Jun 30 2006

Comments Closed

Due to a large amount of automated spam hitting our blog, The General has decided to close all comments until we can remedy the situation. Of course you can always email us at bbqgeneral at gmail dot com.

TG


Jun 24 2006

Red Truck Picnic

Savannah lends itself to a lot of gorgeous places to have a picnic…from the outer beaches of Tybee to Bonaventure Cemetery….to innumerable other locations. The theme for this week’s Carnival of the Recipes is “On the Road,” so check it out over at “Booklore.” The General has taken a particular quote from John Egerton’s Southern Cooking that I thought was very fitting for this occasion.


This was written by Ward McAlester (1890) in the book
Society As I Have Found It.

“I was then able to show my guests a Savannah picnic, which is an institution peculiar to the place. Leaving the city in a river steamer our party consisting of one hundred people, after little over an hour’s sail we reached an island in the Atlantic Ocean , known as Dawfuskie (sic), a beautiful spot on which stood a charming residence, with five acres of roses surrounding the house. The heads of families carried, each of them, huge baskets containing their dinner, and a full table service, wine, etc., for say ten or a dozen people. On our arrival, all formed into groups under the trees, a cloth was laid on the ground, dishes, plates and glasses arranged on it, and the champagne at once frapped in small hand pails. There was then a dance in the open air, on a platform, and in the afternoon, with cushions as seats for the ladies, these improvised dinner-tables were filled. Each had its separate hostess; all was harmony and pleasure. As night approached, the people re-embarked on the steamer and returned home by moonlight.”


Savannah has not lost an ounce of this “party spirit” over a hundred years later!


Just to up the fun level of producing our picnic this week we have invited a couple of new found friends over to help us produce our picnic as well as consume it. For today’s menu TG has taken 2 recipes from Mike Mills’ book

Peace, Love and Barbecue.

The first is “Right off the Jar” Potato Salad (p.216):

2 lbs. potatoes (5 or 6 medium), peeled and cut into 3/4 ” chunks

1 C Hellman’s mayonnaise

2 T vinegar

1 1/2 t salt

1 t sugar

1/4 t ground black pepper

1 C thinly sliced celery

1/2 C chopped onion

2 hard cooked eggs, chopped (optional)


In a 4 quart saucepot, cover potatoes with water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain and cool slightly.


In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, sugar, and pepper. Add potatoes, celery, onion, and eggs. Toss gently. Serve chilled. or at room temperature.

PICT0265.JPG

The second is Blue Smoke Deviled Eggs (p. 217)

12 large eggs

2/3 C mayonnaise

1 1/2 t tarragon-infused champagne vinegar

2 1/2 t Dijon mustard

3/4 t mustard powder

1/4 t cayenne

1/2 t curry powder

Finely ground kosher salt and ground black pepper

Magic Dust or your favorite dry rub


Place the eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for exactly 9 minutes. Pour off most of the water and immediately run cold water over the eggs.


Crack the eggshells and peel the eggs under running water. Cut a small sliver off both ends of each egg and halve them through the equator, forming round cups.


Remove the yolks and pass them through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustards, cayenne and curry powder to the bowl and mix together with a rubber spatula until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Spoon the egg-yolk mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the mixture into the egg whites to form rosettes. (Or use a teaspoon to mound the yolk into the egg whites.) Sprinkle the top of the eggs with Magic Dust. Keep chilled until ready to serve.


***After cooking from Cape Cod to San Diego, TG experienced a problem in boiling the eggs. The shells did not want to give up when trying to peel them. And totally tore up the surface of the egg white. A little bit embarrassing, but we talked to a couple of our chef friends and they admitted that it was all too common a problem. The theory is that sometimes the eggs are too fresh and you get the easiest shell removal from one that has “been around” for a while. An antidote for the problem is to pierce the large end of the egg with a small pin hole…also adding a little vinegar to the water. I have since found out that on an institutional basis one can purchase already boiled and peeled eggs.

PICT0268.JPG


Now for the main course for our picnic, I decided to cook
The General’s Championship Chicken using leg quarters. Leg quarters are probably the most inexpensive cut of the chicken, and when you have a large amount of people to feed…and not much of a budget, this is the way to go. Most of the time they are priced under a dollar a pound. But actually it contains the best part of the chicken which is the thigh meat. Being raised in the South, we always had chicken breasts and it has taken quite an adjustment and cooking on the competition circuit to realize how juicy and tender thigh meat is. But the leg is also a favorite…so you get both.

PICT0258.JPG

PICT0266.JPG

PICT0264.JPG


Round out this picnic with some sliced watermelon and a glass of Cline Red Truck table wine!

