Monday, April 28, 2008

Dawgs and BGE Advice

Sorry, OG, didn't see your post below before I made one about venison. Had I seen it I would have included it in that post.


G-Day was good. We were in Athens for all the festivities. Thirty minutes before kickoff we found ourselves at a table in the bar at Bissetts eating oysters and gumbo, the hot bartender was bringing my Abita Turbodogs at perfect intervals, and there were two TV's over the bar. Outside it was cold and raining. G-day was going to be televised. The executive decision was made to keep our 10 dollars of G-day tickets in our pockets and continue eating bivalves and drinking hoppy beer as I switched to Sweetwater 420.

We looked goodand we're loaded for bear. This season we could easily win it all. However, that takes some luck and good bounces of the ball to go along with the skill and talent on the field. We've got the skill and talent but with the hellacious schedule we have we'll need more than our fair share of favorable bounces and good luck. What is nice is we are receiving a lot of favorable preseason attention from the national press. Knowshon is being mentioned for the Heisman and Stafford is poised for a breakout season with hopes to overtake Superman . . I mean Tebow . . as the best QB in the conference.

Going to be one hell of a season, one we've waited a long time for. Already got reservations for the ASU game in Tempe, a house on the beach for GA/Fla, and a hotel in Auburn. Home games are another issue I'm working on for accomodations but regardless of where we sleeep I'll be at most home games. 126 days till kickoff.

Big Green Egg

Congrats on your egg. Best prices around on the egg are in Dalton but they're high on eggcessories. Can't recommend enough what I posted earlier on this forum about perusing the Naked Whiz website as well as the Egg Head Forum . They're invaluable resources.

I've got three "go to" recipes for dinner parties of 4-12 people.

1. Standing Rib Roast - one rib for every 2 people. Rub in EVOO, coat with seaonsings of your choice. I use salt, pepper, fresh garlic, rosemary, thyme. I sear it on all sides at about 650-750 for about 2 minutes each side directly over the flames. I then remove it from the egg and bring the temp down to about 300-350 and slow cook it till I have an internal of about 125 at most. Takes about 15 minutes per pound to get to this target. It will raise a good 4-5 degrees during the 10-15 minutes you should let it rest. This gives a good medium rare to medium which most folks can tolerate. Last one I did for me and the wife I removed at 118 degrees internal and it was more to my rare liking. For au jus I simply buy the beef stock that comes in the red wax boxes and reduce it down by 75%.

2. Whole beef tenderloin - buy a whole one from Sam's/costco and "butcher" it yourself cleaning all silver skin and the "rib" meat off of it. Prepare it the same way as described above or with any seasoning of your choosing. I cook exactly the same as above but it takes MUCH less time to hit the 125 or less internal. Lots of variations with this and mad max (naked whiz website guru) has a great recipe with stuffing the tenderloin with lobster tails and other such stuff.

With both of the above recipes you should time taking it off the BGE for when most folks have arrived but aren't yet done with their first cocktail. You'll get oohs and ahhs when you bring it in from the egg. During the rest period for the meat have everyone get seated with all side dishes on their plate. Carve the meat at the table or beside the table and individually serve. Makes you look like you worked harder than you really did.

Also, with both recipes I'll put a small handful of hickory chips in early in the cook to get a little smoke flavor. Careful not to use too much as the smoke will overwhelm the natural goodness of such premium cuts imo.

Finally, here's my all time favorite recipe on the egg. It's not fancy, it's not prestigious, and it shouldn't be served at a fancy dinner party. However it's my best tasting dish, one I do the best, and I have people requesting all the time for me to make them some.

3. Pulled Pork Shoulder - get a big ole chunk of dead pig. I prefer whole shoulders but in a pinch I'll use the "Boston Butt" which is just the back side of the shoulder. Rub the shoulder in mustard and then heavily coat in your favorite dry rub. I use Dr. BBQ's (Ray Lampe) standard dry rub . I do this the day before but it's not necessary.

