Family Season!

The 12 Rants of Christmas, rant #1

We’ve successfully made it through Thanksgiving which marks the official start of the 2012 family season.  Some say family season starts with Halloween however that’s just a teaser of things to come.  Black Friday is the next holiday season event to endure, followed by the onslaught of family gatherings, office parties, parades, last minute shopping, Christmas day, then finally New Years Eve and day.

Black Friday – apparently started on Tuesday this year by warring box stores trying to get the “WE WERE OPEN FIRST” title for 2012.  You’ve truly taken your life in your own hands by participating in this madness.  I’m sure at one point this was a good idea but it’s gone to hell lately, tons of people camped out in front of a store, having spent hundreds of dollars on a tent and gear so they can save $20 on a new TV.  It’s the only day of the year people need to protect themselves by wearing full combat gear when visiting the big box stores, ‘nothing like walking through a store knowing the ever-present danger of being crow-hopped by a crazed discount hunter while reaching for the last box of whatever must-have gizmo you see on a shelf.  There’s a reason alcohol was invented. Continue reading Family Season!

Go ahead – piss everyone off, chances are they’ll come back anyway! (or not)

Anyone who has known me for very long knows that I’m a burger freak.  Having suffered the same “financial adjustments” that most of us have over the past few years, my family cooks almost all of our meals at home and as an unexpected result we have become hyper-critical of restaurant food which fueled this article.  While we do not get to restaurants very often, one in particular with “the best burger around” had been recommended many times by friends so on one of our sparse restaurant ventures, I tried the burger that has been highly regaled, and to be honest, if I had to rate the top five burgers I’ve ever eaten, this was three of them.  I have raved to everyone that would listen about how wonderful this burger was and swore at least the next five visits to this restaurant; I would order this burger again.

Continue reading Go ahead – piss everyone off, chances are they’ll come back anyway! (or not)

Smoky Bacon Cheeseburger

Fair warning… this little ditty is not for the faint of heart or for someone that doesn’t want to invest some time into a killer burger.

First thing to do is make up your favorite burger patty.  My personal favorite is an 80/20 ground beef kneaded with finely-chopped bacon scraps and a bit of Big Daddy’s Mild Seasoning; not much – a little bit goes a long way.  Make up your patties then stick them in the fridge to let the seasoning soak in while you’re working on the next part.  For best results, you’ll need to make a good half or three-quarter pounder for each patty.

Next, you’ll need to caramelize a some onions.  I’ll get you to refer back to an older post on how to build those and what sort of onions to use.  Once you have your onions ready to go, it’s time to get the patties out of the fridge and apply them to the grill.  Cook on the grill until you feel the burger is cooked to your desired completion and get ready for assembly.

 

Slap together a patty, a little pile of the caramelized onions, and a slice or two of Swiss cheese, and set your stack on the smoker for about 5-10 minutes.  You’ll need a good head of smoke going to get the smoky flavor and melt I’ve intended for this burger and the cheese; use your favorite flavor.  I chose Swiss for the flavor profile I was trying to achieve.  A good pepper jack cheese would probably work well also.

 

Finally, (toasted) Texas toast with a bit of mayonnaise will be all that’s needed to house this monster.  Not TOO much bread however, there’s nothing more disappointing than a big bready bun ruining a great burger.

 

You’re looking at a lot of work to cook just this burger from end to end so obviously this is no 10-minute grill project.  I won’t even attempt this unless I already have the smoker rolling for another project but it’s well worth the time if you if you’re already in for a day of outdoor cooking!

 

Good luck!

Arts & Crafts Festival – downtown Fairhope

The food court – where you can find everything from corn dogs to gator on a stick!

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This arrives in the middle of March every year and for the locals, its the last time we’ll get to see the lighted trees throughout downtown until around Thanksgiving. It’s the time of year that all the greenery around Fairhope really makes the little city shine.

A few casual LA observations

Let’s start with downtown Mobile – Government Street.  A couple of days ago I spent an hour traveling from the 1500 block, close to the loop, down to Royal Street.  Traffic was a little heavy for 3:45pm but the traffic-controlled signal lights between Broad Street and Royal Street have destroyed any chance of traveling that section of Government Street in a timely manner anymore.  You’ll be parked in gridlock under a green light waiting on the red one a block ahead to turn green.  Mind you, the side streets are just that -side streets.  Nothing like the major artery that is Government Street which, in my most humble opinion, should receive a higher priority than a goofy two-lane or one-way side street.  A long time ago, consequently at the same time construction on the new RSA tower downtown was complete, these signals were flow controlled; all north-south side streets were green or red at the same time and even on the worst times of the year, traffic flowed down Government Street at rush hour without much trouble.  PLEASE put this back the way it was!