PICT0262.JPG

Bon Apetit

***Addendum

Here are a few food safety tips for a picnic:

1. If you are going to use mayonnaise and mustard for your sandwiches, buy a small jar of both at your local supermarket. And don’t open them or refrigerate them until you intend to use it at your picnic. This may seem silly since you probably already have mayo in your fridge, but it is a lot safer! We like Hellman’s mayo and Grey Poupon Dijon mustard.

2. Always refrigerate your cold items in a cooler. Sam’s sells a great insulated bag for about $7.00. Use Zip Loc bags for your food and you can also use Zip Loc bag for your ice to keep the ice from melting and running all over your food.

3. Consume any foods that are not “shelf stable.” For instance, fried chicken should be iced down or consumed within a two hour period. Potato chips are shelf stable and you can leave them out until they turn stale.


Jun 22 2006

The Versatility of Pork

Much too often we get in a rut when cooking pork because we translate pork into chops or pulled, chopped, or shredded for BBQ sandwiches. At our local supermarket I found “Pork Florentine” for our dinner last night. It consisted of sliced pork loin that had been pounded to about 1/2 ” thick, then it was rolled with spinach and mozzarella cheese.

PICT0247.JPG

I then fired up the grill and cooked these rolls over direct heat until they reached an internal temperature of 165*. (Turning often during the cooking process.) The General and his LW were very pleased with the results and it served as a good reminder that you can always upscale your pork!

PICT0253.JPG


Jun 20 2006

John Egerton

Old cookbooks and old friends have a lot in common. Yesterday I picked up my autographed copy of John Egerton’s Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History

.


John is a foremost
authority and writer about Southern foods and is a founder of Southern Foodways Alliance. Like catching up with an old friend, it didn’t take me long to browse through the book and see all of the notes I made…especially about BBQ!


I like some of the quotes he has assembled in the book and there are a couple that particularly pertain to BBQ:


“The barbecue addict who is also a seasoned traveller looks only at the parking lot to pre-judge the restaurant’s product. If pickup trucks are parked beside expensive imports, he knows the barbecue is good because everyone in town eats there. More than any other cuisine barbecue draws the whole of Southern society from down the street and from miles around.”

(Gary D. Ford,
Southern Living, May, 1982.)


“No one who has had the good fortune to attend a barbecue will ever forget it. The smell of it all, the meat slowly roasting to a delicious brown over smoking fires, the hungry and happy crowds….


“Cue” is what they call it in Georgia, where it has been famous for many, many years. England had its roast beef and plum-pudding dinners, Rhode Island its clambakes, Boston its pork and beans, but Georgia has its barbecue which beats them all. So famous is it, in fact, that it has become a social and political force, and as a political entertainment has been duplicated in many States of the Union….It is no exaggeration to say that many a gubernatorial election in Georgia has been carried by means of votes gained at barbecues, and no campaign for Governor is complete without a series of such popular feasts.”

(John R. Watkins,
Strand Magazine, London, October 1898)


BBQ is truly America’s classic cuisine that draws people from all economic and social backgrounds together like a ‘common denominator’.


Jun 19 2006

Change of Tune

TLW has told me that I can only blog about turkey during the holiday season, however with the diet she is on it calls for lots of turkey. After reading the labels on processed turkey breast she then found out how much sodium content is in the prepackaged turkey products…so The General to the rescue!!


I used the
Steve Raichlen rub mentioned earlier along with a nice slathering of olive oil. I then set the grill up for indirect cooking, and using soaked cherry wood the smoking process began…

PICT0242.JPG

You just can’t buy a store bought product that will ever be as good as what you can do at home!


Jun 19 2006

Another Rub

I tried the rub that Steve Raichlen recommends in the Slate article The General mentioned last week. It calls for equal parts of salt (preferably sea salt), freshly ground black pepper, paprika and brown sugar. You can make as much or as little as you want…as long as you keep your ingredients balanced.


TG has already mentioned in the past about Karen Adler and the BBQ Queens Big Book of BBQ and how much I use her books. Here are a couple of her rubs for you to try also:

Cajun Steak Rub

1 T garlic powder

1 T ground black pepper

1 T sweet Hungarian paprika

1 1/2 t cayenne pepper

1 T kosher or sea salt

1/2 t ground white pepper

Brisket Rub

1/2 C kosher salt

1/4 C garlic powder

1/4 C lemon pepper seasoning

1/4 C light or dark brown sugar

3 T ground chipolte

3 T mesquite seasoning

3 T dried thyme

3 T ground cumin

The BBQ Queens also recommend McCormick seasonings and McCormick GrillMates. Check out their website.

Rubs are fun because they give you the opportunity to be a junior chemist and practice and experiment until you get just the right taste.


Jun 19 2006

Carnival of the Recipes #96

The “Father’s Day” version of the carnival is up and running over at “World Famous Recipes.” Lots of good ideas for any day of the year…not just Father’s Day!


