Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gone drinkin'

I'm off to Atlanta. A Man's Gotta Eat will return Wednesday, January 2.

Have a safe and happy New Years Day.

How much do I love hot sauce? Let me count the ways ...

Sometime last November or December, a co-worker asked me how much Tabasco sauce I consumed in a year. You see, I'd taken something for lunch which required a good dousing of Tabasco (probably meatloaf), and I was toting a 12-ounce bottle of Tabasco with which I was gonna do me some dousing.

I'd never really thought about how much Tabasco I consumed in a year. According to certain close friends and members of my immediate family, I ate a lot. So that's how I responded to my co-worker: "A lot," I says.

The more I thought about how much hot sauce I put 'tween my lips, the more curious I became. So, on January 12, I cracked the seal on a new 12-ounce bottle of Tabasco and made a note on my pocket PC. Throughout the rest of the year, I made a note every time I purchased a new bottle of Tabasco. On December 23, I busted open my last bottle of the year ... number 14. Here 'tis:

By my measure, I've filled my belly with about 170 ounces of Tabasco since January 12. That figure includes Tabasco from bottles I've purchased and bottles from which I've carpet-bombed my food in restaurants.

Anyone who thinks that I consume a lot of Tabasco should also condider this: I've also emptied 3-4 34-ounce bottles of Valentina Salsa Picante, a half-dozen 32-ounce bottles of Texas Pete (Mr. Jimmy helped me empty at least 2 of 'em), 2 28-ounce bottles of Sriacha, and at least - at least - a dozen 12-ounce bottles of Trappey's Bull Louisiana Hot Sauce over the past 12 months.

Yeah, I guess you could say I like hot sauce.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sauce it up and work it like a rib

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times published a list of its top reader-submitted recipes from 2007. The following recipe for chipotle ribs caught my attention. I'm not too keen on cooking ribs in an oven, but I'm willing to give it a try ...

Chipotle Ribs


2 racks (5 to 6 pounds total) baby back or spare ribs
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Juice of 2 large limes
4 to 6 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 cup peanut oil


Wash and pat the ribs dry. Remove the silver skin (the membrane on the underside of the ribs): Nudge a blunt knife or the back end of a spoon between the ribs and membrane. When enough membrane is loosened to get a good finger hold, simply pull the membrane off the rack -- it should come off fairly easily.

Lay the ribs in a glass or ceramic dish. Combine the salt, sugar, oregano and cumin and mix well, then sprinkle evenly over both sides of the ribs. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator, uncover them and let them come to room temperature over 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, chipotles and oil. Wipe or rinse the ribs to remove the excess salt and sugar, and dry the meat well. Lay them on a baking sheet and spoon the mixture evenly over the ribs.

Bake the ribs until they are tender (a knife inserted between the ribs will slide in with no resistance), 3 to 4 1/2 hours. Slice the ribs to separate them and serve.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Culinary quote of import

In the December 17 issue of the American Conservative, John Zmirak discusses his recent visit to a Dallas-area Whole Foods grocery store. This quote stands out:

"[T]here ... lingered in me a sense of excess. Did one really need this many choices of chard, and was it really healthy to cultivate such delicate sensibilities? It's one thing to shop at farmers markets because you want to support the folks who grow apples in your area. It's quite another to learn how to care, really care, about whether your sea salt comes from Brittany. C.S. Lewis dubbed such exquisite awareness the 'higher gluttony,' which consists not in excessive consumption but undue attention to food. He smelled it in vegetarians, food faddists, and others who made of their bodies not so much a temple as a fetish."

"He smelled it in vegetarians, food faddists, and others who made of their bodies not so much a temple as a fetish." ... I can think of three people I know in whom I smell such, indeed.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


It pains me to admit that I gained inspiration from Nashville's daily rag of a newspaper; but, tonight, I used a recipe published in Tuesday's Tennessean to dispatch with most of my left-over Christmas turkey meat.

I'm not too damn pained 'cause, well, I did not follow the Tennessean's turkey-enchiladas recipe to a T: I placed big helpings of rice and jalapenos in each and every en-chee-la-da wrap; and I doubled-up on the amount of cheese poured over the whole she-bang.

Check it out:

Don't that look good?!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ancient Donelsonian secret

My favorite side dish has always been, and I imagine always will be, green beans -- especially well-seasoned green beans. My grandmother made the best green beans, which she seasoned with salt pork and onions, and holy hell I miss eatin' 'em. In fact, my stomach starts rumblin' just thinkin' about Granny Ruby's green beans.

