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

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Grilled Carnitas and Chorizo Quesadillas/Clown Shoes Galactica IPA/ Truckfighters "Gravity X"

Two of our favorite pork products, carnitas and chorizo are put to good use in this incredible quesadilla combination.  Slow smoked and braised pork shoulder and spicy crumbled chorizo gets liberally sprinkled on top of freshly shredded jack and cheddar cheese in large flour tortillas.  These get grilled up on a griddle until golden brown and slightly crunchy on the outside but gooey and cheesy in the middle.  The quesadillas are simply served with a cool avocado and tomatillo sauce.  For the beer, we sampled Clown Shoes' Galactica IPA.  The tunes were courtesy of one of our favorite bands, Sweden's Truckfighters and their excellent "Gravity X" release.

Grilled Carnitas and Chorizo Quesadillas - Assuming you already have some of our beer-braised carnitas ready, this dish comes together in just a few minutes.   For the meats, we just warm up some of the carnitas and brown a link of the chorizo.  Keep warm and set aside.

Next up comes the cheese in the form of two blocks each of cheddar and jack cheese.  Finely shred both and mix to combine.

The final step before hitting the griddle is knocking out this avocado and tomatillo sauce, which is simply blending two avocados with a fresh tomatillo salsa.

With everything ready to go, it's just a matter of putting it all together and slapping it on the griddle.  We start with large flour tortillas that go down on a hot griddle that has been brushed with grape seed oil and warm the tortilla on one side then flip over and add a couple of handfuls of the cheese immediately.

Next up comes the meat with a heavy layer of the chorizo and carnitas placed on top of the cheese.

Fold the tortilla in half and lightly press down to flatten.  This will also allow for some of the chorizo oil to drain slightly on the griddle which will add incredible flavor to the tortilla as well as turn it a beautiful reddish brown color.  Cook on both sides until that color is reached and the cheese is thoroughly melted.  If someone invented a chorizo oil that could be bottled, we would probably buy it by the case.

Remove the quesadilla from the griddle and slice into triangles, serve with the avocado sauce.  Quesadillas are normally not one of our "go-tos" on any bar app menu, but filled with carnitas and chorizo and served with the cool and tangy sauce, it would be.

Clown Shoes Galactica IPA - We saw this IPA available as a choice in the choose your own six pack section of one of our liquors stores, so we picked up a few to try.  Normally, Clown Shoes offerings are in the 22 oz. bomber format, this was a first for us seeing then in 12 oz. form.   The Galactica IPA pours a bubbly auburn color with a slight cream colored head.  The aroma is lemony and a little soapy with some pine notes as well.  As for the taste, it is sweet and fairly malt forward with the flavors of molasses, fig and tobacco vying for top position with the more bitter pine notes.  Oddly, our bottles had a decent amount of sediment signifying they may have been past their prime, so even though the malty, non-citrusy IPAs are not normally our favorite, we'll need to reserve our opinion on Galactica until after we get our hands on a fresher sample.  The beer wasn't super enjoyable, so it didn't do much for the pairing.

Truckfighters "Gravity X" -  Another killer release from Sweden's Truckfighters is 2005's "Gravity X".    Things were a little more raw sounding for the band back then, while still being super fuzzed out.  The opening track "Desert Cruiser" has an awesome heavy riff, with an old school 70's groove like classic Cactus.   The melodic soaring vocals just add to the catchiness of the tune.   "Gargarismo" has a bit in common with the rhythmic doom of fellow Swedes Witchcraft, just a little heavier.   The ultra-chill and atmospheric "Momentum" has a similar feel to their classic "Majestic" with its powerful building chorus.  The song bottoms out on the low end about halfway through allowing the bass to rattle the walls if you've got the song cranked up loud enough, and with this track its hard not to do that.   "Freewheelin'"shares some similarities with Fu Manchu, mostly due to the vocal cadence as well as Tool-like instrumental breakdown.   On "The Deal" the band pulls from the Orange Goblin-esque bike rock with excellent results.  "Manhattan Project" is a hard-driving, yet catchy number with a great fuzzy riff.  "In Search Of" kicks off with a heavy "Children of the Grave"-like riff which mixed with the huge vocals make this one of the best tracks on the album.  Continuing with the excellent songs that end the album, "Zapruder" which is heavy and funky in an old school RHCP way, is delivered in purely Swedish stoner rock fashion; fuzzy, groove-oriented and great vocals.  The album ends with the eight and a half minute appropriately named "Altered State".   The track is an exercise in some seriously mind-bending instrumental work that needs to be played in the appropriate environment.  For the better part of a decade, these guys have just plain killed it on all of their releases and "Gravity X" is no different.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Grilled Pepper and Black Bean Burrito Wrap/Saugatuck Brewing Co. Backyard IPA/Stone Antica "Stone Antica"

