Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas 2009

Potato and Ham Soup

Sausage Canapes

Goat Cheese Tartlets

Artichoke and White Bean Crostini

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Deviled Eggs

Slow Roasted Prime Rib with Au Jus

Boars Head Ham with Raisin Sauce

Potato Au Gratin

Gnocchi with Pomodoro Sauce

Garden Salad

Tomato, Basil ,Mozzarella Salad

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Beers for Christmas

Kris and I have been cooking Christmas dinner for our family's for four years now. I talk to a lot of people who say their holidays get crazy because they have to travel from house to house, visiting their extended family's. The in-laws, the parents, the siblings, the cousins, and so on. We don't have that problem: everyone just comes to our house. We feed 20 people, then entertain around 35-40 throughout the rest of the day and into the night. Dinner will be simple: potato and ham soup, prime rib, bone in ham, gnocchi, potato gratin, and a tomato and mozzarella salad. What can I say, we like meat and potatoes! For me an important part of a meal, or any event, is what everyone will be drinking. If you've been to our house you know you'll never leave thirsty. These beers pictured above will be our 'featured' beers for the day. Unibroue Terrible is the best beer ever and goes with anything and everything. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is a seasonal beer that I look forward to all year long. The Harpoon 100 Barrel Series have been tasting awesome lately. I like the Glacier Harvest better than the Ginger Wheat. But I think the Ginger Wheat pairs real nice with food. It's peppery, and the ginger is present, but not overpowering. Along with those beers we also have a wide variety of others to choose from. On any given day the beer fridge in the downstairs bar will have around 10-15 different varieties of beer. If you're not a beer drinker we have plenty of Jack and Kris makes an awesome Christmas punch. Something for everyone.

Like it says over our dining room table: eat drink and be merry. Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Onion Rings

I love a good onion ring. To be more specific: I love this kind of onion ring pictured above. The kind that is thin and flaky, salty and crunchy. I'm not a big fan of the oversized, over battered onion rings that you usually get at the local pizza shop. They lose their crispiness so quick and taste mostly like batter. Well, because they're mostly batter.

The rings pictured above are the ones that I made a few weeks ago. They are ridiculously easy to make. Here's the recipe:

2 Vidalia or sweet onions sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 quart of buttermilk
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

Soak the rings in the buttermilk for 3 hours, dredge in seasoned flour, then fry at 360 degrees until golden brown. Salt, serve.

I think the most important part of this is the buttermilk soak. It leaches out some of that raw onion flavor from the ring before frying. I love when something this easy tastes so good.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Already Wishing For Spring

It's December 5th, we've had several frosts so far this season. We are expecting about 4 inches of snow tonight here in New England. And I still have parsley! I really wish this stuff was going into a turn in box. Next season can't get here fast enough...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yep, Rotisserie

The decision to cook this roast on the rotisserie was actually an easy one. First, Sunday was a beautiful fall day here in New England. And second, meat looks cool when it's spinning. The beef took about 2.5 hours to cook until 128 internally. The above pic is about 1.5 hours into the cook.

Here is the meat right after I took it off the grill. I placed it in the pan of au jus, then wrapped it up tight with foil. I rested the roast for over an hour.

I cut the roast in half so it could fit on to my slicer a little easier. I'm not a big fan of the hole left in the meat from the spit rod. But since I was just slicing it up into a pile of roast beef for sandwiches, I guess it's not a big deal. If I was cooking a prime rib I don't think I would want to use my rotisserie. Even though this beef made a great sandwich, the real star of the day was the homemade onion rings. More on those later.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Decisions, decisions...

I woke up this morning with a craving for a hot roast beef sandwich. You know the kind: thin sliced medium rare beef, lightly toasted hamburger bun, shredded lettuce, pickles, mayo, and cheese. Good stuff. So I went to the butcher and picked up a nice 8 pound top round roast and all the other fixings I'll need. I also grabbed some onions, because it would be a shame to eat a hot roast beef sandwich without some homemade onion rings on the side. They just go together perfectly. Then, on the way home, it hits me: how should I cook the beef? Low oven? WSM? Rotisserie? Brendan's FEC100? (It's been at my house since after the Harpoon Helps event, I'm thinking of stealing it, so don't remind him I still have it.) I even thought about taking out the sous vide re circulator again. The only thing that I'm sure of is I'll be using a simple rub of veg oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. The rest, only time will tell.

I'll try to post an update. I know some of you are still wondering about the leg of lamb I alluded to a few weeks ago. Sorry about that. Sometimes Sundays here get a little crazy. Anyway, stay tuned...

