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

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

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Roasted Jalapeño and Pimiento Cheese Burger/Carson's Brewery RIPA/Whitey Morgan and the 78's "Sonic Ranch"

A good old fashioned Memorial Day BBQ saw us bring these cheesy and spicy Roasted Jalapeño and Pimiento Cheese Burgers to the table.  We were feeding a crowd, so we wanted to keep it simple by grilling up a cow's worth of grass fed burgers then smearing the pretzel buns with a huge dollop of pimiento cheese and topping them only with some roasted jalapeño slices and a few rings of crisp raw yellow onion.  The burgers were washed down with the RIPA red india pale ale from Evansville's Carson's Brewery.  To keep the peace with the wide range of attendees at the BBQ and also to go along with the southern-style burgers, we went with a little southern honky tonk with the brand new release from Whitey Morgan and the 78s "Sonic Ranch".

Roasted Jalapeño and Pimiento Cheese Burger -  To start we need to make the burgers, which are just 1/2 pound patties of 80/20 grassfed beef that we form and season with salt, pepper and garlic.

To the grill we go with these patties and also a few jalapeño peppers.  On a hot grill toss on the burgers and the peppers.

Grill the patties until a nice crust forms on both sides then move to the cool side of the grill.

Continue to turn the peppers over the high heat until blistered and softened.

Remove the burgers and peppers from the grill and keep warm.

To build these, we place a patty on the bottom half of a warmed pretzel bun.  To the top half add a large helping of pimiento cheese and a few slices of raw onion.

Finally some chopped jalapeños tops the burger.

That is all she wrote on these.  Honestly, these burgers needed nothing else.  They had the perfect amount of cheese and spice.

Carson's Brewery RIPA - This was yet another beer that sucked us in by the kick ass label that adorned the bottle.  This RIPA from Indiana's Carson's Brewery pours a cloudy reddish brown with a bubbly cream head. The aroma is sweet with cane sugar and good amounts of booze and hops. The flavor is boozy right away with a huge wallop of hops following shortly after. It's a bigger beer, with a medium mouthfeel.   We love our IPAs with our big burgers and this combo did not disappoint!

Whitey Morgan and the 78's "Sonic Ranch" -  Ok, so stoner rock this album may not be, but Whitey Morgan and the 78's used to be signed to Small Stone Records, possibly the best stoner rock label out there, so a lot of people who followed the label were exposed to Morgan's music, us included.  The band and label have since parted ways, but Whitey Morgan and the 78's continue to put out music including this brand-spanking new release "Sonic Ranch".   So, it's probably time for a little full disclosure.   Country music to us is a lot like Kiss, Rush and REO Speedwagon.  "What?" you say?  Pretty much anything before 1981, you can keep as far as we're concerned.   Of course there are exceptions, but when it comes to country this whole pop country fad has us so turned off that even the sound of any new twang coming out these days we're super skeptical about.  Having a history with Whitey Morgan though, we know his pedigree and his outlaw country drawl that evokes classic Haggard.   Ok, back to "Sonic Ranch", we had it on repeat for several hours and it just kept getting better and better.  The album starts off with the good time bar anthem "Me and the Whiskey" that is a little Hank Williams Junior and a little David Allan Coe.  "Low Down on the Backstreet" is a good old fashioned honky tonk tune that needs to be either played out of an old tavern jukebox or played live behind some chicken wire stage.   The dark and dusty "Waitin' 'Round to Die" has a rockabilly tinge to it that is super cool.  Looking for a boot-stomping good time?  You'll find one in "Goin Down Rocking".   The album's best track comes on the soulful and emotional "Good Timin' Man", it's what Kid Rock tries to evoke on every country rock ballad that comes off sounding a bit rehearsed.  "Ain't Gonna Take It Anymore" is a scorned lover ditty that is better than most.  The album closes with "That's How I Got to Memphis" which is another highlight, it is so ridiculously catchy and features some incredible guitar work.   "Sonic Ranch" is an instant country classic and probably our favorite in the Whitey Morgan catalog.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grilled Tuscan Steak/Lexington Brewing Co. Kentucky Rye Barrel IPA/Clan "Witchcraft"

It's been a loooooooooooooong time since we've done a big steak on here.  We're jumping back in, in a big way with perhaps the one of the biggest of the bunch, the well marbled porterhouse.  We're cooking it up in the classic Tuscan-style rubbed down with just olive oil, salt and pepper then grilled over ridiculously hot coals.  A pat of basil butter and served with a quick tomato and green pea salsa is all this rustic steak needs.  We needed a big beer to pair up with this mammoth steak and we went with the equally large Kentucky Rye Barrel IPA from Lexington Brewing Co.   A meal this incredible demands great music, leave it to the U.K.'s Clan to bring the goods on their "Witchcraft" album.