Whenever I would go to my grandparents' house to eat, I'd start picking at the green beans before they'd even been ladled into a serving bowl. And woe unto anyone who didn't scoop some green beans onto his or her plate when we sat down to eat. Once I'd started into 'em, it didn't take long before they were all gone.

It takes time to cook good green beans. If my grandmother was using fresh beans, she'd put 'em in a pressure cooker and cook the you-know-what out of 'em for a couple of hours. Canned green beans didn't take quite as long, but they weren't just poured into a pan and heated through. She would let them simmer until most of the water was cooked away -- which is the secret to making really good green beans. Indeed, if you're not patient enough to let 'em simmer, simmer, simmer (as Justin Wilson was wont to say), then you might as well just eat 'em out of the can.

All that said, one of my mother's friends recently showed me how to cook tasty green beans without having to wait two hours for said beans to soak up the flavor of a big hunk of pork.

Here's what you'll need:

That is a box of Goya Sabor A Jamón de Cocinar (ham-flavored concentrate), which you can find at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Publix and Food Lion. There are 8 packages of concentrate per box, each of which equals the flavor of 1/4 lb of smoked ham.

Now, here's what you do for "quick" green beans:

Drain the canning water from a 1.5 lb can of Allen's green beans. Put beans in pan with just enough water to cover. Pour in one package of Goya ham seasoning and several twists of fresh black pepper. Cover pan and bring just to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cock lid so steam can escape. Cook 25 minutes, or until most of the water is gone. Remove from heat and stir. Re-cover and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with meatloaf, fried chicken, pot roast, pork chops, steak, country ham, beef stew ...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Svenska Köttbullar

I've never been a big fan of Swedish meatballs. I don't know why, but the little buggers've just never been my cup ... er, my balls o' beef.

I broke down and consumed at least a half-dozen Swedish meatballs at a party last night. (Oh, they was good!) I quickly procured the recipe from the lady who'd brung 'em.

I can't wait to make this for myself:

Svenska Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)


2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup Heinz ketchup
Pinch of dried basil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp Lawry's seasoned salt
1 sleeve saltine crackers, finely crushed
3 lbs ground beef
3 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/4 block Velveeta cheese (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk


In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, catsup, seasoned salt, pepper, basil, and onion. Mix very well with a whisk. Blend in ground beef. Mix well, using hands if desired. Mix for several minutes until the meat mixture is well blended and very moist. Mix in crushed saltines.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine mushroom soup and milk; add cheese. When the soup-cheese mixture is completely melted, turn off heat and add sour cream, stirring until well blended.

Heat electric skillet to 300 degrees. Form into meatballs by hand. Drop into electric skillet and brown for about 10 minutes. Roll (using a tablespoon), and brown other side. When the meatballs are browned, cover in skillet for 10 minutes on lower heat, 200 degrees. Then transfer the meatballs to a Dutch oven on low heat.

Cover the meatballs slowly with the cheese-soup mixture. Do not stir meatballs. Roll meatballs with a flat spatula. Never stir meatballs, roll them. Completely cover meatballs with cheese mixture. Cover and simmer for an hour. Make sure you check them and Roll them every once in a while.

Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mmm! I smell bacon!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

In my humble opinion, there ain't a single damn foodstuff that can't be improved with a few strips of bacon -- or a big glob of bacon grease!

Check this out:

"It's official. After seeing bacon chocolate, I thought there wasn't a thing that hadn't been infused with the salty, smoky awesome-ness that is bacon.

"Until I saw these cookies from Never Bashful with Butter.

"Granted, the bacon isn't inside the chocolate chip cookie -- rather the cookies are made up with maple flavored icing, the adorned with pieces of bacon. It all started on a dare between blogger 'Muffin' and her husband. After much debate about whether cookies could be made better with the addition of bacon, she came up with these.

"Based on the photo alone, if you ask me, she most certainly proved her point!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Le meilleur pain congelé

Just like my sainted grandpère, I love bread. Any bread: white, wheat, multi-grain, potato, rye, pumpernickel, yeast rolls, homemade biscuits, etc. Yup, if something's made with flour and baked, chances are I'll eat the hell out of it.

About two years ago, I discovered a bread that quickly made its way close to the top - if not all the way to the top - of my list of favorite breads:

That, mes ami, is a Le Petit Français (LPF) frozen baguette. Like so many unique-to-Nashville foodstuffs, LPF baguettes're only available at Publix Super Markets. "What's the big deal about 'em?" you ask. Well, let me tell you ...

