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

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Asian BBQ Pork Sandwich with Kimchi Pickles/Arcade Brewing Graveyard Coffee Pale Ale/XII Boar "Pitworthy"

We understand the McRib has its cult following, can't say we quite understand why it does, but we do know that following exists.  So we broke down the components.  A piece of "pork" shaped like a rib that is rather gelatinous that is dunked in a corn syrup-y sauce.  Tart run of the mill pickles that adorn every McDonalds sandwiches, chopped onions and an oblong sesame seed bun.   We've wrapped our head around the concept, now how do we make this thing delicious? The first thing we tackle is the all important pork.  We needed something that is tender and melts in the mouth but was actually a part of the pig and not some machine-made "rib".  So we went with the tender pork tenderloin.  The pork sits overnight in an Asian marinade.  Next up is the pickles which we replace with homemade refrigerator kimchi pickles.  The last thing we swap out is the spongy sesame bun with a bakery ciabatta roll.  With these big, flavorful changes, we don't need to mess much with the sliced white onion.  A little cilantro and sriracha are the only additions we took the liberty of taking.  To wash down these sandwiches, we went with another stellar offering, the Graveyard Coffee Pale Ale, from one of our favorite local breweries, Arcade Brewing.  On the stereo was the new album "Pitworthy" from the UK's XII Boar.

Asian BBQ Pork Sandwich with Kimchi Pickles - The pickles on this sandwich can be made well ahead of time.  In a measuring glass combine 1 cup of rice wine vinegar with 1 tablespoon of Sambal Oelek and a splash of fish sauce.  Whisk well then add 4 small dried red chiles, 3 chopped green onions and a small piece of sliced ginger.

Thinly slice 1 long english cucumber and alternate the cucumber slices with the kimchi marinade in a mason jar.

The pickles can hang in the fridge for a few days.  Now we can move on to the Asian BBQ sauce.   These are a pretty standard cast of characters here for this sauce.  We start with a cup of hoisin sauce and a cup and a half of Mae Ploy, sweet chile sauce.  Then we add a tablespoon of sriracha and a splash each of fish sauce and sesame oil.  We whisk those ingredients together well then slowly pour in rice vinegar until the sauce thins out slightly, maybe 1/3 cup in all.  This also goes into a mason jar to hang out in the fridge.

We can now move on to the pork marinade.  In a blender combine 1 roughly chopped asian pear with 1/4 cup of soy sauce and a splash of sesame oil.  Blend until smooth but still a little chunky.  Pour the marinade over thin slices of pork tenderloin that have been cut roughly the same size as the ciabatta rolls.

To a grill we can go now.  Since the meat is so thin, we'll basically flash grill these over a high heat, 3 minutes per side or so to get a nice crust and still have the inside cooked through.

Remove from the grill and brush on the bbq sauce liberally.

Now to put this sandwich together. Slice open the roll and lay a slice of the bbq pork inside.  Top with a few slices of pickle and the sliced white onion.  We finish off with a few sprigs of cilantro and squeeze of sriracha.  This sandwich basically had zero in common with a McRib, leaning more toward the banh mi side of the food spectrum, and it was delicious.

Arcade Brewing Graveyard Coffee Pale Ale -  We're always excited to feature a beer from this super cool Chicago brewery.  Tonight we went with their Graveyard Coffee Pale Ale which was a trip to experience.  The beer is extremely bubbly and light amber in color.  The aroma is deceiving from the looks of the beer. There is a vanilla and burnt sugar scent that floats from the glass along with some chocolatey notes. The flavor is unusual in the best way possible, doing the name of this beer proud by combining sweet and rich coffee with a bitter and hoppy pale ale.  The beer is so flavorful which is also quite the contradiction to the super light mouthfeel the beer possesses.  Pairing-wise it was a winner too, with both the coffee and hops working in tandem with the Asian flavors in the sandwich.

