Archive for December, 2009

The “R” Word

Frank and Margaret Isernio toasting the holidays


Frank Isernio shares his for 2010:

  • To exercise enough so that I can eat everything I want without changing my pants size!
  • To expand the availability of Isernio’s Sausage to the East Coast
  • To tell everyone in my life how special they are to me

How do yours compare?

Tell us what your resolutions are for the New Year!


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If you’re hosting a party, here’s a great recipe roundup to make your holiday social sing (including this recipe for sausage canapés).

For those not expecting a house full of revelers tonight, what are your plans?

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Influential Culinary Icons

The Daily Fork has named seven top culinary icons from the past 50 years.

Do you agree?

Who are your culinary icons?

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It’s a New Year’s Eve tradition for Italians: gorging on zampone after a full dinner.

What is zampone? It’s basically a hollowed-out pig’s leg filled with pork sausage. Italians eat more than eight million of these pig trotters each year and party-goers are required to eat a plate full, even if they’re ready to burst!

You can read more about the gluttonous tradition here.

What are your New Year’s Eve traditions?

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Think of it as our gift to you: 12 unique recipes created by Seattle chefs using Isernio’s products.

We wrap up our 12 Days of Sausage with this recipe from Susan Neel, co-owner of McCrea Cellars and a good friend of this blog! The recipe was adapted from Alfred Portales’ “Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook.”


Rigatoncini With Manila Clams and Chorizo Sauce
Serves 8


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped celery
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 cups dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 10 dozen Manila or 6 dozen littleneck clams, well scrubbed

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, garlic and parsley.  Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the wine and peppercorns.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the wine is reduced by approximately one third, about 10 minutes.  Add the clams and cover.   Cook until the clams open, 3 to 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer clams to a bowl.  When cool enough to handle, remove the meat, discard the shells, and set the meat aside.  Let the clam broth stand for 10 minutes, then decant it through a wire strainer into another bowl, leaving any sand behind.  Set the clam broth aside.

Chorizo Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pkg (13.3 ounces) Isernio Chorizo Sausage, casings removed, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice
  • 2 medium celery ribs, cut into ¼ inch dice
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans Muir Glen Fire-Roasted whole tomatoes, pureed in blender with juices
  • 1 – 28 ounce can plain tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces smoked ham, trimmed of fat, cut into ¼ inch dice
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 cup off-dry white wine (riesling would be perfect)
  • ¼ cup sherry wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the chorizo and cook, stirring often, until the sausage is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion, carrot and celery and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute.  Add the reserved clam broth, the tomato puree, tomato sauce, the ham, thyme, bay leaf and crushed red pepper, white wine, serry vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce and sugar; bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by about one fourth,  approximately one hour.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.


  • 2 – 500 gram packages of Rigatoncini, rusticella d’abruzzo pasta (imported by Ritrovo, and definitely worth seeking out)
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Reheat the sauce, if necessary.  Warm large serving plates.

In a large pot of well-salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 12 minutes.  Drain well.  Stir reserved clams into the chorizo sauce.  Add the drained pasta to the warmed sauce and stir to combine.  Serve immediately and garnish with mixed parsley and basil.

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Think of it as our gift to you: 12 unique recipes created by Seattle chefs using Isernio’s products.

This 12 Days of Sausage recipe comes from Chef de Cuisine of Tilth, Larking Young. It’s simple to make, smells great simmering on the stove and is perfect when you’re in the mood to whip up a hearty meal without a lot of fuss.


Larkin’s Spicy Chicken Sausage

  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 1 c milk
  • ½ can PBR
  • ½ t fennel pollen-or ground fennel seed
  • ½ t espelette – or smoked paprika
  • 1 med onion – small dice
  • 1 ½ lb broccoli florets
  • 5 Isernio’s Hot Italian Chicken Sausage links
  • 2 ½ fresh mussels

Heat ¼ c olive oil in large sauté pan to medium hot, add onions a few pinches of salt and several grinds of black pepper, and let the onions cook until they start to brown slightly. In a small heat up1 c milk and ½ t fennel pollen, season with salt set aside to steep. Remove sausage from casing and break down into bite sized pieces, and season with ½ t espelette, once sausage browns add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes. Add mussels ½ c milk with fennel pollen, and ½ can PBR. Let mussels steam, no need moving them around in the pan, cook until open about 10- 15 minutes, and serve in a bowl with several slices bread.

