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

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spicy Grilled Asian Chicken Salad Sandwich/New Glarus Brewing Spotted Cow/Dozer "In The Tail of a Comet"

We've made it this far into adulthood without ever having had chicken salad pass these lips, then all of a sudden twice in the past couple of weeks we've had chicken salad that tastes like dry chunks of chicken  that has been tossed in a bottle of Hellman's, shaken and then poured out on to cold, hard bread.  Instead of chalking it up to "there's a reason we've avoided chicken salad like the plague all this time", we instead studied why this horrible concoction is always so…..horrible.  Well, we've touched on two culprits; dry chicken and the superfluous use of mayo.  The other tragedy with most chicken salads is the one dimensional taste that can only be described as "creamy".  "How's the chicken salad?"  "It's creamy tasting."  Gross.  So how do we reinvent this cursed dish, you ask?  We start by adding dimensions to it, an Asian flare with soy, ginger, garlic then some water chestnuts for crunch.    Next the chicken itself.  It's marinated first, then grilled before finally being steamed in pineapple juice until the meat shreds apart.  Lastly, it's the what we would call "the binding".  Mayo is more of a co-star in this movie sharing screen time with dijon and sriracha.  The final ingredients include chopped walnuts, white onions and fresh cracked pepper.  All of this goodness goes on top of warm french bread to create something we almost didn't want to call chicken salad.   This light fare begged for an easy drinking ale to go along with it and we were fortunate enough to be the beneficiary of some of the coveted Spotted Cow from Wisconsin's New Glarus Brewing Co.   We went classic with the tunes, all the way back to the Swedish stoner rock kings Dozer's debut "In the Tail of a Comet".

Spicy Grilled Asian Chicken Salad Sandwich - Who's ready to reinvent chicken salad?  Great!  Let's start with the chicken.  We need to whip together a quick marinade consisting of a small can of pineapple juice, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and a tablespoon each of crushed ginger and sriracha.  Place the chicken in the mixture and marinate over night.

Fast forward to the next day and get a two-zone fire going on the grill.  Place the chicken over the cool part of the grill and cover, after about 7-9 minutes some cool "tv commercial grill lines" will form and the chicken will be close to cooked through.  Scoot the chicken over the hot coals to finish cooking as well as getting a nice char on them.

Remove the chicken from the grill momentarily and place in a foil packet, pour another small can of pineapple juice on top then fold up the foil and return to the cool side of the grill.  Cover for another 3-5 minutes.

Bring the chicken inside so we can put everything together.  In a large bowl add the chicken breasts and shred with two forks.

Next up in the bowl is one small roughly chopped onion, a small can of diced water chestnuts and a handful of chopped walnuts.

To bind this stuff together we add next a cup of mayo, a 1/4 cup of dijon and tablespoon of sriracha.  Mix well and season with fresh cracked pepper.

Chill the mixture while we bake a take and bake french loaf.  Once baked, slice the loaf in half length-wise.

On the bottom half of the loaf, load it up with the chicken salad.  The only other toppings needed are slices of fresh, ripe tomatoes and sliced fresh jalapeƱos.

Close this baby with the top half of bread and prepare your tastebuds for something amazing.  It may look like chicken salad, but rest assured this ain't your run of the mill cafeteria variety.

New Glarus Brewing Spotted Cow  - The cult following of New Glarus Brewing, particularly their cream ale Spotted Cow, is near Gumballhead craziness without the availability issue (well at least if you live in Wisconsin).  Spotted Cow pours yellow, fizzy and foamy with a sweet malty aroma. The flavor is equally sweet, almost sugary, like a lighter milk stout.  It's light mouthfeel and crispness makes it a made for summer beer and people buy it by the case as their everyday beer.  It paired up perfectly with the light summery sandwich bringing just enough flavor to the table to complement the bigger flavors in the sandwich without coming close to overpowering it.

Dozer "In The Tail of a Comet" - It's been awhile since we travelled back to the rich stoner rock soil of Sweden to crank something up for a BBQ. This time we're traveling in the way back machine, to one of the pioneers of the sound, the almighty Dozer and their classic debut "In the Tail of a Comet". In the late 90s there must have been a huge shipment of sand, down tuned instruments and a ton of beer that made its way from Palm Desert to Oslo. That desert rock torch was passed from the likes of Kyuss and Fu Manchu cross-continent and used to ignite arguably the best stoner rock "sub scene" outside of Palm Desert itself in Sweden.  Dozer's formula is straight forward but no less impressive.  A huge amount of fuzz, infectious riffs, fat grooves and killer vocals.  As far as debuts go, it doesn't get much better than this.  The disc starts off with the hurling asteroid sound of "Supersoul".  This sound would eventually spawn Greenleaf; tunes so fast and so loud that it literally shakes your walls.  "Lightyears Ahead" brings with it a good amount of Hendrix-like psychedelic guitar to go along with a slow and heavy headbanging groove.  As the name suggests, "Speeder" is a cool little road tune with a bluesy groove and a huge, catchy chorus.  "Inside the Falcon" gives a glimpse of another aspect of what would become another part of Dozer's classic sound, the fuzzy psychedelia that conjures up Monster Magnet in their early days.  "Riding The Machine" starts off like "Running Free" with its galloping bass and drums before going straight into fuzzy desert rock territory. "Cupola" is pure punk fury in fifth gear whereas "Grand Dragon" slams things back into first gear with a sludgy, doom tempo, which just goes to show the band's musical prowess.  The album ends with "Captain Spaceheart" and it's a no holds barred barn burner of a tune, ending the album the same way it kicked off, on fire.  Almost 20 years later this album still smokes and the band has still not missed a beat on any of the subsequent releases in their discography, the mark of a truly classic band.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Ultimate Grilled Patty Melt/Upland Brewing Oktoberfest/Black Rainbows "Hawkdope"