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Why do we cook turkeys whole? Because they look good, right? It's tradition bringing that beautiful bird to the table (I can see that Norman Rockwell painting now.) Our Dads carving up that giant turkey and handing out the pieces. Only one problem: they were usually dry pieces. Until my early twenties I just thought all turkeys were dry, especially the breast. Sure, sometimes I had a reasonably moist piece of white meat, only to find that the thigh and leg were dangerously undercooked. As I got older, and started cooking on my own, I also fell into the trappings of ritual. Turkeys get cooked whole. Period. I remember waiting for that little button to pop up. Wow, that made for a terrible meal. Then I found out how to use a real thermometer. It was better, not great. A few years later I read that cooking the bird breast side down was the way to go. It was not. Low and slow in my smoker made for a dry (but beautiful looking) bird. Icing down the breast, trussing, not trussing, putting slices in the skin near the legs, cooking in an oven bag, stuffing, no stuffing, the list goes on and on.

The bottom line is this. The breast meat is perfect at 155 degrees, and the dark meat much better at 175-180. I know the turkey is safe to eat around 160, but taking the dark meat to 180 is the way to go. It's moist, comes clean off the bone, and no one will be asking 'is this done?' The best way to achieve this is to part the bird. Separate the breast section (hotel style) from the leg quarters before cooking. This way everything gets cooked to the right temp, and you'll also knock a few hours off the cook time. 'What about the stuffing?' True, you can't stuff the turkey if you part it. But I don't believe in stuffing anyway. Cramming a bunch of croutons in the cavity of a bird just dries it out. Sure, it makes great stuffing, but the turkey suffers.

So, how can you have it all? You want that slice of Americana, you want moist white meat, safe to eat dark meat, and great tasting stuffing. How about two smaller turkeys. One you can part and cook the pieces separately. The other bird you can stuff, cook whole, and bring it to the table as the centerpiece. That turkey can be used for the soup on the next day. I don't cook Thanksgiving, but if I did, I think that's the way I would do it. But, for now, I'll be at my folks house enjoying the turkey of my youth. Please pass the gravy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Royal/Jack Daniel's Dessert Category

Dark Chocolate Brownie with Raspberry Mousse and Fresh Whipped Cream

This is the entry we submitted for both the Jack, and the Royal, in the dessert category. This was all Kris. She conceived it, practiced it, and executed it at both competitions. Although it did not get a call at either event, it got some great scores. It finished 33rd at the Royal with a 173, and finish 14th at the Jack with a 172. (For those of you not familiar with KCBS scoring: a 180 is a perfect score.) At the Royal the top 6 teams got a perfect 180 in the dessert category! At the Jack we missed the top ten, and a call, by .5714 of a point! Anyway, I thought it was great, and our families really enjoyed all the practice runs.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Meat is Spinning

Well, I couldn't wait till tomorrow to try out the rotisserie. When I bought the leg of lamb for Sunday I also picked up a whole chicken. I figured today I would play with fire management and make sure everything worked fine. So far, so good.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Project Time

I know. I already made a rotisserie, right? But it wasn't made from stainless steel. And if you know me, you know I have an obsession for all things stainless. Another reason I wanted to make this is that I love attachments. Anything that is useful and fits on something that I already have, is awesome to me. So, this ring goes on and off my Weber without tools, and can be stored real easy. The maiden voyage will be Sunday. I'm thinking leg of lamb, tzatziki, fresh pita bread, and a little feta. It's amazing what I'll do for a good sandwich...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No Recap?

I usually don't write a contest recap. I always think that I'm going to, but it never happens. One contest that I knew I would not be writing a recap for was The Jack. I knew this because we were with Ted, and Ted writes a great recap! You can check it out here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bringing Home The Goods

We got home this morning at 5AM after driving straight through from Nashville. Both Kris and I crashed for a few hours. Then we got up and have been cleaning for the rest of the day. I have not uploaded all the pics from this weekend yet, I'll try to do that sometime this week. I just wanted to share this one of Kris and I enjoying our new hardware and our new rocking chairs. They are made from a Jack Daniel's whiskey barrel. I have to say, I never thought I would get too excited about a rocking chair, but these are kinda bad ass.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The Jack
GC Ique
RGC Jacks Old South
7th overall Lakeside Smokers

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Jack

We are packed and ready to go! Well, actually, we're over-packed and ready to go. But that's okay, better safe than sorry. I was in charge of beer and meat, and Kris was in charge of food, and snacks. I'll be amazed if we finish it all...but, we're gonna try like hell! Please stop by and say hi.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Raw Food Part 2

Lamb Chop

Pork Belly

Sea Bass


A few months ago, before I ended Friday Night Food Porn, I posted some pics of uncooked food. I know it's not really 'food porn' to some, but again I love the way some food looks in its raw, undisturbed state. All the food above was featured in a Friday Night Food Porn post over the past few years. The links below will get you to the final dish.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Royal Pics

