Ghee-Fried Spicy Chicken Sausage & Tomatillo Quick Pickle Sandwich Time!

I love sausage and pepper sandwiches, so I figured a spicy sausage sammy would be a good way to kick off Sandwich Surprise. And I had some leftover clarified butter, otherwise known as ghee (recipe below), left from an Indian dinner I cooked for a friend.

Also, I have been wanting to quick-pickle something for a while. So why not tomatillos? I mean, I love them (yum, salsa verde) and as a huge Chopped nut, I also love imagining Aarón Sánchez saying “toh-mah-TEE-yoes” to me in my kitchen. Chef Aarón is like the one-man equivalent of that Jimmy Smits SNL sketch with Bob Costas from the early ’90s, and he brings me great joy.

Anyway, here’s my quick pickle—quickle!—recipe. I like to use less salt and more heat than some of the online entries I found:

TOMATILLO QUICKLES

1 1/2 T. salt
1 1/4 c. organic white vinegar
2 T. organic white granulated sugar
3 T. minced garlic
Several dashes Frank’s Hot Sauce (to taste; I like it hot)
Several dashes coriander powder

I simmered and stirred this mix in a sauce pot until it was hot and the sugar/salt dissolved. Then I poured it into a glass bowl and placed sliced tomatillos in the liquid. These were already tasty 15 minutes after marinating, but I liked them after an overnight soak too.

I didn’t use all the pickles in the sandwiches, so I just stored the leftovers in a tupperware, adding some Serrano chilies and julienned mango, because, let’s face it, I’ll pretty much eat any food in pickle form.

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If you feel motivated to make ghee, here’s how I do it. But you can always fry the sausage in olive oil or canola oil instead.

GHEE (Much better than Glee)

1 lb. unsalted butter (I went organic with it)

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter on medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring the butter boil. Reduce the heat to low simmer. As it froths, remove the froth with a spoon (I used a sieve with a long handle). Cook until the butter becomes a clear yellow liquid. Don’t cook it past this point or the ghee will end up overdone. There may be milk solids at the bottom of the pan which are light brown in color, which you will strain out.

You’re supposed to let the ghee cool for 20 minutes and then strain it through cheesecloth or muslin, but I just poured it directly from the pan through the fine sieve into a glass container. Ghee can last for a while unrefrigerated, but I like to keep it in the fridge if I’m not using it all within a couple days.

As for the other ingredients, I kinda winged it (wung it?) in Whole Foods. After I’d decided on the Wells spicy chicken sausage and the tomatillos, I also grabbed:

One container of organic Butterhead lettuce
1/4 lb. Manchego cheese
Fresh cilantro
Five (5) Serrano chilies
Three (3) 6″ organic baguettes

(Cost for ingredients: approx. $26 for 6 servings, but I had some ingredients, such as coriander powder, in my pantry already.)

Now, a smart person would’ve cut the sausage in half lengthwise. Alas, I was not that person. I cut them in discs instead. Not the most sandwich-friendly approach. I fried the sausage discs in three tablespoons of ghee. Probably oil overkill, but I do love me some ghee. The spicy sausage as is wasn’t hot enough for me, so I sprinkled a bunch of cayenne on the later batches. I tried to get a good caramelization on the sausage.

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Then I cut the baguettes in half lengthwise and scooped out the soft parts, making a little boat for the bed of lettuce and the sausage discs. I added several small, rectangular pieces of Manchego and a bunch of cilantro to taste on each.

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My boyfriend Brant was my first critiquer. His take?

“The sausage was buttery, nicely balanced by the tomatillo quickle, and the cilantro gave it a fresh pop. I don’t think the Manchego was necessary. Next time, slice the sausage length-wise. Also I’d like a little more heat and little more cilantro, but this is a sandwich I’d definitely eat again.”

Which he did, devouring another one moments later.

I also thought the first batch was tasty, but agreed it needed more cilantro and spiciness to be crave-worthy. And maybe pickling the chilies with the tomatillos would help. Or, for that matter, picking a spicier chili altogether. Ghost pepper, anyone?

Next up: Something for the Super Bowl!