After almost a week away, we were excited to get back to the grill.   We had actually seen a vegetarian wrap on the menu at Grand Rapids' Topcat and our brain started racing on a vegetarian creation of our own.   We sliced red peppers, banana peppers and red onions into strips then tossed them in a little grape seed oil, cumin and chili powder.  We grilled them until slightly soft and charred then topped the hot veggies with a combination of freshly shredded jack and cheddar cheese until melted.  The cheesy vegetable mixture gets scooped on to a warmed whole wheat tortillas then topped with black beans, fire-roasted corn, cucumber and tomato before being wrapped up burrito-style and grilled until slightly crisp.  We serve the wrap with a side of ranchero salsa and tortilla chips.  For the beer, we brought back a growler of the easy-drinking Backyard IPA from Saugatuck Brewing Co.  The tunes were provided by Sweden's Stone Antica and their summery blend of funkified, groove-based grunge rock on their self-titled release.

Grilled Pepper and Black Bean Burrito Wrap -  This wrap has a killer combination of warm, grilled veggies and crunchy cool fresh veggies that makes for a delicious juxtaposition of textures and flavors.  We start with the grilled vegetables first and gather 2 ears of corn, 2 red peppers, 1 banana pepper and a red onion.  Slice the peppers and onions into thick strips and remove the husks from the corn.

On a grill that's at a medium heat, add the ears of corn directly over the flame.  Turn often until charred in spots.

In a grill pan add the sliced veggies then splash with grape seed oil and dust with cumin and chile powder.

Grill over the medium flame and toss often until soft and charred in spots.  Next we shred 1/4 block each of jack cheese and cheddar cheese and top the veggies with the cheese.

Cover the grill until the cheese is thoroughly melted.  Warm a flour tortilla then scoop the cheesy vegetable mixture into the tortilla.

Slice the kernels off the corn cob and add the corn as well as some black beans.

The fresh veggies come next.  We chop a beefsteak tomato and english cucumber then add the diced vegetables to the wrap.

Roll up the tortilla burrito-style with the seam on the bottom then place the wraps seam-side down on the grill.  Grill until the seam is sealed and the wrap is slightly crisp.

Slice in half and serve with the ranchero salsa and a helping of tortilla chips.   This wrap was just what the doctor ordered after a week of heavy eating, delivering big flavors and cheesy goodness without being the least bit heavy.

Saugatuck Brewing Co. Backyard IPA -  Anytime we're lucky enough to pair up our food with a fresh growler from a local microbrewery, we consider ourselves lucky.  In this case with Saugatuck Brewing Co.'s Backyard IPA, we consider ourselves very lucky.   The Backyard IPA pours a cloudy apple cider color with a thin bubbly head.  The aroma is sweet with mango and bitter citrus peel notes.   The flavor actually is more more bitter than sweet, leaning more to the strong pine side of the IPA spectrum rather than the fruity mango/citrus side.   The mouthfeel is extremely light making this a smooth, yet pungent summer sipper.   These low alcohol, yet super hoppy IPAs may very well be the best thing that has ever hit the microbrew world.  Ok, that may be a bit of a hyperbole, but not by much.  We could drink this beer all day long.  The pairing was spot-on; an easy-drinking hoppy IPA with a light and tasty grilled veggie wrap was perfect.

Stone Antica "Stone Antica" -  Sweden's Stone Antica kind of breaks the mold a little in terms of the fuzzed out rock you would expect to hear from a Swedish rock band, at least around these parts.  In the place of down-tuned fuzziness is a downright groove-based sound that also leans heavily on 90s grunge.  The opening track "Hypnotizer" is a perfect example; a fat bass groove and funky guitar riff make up the backbone of this Meat Puppets-esque tune.  The song is catchy and summery, yet still rocks.  "Wily, Tricky, Foxy, Sharp" is a rolling number which features a jazzy riff that will have your head bopping along to it from the first chord.   The song gets progressively heavier as it goes on but never loses its groove.   The semi-chill "On Your Way" is a really cool tune that is at times atmospheric and other times a rollicking a good time.   Things get moderately heavy on "They'll Strike You Out" with its revved up "Summer In The City" feel.   "Slip Away" is an airy summery tune along the lines of Fuel.  The album's high water mark is "Trigger".  Amazing guitar work and vocals carry this tune to amazing heights, resulting in a track similar to Stone Sour's "Bother", but a lot better.  Keeping with the  good time vibes is "Sun", a Californian summer track that has some Lit qualities to it mixed with the latin influences of Los Lonely Boys.  "You" kicks off with a modified "Cheap Sunglasses" riff that digs into some classic Texas blues territory with great results.  The album ends with the flamenco-sounding "Counting the Days", a beautiful acoustic number that further shows the band's wide range.   This album was an amazing surprise and one that we can't off our stereo, it's a perfect album for the season and one that we've cranked up loud almost daily for the last couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Grilled Poblano and Chorizo Torta/Slades Brewing Co. American Storm Hoppy Wheat Ale/Purple Hill Witch "Purple Hill Witch"

