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Breakfast for Dinner (Texas Czech Style)

On a recent trip to my local farmers’ market, the words “Czech sausage” jumped out at me from Richardson Farms’ chalkboard sign in front of their booth. Richardson Farms is near Rockdale, but they sell their meats, poultry, and grains at several farmers markets around the state and at a few brick and mortar markets in Austin. Richardson Farms’ makes fresh pork sausage, which means it’s not cured. Though fresh sausage can be stuffed into a casing or loose, I think of fresh Czech sausage as specifically loose, and then cooked by pan frying it. What makes the sausage “Czech” according the always-super-nice guys working the Richardson Farm’s booth?... garlic. Lots of it. I bought a pound, so excited to find the flavors of Czech Texas creeping across party lines, but staying authentic to it’s origins.

My younger son at Austin's Sunset Valley Farmers Market run by
the Sustainable Food Center.
This find coincided with reading some pages in Robert Skrabanek’s book We’re Czechs in which he described a typical family breakfast growing up in the Czech community of Snook in Burleson County in the 1920s and 30s. Here is Skrabanek’s description:

"Papa would start by first serving himself from large platters of food. These made their rounds, in order, from him to the last person. Our plates were normally heavily laden with freshly fried eggs (with lots of grease clearly visible); bacon or ham (also with lots of fat); a choice of honey, jelly, or sorghum syrup; and homemade bread and butter. We also had plenty of fresh raw milk. If we happened to have a block of ice in the icebox, we chipped off pieces and put them in our milk, But if not, we drank it while it was still warm. Other than salt and pepper, everything was grown or prepared by us on our farm and in our kitchen."

Though Skrabanek mentions bacon or ham, I decided to stage his family breakfast for my boys with my farmers’ market sausage as a substitute. Below are my stand-ins for the whole Skrabanek breakfast menu and we ate breakfast for dinner so I had all afternoon to bake bread, make butter, and clean up.

 
Fried Eggs 
Fried eggs are fried eggs. I assume the eggs served at Skrabanek’s family table had “lots of grease clearly visible” because they were fried in the bacon grease left after it had been fried. I had bacon grease in my freezer, so fried mine in that, too. I used about a teaspoon for two eggs.



Bacon or Ham
I cooked Richardson Farms’ Czech Style Fresh Pork Sausage instead, slicing it up making roughly 3” diameter patties from the pound package. It shrank a LOT during cooking, but was delicious and tasted very much like the "pan" sausage I'd had at relatives' sausage-making event. The family made hundreds of pounds of sausage each winter. But during the day-long activity of grinding, seasoning, stuffing, and smoking, family members would reserve some sausage to fry into patties and eat while working. The sausage was seasoned with nothing but salt, pepper, and garlic.

I fried the sausage in one of my prized possessions… a cast iron skillet branded with the Southern Foodways Alliance logo on the bottom. I worked hard for this pan by volunteering for the SFA’s annual conference in Oxford Mississippi about a million years ago (otherwise know as the late 1990s.) The conference was pivotal in my evolution to wannabe food blogger/writer/speaker.



Honey, Jelly, or Sorghum Syrup 
I don’t keep bees (though some of my Texas Czech relatives did). So we instead ate grape jelly I made from grapes in my grandmother’s backyard (yes, I picked them, juiced them, and made jelly from the juice) and homemade molasses I got as part of a silent auction lot of canned goods I won at the Migl family reunion last October in Praha. The molasses drizzled on the sausage patties was sweet-savory, rich, salty, and greasy (in the best way.)


Homemade Bread
For the bread, I used a recipe from the Czech Heritage Cookbook published in 2014 by the Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church Altar Society in Moravia, Texas. The recipe is by friend Gene Marie (Halata) Bohuslav. (My mother calls the cookbook “Gene Marie’s cookbook”, since she contributed so many recipes to it.) I cut the recipe in half so I ended up with only one loaf, but clearly I could have made two out of that. The bread rose so strangely. I think it had to do with the way I kneaded it and set it in the pan. I buttered the top of the dough, but then that layer got lifted up because it rose so much. I need to keep practicing. Below is the full recipe.



Homemade Bread
-Gene Marie Bohuslav, in memory of mother, Emilie Halata

2 packages dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 to 6 ½ cups flour
1 ¼ cup warm water
1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons oil

Dissolve yeast in 1 ¼ cups warm water. Stir in 1 additional cup of warm water, sugar, salt, oil and flour. Beat until smooth. Let rise until dough has doubled in size. Knead until smooth, then let rise again. Divide into 2 or 3 loaves; pace in greased loaf pans. Let rise again. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. 

 

Homemade Butter
For the butter, I made it in my KitchenAid using this fantastic video as the guide.  It was the all-time, without a doubt, messiest cooking project ever (because I don't have a splatter shield for my mixer. But it was worth it! My younger son helped and was really interested in the process, but mostly the eating afterwords on a cracker, declaring "Butter! Best butter ever." Know that I added a 1/2 teaspoon salt right before the final rinse (which will make sense if you watch the video), but feel it could have been a teaspoon. I know salted butter isn't everyone's thing, but I could eat it as a first course to a meal. It's interesting that when I told my older son I was going to make butter for the dinner, he said "Oh, yeah, we did that in a jar in third grade." For my urban kids, making butter is a science experiment basically, but for older Czechs who grew up on farms it was a chore.

Me and my son holding dish towels around the KitchenAid to contain the splattering mess of butter and buttermilk.





Comments

  1. That breakfast was the same my mom made when I was a little girl. I love that pork pan sausage and I fry the eggs in the grease from the pork. I get my fresh pan sausage, jertinice, smoked sausage and fresh unsmoked sausage at Kovasovic's meat market here in Rosenberg. He makes jertinice just like my mom and dad made every winter when they butchered hogs. I love reading your blog. Our Czech heritage means so very much to us and our daughter's will continue our traditions, customs and Czech recipes. Thank you for the Svacina Project!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Annette - thank you for the kind words and the memories. And I'm happy to know about Kovasovic's now! I don't get to Rosenberg often, but now I have a second reason to go (besides the Old Main Street Bakery.) Kepp up the Czech food traditions and thanks for reading. -Dawn

      Delete
    2. Where is Kovasovic"s located in Rosenburg?

      Delete
    3. This is their website:
      http://www.butchershoprosenberg.com/

      They're at 1824 Ave. M in Rosenberg, right off of highway 36.

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