Tom 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 30 years, 20 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.
Italian Sausage - Fine Grinding Meat
Lieutenant Tom Papoutsis of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue demonstrates how to finely grind meat for your Italian sausage.
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Lieutenant Tom Papoutsis, Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department; we are making homemade Italian sausage. Okay, weve already mixed, ground our meat once with the coarse grind. We've mixed all of your ingredients, now we are going to go back, we are going to change our grinding plate to a fine plate, and we are going to grind this down one more time. It actually helps mix the ingredients a little bit better for us. So, we are going to use this tool here -- we are going to use, is actually designed for this. We are going to put this on here, and we are going to just give that a twist -- see if I can get that back off of there now. Actually well just do it this way, okay? We are going to pull that off. My plate actually sits right here, and there is -- if you have to, you just take your knife -- tip of your knife and just kind of pull that a little bit, pry that out, and there it is. It pops off, thats it. Now at this point, what I am also going to do is -- as you can see, if you can see this, theres a little bit of gristle on this blade; we are going to pull that off of there, clean that, clean the inside here, and then put this back on. Now remember, I said this is a fine plate, you can see the difference in the size of the hole, and so, this is going to make a lot finer grind for us. We put that on; I've got a little bit of product right down here inside the ring. Well just throw that in, and itll get ground up. Again, I am going to put this on hand-tight. Thats it; we are ready to go. Okay, back to my number four setting, and now, I am going to start pushing this meat through, and we are going to grind it. So you just basically hold it there, push it down in, just like that. Remember I said, we dont go too fast. Now remember, we are trying to push it through a finer hole, so its actually going to take a little bit longer than whenever we were doing the coarse grind. This thing, you can also, if you decide, to go get yourself a roast, if you want homemade roast beef -- perhaps like a roast beef, yes, ground beef, you can actually buy your beef and run it through here, and make your own ground beef, then you know how much fat you have, I mean, if some people were on a restricted diet as far as fats and cholesterols are concerned for heart problems and what not, well, this is one way that you know what you are buying. In other words, you know what you are buying, you know how much fat you've got in it, you can trim the fat out of it, and you can actually make your own ground beef. If you want a 99% lean hamburger, get yourself some good meat, cut the fat off of it and grind this meat up and you've got fresh made ground beef. So, at this point, all we are doing is just pushing this through. We are going to go through a fine grind, and then we are going to start casing this as soon as we get done. And once we get this ground, well be back, and we are going to start stuffing sausage.