Light the Grill....Crack a Beer....Crank the Tunes

Light the Grill....Crack a Beer....Crank the Tunes

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spicy Pork Bulgogi Sliders/New Beligium Saison Harvest Ale/Grandfather "The Wolf"

Asian-themed sliders have been no strangers around here, we've done quite a few.   Most of them have been made with chicken, but tonight we use the tender and versatile pork tenderloin for these spicy bulgogi sliders.  The pork is sliced razor thin along with some shaved carrot.  We whip up a chunky marinade of pureed pear, onion, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy and sesame oil and pour it over the meat and carrots then let it sit overnight.  We grill the mixture until seared and cooked through then stuff the combination into warm mini french rolls.  Topped with homemade Asian pickles and a sweet and spicy honey chile sauce, these were the perfect bite-sized sandwiches.   We paired these up with a New Belgium autumn seasonal, their Saison Harvest Ale.  For the tunes, we spun the excellent EP "The Wolf" from Germany's Grandfather.  Special thanks to the guys at Stoned Ravenous Fuzz for the recommendation.

Spicy Pork Bulgogi Sliders -  Before we tend to the pork filling, let's knock out the toppings and condiments starting with the pickles.  All we do here is thinly slice some English cucumbers and pour enough rice wine vinegar over them to cover.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

The other topping is the sweet and spicy honey chile sauce, which is even easier than the pickles.  In a small bowl combine equal parts Sambal Oelek chile paste and honey with a few splashes of sesame oil.  Whisk well and set aside.

Now we can move on to the filling.  We're using a pork tenderloin that we trimmed of its silver skin.  Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the pork into slices.

Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave two carrots into the meat mixture.

Now it's time for the marinade.  In a blender combine 1 bosc pear cut into quarters, 1/2 yellow onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of brown sugar,  1 small piece of peeled ginger, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.   Puree in the blender.

 Pour the puree over the pork and carrot, mix well then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Time to head to the grill.  Get a medium/hot fire going and place an oil grill pan over it.  Add in the pork and carrot.

Move the mixture around often so that the meat cooks evenly and thoroughly.  Once the pork develops a slight char and is cooked through, transfer the pork and carrot to a bowl and keep warm.

For the bread, we are using the "take and bake" mini-french rolls.  After those are cooked and steaming hot, slice them open and pile on the pork and carrots.

Next up comes the pickles and sweet and spicy sauce.

Place the top half the bun on top, then slice and serve.  As good as the meat was in this sandwich, the sweet and spicy sauce stole the show.  It's a condiment we would make to have around for a variety of foods, it was completely addicting.

New Belgium Saison Harvest Ale - Avid readers know the high regard we have for this super popular, but still independent microbrewery.  They continue to produce stellar beer after stellar beer.  This Saison Harvest Ale had us very intrigued by these two fall varieties, the farmhouse-y saison and the ubiquitously named harvest ale which has been become synonymous with hoppy yet malty autumn beers.   Out of the bottle the beer looks much more like a saison; cloudy yellow with a minimal head.  The aroma as well leans more to the saison, relying heavily on the Belgian yeast to provide the classic clove and banana notes.   The flavors also follows suit at the beginning then the hops make appearance with a bitter bite evening things out nicely.   Overall, the beer is a pretty solid saison.  At first we were a little disappointed that it didn't combine enough of the hoppier autumn beer flavor that we love, but looking at it from a pairing standpoint, this beer turned out to be perfect.  It was light and refreshing with just enough hops to stand up to the spicy sauce.

Grandfather "The Wolf" -  This great little band out of Germany brings the goods on the heavy yet melodic "The Wolf" EP.    Their sound combines the biker metal elements of Orange Goblin with the heavy progressive rock elements of Tool with excellent results.  The opening title track is a barnburner of a number.  It features a huge groove, cool raspy vocals and a pretty electrifying guitar solo.  "Crisis" starts off with a chill, atmospheric riff and groove.  The song ramps up a little, but never loses its relaxed feel.  That same feel moves right into the accurately named "Instrumental" where the Tool reference shines the most, sounding like an slowed down instrumental version of "Schism".   "Borders" dabbles in some heavy experimental jazzy prog-rock, think King Crimson meets A Perfect Circle.   The album ends with "Superloader" which starts off with a combination of "Supernuat" drums and DLR-era Van Halen riff.   The vocals are deep and raspy, not unlike Neil Fallon, ending the disc on a super high note.  The track is meant to be played loud, preferably in a car going a good amount over the speed limit.   The track also features a sick guitar solo that caps things off nicely.  "The Wolf" is a great, if not too short, album that is one of our surprise top picks of the year.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mini Potato, Pecorino and Rosemary Pizzettes/5 Rabbit Super Pils/Red Fang " Presents An Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang"