I've uploaded some pics from this weekend, enjoy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Royal

Sorry about the lack of updates but trying to put this event into words is almost impossible. And no picture can capture how huge this thing is. This is this biggest party I have ever been to, with a giant BBQ contest attached to it. Kris and I came here with two things in mind: have a blast and try to do the best we could in the competition. Yesterday we did both, and are still having a blast today.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fried Chicken

As fall settles in here in New England my thoughts start to focus on comfort foods. Soups, stews, mac and cheese, anything that warms the soul. For me, nothing can do that better than fried chicken. Juicy meat, crispy skin, a salty crunchy batter; fried chicken has it all. It just may be the perfect food. It might not be the easiest food to prepare at home, but it's not as difficult as some people think. The biggest tip I can give is to move the operation outside. I do all my deep frying outside on a propane burner (turkey frier), in my cast iron Dutch oven. This way I don't need to worry about hot oil splattering all over my kitchen, or the smell of fried food lingering in my house for the next 3 days. This chicken got a quick marinade in buttermilk and hot sauce. Then a flour, egg wash, flour dredge. Then directly into 350 degree vegetable oil. When golden brown and cooked all the way through, put them on a rack to drain and season with salt. Eat the chicken hot, room temp, cold, the next day for breakfast, it doesn't matter. It will cure what ails you, fix what's broken, and will guarantee a smile on your face.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

GC Ique
RGC I Smell smoke
3rd Lakeside Smokers

Yes, 34 degrees

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Last weekend Kris and I competed at The Bar-B-Q Pit at the Oyster Festival in Norwalk, CT. The competition had drawn some controversy in the months preceding it. A lot of teams felt the high entry fee would not be worth it. They were wrong. And, yes, I would have said that even if we had not done well. The entry fee was about $100 more than the 'average' entry fee in this area. All monies collected from entry fees, and then some, went back to the prize pool for the competitors. The prize money was also spread out quite nicely. A lot of teams walked away with some big money. Calls (and money) through 10 place, lobster dinner on Friday, team breakfast both Saturday and Sunday, multiple gift bags, t-shirts, free ice, free oysters, trash removal, and the list goes on and on. Getting in and out of the event was not even a slight issue as most had speculated. Saturday was very busy with a grilling event, a whole hog competition, and chowder competition. Throw in a KCBS comp on Sunday, a peoples choice wing competition, and it made for a very hectic weekend. The organizers said they will learn from their mistakes and try to make it better for next year. Sounds reasonable to me. I just hope they don't change too much, because I liked everything about that weekend.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Norwalk kcbs
GC Lakeside Smokers
RGC Ocean County Pig Assassins

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Norwalk whole hog
1st jacks down home bbq
2nd I smell smoke!!!
Norwalk Chowda
3 men and a baby back
Norwalk Grilling
GC: Yankee Butcher
RGC: The Perfect Butt

I Smell Smoke's Whole Hog

Norwalk, CT

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Now They're Pickles...

After two weeks in a pickling brine, these garden fresh cucumbers have made the tasty transformation into pickles. They have a nice balance of dill, garlic, and heat. They will add a nice acidic crunch to any sandwich.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Aebleskivers are a Danish pancake that is spherical in shape. They are light and fluffy and usually contain apple slices on the inside. Kris and I first heard of these wonderful confections on the Food Network Show: The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Aaron Sanchez was raving about aebleskivers from this little dive in New York City. After that show, Kris was on a mission: to find aebleskivers! Much to her dismay, no diner, bakery, or dive in our area made them. So, even better, she was going to make them. I was real excited for two reasons: one, Kris always makes kick ass confections, and two, we were getting a new cast iron pan!

The first step in making aebleskivers is to heavily butter your pan.

Pour the batter into the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the bottom is set and starts turning golden brown.

Carefully flip the pancakes over and cook the other side for a few more minutes. This is traditionally done with a knitting needle, but Kris uses a wooden skewer.

She did several batches. Some with fruit, some without. The ones we liked the best had a small chunk of ripe banana nestled right in the middle batter. She serves them with Vermont maple syrup for dipping. Not traditional, but damn good!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


We've been growing hops for the past 4 years. The first year the landscaper weed whacked them, the second year bugs ate them, last year we had a brown harvest, but this year they look great. As you can see from the pics, they are a beautiful green and full. I was surprised they have done so well in this heat that we have had over the past few weeks. Some are starting to dry on the vine so I think I will be harvesting real soon. If all goes right they will end up in a batch of home brew real soon...