Grilled Tuscan Steak - We love meals like this, so simple to prepare but so spectacular not only in the results but also the presentation.   There are only a few ingredients, so we need to make sure all of them are up to snuff quality-wise.  Grab a large porterhouse from the butcher, great quality extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground pepper and sea salt.  Rub down the steak with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Let the steak rest at room temperature while we get the grill set-up and make the basil butter.

For the herbed butter soften some real butter then mix in a little chopped basil.   Pop the mixed the herbed butter in the freezer to let it set up.

Now to the grill we go, we need a full chimney of lump charcoal heated up to a fiery gray ash. Pour the hot coals on one side of the grill, leaving the other side of the grill cool.  Place the steak over the hottest part of the coals.

Sear the steak on both sides until nicely charred on both sides and move to the cool side of grill and cover.  Let the steak cook until the inside is at a medium to medium-rare doneness.  A pat of the herbed butter goes right on the hot steak

Cover the steak to keep warm.  The final step is the tomato salsa which is just a pint of  grape tomatoes, a tablespoon of olive oil, two minced garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of green peas, 1/4 cup of fresh shredded parmesan and a splash of fresh balsamic vinegar.  Saute the garlic, tomatoes and green peas in the warmed olive oil until softened then add in the parmesan cheese and balsamic.  Mix well to incorporate.

Serve the salsa next to the steak and serve immediately.  You can never go wrong with a big steak and that is something we should do on here more often!

Lexington Brewing Co. Kentucky Rye Barrel IPA -  Our first beer from the Lexington Brewing Co, is their super strong rye barrel IPA. The beer pours a dark auburn with almost no head to speak of. The aroma is sweet and boozy like vanilla bourbon. The flavor has vanilla bean and molasses on the front end that closes with a smooth yet boozy whiskey bite. It's a huge, strong beer and exactly what we needed to stand up to the rich, monstrous steak we were pairing it with.

Clan "Witchcraft"  - You can file this album under "Amazing Bandcamp Finds".  The U.K.'s Clan brings it with a super groovy, retro release in "Witchcraft".  The album is amazing and with each successive listen it keeps getting better and better.  It begins with "No Fairytale", an early 70's Alice Cooper-like shock rocker.  The song slams like crazy and is super catchy.  It's a great opener and sets the foundation for the rest of the album.   You want to talk about bringing the funk?  "War Paint" is dripping with groove.  "First Step" shows off some lyrical chops to go along side a catchy rocker of a tune.  "Leave It Be" begins with a thumping "Running Free"-like galloping bass line and continues on to be a totally melodic number.   Combining dark with psychedelic on "Vultures",  the band creates a cool yet chill sound with a Chris Robinson/Black Crows feel to it.  "Little Headaches" features some retro bluesy boogie in the Foghat vain.  Like your songs down-tuned and sludgy but delivered with a bluesy swagger?  Imagine a hybrid of Pentagram and Free and you've pretty much summed up "Great Golden Sun".   Some very cool eastern-inspired guitar work opens up "The Aging Wizard" before the song gets a little doomy and super heavy making it the most Sabbath-y sounding track on the album.   The album closes with "The Death of Witchcraft" which has an eerie "Aqualung"-era Tull sound to it.   It's a super slow and haunting tune that also dabbles in Pink Floyd and Big Elf territory.   "Witchcraft" is an incredible album that we've been cranking up quite a bit around here lately.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Shrimp and Zucchini Pasta Fra Diavalo/Upland Brewing Wheat Ale/Kyuss "Wretch"