This quick little entry features a super-fast pizzette, easy drinking pils and three-song acoustic set from Red Fang.  We make use of the leftover shredded potato from the Ultimate Breakfast Burger as one of the toppings on this light and crisp pizzette.   The shredded potato goes on top of split English muffins and they get covered in Pecorino cheese.  A few sprigs of rosemary goes on top before these go into a hot oven for a bit.  A drizzle of good quality olive oil is the last piece to these rich, crunchy bites.  This light meal gets paired up with a light tasting (if a little heavier in the ABV category) pils from Chicago's 5 Rabbit.  Since this meal was really quick, we spun the acoustic Red Fang EP from

Mini Potato, Pecorino and Rosemary Pizzettes - The combination of creamy potato, sharp and nutty pecorino and earthy rosemary in this quick meal is pretty amazing.   The fact that we make these little pizzas on crisp and airy English muffins makes it all come together in a snap.  First we take 1/4 cup of shredded potato and place them in piles on a hot buttered griddle.

Using a spatula, flatten the piles down then season with salt and pepper.

Cook the potato patties on both sides until browned slightly.  Place the potato patties on split english muffins then heavily grate pecorino cheese on top.

Add a few springs of rosemary then place in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes for the pecorino to melt slightly.

Remove from the oven, drizzle each Pizzette with a high quality olive oil and serve immediately.   These look really simple and they are, but don't let that fool you, they are full of flavor.

5 Rabbit Super Pils -  We sample yet another offering from a Chicago brewery, this time we go back to 5 Rabbit and their Super Pils.  The beer pours a fairly cloudy yellow with a good amount of fizz and foam.  The aroma is over the top with yeasty and fruity esters, very similar to a Kolsch.  Flavor-wise, this beer is fantastic.  It's extremely smooth with just the right amount of bite.  We'd put in on par with one of our all time Kolschs, Metropolitan's Krankshaft just a little boozier.  Which brings us to the name.  The Super is most likely referring to the rather hefty (especially for a pilsner) >7% ABV, but after happily drinking a few of these, it can also be used as an adjective to describe this beer.   We needed a lighter beer for the pizzettes and even with its higher alcohol content, the beer still fit the bill quite nicely.

Red Fang " Presents An Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang" - Admittedly when we first heard the words "Red Fang" and "Acoustic" together we were more than a little unsure.   This band normally puts the "good time" in "good time heavy rock and roll", so seeing that tamed down in an acoustic session had us intrigued, if not a bit leery.  The EP actually is six tracks, but since the last three are the original versions off of albums we've already featured, we're just going to focus on the three acoustic tracks.  The opener is "Failure", which has such a clean, yet dark tone that it sucks you in immediately.   It manages to capture the menacing sound of the electric version, just with a slowed down pace.  On "Human Herd", the plugged-in version has almost a grunge-like sound so it would make sense that this stripped down version sounds like an acoustic Foo Fighters tune.  It's super catchy and brings a different feel compared to the original.  The last acoustic track is one of our favorite Red Fang tunes, "Malverde".  It's the huge opening track off "Murder the Mountains" that translates pretty well to the acoustic forum.  The acoustic version is darker and more evil sounding when compared to the more fun electric version.  All in all, while we prefer these guys plugged in and turned up, they do acoustic pretty damn well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Ultimate Breakfast Burger/Finch's Brewing Hardcore Chimera IIPA/Lo-Pan "Colossus"

This breakfast burger is a little more traditional than the Carnitas & Egg Waffle Burger we featured awhile back.  We dubbed this The Ultimate Breakfast Burger because every component gets the star treatment.  The patty is a 50/50 mix of grass-fed ground beef and pork sausage, the bacon is pork shoulder bacon that is glazed with a cherry jalapeño jelly and the cheese comes in the form of a cheesy jalapeño hash brown.  The final touch is an over-easy egg on top.  This big spicy, sweet and salty burger gets served up on a buttery brioche bun.  Of course a burger this big requires an equally big and hoppy IPA.   We went with the new Hardcore Chimera Imperial IPA from Chicago's Finch's Brewing. On the stereo was the brand new release from melodic rockers Lo-Pan, "Colossus".

