This is the most macabre Halloween food item I’ve ever made. These intestines look so real it’s hard to cut sections off and dip in marinara sauce! I modeled them after a medical diagram of the large and small intestine, even creating the appendix! We quickly got over any misgivings and started to cut sections out. Starting on the left side, where the appendix is located, and working our way around, we quickly reached the center, like a Tootsie Roll pop. At that point, it was all hands on deck and the small intestines were quickly devoured.
These “intestines” are just an idea. You can fill the puff pasty with the filling of your choice – savory or sweet. Consider having a few savory options to balance out your menu. This mild Italian sausage and Parmesan cheese filling was perfect. I served it with warm marinara sauce on the side for dipping. The red sauce doubled as “blood” completing the macabre concept of “dipping the intestines in blood “.
Heat a wide pan over medium heat. Drizzle enough olive oil to barely coat the pan and add the diced onion and sausage.
Note: The sausage doesn’t take long to cook so remove the puff pastry from the freezer when you begin. If you have cased sausage, remove the casing and use.
Using a wooden spoon, cut into the sausage meat, breaking it down until it resembles ground beef. When the onions are translucent, add minced garlic, Italian seasoning, pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper. Stir well to combine and cook until the meat has browned. Drain any excess fat to avoid a wet filling. Set aside to cool in the pan.
Once cooled, add meat mixture to a mixing bowl and combine with Panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and two beaten eggs. Set aside while you prepare the puff pastry strips.
Flour your board and rolling pin. Unfold the pastry sheets and cut along the folds to create six even sized strips of puff pastry. Roll all the strip lengthwise and then turn and slightly roll the width side as well. This will make the pastry thinner and more pliable to work with. Make an egg wash by beating an egg and a little water in a separate bowl and set aside.
Working with one pastry strip at a time, brush all the edges with the egg wash and place an even narrow amount of sausage filling in the center. Pull the long side of the puff pastry up and over the sausage filling. Then roll the sausage log over so the seam is resting at the bottom of your work surface.
Note: The egg wash will act like a glue. Make sure the corners are sealed and tucked properly, with all seam sides down, so the filling won’t come out.
For realistic intestines, it’s best to draw your intestines design on a sheet of parchment paper. Flip the parchment over and place it on a baking sheet as you can’t bake over pencil, pen or sharpie marks. Use your design as a guide when you position the pastry logs in place. Work and place one pastry log at a time, starting with the large intestine.
Note: I used a medical diagram as a reference to loosely draw the large and small intestine. As you can tell, I’m not an artist. You can also freeform the puff pastry sheet as you go or coil them in a buttered baking dish. However you do your intestines, they will be delicious!
I used three puff pastry strips to shape the large intestine and three for the small intestine. With the back of a spoon, make a few deep markings on the large intestine so when it bakes, it has some detail and doesn’t look flat.
Once the large intestine is done, use the remaining three pastry sheets for the small intestine. Place them in an S-shape to fill the center cavity. Brush the entire pastry with an egg wash and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This will help the pastry puff when you bake it. If making ahead, don’t apply the egg wash until you’re ready to bake.
Note: You can prepare this ahead and freeze up to 3 weeks. Thaw in refrigerator overnight and brush on the egg wash before baking.
See how the large intestine starts with the appendix on the left and ends with the rectum (sorry, I hate that word) on the right? After we cut into the left side, someone said the rectum looked like a snake’s head. There’s another design option for you – shape the pastry into a snake and it will be equally nauseating.
The most macabre and ghastly savory appetizer you can serve on Halloween! But don't let looks fool you, it's a savory mild Italian sausage stuffing wrapped in puff pastry with a side of marinara sauce.
- olive oil to coat the pan
- 1 1-lb. mild Italian sausage meat, without casing
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- pinch of kosher salt and black pepper prefer Diamond brand kosher salt
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 large eggs at room temperature, beaten
- 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed (1 box) prefer Pepperidge Farms brand
- egg wash (1 egg plus 1 teaspoon of water)
- ½-¾ cup store bought marinara sauce for dipping
Set the frozen puff pastry on the counter to thaw as you cook the filling mixture.
Making the Filling
Heat a heavy bottom pan over medium heat and drizzle a little olive oil to coat the pan. Add the onion and sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break the sausage into small pieces to resemble ground beef.
Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and cook until browned. Drain excess fat or liquid and set aside to cool at room temperature.
Transfer sausage mixture to a mixing bowl. Add Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and the two beaten eggs. Mix together to combine and set aside.
Take into consideration your serving platter when you draw your intestines outline on a sheet of parchment paper. Flip the parchment paper over and set it on a baking sheet. Your drawing will be on the underside as not to touch the pastry. This will serve as a guide when placing the sausage logs.
Cut two sheets of puff pastry along the seams so you have six long strips of puff pastry. You will need three strips for the large intestine and three for the small intestine. Flour your board and rolling pin to lightly roll out all the pastry strips at once.
Working with one pastry strip at a time, brush the egg wash on all the edges of the pastry strip and add ⅙ of the filling down the center. Pull one side up and over the filling and roll the sausage log so the seam is located at the bottom.
Note: Divide the filling in half, and divide each half into three equal parts. This will ensure your pastry strips are rolled into even logs.
As you roll each sausage log, place it on the baking sheet over your design. Complete the large intestine first, then fill in the center. Repeat until all the pastry logs have been shaped and placed over the design.
Note: Make sure the corners are sealed and tucked properly, with all seam sides down, so the filling won't come out.
Once the design has been completed, lightly brush with egg wash and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Transfer directly from the refrigerator into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Cooking time will vary depending on your design and oven.
Once baked remove from oven and allow to rest while you warm up your favorite marinara sauce in a sauce pan.
Once the sauce has warmed through, plate and serve immediately.
Note: Pastry can also be refrigerated overnight and brushed with the egg wash just before baking. You can also flash freeze on the baking sheet, then transfer into a freezer safe plastic bag. Keeps frozen 3 -4 weeks. Thaw overnight in refrigerator and brush with egg wash just before baking.