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

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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Grilled Hawaiian Pork Fried Rice/Horny Goat Brewing Laka Laka/Queens of the Stone Age "Era Vulgaris"

It's still summer right?  Right?  Well, no matter, this tropical meal would work in any season.  Taking the Chinese take-out staple; fried rice, and dragging it through the Polynesian machine (yes, we do have one of those, thank you very much) results in this dish of pineapple and jalapeño brined grilled pork that gets chopped and stir fried with brown rice, macadamia nuts, coconut and a host of other goodies. Perusing the liquor store for a suitable mate to this island dish, we came across Horny Goat Brewing's Laka Laka Pineapple Hefeweizen.  Boom.  Done.  Of course with this kind of festiveness on the plate and in the glass, the music had to follow suit.  A little good time fun with QOTSA's "Era Vulgaris" graced our stereo as we said "aloha" (the "hello" aloha, not the "goodbye" one) to this BBQ.

Grilled Hawaiian Pork Fried Rice - Ah, the one dish um... dish.  Simple, easy and when done right, delicious! Here, we just keep building and building layers of flavor until we've got a wok full of goodness.  We're getting ahead of ourselves a bit, let's step back an entire day to the brine for the pork tenderloin.  In a Pyrex dish we add one whole pork tenderloin and cover with 2 cans of pineapple juice, one sliced jalapeño and fresh cracked pepper.  Cover and let sit overnight in the fridge.

Fast forward to the next day and get a grill going to a medium/high heat.  We start the tenderloin off over indirect heat so that we don't crust up the outside too much before the inside has a chance to cook through.

We give it a few minutes per side under a covered grill before we move it over to the direct side.  Here we are looking for a good looking char all around.

Remove the tenderloin and let rest.  The grill should still be a pretty hot temp, so we place a wok over the hottest part with a tablespoon of oil in it.   Once the oil heats up, we add in 1 chopped red pepper and 1/2 chopped yellow onion.

We let these sweat for a minute or two then add in the aromatics.  A tablespoon each of grated ginger and garlic.

We stir everything around for 30 seconds or so, just until fragrant before tossing in the thin slices of pork.

Did you know that 70% of the time, steam fogs up a camera lens 100% of the time?
Time for a taste of the islands to be added in the form of a handful each of shredded coconut and chopped macadamia nuts.

We're ready to add the brown rice, about 3-4 cups.  Then we add in a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and a healthy squeeze of sriracha.

We toss everything around until well combined then we serve up in bowls with a sprinkling of chopped green onions on top.  This dish was highly addictive, resulting in very little left in the wok by the time we were done.

Horny Goat Brewing Laka Laka - Normally this edgy Wisconsin brewery is known as much for their beer labels and names as they are for the beer itself. Laka Laka, a pineapple Hefeweizen, is pretty tame compared to some of the other NC-17 rated products the brewery cranks out. This one pours a cloudy orange with a cloud like head, white and fluffy. The aroma is extremely tropical with the pineapple at the forefront and some tart apple in there as well. The flavor is sweet, crisp deliciousness, like a bubbly alcoholic pineapple juice. This beer is dangerously good, they go down almost too easily. It goes without saying that the pairing was a home run, probably one of our best yet with the combination of flavors going on. This is one of the best beers we've had in awhile, wish we found it at the start of summer rather than the tail end, but hopefully it'll be around next summer for us to stock up on.

Queens of the Stone Age "Era Vulgaris" -  Unfortunately QOTSA gets the short end of the stick a lot mostly for the sole reason that they AREN'T Kyuss.  We get it to certain extent, but then again we don't.  Queens of the Stone Age, even though they spawned from Kyuss, are a great band in their own right.   "Era Vulgaris" is a catchy, melodic release that is a hybrid of the Foo Fighters heavier stuff and the electronic, loungy swagger of Scott Weiland's solo stuff.  The opener "Turnin on the Screw" has a classic head bopping beat as its backbone.  It's a sunny, made for cruising the Cali highways tune.  "Sick, Sick, Sick" combines old school punk with the heavy modern glam of Marilyn Manson making for a killer tune.  The Weiland influence introduces itself on "I'm Designer" and "Misfit Love", full of Bowie-esque glam mixed with Industrial.   One of the heaviest tracks on the album is "Battery Acid", a high energy punk tune with an 80s bend to it.  "Make It Wit Chu" takes a page out of the Mike Patton/Jim Morrison lounge singer love song handbook with excellent results.  The best song on the album and one of the best in the band's discography is "3's and 7's", great guitar tone and some incredible vocals makes this tune a mainstay on our BBQ playlists.  Some cool rolling bass work and chill vocals with Beach Boys worthy harmonies,  results in the stellar "Suture Up Your Future".  The album ends with "Run, Pig, Run" which stays in that same sweet spot that the album lies in most of the time.    "Era Vulgaris" is a fun album and one of our favorites in the QOTSA catalog.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Grilled Sriracha Dogs/Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA/Electric Wizard "Let Us Prey"

When the kids want hot dogs at home, our first thought is what can we do differently to ours to jazz them up?  Tonight, we spiced them up Asian-style by tossing the grilled dogs in sriracha.  Looking for that perfect sweet, spicy and crunchy mix, we squirt a little horseradish sauce onto sweet Hawaiian hot dog buns, tuck the glazed dog into the bun then top with crunchy broccoli slaw, crushed cashews and a final squirt of sriracha.   The pickings were slim at the grocery store's beer aisle so we resorted to the Latitude 48 IPA from Sam Adams to pair up with these hot dogs.   We went with classic heavy doom for the tunes, to 2002's "Let Us Prey" from Electric Wizard.

Grilled Sriracha Dogs - Well, this will be a candidate for one of our briefest posts for sure.  We start with a small fire in the grill then place the hot dogs on, turning frequently to get a nice char all over.

Remove from the grill and place in a pan with a heavy dose of sriracha squirted right on top.  Cover the pan and give it a good shake until the dogs are nicely glazed.

That's it.  We just need to build it now.  We're using split top Hawaiian rolls that we put a stream of horseradish sauce down the middle.

We slide the sriracha dogs in, then top with broccoli slaw.

A sprinkling of crushed cashews and a cold beer completes this amazing, albeit non-traditional dog and a beer meal.

Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA - Nothing against Sam Adams, in fact for years before this craft beer boom we're in came to be, Sam Adams was our oasis at many a local tavern that's rail only had Bud and Miller products save for the one handle reserved Sammy's Boston Ale.  Was it great?  Not really, but light years better than Bud or Miller Lite.   As of late, Sam Adams has been spitting out a ridiculous amount of beers and normally we don't bite on any of them.  We wouldn't have tonight either if it wasn't the only thing this particular store carried that wasn't an import or macro brew lager.  So Latitude 48 it was.  The beer pours beautifully; a rich maple color with a creamy head that dissipates down to a thin lacy layer that sits atop the beer.   The aroma is sweet and malty with a boozy hop nose.  The flavor has a good amount of hop bite to it with some malty heft.  As with a lot of Sam Adams beers, there is a cloying sweetness on the finish but its minimal on this particular IPA.   Pairing-wise, this beer pick-up was just meant to be.  Hoppy enough to match up with spicy Asian flare, but easy drinking enough to be partner with the hot dog.

Electric Wizard "Let Us Prey" -  When we're in an Electric Wizard mood, 9 times out of 10 we'll throw on "Dopethrone" and call it a day, but tonight called for something different.  We headed outside with "Let Us Prey" blasting out of  the speakers for a change of pace.  Well, we use that term "change of pace" loosely as Electric Wizard has pretty much one pace, doooooooooooooomy.   "…A Chosen Few" is the album's opener and in fine fashion sludges along with an insanely fuzzed out groove.  Going from the low and slow tar pit sounds of the opener to the angst-ridden sounds of "We, the Undead" makes the tune sound like straight up punk metal.  It's back to basics on "The Outsider" with a tempo that can be timed with an hour glass and a heaviness that can crush steel.  A jazzy drum beat and some Halloween-style piano work makes for an especially creepy instrumental on "Night of the Shape".  Things go into the double digits length-wise with  the ten minute plus "Priestess of Mars", it's the album's best track and sounds like they put Crowbar through the fuzz machine and played them at 2 RPM.   The closing track is the instrumental "Mother of Serpents" that features a heavy dose of Eastern inspiration, a snake charming tune for stoned serpents, if you will.    While not quite at the level of "Dopethrone", Electric Wizard has secured their niche in the genre and consistently puts out solid heavy doom albums and "Let Us Prey" is one of them.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Au Cheval Burger/Half Acre Lead Feather/Old Man's Will "Old Man's Will"

Tackling Chicago's best burger is not an easy feat, tack on making it for a crowd and the anxiety level gets turned up a notch or two.  What makes Au Cheval stand out over the thousands of burger joints in the City is the pure simplicity in which each burger is crafted, the combination of the ingredients as well as the superior quality of the few ingredients that make up this burger.  All there is to it is two 1/4 pound grass fed patties, a homemade dilly dijonnaise, sharp cheddar, over medium fried egg and crispy thick cut bacon all piled on a soft and buttery brioche bun.  It's burger perfection.  Staying in Chi-town with the beverage choice, we paired these up with the latest year-round offering from one of our favorite breweries, Half Acre.  Lead Feather is a full flavored black ale in one of the coolest tallboy cans you'll ever see.  You can't have an Au Cheval burger, a Half Acre beer and not spin something absolutely killer to go along with it, right?  Right.  The intoxicating self-titled release from Old Man's Will was on repeat and cranked up loud all afternoon.

The Au Cheval Burger - The best part about simple burgers is how quickly they come together.  In the case of the Au Cheval burger, it all comes down to the special sauce.  A combination dijonnaise and a tzaziki packed with dill, it's the perfect burger sauce.  In a small bowl combine equal parts mayo, dijon, plain Greek yogurt and fresh chopped dill.  Using a fork whip the ingredients until well combined then slowly add about a tablespoon of pickle brine to thin the sauce out.  Cover and refrigerate.

We get the charcoal going at a super hot temperature then toss the 1/4 lb. patties over the hottest part of the grill.  We can also toss the thick cut bacon into the oven now too.

Sear on both sides until dark brown then place a slice of sharp cheddar on each patty.

Cover the grill and let the cheese melt for a minute then remove from the grill.

As the burgers rest for a minute, we can knock out the fried eggs.

The bacon should be nice and crispy by this time, so we have all the components to build this baby.  We warm a brioche bun in the same pan we cooked the eggs then we add a patty to the bottom bun followed by a little sauce, another patty, a couple slices of bacon, the fried egg and more sauce on the top bun.  The picture speaks for itself, it's messy deliciousness that requires either a bib or a roll of paper towels.

Half Acre Lead Feather - A new year round beer offering from one of our all time favorite breweries is always exciting news. Chicago's Half Acre just let their new black ale Lead Feather take flight. The beer is black as night with a foamy, airy root beer-like head. The aroma is smoky and piney. The flavor is rich and full flavored without being heavy. There's a definite bitterness throughout mostly of burnt coffee but also from the good amounts of hops thrown in. It's surprisingly easy drinking for the style.   As for the pairing, it was spot on.  We love hoppy beers with our big burgers, so this hit the spot not to mention the bold coffee flavors that matched up great with the eggs.

Old Man's Will "Old Man's Will" - Sweden's Old Man's Will self titled release is an instant masterpiece.   The smoky 70s blues rock meets heavy psych results in a Deep Purple/early Rush hybrid that is simply mind blowing.  The opener "Ellington" is pure groove with a swagger to match bringing some Pentagram-y doom to the table with some early Priest thrown in for good measure.  Picking up the pace substantially is the frenetic "The Cauldron" with stop on a dime time changes that echo Budgie and vocals that would give Geddy Lee a run for his money.   The sultry blues of "Sea" hits on all the rights levels; guitar work that is dripping with soul to go along with some amazing soaring vocals.   If Spooky Tooth hailed from Sweden they would sound just like "Smidesvals".  It features a huge organ sound with a slow psychedelic feel.   "Judgement Day" is all about the vocals, they are big and powerful with minimal instrumental interference.  "Evil Woman" slowly slams it's way into controlled head banging territory.  The slow and brooding "Alidhem" is dark and chill but still rocks when it wants to.  The album ends with "Marionette" a funky, groovy rock number that is super melodic in the same vein as Crobot or Silvertide.   This album is giving the turntable needle a run for its money, thankfully their new release will be out in a couple of weeks which we can't wait to crank up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Prosciutto-Wrapped Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Fresh Ricotta/Fountain Square Brewing Workingman's Pilsner/Uncle Acid "The Night Creeper"

Awhile back we had this amazing app at a beer bar that featured meatballs, slices of crusty bread and fresh ricotta served in a spicy, chunky tomato sauce.  The idea was to take the bread, smear it with the cheese then top with a meatball and sauce.  So simple, but so ridiculously good.  We created it tonight using chicken meatballs that we wrap in prosciutto and bake until crisp then float them in a homemade spicy rustic sauce.  We wanted something light to go along with these figuring we'd be plowing through a loaf of italian bread and a pound of meatballs.  Anything heavier than a pilsner would be overkill.  We went locally with the beer with a six pack of Workingman's Pilsner from Fountain Square Brewing.  On the stereo was yet another heavyweight new release, this time it's "The Night Creeper" from Uncle Acid.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Fresh Ricotta - The fact that we are using pre-cooked chicken meatballs takes this dish into super easy territory.  The only item that will take much time at all is the sauce, so let's start there.  In a large saute pan, warm a tablespoon of olive oil and add a few crushed garlic cloves and some fresh chopped oregano.  Saute for a minute until just fragrant.

Add in one can of crushed tomatoes, 1 small can of tomato sauce and season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for a bit while we work on these meatballs.   We lay down thin slices of prosciutto on a cutting board and slice into thirds horizontally.  We place a meatball in the center then wrap the prosciutto all around it.

The tray of meatballs go into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes until the prosciutto is crisp and the meatballs are heated through.

We've got just about everything ready to plate, so let's get to it.   We ladle the sauce into big bowls then gently place the meatballs on top.  A scoop of fresh ricotta goes in the middle and a heavy dusting of parmesan cheese goes all over.  The whole thing is served with slices of french bread.

Fountain Square Brewing Workingman's Pilsner -  This is our third offering from the local Fountain Square Brewing in the cool little Fountain Square area of downtown Indy.  The Workingman's Pilsner pours a pale yellow with a wispy head. Tiny champagne-like bubbles race up the glass. The aroma is dry and crisp like a white wine. The flavor follows suit, making for a highly carbonated, refreshing take on the classic pilsner.  The fermented grape flavors paired perfectly with the Italian-themed appetizer, cutting the richness of the dish perfectly.

Uncle Acid "The Night Creeper" -  Man, talk about tough acts to follow.  Uncle Acid has released two of the best debut and sophomore albums in recent history with "Blood Lust" and "Mind Control" respectively.   The highly anticipated "The Night Creeper" was just released and miraculously the band does it yet again with another instant classic release.  Even though those Beatles-y pop harmonies permeate the album, the overall vibe is a lot darker than even their previous releases.   You get an immediate sense of this deepened darkness with the opening track "Waiting for Blood".  The riff is nothing less than menacing, like a heavy, thick dark fog eerily winding down a dimly lit alleyway.  The perfect harmonic vocals prove an excellent contradiction and this album is off and running, picking up where "Mind Control" left off.  With a title like "Murder Nights" don't expect the mood to change much.  This is slower paced, but just as heavy with a good amount of doom tossed in.  "Downtown" is pure Lennon; poignant and brooding.  One of the best tracks on the album is "Pusher Man".  It's a hugely sonic tune forming a wall of fuzz and reverb for the mighty vocals to scale and preach from the top of.   "Melody Lane" brings with it a poppy, Cheap Trick vibe that rocks incredibly hard.  The title track is a frightening tune, with a creepy, carnival-esque riff.  Yet another highlight is the fuzzed out crunchy guitar-laden "Inside" combining the bombast of Wolfmother with the evil sounds of classic Uncle Acid.  The almost 10 minute "Slow Death" starts out as a jazzy 70s tune in the same ilk as Steely Dan before it turns into a modern day "Cowgirl in the Sand" complete with requisite Crazy Horse style jam to end the song.  A hidden track, "Black Motorcade" closes out the disc with an airy, chill acoustic number and puts a softer exclamation point on an excellent album.