Making burgers for a crowd is one of those things that is always a little tricky.  First from a technical standpoint, you only have so much time from when the burgers are pulled off the grill until they are ready to be devoured before they start to cool and dry out, so timing at the grill is key.  Secondly, with so many options for toppings, buns, etc.., trying to just stick to just one theme and having that please everyone is a challenge.  With that in mind, we went the patty melt route, because, truth be told, who doesn't like a patty melt?  Well, full disclosure, we really don't.  The traditional greasy, watery onions, soggy pumpernickel ones anyway.  So we dubbed this The Ultimate Patty Melt by swapping out the pumpernickel for onion rolls and adding a bunch of sharp cheddar, a tangy and creamy dijonnaise and just the right amount of actual grilled onions to go atop a peppery grilled patty.  It may be a little early, but we've already dipped our toe in the Oktoberfest pool and kicked off the season with Upland Brewing's version.  Capping off an awesome night outside was the heavy and sleazy fuzz rock of Italy's Black Rainbows on their latest release "Hawkdope".

The Ultimate Grilled Patty Melt - Let's get right to it, grab a cast iron skillet, a few thinly sliced onions some olive oil and butter and head out to the grill.  Heat up the butter and oil and add the onions and some freshly ground pepper.

Stir the onions carefully until they begin to brown nicely then remove from heat and keep warm.

Next up comes the chuck patties that have been heavily seasoned with fresh cracked black pepper.  These go over the hottest part of the grill and charred on both sides.

This would be a good time to be mindful of flare-ups

Scoot the burgers to the cool side of the grill and drape each patty with two slices of sharp cheddar cheese.  Cover and let the cheese melt for a couple of minutes.

The last piece before we start building the patty melts is the dijonnaise which is just equal parts mayo and dijon whipped together.

Alright, construction time.  Add a little more oil to the cast iron skillet and put the bottom half of the onion roll, inside out, on the hot griddle.  Place the patty on top followed by a scoop of onions.

Next we spread the dijonnaise on the top of the onion roll and place that face down on top of the onions  then flip to brown that side of the bun (confused?  See the picture below).  What you wind up with is a perfectly cheesy, crispy, onion-y and meaty burger that is equal parts grilled cheese and patty melt.

Upland Brewing Oktoberfest - We've been nothing but impressed by this local brewery, so even though it's early in the season we were excited to get their take on this fall beer staple.   The beer pours the classic amber hue but with not as much head and not as much malty sweetness as a traditional Oktoberfest would possess.   The flavors though do line-up with what you might expect, bready notes while maintaining an ease of drinking to it.  The beer is really balanced and a great representation of this awesome autumn lager.  The beer's smooth mailtiness did wonders with the sweet notes in the onions while still being able to cut the richness in the sauce and cheese.

Black Rainbows "Hawkdope" -  Blasting out of Italy's stoner rock scene is the raucous Black Rainbows, a molotov cocktail of punk, sleaze and desert rock.    When Chicago's The Last Vegas released their "Lick Em and Leave Em" debut in 2004, we played the hell out of it back then and were anxious for a follow-up.  That sophomore release did happen, but with a new singer and new sound and that need wasn't filled until now.  "Hawkdope" is that album we've been waiting for.  A perfect mix of Motorhead, Bad Wizard and Fu Manchu to get you through just about any situation; party in the woods, long desert drive, shooting pool at the bar and of course the backyard BBQ.   The disc starts off with the hard charging "The Prophet" combining soaring helium-lunged vocals with the some incredible licks.  The psychedelic punk of "Wolf Eyes" is a hybrid of The Stooges and Hendrix delivered at a breakneck pace.   The title track is another slice of spacey, fuzz rock gold in the same vein as early Monster Magnet and just as heavy.   It's an incredible nine minute jam that showcases just how ridiculously talented the band is musically.  "No Fuel No Fun" is pure, unadulterated desert rock that could easily fit on just about any Fu Manchu album.  "Hypnotize My Soul With Rock and Roll" in a addition to possessing an awesome title, is a huge tune bringing in elements of classic early Rainbow with The Datsuns.   Speaking of desert, "Waiting For the Sun" has that Doors-like bluesy desert feel to it, even though it's not the same "Waiting For the Sun".    The track that really best describes the band's sound is "Killer Killer Fuzz" which again recalls Monster Magnet in their prime.  The album ends with the trance-y "The Cosmic Picker" that incorporates some spoken word samples with some trippy atmospheric music.  "Hawkdope" slams and needs to be played at max. volume to fully appreciate it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Grilled Brazilian Chicken/Oaken Barrel Gnaw Bone/Old Stove "#1"