Jun 17 2006

The Post-Modern BLT

If you don’t know about the Southern Foodways Alliance…you should! The SFA’s mission is to “document and celebrate the diverse food cultures of the American South.”


The General and TLW joined this great organization a couple of years ago and have been to some of their ‘fieldtrips.’ If you like good food, learning about it, meeting others who share your interests, and generally having a wonderful time, you may want to consider joining as well!


Check out their website…right now they are calling for some recipes and accessories to the standard BLT. Perhaps your version will be published by the University of Mississippi!


9


Jun 17 2006

Cooking with Fire

Slate Magazine published an interesting article Friday. It is a “discussion” among three foodies (Steven Raichlen, Chris Schlesinger, and Sara Dickerman) about BBQ and cooking with fire. It takes the form of letters to each other.


Regular readers know that The General thinks very highly of Steve and Chris, and now he wants to know more about Sara. She picked up on the theme I mentioned last week…what do you grill for your vegetarian friends?


Interesting reading…


Jun 14 2006

A Surprise Lunch

Today I accompanied TLW on a bunch of errands to the part of town we call ‘The Mall.’ We don’t usually go into either Mall…but it is an easy way to label it. We always go to the point that is the farthest from our house and work our way back.

We have passed Carrabba’s Italian Grill at least 50 times since we have moved here, but never once have we ever set foot in there…or any of their restaurants. Today I had a feeling we should stop for lunch…and of course the ever-willing missus agreed.


Upon entering, we were greeted by a very vivacious and competent hostess/waitress (Karen) who seated us immediately. After taking our drink orders she returned immediately with them and instantaneously appeared with bread…nothing unusual about this so far. Then she reappeared with Ceasar salads, plopped them down and disappeared.


TLW is on a
damn diet and lately never orders Ceasar salads…but after giving each other a few strange looks we decided to dig in and ask questions later. Nearly finished with the salads we still had not seen a menu…so TLW thought that perhaps it was a “surprise lunch” kinda place…just show up and get whatever they have prepared for lunch…a unique idea for a restaurant! We finally flagged down Karen, and asked if we could have a menu and she started laughing!!…at The General…of course she was nice about the laugh.


It seems Carrabba’s is never open for lunch. But today they were having a fundraiser for a local boy named Chris Barr who has recently had a kidney transplant and all the proceeds of the lunch were going to him. Apparently Carrabba’s does a lot of charity work…way to go Carrabba’s!! She told us that his monthly medications cost around $6,000 a month!


Karen apologized for not making us aware of it when we walked in…but I think we must be the only people on the planet who do not know Carrabba’s is not open for lunch! She said if we did not like Chicken Marsala (again NOT on TLW’s meal plan) we could leave and the drinks and salads were on her…how could we say ‘no?’ So we stayed, and were presented with chicken marsala and rigatoni with red sauce. Now I will say up front that I am not a chicken fan…in fact I eat very little of those fellas…but both of us agreed that the chicken itself was extremely moist and flavorful. The marsala sauce was wonderful…and I noticed TLW did not hesitate to eat her chicken with the sauce.


As we were finishing (and continuing to chuckle over our surprise lunch) a lady came over to our table and introduced herself to us as Chris’s mother. She thanked us for coming and told us more about his plight and how he received his kidney. Unfortunately, TLW did not get the correct address for his website 🙁


Lessons learned today:

1) How lucky we are to have our health…how can one pay for medicines costing 6K a month.

2) Carrabba’s has very good food.

3) Carrabba’s gives back. That is a good thing. We like to give back and they will be rewarded for doing that.

4) Carrabba’s has a great staff. I betcha that every employee there was giving their time to make this lunch successful


TLW found the following recipe for a “copycat” version of Carrabba’s Chicken Marsala today. The General suggests you try it at home, but he also suggests that you go to your local location and see if all of the Carrabba restaurants are as generous with their time.


PS…when we were leaving we noticed that they had put up a small sign on the front door indicating the special event taking place…thanks, Karen!

Copy Cat Recipe for Carrabba’s Chicken Marsala



4 tablespoons butter

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

4 shallots, chopped fine

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup dry marsala

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon lemon juice


Pound chicken breasts to even out thickness and lightly salt and pepper.


In large skillet, saute chicken in 2 T melted butter until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side.


Remove from pan and set aside.


Melt remaining butter in pan and add shallots and mushrooms.


Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned.


Add Marsala and bring to a boil, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan.


Add cream and lemon juice and return to a boil.


Season with salt and pepper.


Return chicken to pan for about 3 minutes to reheat and finish cooking.


Serve with buttered fettucini.


**The comments for this recipe were very good. We were told that Carrabba’s grills their chicken, but this recipe is worth trying. We will…and we will go back to CIG.