Load up the BGE with as much lump as you can get in up to the level of the firebox. Add in a good healthy portion of pre-soaked hickory chips throughout the charcoal with the largest portion up top so the meat will get a good bit of smoke early and form a good smoke ring. Once the meat reaches 125 or so it'll quit absorbing smoke.

This cook needs to be indirect so put in your plate setter upside down. On top of your place setter put a disposable aluminum lasagna pan and fill with apple cider vinegar and apple juice in equal portions. Add your grate on top and you're ready to go. Of course you should light your fire BEFORE these steps as they'll cover up your charcoal. You want you BGE to cruise along at about 225-250 dome temp for this cook. You can maintain that by keeping the bottom and top air vents very slightly open once you've achieved desired temps. Another GREAT tool is the BBQ Guru. It comes with a thermostat controlled fan that hooks into your bottom vent and through temp probes in the dome and the meat and controls air flow to maintain the proper temp. The use of the guru has privided me with many a good nights sleep instead of waking up every hour or two to check the temps on the egg and make adjustments.

It'll take 1.5-2 hours per pound to get to your desired temp of 195. Don't fret when you reach somewhere around 170 degrees and it stays there for hours. This is the "plateau phase" and during this time all energy is utilized to break down connective tissue instead of heating the meat. It's not until all the connective tissue is broken down that your meat is tender and the temp will start to rise. A former Tech guy like OG can produce us some temp phase graph or something to explain it all but just understand that it's gonna sit at this temp for HOURS.

After pulling the meat off when it's at 195 the bones should slide right out. I prefer to pull the meat slightly to break it up and then I give it a nice light "chop" with a couple of heavy meat cleavers to give something that isn't totally pulled nor totally chopped. I prefer to serve with a traditional North Carolina vinegar based sauce I make at home or you can have some inferior tomato or God forgive a mustard based sauce as well.

If you have to prep ahead of time and serve later it's not a problem as I pull/chop mine, place in the fridge or a cooler with ice to cool rapidly, and later reheat in an oven or chafing dishes with a little bit of coke in the pan to add some moisture.

Expect a 50% yield of pre-cooked weight and about a 1/3-1/2 pound of pork needed per person.

Venison Backstrap

I'm not near the foodie that JW or OG are and I tend toward the simple more meat and potato recipes. Please indulge me as I periodically give my more simplistic fare a place to air out on the net. Here's a decent recipe for venison backstrap or any large piece of wild game such moose, elk, mule deer, deer, etc.

Soak the backstrap or loin (analagous to beef tenderloin) in buttermilk overnight. This further removes the blood left in the meat which will decrease the gaminess of the meat. Follow by placing in a marinade of 2/3 allegro seasoning and 1/3 coke. Alllow to marinate for no longer than 4-5 hours as you don't want to overwhelm the natural flavor of the meat. This marinade can be skipped altogether or shortened to reflect the taste you want.

Wrap the tenderloin in bacon and secure with butcher twine or toothpicks and lightly season with salt/pepper. Grill on your Big Green Egg at 550-600 till an internal temp of 125 which will provide a nice medium rare.

Allow the meat to rest for five minutes, cut into 1 inch thick medallions. I usually serve over grilled/roasted corn removed from the cob after cooking and mixed with a diced roasted red pepper along with grilled asparagus with fresh parmesean.

Good eats with a simple, easy prep that shouldn't overwhelm the natural wildness of the meat and provide something a little different for your table. Makes for a good conservation starter as well as the discussion of the hunt itself or of hunting in general always makes for interesting debate.

Is everyone crazy but me? Also, G-Day, light postings, and call for recipes or ideas.

