Morbid Meals – Upside-Down Pizza

EXAMINATION

MM12The Hanged Man Tarot card suggests that we need to get a new perspective on whatever is in our way. A challenge that I often face is not knowing what to make for dinner for me and my family.

So how about we take a popular family dinner decision — pizza night — and turn it upside-down! This casserole dish resembles an upside-down pizza, but is hearty enough to feed more than an eight-slice pizza ever could.

ANALYSIS

Servings: 8

Ingredients

1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 lb Italian sausage
1 lb ground beef
1 small jar (4.5 oz) mushrooms, drained
1 can/jar (24 oz) spaghetti sauce
8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Apparatus

  • Saucepan
  • 9×13 casserole dish
  • Medium bowl

Procedure

  1. Chop your onion and bell pepper, and set aside. If your sausage is in casings, remove the meat from the casings.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, beef, onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms, until the meat is browned. Drain off the grease.
  3. Add the spaghetti sauce of your choice (or tomato sauce and favorite herbs if you prefer). Bring to a quick boil then simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture into a 9×13 inch casserole dish and sprinkle with the Mozzarella cheese.
  5. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  6. In the medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour this over the casserole.
  7. Bake the casserole uncovered in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
  8. Let the casserole rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

DISSECTION

Feel free to switch up the ingredients. Use whatever your favorite pizza toppings are. If you want a gluten-free version, I think polenta would make an excellent crust layer. (2 cups boiling water to 1 cup of corn meal, cook for about 15 minutes, whisk occasionally, then pour over your casserole instead of the batter.)

POST-MORTEM

This goes together faster than lasagna and gets eaten faster than a delivery pizza. Everyone had seconds and even the picky eaters who normally avoid veggies enjoyed this new take on a favorite dish.

Morbid Meals – Sanguinaccio Dolce Gelato

Oh the weather outside is frightful, enough to make us melt. What we need is some ice scream. I have just the bloody good treat for us all. That is, as long as you are not squeamish. Why? Because the time has come for a recipe featuring pig’s blood. That’s right, we’re making a “Sundae, bloody sundae”.
 

EXAMINATION

Sanguinaccio dolce is an Italian pudding that was traditionally made with pig’s blood. It was a common treat during festivals held before Lent, like Carnivale, as the goal was to use up everything rich and sweet before fasting for Lent. Pancake Tuesday is another such celebration, and then there’s Mardi Gras, of course.
 
Sanguinaccio dolce is a sweet chocolate sauce that when cooked long enough can be as thick and rich as your favorite package pudding. Blood is a perfect thickening agent and brings a natural earthy flavor that perfectly complements the cocoa without overpowering it. The truth is, with all of the sugar and honey in this recipe, you can’t taste the blood or the salt used to cure it.
 
There are many recipes out there and for 99% of them they exclude the blood (because of various kosher and safety laws as well as modern folks’ general avoidance of consuming blood). That’s understandable, but then it isn’t sanguinaccio — that would just be “Italian” chocolate pudding. The other recipes cheat by using a lot of dairy to dilute the blood and don’t have the right sweetness, so they often add solid chocolate. Those recipes tend to have a smoother taste and feel to them, but still seem like an apology for using blood. This recipe instead is blood and sugar and cocoa and there’s no denying the key nature of blood to the recipe. I find it to be more traditional as well as a tastier pudding.
 
So the big question is probably where to buy the blood. Blood banks typically frown on withdrawals. Thanks to the prevalence of frozen blood that has already been salted, it is readily available and safe to eat. Some gourmet stores sell it, but I always find it at my local “asian” market freezers. In fact, you can find pork as well as beef blood in many stores. I find that the flavor is stronger in beef blood, so I prefer pork blood especially in a sweet recipe like this.
 
If you do know a local butcher who can save some blood for you, you can get it cheaper that way, and you’ll know it is fresher as well. Make sure they salt it (and they’ll probably add vinegar, too) so it will be safe to cook with. Notice I said safe “to COOK with”. Whether it is fresh or frozen, I do not recommend drinking blood. There are just too many unknowns and frankly from what I’ve been told, it just isn’t very tasty. So do me a solid and cook it, don’t drink it. Thanks.
 
This recipe presented here is actually for two things: sanguinaccio dolce pudding and sanguinaccio dolce gelato. You’ll need to make the pudding first because it is the base for the gelato, but it also makes the perfect chocolate syrup for a sundae. If you want to just enjoy a traditional sanguinaccio dolce pudding, throw in the flavorings and top with the garnish and enjoy. I however think a “sundae, bloody sundae” is the best application here, especially for a hot summer day.
 
