Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fond Memories

In order to be a great cook it is essential to eat a lot. While this may seem counter intuitive, the inspiration and ideas that I have gotten from eating at BBQ restaurants have helped my cooking a lot.

I haven't written about a restaurant in awhile, but I can not continue to write this blog in good conscious without acknowledging my favorite BBQ place of all time. Whenever I come home to Boston my dad and I try to make at least one stop at the Village Smokehouse in Brookline, MA. We only order one thing there. The Beef Ribs!

These ribs are incredibly meaty and are slathered with a thick sweet and smokey BBQ sauce. They are then served with your choice of sides and baked beans for the table. The sides are delicious, but I rarely get to eat much of them because even three of these monster beef ribs is enough to put me away for the night. For two bucks more they'll give you another whole rib that you usually have to take home unless your stomach is a bottomless pit.

As you can see, the place is extremely low key and easy going. You pass the bar on your right as you walk in and then go right by the fire pit where the pitmasters are hard at work cooking beef ribs, baby backs, brisket and chicken. It's a home from away from home. It boggles my mind how anyone could go there and get a Caesar salad. I guess they just haven't had the opportunity to have the ribs yet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wings of Defeat

On Sunday I tried to follow through with my original plan to make some buffalo wings for the game. I went to the grocery store with every intention of buying some wings. However, I have to admit I was pretty appalled that the delicious Sunday afternoon snack that I had enjoyed for many years actually looks pretty disgusting in the raw. The wings looked really pale and they still had the tips on them which really creeped me out. They were also set to expire the next day so I didn't feel great about that either.

In the end I scrapped my plan to make fresh wings, but I wanted to at least cook something in the crock so I bought a couple boxes of TGI Friday's pre-made buffalo wings. I tossed them in for about three hours on high. The apartment was filled with a buttery, spicy aroma. I was eagerly anticipating dipping these bad boys in some blue cheese and enjoying and afternoon of football.

Much to my dismay, although the wings looked nice, the texture was terrible. They were pretty soggy, which I guess I should have figured because the crockpot definitely is going to do that to whatever your making. I have to say that I have never really gotten a good handle on how to cook chicken in the crockpot. It never seems to come out the way I like it. I may stick to beef and pork for awhile after this experience.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wings, Wings and more Wings

Well it's football season, and what better time to enjoy a heaping plate of buffalo wings. As a patriots fan I'm reeling over the season ending knee injury to Tom Brady. But hope springs eternal, and I am optimistic that Matt Cassel (the backup QB for those of you who don't follow football) is going to be able to step in and do a good enough job that the Pats will still be able to contend. I'm also thrilled that the weather is starting to cool down. Most people never want summer to end, but fall is my favorite season by far. I'm looking forward to making some great stews and chili's soon.

In keeping with this feeling of optimism, I'm going to be cooking up some classic buffalo wings. Hopefully tomorrow, but my schedule has been a little hectic so I may need to hold off until next weekend when I'll have some more time. There is apparently quite a bit of history surrounding this Sunday afternoon delicacy. Buffalo wings were invented in, you guessed it, Buffalo, NY. According to Wikipedia, there are four legends on how Buffalo wings came to be. The most amusing of which is that Buffalo wings came to be as a result of the delivery of chicken wings as opposed to the backs and necks needed to make a restaurant's signature spaghetti sauce. However they came to be, the important thing is that they came to be.

I'm going to be keeping it traditional, although I do like teriyaki and BBQ wings, and make some classic buffalo style wings. Just need to find a place to get some top quality chicken wings now...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Touchdown Brisket Recipe

Well the bad news is the batteries in my digital camera (yes I know I need a new camera) were dead and I didn't have time to run out and get new ones so there will be no photos unfortunately. As I had mentioned before I had been asked to prepare some BBQ goodness for my company's fantasy football draft which was held at the office. I precooked the meat at home and then packed it up and brought it into the office along with my crockpot because the thought of microwaving my food after spending 10 hours making it just didn't sit right with me.

The recipe for this is quite easy though and I'm sure you can imagine how it came out.

Touchdown Brisket Rub
6 lbs of beef brisket
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons liquid smoke
3 tablespoons honey

In a small bowl, mix the Worcestershire sauce, honey and liquid smoke. In a larger bowl, pour the mixture over your brisket and turn over the brisket pieces until it's evenly coated. I bought three separate pieces so if you happen to buy one big piece make sure you cut it into pieces that are small enough to fit into your crockpot. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the brisket and massage it in to maximize the flavor.

Place the brisket in the crockpot and cook on low for 10 hours. About half way through I recommend rotating the brisket pieces around to ensure even cooking. From past experience I have learned that the pieces at the bottom of the crockpot tend to be more moist because they are submerged in the meat drippings for most of the cooking process. Switching the meat around will ensure more even cooking.

After 10 hours take out the brisket let it rest for 15 minutes before chopping it up into bite sized pieces. You could also slice it up as well, but that can get tricky because the meat will fall apart on you pretty easily.

All in all this recipe was a great success. I served it with my new favorite BBQ sauce from Dinosaur BBQ at my company's fantasy football draft and it got completely devoured. You know you have done well when all you are bringing back home are empty containers.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Rub

As promised, here is the rub recipe for the beef brisket. Pretty basic recipe overall, but should get the job done. When you are making food for a fantasy football draft it is best to stick to the basics. Nothing fouls up a good fantasy draft like some funky food.

I also like to hit my meat with a quick mop consisting of 3 parts Worcestershire sauce, 1 part liquid smoke and 3 parts honey before applying the rub. It gives the rub something to stick to and also adds more flavor.

Touchdown Brisket Rub Recipe
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon granulated onion

I'm looking forward to football season. I see a lot pulled pork, ribs and wings in my future.