This bread is unlike any other frozen bread that you can find in any grocery store in this city. From the first bite to the last, you will swear that you bought a baguette in a bakery; or you will insist on telling yourself that you were served a baguette in an upscale bistro alongide something braised in vin ... or something made with lots o' butter and cream. (Indeed, LPT baguettes taste so much like a baguette I had at a French restaurant -- Le Beaujolais -- in NYC's Theatre District in August 2001, it ain't even funny. Perhaps that is why I like 'em so much.)

Here's the skinny on LPF baguettes straight from the baker's mouth:

"One bite and you will recognize the distinctive taste of our select unbleached wheat flour, natural spring water and four generations of baking expertise. We are bakers, not chemists, so freezing is our only preservative. Le Petit Français baguettes are produced by the renowned bakers at S.A. Boulangerie Neuhauser located in a village in the Alsace-Lorraine, France."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hoagie hamburger? No, thank you ...

I rarely eat fast food hamburgers. When I do get a hankering for a fast burger, I usually head to Wendy's. This is what I wrote in a company newsletter a few months ago:

"[A] Double 'n' Frosty is a temptation that I sometimes find so very hard to resist."

Earlier this year, Wendy's asked customers to send in ideas for a new hamburger. The winning entry, which was announced two weeks ago, is the Philly Style Hoagie Burger:

That was the most original entry? Grilled hamburgers topped with salami? I'll bet it took all of 5 seconds to conjure up that culinary creation.

When I see the Hoagie Burger on the menu at my local Wendy's, I don't think I'll be ordering one. Not that I have anything against salami, mind you; but if I'm going to eat salami - or any deli meat, for that matter - I want it on a fresh hoagie bun, dammit.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sauce me!

The company that produces the World's Best Mayonnaise, C.F. Sauer Co., also makes a damn good BBQ sauce. Here 'tis:

I usually shy away from BBQ sauces that feature sugar as a major ingredient. Sauer's does list sugar amongst its ingredients; however, Sauer's has enough pepper and spice in its blend to burn away its already muted sweet flavor.

The only grocery store in the world in which I've been able to find Sauer's BBQ sauce is a little food mart in Camden, TN. I cannot drive through Camden - which I do quite often on my way to my aunt's cabin on Kentucky Lake - without stopping to get me a half-dozen bottles of my second-favorite BBQ sauce in the world (click here for my favorite).

Last night, I cooked a small pork roast with new potatoes, onions and peppers. While the meat - which I'd seasoned with a rub of cayenne, garlic salt, and Cavender's Greek Seasoning - was plenty flavorful by itself, it was absolutely mouth-watering when I added a couple o' squirts of Sauer's.

If you spy Sauer's BBQ sauce in a Nashville-area grocery store, drop me a line and tell me where. Joltin' Django will appreciate it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gimme my Dickel!

There are two things you can count on seeing when you visit ma maison: my cat, Hambone, and several bottles of George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. Jack Daniel's may be the world's best known Tennessee whiskey - hell, the world's best known whiskey period - but it is not anywhere near as good as Dickel No. 8 or Dickel No. 12. Not only does Dickel have a smoother taste than its more-famous cousin, it leaves less of an acohol burn on the back of one's tongue as well.

That said, we Dickel fans awoke to a bit of bad news today (I thought my favorite liquor store's supply of "black label" Dickel was a bit thin):

"One item may be missing from holiday parties this year: George Dickel Whisky No. 8. It's scarce because the Dickel distillery shut down production from 1999 to 2003, trying to reduce inventory of the Tennessee sippin' whiskey. It worked.

"And since whiskey must age, it's too early for a new batch.

"Dickel has taken out ads in several newspapers, apologizing for the shortage. The ad blames the situation on 'an incredible surge in demand for George Dickel No. 8,' but it's been known for years that the shortage was coming.

"Other Dickel brands — Superior No. 12, Barrel Select and Cascade Hollow Batch — are still available.

"Diageo PLC, the British beverage giant that owns Dickel, declined to provide production figures, citing competitive reasons. ...

"'It's a temporary setback,"' said Gary Galanis, a vice president for Diageo. 'No. 8 will be back in early 2008.'"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Je vais à Paris

I've been invited to a Christmas party tonight in Paris, TN. A Man's Gotta Eat will return Sunday, December 16.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Un nouveau slogan

When I started A Man's Gotta Eat, I envisioned it as a Web site on which I would post restaurant reviews. Thus my original slogan: "Because no man should settle for a restaurant best known for its grilled-chicken salad." AMGE's scope has expanded to include my thoughts on all things eating, drinking and smoking. I thought a new slogan was in order. Here 'tis:

"A Man's guide to filling his belly, pickling his liver, and clouding his lungs in Nashville, Middle Tennessee, and parts beyond. 'Because no man should settle for light beer, tofu, skim milk, smoke-free bars, or restaurants best known for their grilled-chicken salads.'"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What will they think of next?