We know we say it all the time, but hands down this music scene is the best around not only for the music obviously, but the people that really sets it apart.  That common love of finding a new album, or just digging a more well known one and wanting to share it with others.  Such was the case with this release from Brazil's Old Stove "#1".   It's a killer release and we wanted to do something Brazilian-themed to match it up with that WASN"T steak.  Well, after Googling "Grilled Brazilian Recipes" we finally found a non-steak recipe somewhere around page 38.   This Brazilian grilled chicken recipe that we found actually is impossible to make in the U.S.  With no fewer than five ingredients that either can't be found or are just plain illegal here, we had to go with the essence of the recipe and let our creative flag fly.   Breaking it down; the paste for the marinade really consists of mainly heat, acid, garlic and paprika.  Boneless chicken thighs bath in that goodness overnight and are grilled over charcoal until crispy and juicy and served over a bed of black beans and rice.  The beer is one of the best we've had in a while in the form of Greenwood Indiana's Oaken Barrel and their truly addicting Gnaw Bone pale ale.  Of course, the aforementioned Old Stove was cranking out the fuzz to go along with all of this.

Grilled Brazilian Chicken - Ok, so now that we've teased this elusive marinade, let's get down to business.  In a blender we place four different kinds of peppers; unfortunately the pepper market in Indianapolis is still in its infancy so we went with literally the only three peppers the store had (Cubanella, JalapeƱo and Serrano) plus a couple of dried Guajillo chiles we still had in our pantry.  Next we toss in a few cloves of crushed garlic and a couple of tablespoons of paprika.

Next up comes the liquids.  We squeeze 1/2 of a fresh lemon, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar then we stream olive oil until a paste forms then season with salt.  What you wind up with is a spicy concoction that lands somewhere between a jerk and a chimichurri.

Pour the paste over the chicken thighs and toss to coat.  Cover the chicken and toss it in the fridge overnight.

Fast forward to the next day and drag these orange hued beauties out to the grill.  We have one side of the grill banked with a chimney of lit coals and the other side empty.  Place the chicken on the cool side and cover.  We're looking to render the fat a bit and have these smoke a while before charring them up.

Once they're cooked through a bit, we transfer the thighs over direct heat and char em up.

Plating is super simple.  A platter of black beans and rice and the grilled chicken.  Oops, forgot about the vegetable, and a bottle of your favorite hot sauce.  Seriously sometimes it's the simplest of things that wind up tasting the most incredible.

Oaken Barrel Gnaw Bone - We need to get ourselves down to this south suburban Indy brewery sometime in the very near future.   For now, their excellent selection of beers are pretty widely available in the area and we just picked up our favorite so far with their pale ale Gnaw Bone.  The beer pours a light orange color with a frothy head. The aroma is citrusy with a little dankness to it along with spicy black pepper. The first sips pretty much annihilates the taste buds with bitter hop goodness and coats the tongue with those additive oils. These went down waaaaay too smooth as we wound up longingly looking at an empty six pack much sooner than we'd like. That hoppiness absolutely killed it when it came to the pairing with the spicy chicken and may have a little do with the ease and quickness of how these disappeared so fast.

Old Stove "#1" - What do you get when you combine the low-tuned doom of Electric Wizard with the dusty desert rock of Fu Manchu and the grungy harmonies of Bender?  If you answered Old Stove, you'd be 100% correct.  The album starts off with the super doomy, "Vinum Sabbathi"-esque "Place Pigalle" setting a dark and eerie tone that the rest of the album sees through. "Consider This" has a swagger to it right from the start thanks to a killer bass groove.  The tune possesses a mid-90s sound combining Days of the New with Alice in Chains.  Continuing on with the dark grooves is "This Side of Paradise" paired up with some truly amazing soaring vocals.   "Days and Hours" delves a little more into AIC territory thanks to its haunting heaviness and Layne-like vocals.  One of the album's most addictive tracks comes by way of "Gloria" that features a Tom Petty "Breakdown" bass line as its backbone.   Closing the album is "To Come" and the song just slams but is also super melodic at the same time.  It may very well be the album's best song on an album that is full of them.