The Ultimate Breakfast Burger - Our mouths are watering again just looking at the above picture and getting ready to describe the process, especially this first part of making the bacon.   We found this pork shoulder bacon that looked phenomenal, so we started with a few strips of that and brushed it with a cherry jalapeño jelly.  The glazed bacon goes in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the glaze is cooked into the bacon.

Now we can move on to the cheesy jalapeño hash brown.  We mix equal parts shredded potatoes and shredded colby jack with a diced jalapeño pepper.   We press the mixture into patties and cook in a frying pan with some warmed olive oil.  Cook the hash brown on both sides until browned and slightly crisp.

With 2 of the 3 toppings knocked out, we can turn our attention to the burger itself.  We're using 1/4 lb of grass fed ground beef and a 1/4 lb. of pork sausage.  Combine the two meats and press into a patty.  Season with salt and pepper.

To the grill we go with these guys.  The fire is a two-zone fire with one side cool and the other at a medium hot and the patties go over the flame side of the grill.   Char the patties on both sides and move them over to the cool side and cover.   With the pork sausage component we want to make sure this burger is cooked all the way through.

Now to construct this burger.  Place the grilled patty on a toasted brioche roll and place a cheesy jalapeño hash brown on top along with two slices of the glazed bacon.

The last piece is that runny fried egg.  Of all the burger toppings that have been trendy over the last however many years, the fried egg has to be our all time favorite.  Most burgers we cut in half, when there is an egg involved we mostly keep it intact so that our teeth punctures the yolk rather than a knife to get everything all nice and messy.   We used "ultimate" in naming this burger and that wound being true and then some.

Finch's Brewing Hardcore Chimera IIPA - We're not just being homers, but we'd put the hoppy pale ales, IPAs and IIPAs from our beloved Chicago breweries up against any other city's any day of the week.    Give us our Daisy Cutter, Anti Hero and the like and we are happy campers.  Finch's makes some stellar hop bombs as well, and tonight we rolled out their IIPA Hardcore Chimera complete with bad ass Iron Maiden font.    The beer pours a super cloudy dark orange, almost brown with a firm sudsy white head.   The aroma is all citrus peel, mostly orange and grapefruit, and is unbelievably inviting.   The flavor is delicious; crisp and bitter and overflowing with hoppy goodness.  It's fairly smooth for an IIPA even given its hefty 9% ABV.   It's actually pretty easy drinking which raises the danger level a little more on this beer.  The pairing was spot-on, the big spicy burger and the big hoppy beer is a match made in food heaven.

Lo-Pan "Colossus" -  A new Small Stone Records release is always a cause for a celebration and we couldn't wait to crank up this new release from Ohio rockers Lo-Pan.  Some good time tunes for a good time beer and burger feast.    The opening track "Regulus" is a nice synopsis of the band themselves; heavy yet melodic, bringing elements of Tool in the vocal department to go along with some catchy grunge-like groove and riffage, in a free flowing  "Ten"-era Pearl Jam kind of way.   "Land of the Blind" is a little darker and a little heavier, but still carries with it a lot of melody.    The best track on the album is "Black Top Revelation".  As the name implies, the tune is custom-made for the open road.  The song slams and features some killer vocals, sharing some similarities with label mates Freedom Hawk.   Another pedal to the metal track is "Marathon Man", complete with the intro of a key going to the ignition and the car starting up.  "N.P.D" is a quick little punk-tinged number with huge soaring anthemic vocals.   The title track is another highlight featuring some incredible drum work and vocals.  The groove on this track is sick as well .  "Vox" brings a Jane's Addiction feel with it, with some similarities to "Mountain Song".  The band cools the engines a bit on the somewhat chill "Eastern Seas" and its hypnotic mix of Perfect Circle meets Kansas.  The album closes with "The Duke" that features a heavy, dark but extremely catchy riff as well as a smokin' solo.  "Colossus" is just a fun album to crank up nice and loud.  You'll need your air drums and air guitar ready as you're going to need them when you spin this disc.