I’d like to take a minute and introduce you to a very special woman, my grandma Dorothy Bomgaars. Dorothy is my mother’s mother and happens to be a very good (Dutch) cook. My mom grew up on a farm in Iowa with four brothers, and my grandma was in charge of feeding a family of seven every day. I can’t imagine cooking for that many people every day.
And although she will be 91 in March, my grandma is incredibly sharp and tech-savvy. She reads Espresso and Cream faithfully and has a keen eye for the stock markets.
While I was home in northwest Iowa over Christmas break, my mom suggested we invite my grandma and cousin, Angela, over so my grandma could teach us how to make a very special Dutch food – saucijsjes (pronounced suh-sigh-shees). I grew up eating these Dutch treats. Although I no longer eat them, I thought it would be interesting to learn the tried and true method of making them from my grandma. Since, as we all know, grandmothers make things better than the rest of us do.
Although the name might suggest otherwise, sausijsjes are actually quite simple to make. They are slightly time consuming. But since the recipe actually calls for you to freeze the sausijsjes before baking them, you can make a double batch and store the extras in the freezer for a quick dinner or Sunday brunch.
What makes these little pig in the blankets so special are the nuances in preparation and method. Things I wouldn’t have learned unless I had my grandma there as a guide. Since the ultra-flaky pastry is chock full of butter, you have to bake the saucijsjes on a piece of paper sack from a paper grocery bag. The paper absorbs the extra grease and prevents the pastry from getting soggy. And don’t even think about skipping the freezing step. It helps the pastry rise and flake when you bake them.
Many of the ingredients we gathered to make the saucijsjes were only available to us because we live in a very Dutch community. At Woudstra Meat Market downtown, you can buy a special meat mixture called ‘saucijsje meat’, and even the bread-crumbs come from a dutch bread called Rusk, which is crumbled into the meat. I’ve done my best to adapt the recipe for those of you who don’t have access to such specific Dutch ingredients, hoping the results will turn out as delightful for you as they did for us.
Dutch Saucijsjes (aka Dutch Pig in the Blanket)
For the Pastry
*5 cups all-purpose flour
*1 1/2 tsp. salt
*2 tsp. baking powder
*1 Tbsp. sugar
*3 sticks margarine
*1/2 cup shortening/Crisco (my grandma used lard)
*2 eggs, lightly beaten
*1 1/2 cups whole milk
For the Meat Filling
*3 lbs. saucijsje meat (or 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef and 1 1/2 lbs. ground pork)
*2 eggs, lightly beaten
*4 Dutch rusk, finely crumbled (or 2/3 c dry plain bread crumbs)
*1 tsp. dried sage
*3/4 tsp. salt
*1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
*Combine all the ingredients for the meat filling until well combined. FOrm into log-shaped pieces, about 2 inches in length (see second photo). Transfer to a large baking pan. Set aside. You should have around 38 to 40 small meat logs.
*For the dough, in a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add in the margarine and shortening and blend with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse peas. Add in the egg and milk and stir until well combine. Knead with your hands to form a soft ball of dough.
*Transfer dough to a well-floured countertop and roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut dough into rectangles big enough to completely cover your meat logs.
*Wrap meat in dough, being careful to seal the seam shut with your fingers by pinching together. Transfer to a baking sheet to freeze, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough and meat.
*Freeze for at least four hours or up to two months.
*To bake, line a baking pan with a sheet of brown paper grocery sack. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place saucijsjes on baking sheet. Brush with egg whites. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 40 saucijsjes