Continue reading A few casual LA observations

Grilled boneless pork loin – with a bite

I had to get away from the wood or charcoal for this one.  I used my 3-burner Blue Ember gas grill and some pork loins that were about 3-4 inches thick for this masterpiece.  To give it the bite, I dug through the sauce store and picked a bottle of Pappy’s XXX Bourbon Q sauce.  I took the steak philosophy of getting the grill hotter than the sun to sear the outside for a little bit of crunch but be careful – there’s no laying a pork loin on a hot grill and walking away unless you plan to slice your loin with a band saw.  Basically keep the loin moving for a minute or so then take it off direct heat.  To do this with my grill, I ran the center and right burners wide open then moved the loins above the left burner which wasn’t turned on.  I then killed the middle burner and turned the right one down to low and turned the grill into an oven.

Now for the magic part:  butterfly the loins as wide as possible without completely halving them, and slather your sauce right down the middle.  Toothpick the butterfly back together and probe the temperature SLOWLY up to 160 degrees.  At 160, pull the loins off the grill and wrap in aluminum foil until ready to serve.  For best results, a minimum of 10 minutes are needed for the juices to spread back out but I recommend a good half hour.  Total cook time is around an hour.

Give it a try!

New Orleans – food off the beaten path

Fortunately, work has taken me to New Orleans many times lately and I’ve been able to enjoy some great food while there with direction from locals.  Today’s stop was a place called Juan’s Flying Burrito. I had lunch called the “Al Pastor” which is a large, loose-wrapped burrito featuring shredded pork, grilled onions, and pineapple salsa.  It’s also piled high with pinto beans and yellow rice, with some added flavor from pickled jalapenos, sour cream, and cilantro.  The Al Pastor has a full-bodied taste with the perfect amount of bite – highly recommended.  Juan’s Flying Burrito has two locations, one in the Midcity area which is where I visited today, and another in the Uptown area.  The decor was comfortable and colorful and the wait staff very friendly.  One of my lunch companions suggested the fish tacos but there was no way I was going to pass up the chance to sample Juan’s pineapple salsa after spotting it on the menu.  Maybe on my next visit…

A changing of the colors

The name is different but the food is the same!  Double-M Smokin’ Q has changed its name to Cow Chick-A Sow Sow.  Why? Because “Brown Chicken Brown Cow” was already taken.  Look for us again on the competition circuit no later than the 2012 Hog Wild Festival in Mobile, AL. We’ll also be making some smaller engagements between now and then and will keep you posted as those come up. Until then, keep the fires burning, the pigs smoking and that good food on your mind.  By Hog Wild 2012, Estelle will have a new friend – the FRANKENSMOKER.  More details on the new beast coming soon!

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Twisted Biscuits

It’s time for another off-the-wall fun breakfast! This time it’s my version of a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit. I know… what’s so special about a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit? Just make some biscuits, slap some sausage, eggs, and cheese in it then jam that baby together right? Nope!

What’s different about this concoction is that the meats and cheese are baked INSIDE the biscuit. Here’s how it’s done: First, get your favorite cheese. In this house it’s shredded cheddar straight from the brick. My better half doesn’t care for the sliced stuff so I’ve learned to live with it plus, she got us one of those handy-dandy grater/slicer Continue reading Twisted Biscuits

Meeting up with a BBQ Legend

With the Mobile BBQ Cookoff and Hog Wild Festival being what seems like 50 miles from my house, I decided to skip the Swine and Dine Affair, a dinner held the Thursday night before the competition, just to keep from having to drive there and back to hang out with the rest of the teams when I had to be at work the next morning early. At some point during that evening while I was going over my list of things to make sure were packed for the event, I got a call from my Double-M cooking partner Mark Crownover, saying he was sitting a couple of seats away from Johnny Trigg of the Smoking Triggers BBQ team. I started wishing at that time that I had went ahead and made the drive! Continue reading Meeting up with a BBQ Legend