ANALYSIS

Makes: 1.5 quarts of Sanguinaccio Dolce, or 2 quarts of Gelato plus sauce

 
Sanguinaccio Dolce
24 fl.oz (3 cup) pork blood
24 fl.oz (3 cup) golden syrup or honey
16 oz (1 lb) sugar
4 oz cocoa or carob powder
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
 
Optional Flavorings
1 long stick cinnamon
5 cloves
1/4 cup raisins
grated rind from 2 oranges
1 shot of Crème de cacao liqueur or Kahlúa — skip if making gelato or it won’t set
 
Optional Garnish
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or whole roasted pinon nuts
1 strip lemon peel, thinly sliced
 
For Gelato
3 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
 
Apparatus
Double boiler – or a large pot with a large bowl that sits snug on top
Ice cream or gelato machine
 
Procedure

To Make Pudding

  1. In the top vessel of your double boiler, add the cocoa powder and gradually mix in the blood. Make sure you have no lumps.
  2. In the bottom vessel, add water to whatever marked point it may have, or just about an inch below the bottom of the top vessel.
  3. Stack the vessels and turn the heat on to medium.
  4. Into the cocoa mixture, add the golden syrup/honey and mix thoroughly, then mix in the sugar and melted butter.
  5. If you are using any of the flavorings, add them in now.
  6. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens beyond syrup and hot fudge to a pudding thickness, at least 30 minutes. Depending on the size of your double boiler and heat of the water, there is a magic point when all puddings go from watery mess to luscious, viscous goodness. Resist the urge to crank up the heat to a boil, as the pudding will curdle and separate. Have patience, you will be rewarded.
  7. If you are only making this for pudding, pour it into serving dishes and garnish as you like, but allow it to cool completely. Chill in your refrigerator if you like.

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To Make Gelato
  1. Once you have a thick pudding like sauce, remove from heat and transfer one quart of it (4 cups) to a container to chill. If you have the room for it in your fridge, feel free to use the ice cream machine’s bowl to save yourself some trouble. Your ingredients need to start off very cold. The remaining sauce can be reserved as a topping or a pudding to enjoy separately.
  2. When the sanguinaccio is chilled as cold as your milk and cream, then into the bowl add the milk and half&half, and mix thoroughly. Resist the urge to drink this ambrosia as it will be the BEST CHOCOLATE MILK YOU’VE EVER HAD. Seriously, if you drink this, you will have no gelato, and that will make you sad.
  3. Setup your ice cream maker per instructions and start churning. I hope you have an electric one. As quaint as those hand-crank models are, I’m not THAT into period reproduction.
  4. After about 40 minutes, the gelato should be done. You would normally let an ice cream go until the motor stops, but this is too firm for gelato.
  5. Scoop out your gelato into cones or serving dishes.
  6. Top with some of the reserved sauce, some homemade whipped cream, and bright red cherry, and you have a “sundae, bloody sundae”.

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DISSECTION
There is a difference between ice cream and gelato. From what I have read, it is primarily in the milk/cream ratio. You want 8% or less fat for gelato. Ice creams are on the heavier side. There are also differences in the freezing and traditions between “American” ice cream and “Italian” gelato. When it all goes into a churning machine though, unless you are buying specific equipment, then the machine will make either recipe the same way. Typically if using an “ice cream machine” to make gelato, when you hear those first tell tale signs that the churning has resistance, stop it there. Gelato has a smoother feel because there aren’t as many ice crystals as formed by letting the machine go until it seizes up and stops, as you would for ice cream.
 
It is possible to make this without an ice cream machine. Instead, you will need a 2 quart freezer-safe container with a lid. Just pour your mixture into that and cover tightly with the lid. Place the container into your freezer and let it freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. You might want to stir it every hour. Not aggressively but enough to make sure it freezes evenly.
 
When you buy the frozen blood, once you thaw it, you have roughly 24 hours to use it, and that is with refrigeration. If you have fresh blood, you will have even less time to use it, and you have to be even more careful about preparing it with the right amount of salt and vinegar, and how long you cook it, etc. Trust me. Frozen blood. A modern vampire’s best friend.
 
On another ingredient point, do NOT use corn syrup. Not only is that just outright bad for you, the pudding will not set. Golden syrup aka treacle is the best choice, if you can find it. Here in the states I can find it in most import shops. (My local chippie — yes in Phoenix, AZ, thank you very much — actually sells it and lots of stuff for the expats.) Honey will do in a pinch. I’ve thought about trying this with molasses or with fruit preserves, but haven’t yet.
 
 
POST-MORTEM
How fun is this recipe? Seriously! I’m not even a huge fan of chocolate, but this has been my favorite thing EVER since I started making it. We don’t make it often because most people cringe when I tell them what it is. Trust me though when I say this stuff is an excellent chocolate gelato and you will never look at ice cream the same again. No other chocolate ice cream will compare. Sure others are a heck of a lot easier to make (or just buy, psh) but as I’m hoping you’ll agree, these Morbid Meals are worth the extra effort.