XII Boar "Pitworthy" -  Coming at you like Molly Hatchet high on a cocktail made from moonshine, whiskey, piss and razor blades is XII Boar.   Taking their rightful place alongside southern rock/metal stalwarts The Four Horsemen and Artimus Pyledriver on their soon to be released "Pitworthy", the music is certainly worthy of any self-respecting moshpit but is equally at home on the southern dirt back roads going about 120.  The album kicks off with the barn burning "Sharpshooter" and possesses a riff that would make Angus Young proud.  The song chugs along like a raging locomotive with a frenetic pace while maintaining an incredible groove.  "Young Man" is a huge slice of good time heavy rock and roll boogie while "Crushing The P" leans more toward the swampy sludge metal of Crowbar.  There's quite a bit of blues going on at the beginning of "The Schaeffer Boogie"  with some sweet guitar noodling that soon gets traded in for some ear-splitting fuzz.   The title track has a lot of CoC going on; heavy, southern groove-oriented rock and roll.  After a twangy, swampy instrumental "Crawdaddy Blues" the band fires up the engines again on "Chicken Hawk" which leans more toward pure thrash metal.  Keeping things heavy, "Battle Boar" is a beast of a track.  The best track on the album belongs to "Rock City" with a humongous groove and head-banging shuffle beat, the song needs to be cranked up loud.  The closing track is "Quint" and is another highlight.  In Orange Goblin-esque fashion it cranks up the heavy biker metal boogie in a crushing yet melodic way.  If you're looking for some good time beer-drinking, shit-kicking music, XII Boar is your band.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sausage and Jalapeño Chili/Lagunitas Night Time/ABBOT "Between Our Past and Future Lives"

The working name for this dish was "pantry chili" but seeing as that name probably wouldn't get people salivating to run out and make it, we switched it to the much sexier "sausage and jalapeño chili".  In essensce though, this whole dish came about after scouring the fridge, freezer and pantry to use up some lingering items.  Italian sausage, kidney beans, chicken broth, onions, peppers and Ro-tel cook down in a large pot until thick and hearty.  We paired up the chili with a new seasonal release from Lagunitas, their Night Time ale.  For the tunes, Finland's ABBOT provides the perfect fuzzy stoner rock soundtrack for the evening.

Sausage and Jalapeño Chili - Usually our chilis are day long affairs with the cook time, not so with this one.  If you've got an hour, you can have this chili on the table and ready to eat.  We start by browning  1 pound of italian sausage in a dutch oven until no longer pink.

To the pan add 1 small diced white onion, 1 diced green pepper and 1 diced jalapeño pepper.  Saute the veggies until soft, about 10 minutes.

Next up we add 1 can of chicken broth, 2 cans of drained kidney beans, 1 can of Ro-tel,  1/2 cup of chili sauce, 1 tablespoon each of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and a teaspoon of dried oregano.

Cook the chili for about 45 minutes until thickened, if not thickened enough, you can add a tablespoon of brown rice flour to the chili and stir well to thicken.

All that's left to do is ladle the chili into bowls and top with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheddar and hot sauce.  We were blown away by the flavors this hodgepodge chili produced.  It was earthy, spicy, rich and delicious.  It's a chili we threw together but now one that we would make again and again.

Lagunitas Night Time - As a general rule, we don't pass up a new Lagunitas offering, ever.  These six packs were just off the truck at our local liquor store when we snatched them up.   The Night Time ale true to its name pours dark black and shiny like onyx. The head is tan and bubbly and stands atop the ale like a root beer float. The aroma is all grapefruit, which was getting us ready for a tasty black IPA. The flavor, while bitter with citrus peel also has a good amount of black pepper spiciness, charcoal smoke and rich unsweetened cocoa notes. It's a super complex ale that wears many hats, all of them delicious.  The beer worked really well with the chili too, the beer's spiciness and hoppiness melded nicely with those same spicy notes in the chili.

ABBOT "Between Our Past and Future Lives" - This new album from Finland's ABBOT was quite the find.  Bringing elements of the melodic Swedish stoner rock scene with the free-flowing fuzz of Palm Desert and mixing in the classic hard rock of Alice Cooper, "Between Our Past and Future Lives" captures all of it to produce a no-frills, good time album.   "Child of Light" is the disc's opener and lays down a fuzzy bluesy riff that is reminiscent of Mammoth Volume's "Helly's Creek".  It's one of the best tracks on the album and really sets the tone for what is to follow.  On "Diamond Heart" the pace picks up considerably.  The frenetic punk beat is countered with vocals that are equal part Hank III and They Might Be Giants.  The twangy, desert-y "Grave Encounters" has that summery feel of Masters of Reality.  "Moonsnake Child" is a melodic slice of metal  right out of the NWOBHM book.   It's back to the blues on "Supermind" with a Scorps-like "The Zoo" riff that forms the backbone of the song allowing for the guitar to noodle itself around in fuzzy fashion.   The title track is a nice piece of boogie rock and roll mixing classic Deep Purple with Fu Manchu.  Another bluesy gem is "Mr. Prowler Man" which gives a little more of a nod to the late 60s psychedelic blues than anything else.  The album ends with the slow churning "Keep on Moving" that true to its name, keeps on moving until it becomes one hell of a barn burner.    It's up there as one of the disc's best tracks.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homemade Chicago-style Italian Beef/Boulevard Brewing Boss Tom/Dead Feathers "Dead Feathers"