In general
To the UGA alums, I'm sure you'll know what I'm talking about. I got an email from the UGAA asking if I would be interested in doing a power lunch social in Atlanta with Georgia Tech Hispanic Students. I may have that blood in me, but the loyalty only goes so far. Were they planning on having Reggie Ball be the motivational speaker? Seriously...
I don't know what to take home from G-Day. Knowshon ran a couple of times. Staff threw a couple of long ones. Cox appeared capable as a backup. The defense at times looked great or was that the O-line looking confused? We do have a kicker, after all. There will be life after Coutu and Bennett, and it won't be Andy Bailey. Weak NFL draft this year for the Dawgs, no one taken before the third round, but you'll be happy to know that TB will in the ATL. But they also drafted the BC quarterback, so does that mean that Shock won't get to play or what? That injury really hit him at a terrible time last year. It was his position to give away, and maybe he did.
Light postings
So, as to the light posting. Been working a bunch of night shifts, and now that the weather is nicer than it was (can it be spring when the low is 36?), I've been trying to get my spring yard work done. Apparently I can only be in DIY mode or Food Network mode, but not both simultaneously.
But the grillin' season is upon us, and I will have my Large Egg in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it has to be transported from Dalton to here, since these Missourians think they can charge me 300 bucks more than it's worth. Yankees. What's worse, I keep trying to explain that I don't have any idea what having a "barbecue" means. I know what it means to eat BBQ and to cook out or grill out, but having a barbecue should probably mean making homemade barbecue. And since I know not many people know how to do that, then I have to assume that they're just crazy. Or is it ignorant?
The call
Anyway, you grillmasters out there: you know who you are (JW, CGH, unless anyone else wants to step up). Let's here some ideas for the egg, grill-based dinners for 6-10, successes, failures, anecdote, whatever. Tailgate food we'll reserve for the fall/late summer or when we just can't stand the lack of football. The only thing I can offer up right now is this:

1. Cook chicken on the bone whenever possible
2. Keep a thermometer handy. Or two. Or three. Instant read, plug and follow, laser for surface temp and to figure out the hot and cold spots or for deep fryer
3. Fire as hot as possible for the sear, down to two-level for finish
4. The heavier the cooking grid, the better
5. Chicken 160F, Steak 120-130F and let 'em rest (5-10min)

It's never too early to learn.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Speaking of Hating Gators . . .

Back in the fall of '97 a rag tag group of UGA grads finished a set of "Major Exams" whilst attending the Medical College of Georgia. Exams were concluded at noon and a caravan embarked to Jacksonville for the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party approximately 30 seconds later.

Debauchery ensued, felonies were committed, and I believe some international treaties were violated. Fueled by Maker's Mark and the unbelievable relief granted by such a respite from studying we sure enough got our ROWDY on. Once Kirby Smart was done intercepting, Larry Brown was finished catching end arounds, Robert Edwards had concluded his "tip toe" (HT Larry Munson who did in fact light the cigar) down the sideline, and Olandis Gary had put the cherry on top with the best 5 yard TD run in history we had whooped that Gator ass. No amount of liqour could blur the memory of those great Dawgs that partied it up alongside the St. John's river that night.

Anyway, my bride found a copy of the UGA student newspaper that was published the Monday after that win. She attended an event with the football team that day and had many of them sign it. She'd kept it all these years. For Valentines Day she had it framed and it now hangs in my home office. Within this pic you'll find Hines Ward, Champ Bailey, and Matt Stinchcomb's autographs along with many others.

In memory of that trip and in celebration of what was and still is one of the best 5 days I've my life I give you the following picture and a 'lil diddy we Dawgs are prone to sing from time to time.

Gators . . . . Gators . . . How'd you like to bite my ass.

Gators . . . . Gators . . How'd you like to bite my ass.

With your bright orange shirts and your blue jean britches . . .

GO . . TO HELL . . you SONSABITCHES!!!!!!

Gatorrrssssss . . . . . Gatorrrrssss . . How'd you like to bite my ass.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Even the Squidbillies Hate the Gators

For those who haven't seen the comedic masterpiece that is the Squidbillies show on the Adult Swim portion of Cartoon Netowrk do yourself a favor and check it out.