Tortas may be one of the best sandwiches on the face of the earth.  Classic Mexican ingredients tucked into fresh baked rolls, how can you go wrong?  Tonight's torta came together as a result of an abundance of poblano and cubanelle peppers we had on hand and a few links of chorizo.  We were all set to make our chile relleno, but switched gears last minute and this combination was born.  We bake Telera rolls then spread refried black beans on the bottom half along with a little bit of adobo sauce.  Browned chorizo, grilled peppers, queso fresco and pickled jalapeños all get stacked high before a hefty smear of guac goes on the top half.   As excited as we were about this sandwich, we were equally excited to pair it up with our very own Slades Brewing Co.'s American Storm Hoppy Wheat Ale.  The great food and beer needed an equally awesome album which was provided by Norway's Purple Hill Witch and their intoxicatingly doomy self-tilted release.

Grilled Poblano and Chorizo Torta - The first order of business is grilling the peppers.  We're using a combination of poblano and cubanelle peppers that we place over a scorching hot grill until charred on all sides.

Remove the peppers from the grill and drop them in a paper bag, then roll up the top to seal it.  While the peppers are sweating away in the bag, we can move to browning the chorizo.  After the chorizo is browned, the pepper should be ready to be peeled.

All that is left to do is gather the rest of the ingredients and start constructing.   We bake up some hot Telera rolls then get the refried black beans, chorizo, queso fresco, grilled peppers, adobo sauce, pickled jalapeños and guacamole ready.

Split the warm rolls in half and spread the bottom half with the refried black beans and the adobo sauce.

Next up comes the chorizo, a big scoop of it that we tightly pack and press into the black beans so it doesn't fall out.  We top that with the strips of grilled peppers.

We're not done yet.  Crumbled queso fresco gets sprinkled on next then a layer of pickled jalapeños.

The final piece is a huge helping of fresh guac spread over the top bun.  Close it up. cut in half and prepare for street food bliss.  Chorizo is one of favorites, but even it gets elevated when mixed with all of this goodness on a toasted roll.  

Slades Brewing Co. American Storm Hoppy Wheat Ale - So we were excited to brew this beer for a couple of reasons; 1) the hoppy American wheat is one of our favorite beer styles and 2.) this would be the first home brew batch that would be kegged.   The light wheat ale was dry-hopped with a good amount of citra hops making for a crisp summery beer with a bite.   American Storm pours a cloudy copper color with a foamy white head.  The aroma is hoppy with mango being the dominant scent along with some bitter pine notes.  The flavor is crisp and slightly sweet from the wheat but with a nice bitter hop bite.  We increased our hop quantities in the dry-hop stage, so this was our hoppiest beer to date, but in our mind it could've been even hoppier.  As it stands, the beer is a fine representation of the style, but our expectation in brewing this was lofty trying to get to Gumballhead or 80 Acre status, which we fell a tad short of.  The beer is still delicious and a great summer beer to have on draft.  It also worked out to be a great pairing with the torta being just light enough to work with all of the incredible flavors the sandwich had to offer.

Purple Hill Witch "Purple Hill Witch" - Man, we love it when we come across an album just because we thought the band name and cover art sounded and looked cool then the album winds up being amazing.  Such was the case with Oslo's Purple Hill Witch.   With a sound cemented in St. Vitus-like doom but with a tempo that picks up the pace every so often and vocals that at times are atmospheric but can also be belted out with the best of them.   The opening track "Queen of the Hill" sounds like it easily could have been an unreleased track off of Vitus' "Lillie F-65"'s album.  A fuzzy, sludgy riff trudges around like Godzilla wreaking havoc throughout the city.  Where the sound differs is when the song kicks it into high gear into a Sabbathy jam.  Speaking of Godzilla, "Astral Booze" features a BOC-esque "Godzilla" riff combined with the doomy vocal cadence of Pentagram's Bobby Liebling resulting in a very cool tune.  The riff that kicks off "The Final Procession" is a slowed down, sludged out version of "Alabtross" which works with the layered, atmospheric vocals.  "The Landing" features a riff that cracks like a bullwhip.  The vocals on this track are also some of the best on the album.  As if that weren't enough, the solo just plain smokes.  "Aldebaranian Voyage" is a smokin' instrumental that sounds like the opening of Maiden's "Where Eagles Dare".  The album ends with the 11+ minute title track which is another lesson in melodic doom complete with Wino-like vocals.  Over the course of the tune, things speed up a bit then slow down to a crawl before resuming with the slow to medium paced sludge that kicked the song off.  This self-titled is a doomy masterpiece that stands with the best of Vitus, Sleep, Electric Wizard in that category.