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Archive for the ‘Being Frank’ Category

Agentina Isernio

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: Frank, I heard you and your wife recently gave an endowment to the University of Washington. I’m curious what inspired you to do this.

A: Margaret and I gave an endowment to the UW Italian Studies Program to  honor my mother, Angetina, who passed away last year at the age of 102.

My mother had so many admirable traits.  She was kind and giving to a fault. She loved people and people loved her, she was also very resourceful and possessed an incredible perseverance and a can-do attitude.  One of her many teachings was “it isn’t what you have, it’s what you do with what you have.” That belief, together with her respect for learning, is key to the success of many of our immigrant family members.  She came to this country with her parents as a girl, in a time when further education for a woman was considered needless, as was any consideration to pursue a career. Regardless of that state of mind, she always encouraged learning and education .

When I was young, she encouraged me to read.  She’d say if you read well, you can go to the library and learn about anything. That advice stays with me today. Even after 30 years in my present business, I bring home industry and business literature to read every night, and I know first-hand that if you really want to accomplish something, it starts with learning about the subject.

Margaret has always said that if my mom was growing up in today’s world, there’s no doubt, she would have been a major success in the career of her choice. This brings me to why Margaret and I will be offering an endowment to the UW Italian Studies Program in my mother’s honor. All of us can assist families, friends and employees and we all do.  Margaret and I chose this opportunity to share my mother’s legacy so as to impact as many as possible, in the hope that she can inspire their lives as she has ours.

Got a question for Frank? Leave it in the comments section below, on Facebook or  Twitter.

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Being Frank

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.

Today’s question comes from Olympia, WA.

Q: What sort of quality controls do you have in place at the Isernio’s plant?

A: It’s a question I’m asked often and I’m happy to say that our quality control procedures are very stringent.

Of course, we are under USDA inspection; there’s a USDA inspector in here every day. Everything at the plant has to be done according to procedure. Every plant is unique, so we build our own procedure – which includes giant three-ring binders documenting everything that happens, like, how we receive and how we transfer things; every action has to be documented.  There’s a log we keek that tracks the temperature of the plant and product every 15 minutes. There are checks and double checks and triple checks. I think most consumers would be pretty proud of what they’d see at our plant.

We also voluntarily put ourselves through the very prestigious Silliker audit.  The idea of the Silliker is to get an internationally recognized third party to come in and inspect our plant with a fresh set of eyes in the hope that we can always improve. To get Silliker’s blessing is comforting and rewarding.

The Silliker inspectors came in for a two-day agenda. They went through everything and inspected everything. We scored 97% which is very, very good. The beauty of that is that retailers know we’re going the extra distance.

For more photos of the Isernio’s plant, click 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: 

Appetizers 

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

Antipasti 

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
Bread
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

Desert

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)
Espresso 
Moscato

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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Being Frank

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. 

This week’s question hails from Tacoma, WA.

Q: What is the difference between fresh and cooked sausage?

A: Fresh sausage is simply ground meat. It’s put in an all-natural casing. You have to think of it like fresh meat and without any additives. All it has is seasonings, so it has to be shipped out the day it’s processed. There’s nothing  (no additives) to preserve its shelf life.  It’s got to be cooked within nine days of the times it’s made, whereas a cooked sausage, like a hot dog, can go 30 to 40 days  or more before they go bad.

If you’re using beautiful meat, like Isernio’s is,  you want to preserve that juiciness so you want those chunks of meat to be as course as possible when you’re grinding it. If you’re talking about a hot dog, which began as a receptacle for everything the packing houses didn’t use, they turned that into an emulsion which is basically like a puree. That method can hide a lot, it can be consistent. These days, you see a lot of sausages where the texture is almost like a hot dog, which just doesn’t do it for me, personally. So, adding preservatives, I don’t think it really changes the flavor of sausage, but to really experience the juiciness of a sausage, fresh sausage is the way to go.

Got a question for Frank? Leave it in the comments section below, on Facebook or  Twitter.

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Being Frank

A young Frank at the sausage plant

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.

This week’s question hails from Mukilteo, WA.

Q:  Which of your products do you usually always have in your fridge at home?

A:  Always the Hot Italian sausage. It’s my favorite. Also, the pork and chicken Italian sausages and chorizo, which I’d have to say is my second favorite.  I’ll use the chorizo to make paella and it’s just delicious! I don’t set out to eat sausage daily, but if it’s already cooked, I can’t pass it up. And I never get tired of it – never ever get tired of it. It’s the original convenience food. You can prepare it in minutes and you can use so little to create such a big flavor.  Especially in these economic times, when we’re getting back to budgeting and portioning out meals. You can buy Isernio’s, combine it with a few other ingredients and save money and be proud of what you give your family.

Got a question for Frank? Leave it in the comments section below, on Facebook or  Twitter.

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Being Frank

Classic photo of Frank Isernio

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.

This week’s question hails from Seattle, WA.

Q: What was the first product you sold?

A: My family and I, we prefer the hot ones, so I made Hot Italian Sausage when I started. Obviously, you want to give people a choice, so I also made a mild version. We made two products, and that was it. I like them all, but I gravitate to the Italian and the Hot Italian, especially.  When I started the business, I had two restaurant clients. Isernio’s wasn’t available retail. A couple of years later, when it finally hit store shelves, I heard from people that they wanted a breakfast sausage. And so, I made a breakfast sausage followed by a chicken and apple sausage. Then, in 1990, I introduced a poultry sausage. No secret, no magic, you just use good ingredients. Just take a nice, moist, dark meat chicken thigh and process it. Next came the Chicken Italian Sausage. As we produced pork varieties of sausage, like the chorizo, people would ask for more varieties. I always say, ‘Listen to people. If you really care what they think, ask them and they’ll tell you.’

Got a question for Frank? Leave it in the comments section below, on Facebook or  Twitter.

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