Thursday, August 03, 2006

the mystery of sausage

A few months ago, I discovered something that has made the world a better place. I discovered Contadina Pizza Squeeze, pizza sauce in a squeeze bottle. Pizza sauce is an important ingrediant of my favorite recipe, grease pizzalets.

I still remember the moment of discovery; I was scanning the shelves of spaghetti sauce looking for pizza sauce in a jar. It's rare, but you can find it sometimes if you look carefully. Sometimes, though you have to settle for pizza sauce in a can, which is harder to keep. Pizza sauce in a jar keeps a bit better but it's still not ideal. So I was looking for a jar of that salubrious sauce, diligently and thoroughly scanning the neat rows of tomato products: spaghetti sauce with mushrooms, spaghetti sauce with meat, spaghetti sauce with roast garlic. Mmm, roast garlic. I was getting to the very end of the display and had still not found what I wanted. I felt my chest tightening as my body prepared for the disapointment, the inevitable tears. Yes, even the most macho man is allowed to cry when he is to be denied his grease pizzalets. With trepidation, I started on the very last row, my brow furrowing in worry.

Then, like a bolt of pure brilliant light striking from the grocery store shelve into my very soul, there it was! A beautiful, exquisite plastic squeeze bottle, clear plastic to reveal the lovely red sauce inside, glowing with an inner warmth. And the label! There on the label shown a brilliant word, flashing out like the sound of hope, glorious and beautiful. And the word was "Pizza".

I recall vividly the moment of breathless excitement, a timeless instant when the world came to a stop, pausing in wonder. Could this be, could this really be, the Answer? Could I have before me the taste of pizza sauce with the convenience of ketchup? And not just the convenience of ketchup in those old-fashioned glass bottles that you have to spend hours trying to get the ketchup to poor out of, but the convenience of ketchup in those new plastic squeeze bottles that are so easy to use until you get to the end and you have to put a bit of effort to get the last bit out, but that's OK, because it's so much better than the old way were it was always hard to get anything out? Could it be?

Well, I'll cut the suspense short. It was. And my life has been better and fuller ever since, expecially since I've been back on my low-carb diet. The convience was so great that I started looking for great new uses of this miracle product. A lot of my efforts revolve around meat products and mozzarella cheese with pizza sauce, microwaved of course. Chicken-strips parmagian was a great success. Spam parmagian, not so much. Unbreaded, melted string cheese with pizza sauce was workable, but it's not the same as breaded and fried mozzarella.

I experimented with various cheeses on my grease pizzalets. I tried a three-cheese Mexican mix that was OK. Provolone didn't work out. There's a three-cheese Italian mix that's pretty darn good, but nothing really works like mozzarella.

Now, I don't know if you have ever tried an Italian-sausage sandwich with melted mozzarella and pizza sauce, but if you haven't, you need to get down to your local Italian deli and try one ASAP. They are wonderful. Of course I can't have bread on this diet, so I decided to try to make an Italian-sausage sandwich with out the bread. Unfortunately, I couldn't find "Italian sausage" in my grocery store. I don't know if there is another name for it, but nothing in the sausage section looked italian (except for the pepperoni and salami, which are not the same as Italian sausage).

Since I couldn't find the right sausage, I decided to try a substitute: bratwurst. I love brats with mustard and relish every bit as much as I love Italian-sausage sandwiches, but I have to tell, you brats with mozzarella and pizza sauce just don't do it. That surprised me because I figured: how can you go wrong putting mozzarella and pizza sauce on meat? Sounds like pretty much of a sure thing (except for the unfortunate pork-rinds incident, which I did view as something of a long-shot anyway) but it just didn't work with brats. Didn't work with British bangers either, or this Portugese sausage I tried. None of them were really awful, but they just didn't work with mozzerella and pizza sauce. Go figure.

I'd always kind of figured that sausage is sausage. I've tried lots of different sausages with various combinations of the traditional sausage condiments like mustard, relish, onions and sour kraut. They were all good and I came to view sausages as pretty much interchangeable. But nope. I begin to suspect that Italian sausage wouldn't even be good with the traditional condiments. Yes, sausage is a far deeper subject than I knew. I'm excited at the prospects for exploration.

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