Check out a photo slide show of this recipe here!

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Frank Isernio at the head of the table

Each week, our founder and casing captain, Frank Isernio will answer one of your questions. Whether it’s regarding sausage, Isernio’s history, quality control or how to make a killer lasagne, Frank is here to help extinguish the flames of your burning curiosity.

Q: What are your favorite holiday traditions and how will you be celebrating this year?

A: Leave it to Italians, they’ll always figure out a way to eat well. I remember celebrating La Vigilia (The Vigil) which Southern Italians celebrate with an all-seafood feast on Christmas Eve. The Catholic tradition wouldn’t allow you to eat meat until you received communion, usually at mass the next day. Most couldn’t wait, so they turned the night before into a celebration, all fish.  My family always did that and looked forward to it. I remember my mom would cook calamari, a seafood you have to cook either quick, or for a long time. My mom would slowly braise the calamari with the ink sacks until it was a deep maroon color. The calamari with tomato was just so good by itself, but she would put an extra twist on it; she would dress the  spaghetti with aglio olio — oil and garlic and anchovies — then combine with the sauce. Oh my, that was good.

Friends around the table

This year for Christmas Eve, my friends and family are going to prepare octopus in that same style with linguini. It’s just so unctuous. We go down to Mutual Fish where they always have the best selection.  They have fresh boned and butterflied smelt in season. We prepare them sort of ceviche style by ‘cooking’ them in lemon juice before marinating them in garlic, olive oil and crushed red chilies and  thyme.  We also will have chunks of King crab dressed lightly with olive oil and lemon.  Sometimes we’ll do swordfish rolls, cutting the swordfish really thin and stuffing it with a little mixture of bread crumbs,capers, garlic, parsley, anchovies and black olives then braising in tomato sauce.

Growing up,  it was always about respecting both the Italian and American traditions during the holidays, so we’d have antipasti,  pasta — and then turkey or ham with all the trimmings. It was like two meals in one!  We take it a little lighter now.  

Frank’s holiday menu will look a little something like this: 


Crostini: (2) Avocado & Shallot mixture, topped with King Crab & Caviar 
Goat Cheese & Lox with Caviar, both topped with Chives


Roasted Red & Yellow Peppers with Olive Oil, Garlic, Oregano and a splash of Balsamic Vinegar
Insalata di Mare with Calimare, Alaska King Crab and Shrimp, shaved Celery, Mint, lots of Lemon & Olive Oil
Platter of San Danielle Proscuitto
Lots of Red wine

Primi Piati

Spaghetti alla Botarga (Dried Tuna Roe with Oil Garlic and Parsley)

Main Course

Giant Scampi cut in half, sauteed in Olive Oil, White Wine, Butter, finely chopped Garlic & Parsley
Escarole sautéed in Olive Oil Garlic and Crushed Red Chilies


Mille Feuilles Pastries (Vanilla & Choc.) from Le Fournil Bakery 
Frans Chocolate Ganauche Figs 
Margherita’s Pizzelli & Lucia’s Lemon and Peach Crostata
Platter of Red Grapes, Bosc & Bartlett pear slices, Gorgonzola Cheese 
Marinated Black Figs (in White Wine, Honey & Thyme)

Angetina Isernio

This will be the first year Frank will celebrate the holidays without his mother, Angetina Isernio, who passed away in February at the age of 102. She grew beautiful flower and herb gardens at her home on Beacon Hill and insisted that every guest and visitor leave her home with gifts of vegetables, flower bouquets or something she made herself, such as pizzelle and biscotti cookies. Angie was an excellent cook and took much pride & pleasure in cooking delicious meals for her family and friends. Her cooking and family dinners will long be remembered.


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