Tom PapoutsisTom Papoutsis is a “Firehouse Chef” that currently holds the rank of Lieutenant with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Tom’s experience in the Fire Service spans over 29 years, 19 of which have been with Fairfax County. The bulk of his firehouse culinary expertise has been practiced during his tenure there. He was a national finalist in the 2004 Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition finishing in the top 10 of the nations Firehouse Chef’s, and traveled to New York City to compete in a cook off with his peers. He has also been placed on the “charity” auction block several times to prepare meals for the highest bidder. Tom likes to specialize in Italian and Greek cuisine being of the same heritage, but also enjoys preparing Asian and of course “Good Ole American” foods as well. He concentrates on entrées but also has a few hors d’oeuvres and dessert specialties as well, such as his versions of Bruschetta and Amaretto Cheesecake. For the past year he has been studying the practice of making homemade Italian deli meats and sausages. Tom’s motto: “It’s just cooking, not rocket science, take a chance…..you might like it!” Residing in Chambersburg, PA with his wife JoAnn, twins Jonathan & Katie and “Buddy” their Golden Retriever. Tom enjoys cycling, hunting, fishing, woodworking, raising his children and helping form today’s youth while volunteering with son Jonathan’s Cub Scout pack. Tom can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]
And usually, salt, we can do about half a teaspoon to about two pounds. So, we are going to go with probably close to about a tablespoon, which I just kind of measured out, and I'll just kind of throw it on there, there we go. Maybe just a little bit extra, thats good. Okay, we've got our garlic; I want to go with some basil. The basil, about a eighth of a teaspoon to two pounds, Probably what I am going to do; a lot of times, like I said, I take -- and whenever I do this, I just kind of estimate. Basil is what makes it sweet. As a matter of fact, I think I am going to put just a touch more in; okay. Thats what gives it its sweet flavor; thats why we have sweet Italian sausage, hot Italian sausage. Both of them have the same thing. Now, oregano; oregano, use your nose, is very strong; its stronger than the basil, so we are not going to use a whole lot, okay? As I said, we are going to provide the recipe, so you'll be able to actually measure the stuff out. I just kind of go by feel and by past experience. But we dont want to go overboard with the oregano. Paprika, red pepper, and cayenne, these are going to stay for the hot sausage right now, okay? So we are going to keep those back, but we are going to go ahead and we are going to take some cracked rosemary. Now, I have rosemary leaves, and as you can see, I am looking at probably about the same amount as the oregano -- not a whole lot, I am probably going to go, let's do about half a tablespoon, probably about -- probably, actually close to about a teaspoon, teaspoon and a half, is what I am using here, okay? You want to crack this? Its not cracked, but to crack it, all that you have do, is just kind of go like this -- and actually do it over the top, so if it jumps out -- its hard to take this with a knife and actually put it on a cutting board. When you do this, it just wants to jump around, and if you try to cut it with a knife, its going to fly all over the place. So the best thing is, just put it in your hand, grind it up with your fingers, and now, you've got cracked rosemary, okay? Kind of grind it up; there you go, theres your rosemary. Okay, good deal. Red pepper; now, even with the sweet Italian, we are going to use a little bit of red pepper in it, okay? Just a tiny bit. Not too much, because if we go too far, we've got hot sausage. So I am going to take probably again, like about a teaspoon and a half and we are just going to sprinkle that in, and thats it. Just a little bit for flavor - okay? Now, fennel seed, fennel seed, is one of the main ingredients that we are going to use in Italian sausage. This is your fennel seed. Its a very, very, aromatic seed, and what we are going to do is depending on -- this is kind of, to taste. If you like the taste of fennel, put more in; if you dont, dont put any in. If you want a little bit, put a little bit in. Me, I like fennel with mine, so, I am going to put quite a bit in, and actually thats going to make a nice mix right there. So, we are going to put quite a bit of fennel in there.