July 19, 2012

Do you like this?

You could say i’m not much of a morning person. While herds of morning people greet the day with the energy of a Chihuahua puppy, I drag myself from the soft cocoon of my plush pillowtop mattress with all the poise and vigor of a drunken friend stumbling out of a car. Once I’ve faced the harsh realities of the morning, I realize that my repeated pounding of the snooze button has left me with just enough time to either grab a crumb-spewing granola bar or hit the corporate drive thru for a frozen biscuit filled with an uncomfortably uniform “breakfast patty” topped with “cheese product.”  

I’m fully aware of and truly believe in the physical and psychological benefits of a healthy and relaxing breakfast routine, but decades of second-shift restaurant work and last calls for alcohol have taken their toll on my relationship with those crucial first hours of the day. It doesn’t help that the options for a quick, made-from-scratch and inexpensive breakfast to go are few and far between.

Since I grew up eating sausage, eggs and biscuits for breakfast, on those rare mornings that I feel the urge to skip my French Vanilla Instant Breakfast, I want something that will get my groggy body’s attention. I want something with pork, baked dough and maybe a little cheese or spicy peppers to get the juices flowing again. The solution to this conundrum comes in an unlikely form—pigs in a blanket.

I’m not advocating any of the Jimmy Dean-on -a-stick atrocities and I haven’t started channeling Guy Fieri wrapping crescent rolls around cocktail wieners. I’m talking about full-sized sausages wrapped in made-from-scratch pastry dough thrown into a little white bakery bag for less than half the cost of a hydrogenated breakfast combo No. 2 at your local McMorning joint.

When I first walked through the door of The Donut Palace at 3716 Dayton Blvd. in picturesque Red Bankistan, it looked like a typical small doughnut shop with glass cases of carefully arranged doughnuts and pastries in the usual varieties, flavors and shapes. What’s not obvious is that owner, Dan Prak, makes these creations fresh from scratch each morning, including the glazed fruit fritters and croissants glistening with what looks to be a Paula Deen-load of butter. I took a quick glance at the menu and my eyes almost immediately locked in on the words “pigs in a blanket.”  There, poised provocatively behind the glass, were full-sized sausages peeking out from layers of flaky brown pastry like little pork papooses.

The shop offers two sizes and two flavors of pigs in a blanket. The small, 99-cent version looks like what you would expect a pig in a blanket to look like. I’m sure this would make a great late-night snack, but I want something that will give me enough energy to get through the morning hours of hardscrabble labor. That’s a job for the large blanketed pig, which comes in two varieties—smoked sausage and jalapeno and cheese for the bargain price of less than two bucks each.  

Brace yourself for a shock the first time you try one of these handmade handfuls. They are unexpectedly, amazingly good. The pairing of the buttery, handmade pastry with the unctuousness of the sausage is spot on. Throw in the mild bite of the jalapenos and the creamy, oozing cheese and you have a near perfect handheld breakfast.

There are plenty of places around town to sit down and read the morning paper over a cup of joe and a plate of fruit, biscuits and gravy or whatever you and your rise-and-shine attitude desires. But for last-minute snoozers and morning drag-assers, being able to run in and grab a handmade pastry wrapped around a pork sausage on your way to work is like a gift from the snooze button gods. Thank you Donut Palace, thank you.

Mike McJunkin cooks better than you and eats quite a lot of very strange food. Visit his Facebook page (Sushi and Biscuits) for updates and recipes.


July 19, 2012

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