Tonight we christened one of the coolest food kitchen gadget gifts ever received.   The Veggetti.  We're serious, the Veggetti.  Ok, yuck it up, when you're all finished cackling, we can get started.  The humble zucchini  gets turned into linguine noodles then sautéed with diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, olive oil and basil then covered in shredded parmesan cheese before being served with spicy grilled shrimp surrounding the mound of "pasta".  This light and summery dish called for an equally seasonal beer in which Indiana's Upland Brewing was up to challenge, providing their delicious and easily quaffed Wheat Ale.   For the tunes, you can never go wrong when Kyuss is on the stereo and tonight we reached deep into their catalog back to their debut "Wretch"

Shrimp and Zucchini Pasta Fra Diavalo - Let's get one thing straight right from the get go, zucchini pasta is NOT pasta.  Never was, never will be.  If we can all get past THAT, the dish that lies ahead is amazingly delicious.   We need about 5-6 decent size zucchinis then we run through the thickest setting on the Veggetti.

Toss the bowl in the fridge while we move on to the shrimp.  We are using raw, peeled shrimp that we toss in olive oil, salt and pepper.

Off to the grill we go which we have the coals at about a medium heat.  We're trying out this new mesh grilling basket, which we thought would melt on contact with the fire, but the label assured us was safe for the grill.  Toss the shrimp on the basket and cook 1-2 minutes per side until cooked through.  Remove from heat.

We make a quick finishing sauce for the shrimp using a 2-1 ratio of olive oil to sriracha.  Whisk well and toss with the shrimp.

Keep the shrimp warm while we tackle the zucchini pasta.  In a large saute pan warm some olive oil then add some red pepper flakes.  Once the red pepper is fragrant add in three cloves of chopped garlic. After a minute add a small handful of chopped basil and cook for about 30 seconds until it starts to wilt slightly.   The last item before we add the zucchini is two thinly sliced baby orange pepper rings.

Now we add the huge mound of zucchini to the pan, it looks like too much, but it cooks down significantly.  Season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring until the zucchini starts to soften.

At this point we add a little olive oil and heaping handful of shredded parmesan to the pan and mix well.

Next up is a can of diced tomatoes that gets added to the pan and tossed with the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.

We are ready to plate.  We pile a big mound of pasta on a plate then top with a little more fresh parmesan dusted on top.

We place the grilled shrimp around the pasta and dig in.   Honestly, this was incredible, hitting all of the notes of a summery pasta dish and then some.

Upland Brewing Wheat Ale - You know what happens when you buy a sampler case from a local brewer?  You feature their beers a lot in pretty quick succession.  We again went with Indiana's Upland Brewing and this time pulled the wheat ale out of the pack.  The Wheat Ale is a bubbly golden ale with a foamy white head. The aroma is sweet and almost Pilsner like. The flavor follows suit landing somewhere between a Kolsch and a Pilsner. The beer is custom made for summer; crisp, lemony and very easy drinking.  This also happened to make it a near perfect pairing with the dish, making the whole meal fresh and light.

Kyuss "Wretch" -  Kyuss' sound has always been described as "raw" and perhaps no more the case than on their debut.  The later albums get most of the accolades, and rightly so, but "Wretch" is still one of our favorites in the same way "Louder Than Love" is one of our favorite Soundgarden albums, so full of raw energy.  The album starts off with "Beginning of What's About to Happen"  which is tuned so low that your insides will rattle as the heavy groove pounds along.  It's a quintessential driving tune and what the desert rock sound is all about, high on the fuzz.   "Love Has Passed Me By" continues along the same hard charging path but is so ridiculously catchy.  The best 1-2 punch of the album comes next with "Son of a Bitch" and "Black Widow".  The former features a slow, sludgy, almost grungy feel, not unlike early Soundgarden while "Black Widow" has a shuffle-like, edgy groove that may make this the best track on the album.  "Katzenjammer" is a punk gem full of frenetic fury.  On "Deadly Kiss" things start out a little slow and trippy before picking up the tempo quite a bit.  "The Law" is a huge tune with a huge groove that just keeps getting heavier as the song progresses.   With a little nod toward pure metal, the band cranks out "Isolation"with a wall of sound that is as a heavy as a mother.  "I'm Not" is another gem that ranks amongst the best on the album.  Pulling their foot off the brake, the band breaks into the fuzzy yet sludgy "Big Bikes"with the raunchy psychedelic groove of Mother Love Bone.  The album closes with the trippy instrumental "Stage III" which caps off an amazing album.