The show is produced in Atlanta and the lead animator is UGA grad Mack Williams, who earlier in the decade produced some of the best editorial page cartoons the Red and Black ever saw.

Anyway, the show is about a bunch of Appalachain squid and their various dealings with fellow rednecks in the South. Hilarity ensues. The patriarch of the family is Early and he's voiced by Unknown Hinson, a long time touring troubador who is impossible to classify. Honkeytonk is as close as I can get to describing his music.

Here's a link to a recent clip. In a newer episode the voice of GOD was done by the one and only Larry Munson. Presumably this was prior to his subdural hematoma and having holes drilled into his skull.

Here's the clip.

I'm far from the foodie JW and OG are but I had a couple of good meals and some good fishing out in Idaho a while back I'll post about soon.

Also, in honor of Earth Day I'm going to utilize some free range, organic grown, antibiotic-free meat products tomorrow for a small dinner party.

Decoded that means I shot a deer, butched said deer, and will eat the tastiest morsels (tenderloin/backstrap).

Lots of tasty updates!

Yo! Blog has been dead for a while. I have lots of updates once I can figure out what has happened to my camera. Since my last post, I have had some memorable meals in NYC and some REALLY fantastic stuff in Naples, Fl at the Ritz-Carlton. Expect synopses within the week.

Has anyone been cooking at home? Currently I'm on a homemade pasta kick. Just bought a larger pasta maker to encourage this even more. Was using the pasta-roller attachment for my Kitchen-Aide stand mixer. This worked well, but the surface area is so small, it takes forever to roll out and cut your dough.

One of my favorite weeknight pasta dishes, you can use homemade pasta but I also like dried buccatini or percatelli as well...simple and delicious.

For 2 people you'll need:
Some stale bread to make breadcrumbs along with some Italian parsley, EVOO, S & P
Anchovies or anchovy paste ~ 4-6 fillets or about 1/3 of a tube
Garlic, about 6 cloves, minced
Red Chili flakes, ~ 1/2 T or to taste
2 sweet onions, sliced into thin strips
Parmesan cheese

For the breadcrumbs, preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor, combine the equivalent of about 3 pieces of bread, a handful of parsley, enough EVOO to coat, salt and pepper, then pulse to form coarse crumbs. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and toast until crumbs are brown & the moisture from the bread is gone. Set aside to use as a garnish for the dish.

Place a large pot of water on to boil, then start by sauteing the onions in a little butter over medium heat until reduced and well-caramelized. You can help soften the onions and speed up the process by adding some water or dry white wine during the process. After the onions are caramelized and all the liquid has evaporated, toss you pasta & a handful of salt into your boiling water and move the onions off to one side of your pan. Add a splash of EVOO to the bare part of the pan and add the anchovies, garlic, and chili flakes. Stir until the anchovies are broken down and the garlic is fragrant then mix well with the onion mixture ~ 6 minutes.

After the pasta is al-dente, drain reserving about a 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss immediately with the onion mixture, adding water as needed to keep the mixture somewhat moist. Transfer to warmed pasta bowls, add some Parmesan to taste, top with a generous handful of breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil...If you want to get crazy and like this sort of thing add a few drops of white or black truffle oil...the strong flavors of the anchovy, garlic, red pepper, and truffle oil is irresistible to me...

BTW, I hate anchovies by themselves, but in a pasta dish such as this, they add a depth of flavor that is indescribable. Not at all fishy. Try this one when you are pressed for time but still want something good to eat and let me know what you think.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Avoid the rush, hate them now

This pretty much sums it up.

It was one of the comments that I thought was just as funny:

One EE student asked if a robotic girl he had made would qualify.
Furthermore, if this is a success, you can expect Bring a Native English Speaker to Tech in the near future.

Oh, and this.

If only I could be so clever as to come up with this stuff. More soon.