Friday, December 24, 2021

Carry Me Back, Baby Where I Come From

The Christmas meal this year was a combination of snacks in order to roll across two days of quiet, understated celebration.  
My Christmas Sausage Roll
For me the highlight came in my attempt at a Fort Wayne, Indiana institution, the famous Sausage Roll.  Not just any roll, but one from Laycoff's Tavern, where they make the perfect one in all the land.  Simply, American sausage, Mozzarella and pizza sauce, allegedly.  So you know the dough has to be on point, crusty with a little pull.  The sauce should be mild but zesty enough to get hints, nothing overtaking the main star which is the sausage.  Not sweet Italian sausage, as you'd expect.  This is all from memory (and the little I could extract from the internet) but I believe the magic lies in the sausage ratio to Mozzarella cheese. They serve it with BBQ sauce surprisingly enough or Marina.  I was told I needed to go BBQ against my better judgement, and they were right.   I reached out to my sister Mary, the chef, for guidance, and who is a regular patron of this establishment.  She said to mix the sausage with the sauce before rolling but not too much.  
The last time I had one of these was while I was in town for my brother David's funeral, so the meal was bittersweet.  On one hand, this was the first time I'd been with all my siblings in over 30 years, which says nothing good about me but was a beautiful thing that I will always cherish.  But sitting at that bar bench I remember being transformed at first bite and unable to concentrate on the conversations.  I felt terrible, the amount I enjoyed this unassuming little bundle.  They told me it was special.  That's why we were there, to experience this Fort delicacy.  But I had no idea the taste would haunt me for years until, finally this year, I had to attempt to make one on my own.  Different regions have their own specialties and I've yet to find the grinders and sausage rolls of my home town here in New York.  Like Mexican food with similar ingredients, one would think, one taco can't be too different than another but that could not be less true.  That being said, I've not met an Italian pastry that I have not liked because cheese, sauce and dough can ne'er do wrong.  These rolls were unique though and I will have that taste again if I must travel to do so.  In the meantime, my first attempt was much better than expected and well received within my small 1 man dinner crowd. 
Laycoff's Tavern, Fort Wayne, Indiana
The Laycoff's Tavern roll in 2017 as it was presented to me

July of 2017 - My sisters and I at Laycoff's Tavern
Fried Pickles and Sour Cream dip
Turkey Parmesan Meatball bites w/Marinara Sauce
Ham and Pesto Toasties

Chipotle Pineapple Glazed Ham
Stuffed Jalapenos - baked with chorizo, garlic, shallots and cheese

Fried Ravioli
P's Holiday Bloody Mary

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