Every Italian Beef dish we've done on here has utilized pre-sliced italian beef from the deli (one of the many perks of living in the Chicago area) but today we unveil our recipe to make this delicious local delicacy from scratch.  Huge chunks of bottom round get heavily seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper then browned in a large pot.  The beef simmers in a combination of beef stock and giardiniera for the day until it shreds apart and sits in its own gravy.  From there we can pile it on a fresh roll with a little hot giardiniera on top or pile it on a large piece of garlic bread with mozzarella and giardiniera.  The choice is yours.  We wanted a pretty straight forward, easy drinking, lighter beer to go with the sandwich so we went with the Boss Tom golden bock from Missouri's Boulevard Brewing.  Since we're doing an iconic Chicago sandwich for the food, it seems fitting to crank up an awesome local band to go along with it.  The beautiful and mesmerizing yet doomy and heavy Dead Feathers proved to be the perfect disc to spin with their self-titled EP.

Homemade Chicago-style Italian Beef - All you really need for this recipe is time.  The prep work is almost nothing, it's just a matter of giving the dutch oven enough time to do its thing.  We start with a  nicely trimmed piece of bottom round that we slice into large chunks, roughly 4" x 4".  We heavily season all sides with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

In a large dutch oven heat 1/4 cup of olive oil and add the beef to the pan, but do not overcrowd.  This part can be done in batches if necessary.  Brown the meat well on all sides and remove from pan.

Pour a little beef stock in the hot pan and scrape the brown bits from the bottom.  Add back the chunks of meat and pour enough beef stock to come about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way covering the beef.  Next pour in a bottle of either hot or mild giardiniera.

Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours until the meat shreds apart.  Keep the pot warm.

From this point you can spoon some of the beef and gravy into soft french rolls with hot giardiniera and call it a day, for a real Chicago-style Italian beef.

Or, you can split some french bread and slather it with butter and garlic powder and pop it in a 375 degree oven for a few minutes.

Pile the beef on the bottom part of the bread and spoon on the hot giardiniera.  Layer a few slices of mozzarella on top.

The whole thing goes back into the oven until the cheese melts.  The top half goes on and this beast of a sandwich gets sliced up.  You can't go wrong with either version as the killer italian beef steals the show in both of them.

Boulevard Brewing Boss Tom - This typically adventurous and bold Missouri brewery can also throw down some a little more straight forward beer from time to time. As is the case with their golden bock, Boss Tom.   True to its name, the beer pours a dark golden color. The head starts out slight then dissapates to mere white bubbles almost immediately. The aroma is sugary sweet of apple and caramel. The flavor as well has a lot of green apple notes offset by some tart lemon. The yeast provides some good earthiness with a slight hop presence lending a bite to the finish.  Overall it's a really flavorful and balanced beer that was still light enough to wash down the salty and garlicky sandwich.

Dead Feathers "Dead Feathers" -  Our introduction to this incredible local band came by seeing them live opening up for The Well at Empty Bottle last week.  We snatched their self-titled EP at the show and have had it in the CD player ever since.    If you took the best of old Jefferson Airplane and the trippiest of the Stevie Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac and set that to some atmospheric doom, you'd get pretty close to what Dead Feathers is all about and it's quite a trip indeed, pun intended.   The EP starts off with "With Me" that features a dark, melodic, trance-like riff.  The vocals are airy and waft over the music for awhile.  The song builds both instrumentally and vocally from there into a fairly huge and powerful number.  "Night Child" is straight up late 60s psychedelic, honestly if you were watching a Woodstock documentary and this song was playing in the background, you wouldn't even question it.  The vocals are amazing and are allowed to weave a beautiful path throughout the music.  We've found ourselves hitting the "repeat" button on this track quite a few times over the last couple of days.  There is a trippy yet bluesy Doors-feel to "Color Exhaustion".  Juxtapose that sound with the stoner rock fuzzed out guitar tone used on the solo and you've got a really cool sounding tune.   The disc ends with the heavy "Horse & Sands" which combines the frenetic classic rock of Cactus with the eerie doom of Pentagram.    They've got the old school sound down on this rocker of a track, with a groove as thick as mud to boot.      At only four songs it left us wanting more, but hey, isn't that what the "repeat" button is for?  Also, make sure to catch these guys live when you can as they vibe is even more amazing in person.