for a medium runny egg, or 30-45 seconds shorter/longer for more/less runny. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon.
English Muffin recipe: