Ribs! 

08/02/2013

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What’s this a new post?

I know, every time I write something for the site, I start with an apology for not writing. Well you know what! No apologies this time.

While I might not be writing as much, there has still been some considerable meat production coming out of my kitchen/backyard.  A few summers ago Fatbacks had me cooking spares like it was my job (maybe someday it could be?) while I still love spare ribs, being a true Chicagoan I LOVE me some baby back ribs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GdzbCIxkzo

The ribs were very standard. Mustard coated, with my special rub added next.

I have added one last step to my rib game, and that is saucing the ribs with about 45 left to go in the cook. The sauce ends up forming a real nice glaze. 

Hope you enjoy some rib pron. 

Big Whiskey

 
 
Sorry for being gone for so long. I can tell you all that I had one hell of a past few months.

As for the continued absence of the rest of the gang… 

I’ll have to leave that up to them to tell you. 

For my first post back in the saddle I am going to take you on a short trip back in time. The scene was late November, and the setting is a few wonderful Caribbean islands. Mrs Big Whiskey and I spent our honeymoon on Anguilla and St. Martin. Both were charming in their own ways. Anguilla was beautiful, quiet and safe. While we had many good meals on Anguilla, we didn’t find anything that was really amazing.

On our only lunch excursion on Anguilla was to shoal bay, on the opposite side of the island to a small place called Gwens Reggae Bar. The place itself was beautiful. The people were nice, and the beer was cold. However, the meal ran us a cool hundo. Suffice to say I didn’t know if the cost justified the view. 

The reason this meal comes to mind specifically was because when we crossed the channel to St Martin, we had a very similar meal at a street side shack that they call a Lolo.  This meal had none of the view, but 1/5th the price tag. 

So was the view worth it… you be the judge.
 
 
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TFMBW is on a wedding health kick, and while my bowl of Poutine tried to undue that last night, she has been very good about eating healthy.

In an attempt to be healthy, I broke a good deal of cardinal rules. I figured I could go ahead and sub brown rice in for white sushi rice. I had the health blessing from TFMBW, and I went to town.

Side rant. I got this batch of fish from the much loved Lawrence Fish Market. They are a Korean husband and wife team (I think) that seem to have some of the best fish at the best prices around. They are also one of the few spots in the city that has “white tuna” or escolar. My beef with them is that they cut the fish in such strange ways.  I tried to get a nice block of tuna to work with, and she cut it in half in the center, or she is always trying to give me strange back ends of fish.  I should have taken a before pic, as you can really tell after I got done butchering it for my mise.

Since I didn’t have any nori on me these were going to be nothing but nigiri. I made a riff on the famous Snowball from Kyoto sushi: a spicy tuna nigiri, some tomago, and some inari (TFMBW hates these).

Turns out, nori would have been a godsend. The rice did not react the way that I expected it to. Getting everything to stick together was a massive pain. If I could have just knocked out some rolls I think I would have been in good shape.

Everything tasted great, and looked good until it moved, so I still scored plenty of bonus points (not that I needed them).

 
 
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The question.

How many posts on burgers is too many posts on burgers?

The answer.

No amount of posts on burgers is too many posts on burgers.

For those that don’t know TFMBW and I are shacking up for a few months’ pre-nuptials.  While I fully expect to be dodging lightning bolts for a few months, it seems to make good sense.  Aside from potential lightning damage, of course.

For my usual Sunday dinner, I needed a meal that would both satisfy my urge to cook something fun, and be a “one  (or two) off”, meaning one or two portions, nothing large, because I can’t transport it. I was jonsing for some beef, and felt like a burger would be fun. I thought animal sauce would be a fun project so I clearly looked up the recipe for Animal Sauce on Serious Eats and went for it. For those not in the know, Animal Sauce is a big part of what makes In&Out Burger what it is.


  Interesting aside: the recipe uses mayo, I decided to make    my own, because, duh. The first two batches were runny I went and bought different eggs and it was fine. I tweeted the food lab, run by our main man Kenji Lopez-Alt and he suggest old eggs were to blame, since both eggs were bought that day, I think there is some tomfoolery afoot.

The sauce came together beautifully, and the beef from butcher and larder was on point. The smashburger technique was employed, the balls of beef in my burger mise are the dead giveaway, and I used simple american cheese. I threw it on a pretzel bun and had one hell of a dinner.


 
 
Food is completely time dependent. It’s true. Space is also important. The space a restaurant occupies, the head space of the diner, all of these factors play a pivotal role in the dining experience.

I managed to visit a Canadian institution twice in the span of about 6 hours. If you ever meet a Canadian and mention coffee or doughnuts you will get a near immediate “ever been to Timmys?” the only acceptable answer is yes. Canadians crave Tim Hortons, it is insanely more revered then any American coffee institution.

It was about 4am post wedding after party, I was tired, and very hungry. I also knew me. Hotel bed + new time zone was going to guarantee me very little sleep (Predictably I was up at about 9am) I needed food fast. TFMBW was hungry too, and she noticed Tim’s was open. We walked in I was hoping for something toasted, maybe with some egg. There was only one person working, and they didn’t have breakfast till 5am, if only I had been partying longer! What I did end up with was a bagel, TFMBW got a muffing and we called it a night.

