FOOD: Patties and pancakesVenison burger, ground pork combo brings back memories.
By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald
I was just 23 years old when my dad died in 1975. Over the years, there have been several times that I wished he’d been around to offer his advice when a perplexing problem arose.
Looking back, though, there were a lot of things that he did teach me — like how to drive a car, how to garden, how to hunt and, most important, how to be honest with people — as a father, friend, co-worker or boss. I hate to use clichés, but when Dad gave you his word about something, it was as good as gold.
There’s another thing that I’m grateful he shared with me: that men can cook — and be good at it.
While my mom was and still is a great cook and baker, I think it was my dad’s presence in the kitchen that helped get me started on the road to culinary excellence.
Dad always made breakfast for my brothers and me before we went to school, but his specialty was homemade vegetable soup and boiled dinners.
I can remember numerous times coming home from a cold winter night out and samping the soup pot, which was sitting on the table in the back porch cooling.
And his boiled dinner was so tasty that whenever he made it, my Aunt Harriet would tell Uncle Curt to fix his own supper. She was coming over to have Dad’s boiled dinner.
But the one thing that really sticks out in my mind is the sausage patties he used to make. Whenever Dad was successful deer hunting, all of the venison was ground into burger. (He wasn’t into steaks, chops or roasts.) And every single bit went into making sausage patties.
Dad used to fix the patties for supper, and they usually were accompanied by pancakes, although we’d occasionally have them with eggs and toast, which was my preference.
I could take or leave the pancakes, but that wasn’t the case with the sausage patties. I just loved them. And they were just as good cold as they were hot out of the pan.
What made the patties special, besides taking just a few minutes to prepare, were the ingredients. Dad used to mix about a pound of venison burger with a half-pound to a pound of ground pork. He then would season it with salt, pepper and mustard seeds (about 1 to 2 tablespoons). But the key ingredient — the one that made the patties special — was ground cloves (about 1 to 2 teaspoons).
The patties were much better than any sausage I’ve bought in a store. I think that what made the patties so tasty was after they were mixed, Dad would refrigerate them for a few hours so the flavors could blend.
When it came time to cook the patties, Dad would put a pat or two of butter in a frying pan (it had to be Mom’s Revereware), brown the patties on both sides, add a teaspoon or two of water and cover them so they would steam.
This fall, I had all of my venison ground into burger, for the sole purpose of using it in casseroles and for homemade sausage patties.
I recently made my first batch of patties, and the results exceeded my expectations.
The only thing that would have made it better: having Dad around to try it. I even would have fixed him pancakes.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.