When we got up (4hrs later) we missed the hotel continental (which at a Best Western is actually pretty sweet) I needed to get something in us to prepare me for the day. Everyone knew we were headed to Tim’s again. This time I was able to get my breakfast sando, along with an iced cap, which is like a frappacino, but better, though it has nothing to do with a cappuccino.

The first time I had Tims this trip was the most important, the second time was the best.  It’s all about time and space.

Big Whiskey

 
 
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There was going to be a big write up of the epic night that the two founding fathers of this site, and I, shared a few weeks back (there still might be) but for the time being I needed to shelve that little ditty.

After TFMBW and I were apartment hunting last night I got the hankering for some actual cookery. I needed something relatively quick, but a little complicated so that I could keep myself interested. What I ended up doing used 3 pans, but was nothing close to difficult.

I decided that I needed some carbs, and that I needed to make my sauce. My first inclination was to go pesto, but I decided against it. I ended up with some roasted red pepper sauce. The method is simple.

Sautee some onion and garlic in a pan.

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Transfer to a vessel for blending

Add roasted red pepper

Blend

Transfer back to pan, season (I used red wine vinegar and fish sauce) 

Add some cream (I subbed whole milk) 

I boiled my pasta in water that was as salty as the ocean

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After draining the pasta, I added it to another pan with some of the roasted red pepper sauce to allow the pasta to absorb some sauce, and for the sauce to tighten up a bit. 

I garnished with some basil chiffonade and scarfed it down ASAP

It was solid,
Big Whiskey   

 
 
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I had a hankering for a non-taco based form of nourishment late last week. If it was going to be something other than a taco that I cooked it was going to be an egg dish.

When I started to scrounge around the pantry for some sort of starchy element, I didn’t come up with much. JT$ had some potatoes that I was reluctant to snatch, but that was about it. The astute reader will note the title and guess that I ended up on polenta.

Polenta, essentially Italian grits, was a nice creamy accompaniment to my poached eggs. At this point the dish was really starting to come together, all I needed was something crunchy, enter some homemade bacon, and some fried shallots (in the bacon grease, reduce, reuse!) and we were all set.

I wished I had some chives laying around, but I am not the type of guy that always has chives laying around. That said, the plate needed a bit of green.

It was a quick cook, and a satisfying weeknight meal.

Big Whiskey. 


 
 
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I have not posted for a bit. Work and life seem to get in the way. The idea of having several bloggers committing to write the same site seemed like a good one, until we all got super busy…

As the whole world knows I have been on a huge taco kick, I have also been on a “shop at butcher and larder on Sundays” kick. I love rapping with the butchers and trying to figure out what I am going to make.

I decided again on some barbacoa (because I am obsessed)

The worst thing about braising for me? Picking out all of the things that are not "good to eat" juniper berries, anise, bay leaves, etc. I recently picked up something that made my braising so much easier.

I paid about $3 for a tea ball. The actual purpose is steeping loose leaf tea, but it a pretty awesome multitasker for stuffing aromatics in. It is certainly one of the better $3 I have spent in some time.

Till next time.

Big Whiskey

  

 
 
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I’ve been living at TFMBW house for the last few days because of the NATO summit. Well, just because I was spending my days and nights avoiding some dirty hippies, didn’t mean I wasn’t going to make Sunday dinner. I need Sunday dinner like an addict needs a fix. It’s the one time of week that I really dedicate to making something a bit more time consuming than I would attempt on a normal weeknight.

I stopped in at Butcher and Larder and all I knew is that I wanted tacos. (the taco kick continues!) When I got in they were sold out of a lot. My only real options were braising something, beef shank, or lamb shank, I was feeling some barbacoa so I went straight for the beef.

I did my usual internet search and got the gist of a recipe.  I used

8 Juniper Berries

1 Bay leaf

Cumin

1 ancho chili

1 can chipotles with adobo sauce

2lbs beef shank

½ cup cider vinegar

A good bit of water

Some chicken bullion cubes

Salt

Pepper

I seared the meat, and then added all of the liquid elements and let it braise for a good 3 hours. I pulled the meat apart,  discarded the juniper berries and bay leaf, and warmed some tortillas. They were very good tacos. 


 
 
I have been away for a bit. The writer’s block has been lifted. I also hope that we hear from everyone else this week! 

I was away in Charleston South Carolina for a wedding. I had one morning/afternoon to myself, and  after a friend sent me a note suggesting that one of the hardest reservations in the US to get was located right up the street from my hotel, the game was afoot. Telling me a res is hard to get is akin to Poking the Bear.

After I checked did a little research on the spot, I noticed that the chef had another place in town, but they didn’t do lunch. As all I had available was lunch, I looked online and booked a table for four. It wasn’t that difficult, but I am guessing that lunch on a Friday isn’t the same as dinner Saturday night. 

As shown in the photo below the restaurant setting is very idyllic, and full of southern charm.  I think this marks the first official appearance of TFMBW on the blog!

A quick section on what we ate. 

There was much success
the pig ear wraps (spicy, tasty and “adventurous”)
The pork tenderloin
The shrimp and grits

A few misses

The girls thought their drinks were a little underpoured
The bacon skillet cornbread was dry, and the fat had a little “sour note” to it
The chicken wings were “ok”

The food itself was very good, and very appropriately priced. I think it was about $140 including drinks, tax and tip for the four of us.