When I was a kid, it seemed like only the wimpiest of wimpy children insisted on having the crust cut off their bread ... probably because their parents over-indulged them by doing things like, well, cutting the crust off bread.

Speaking of over-indulgence, I went to elementary school with a kid whose mother picked out each and every chunk of chicken from cans of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup 'cause, as my classmate told me several times, "The chicken taste[d] funny." Just thinking about it makes my eye sockets hurt from deep eye-rollin'.

That said, I would've never dreamed of asking my mother or father for crustless bread. First, 'cause I preferred crusted bread from my first sandwich onward; and second, because I knew damn-well how my parents would've responded to a request for crustless bread: "I'M NOT CUTTING THE CRUST OFF YOUR @$#%&* BREAD!."

AOL points out that you can now purchase bread with the crusts already cut off:

"Sick of cutting the crust off your [wimpy] kid's bread? The answer: Crustless bread. Available in Spain since 1999, under the Bimbo brand, it was introduced as IronKids Crustless in the U.S., but is not widely available."

Here's a picture:

What will they think of next? Chickenless chicken noodle soup?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Joltin' Django's Big Boy Burger

I called my cancer-stricken neighbor, Vince, this morning to see how he was feeling (he had a treatment on Friday, and it really knocked him for a loop). I asked if he'd been able to eat much over the past few days and he said no. Then he said, "I would really love to have a grilled hamburger, even if I could only eat a few bites."

I told Vince I would stop and pick up some ground beef on my way home this evening, and by God he and his -- Vince has two kids -- would get a grilled hamburger ce soir.

Here're are the burgers, which'd been drizzled with Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, before I put 'em on the charcoal grill (apologies to Hank Hill):

Here's my hamburger 'fore I tore into it (unfortunately, the big slices of onion and tomato aren't visible):

Does that look good, or what?!


Creeder Reader Kim W writes to ask, "What kind of buns did you use?"

I used Sara Lee whole wheat "deli" buns ... Joltin' Django's favorite hamburger buns!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Haricots rouges et riz à ma maison (redux)

Over the weekend, my aunt phoned to say that she'd be in Nashville today and tomorrow. She put in a request for my should-be-patented red beans and rice, and I was all to happy to oblige (see above picture).

Here's the recipe I used:

Joltin' Django's Red Beans & Rice


1.5 lbs red kidney beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large bell pepper (diced)
1 large white onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 heaping tablespoons Luzianne Cajun Seasoning
1 lb andouille sausage (sliced into quarter-inch cubes)
Salt and pepper to taste


Soak beans in large heavy-bottomed pot for 6-8 hours. Strain beans and wash in cold water. Set beans aside.

Place pot on stove and heat for 5 minutes on medium head. Add olive oil, bell pepper, and onion, saute until onions are clear. Add garlic and saute for 10-15 seconds. Remove pot from heat.

Pour beans into pot and cover with water. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper and stir well. Place pot on stove and bring beans to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cook for one hour.

Add sausage to beans and add more Cajun seasoning if needed. Cover pot and cook - again, on slow simmer - for 2 1/2-3 hours.

Serve beans over white rice (I prefer Zatarain's), with healthy dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Fifth Taste

Sweet, sour, salty ... umami?!

Chicken soup, soy sauce, premium Parmesan, and anchovies ... until now, I never knew these favorite foodstuffs tickled a distinct part of my palate!

This is so very interesting.

Don't get between a man and his mac 'n' cheese!

This morning's Tennessean has a short article 'bout macaroni and cheese. Said article quotes a nutritionist - who bug me almost as much as vegans and environmentalists do - who says macaroni and cheese is "lethal" Yes, lethal (I couldn't make up such stupidity if I tried):

"[Macaroni and cheese] may not be good for you, warns nutritionist Robin Flipse. 'As an entree, it's lethal.'

"Mac & cheese has pluses — it's calcium-rich and has protein aplenty. 'But even if you use reduced-fat cheese, you can't make this low in calories,' Flipse says."

Reckon what Flipse would say 'bout this:

Reckon what's the lethality of Joltin' Django's patented nouilles et fromage?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Oh, Melinda's

Earlier this week, I was perusing the available hot sauces at my local Publix when I spied Melinda's Extra Hot Sauce. As soon as I saw "extra hot" and "habanero" on the label, I says to myself, "This I must have."

As is the case with most habanero sauces, Melinda's has a fruity aroma and taste. (I think it's almost as much fun smellin' habanero peppers as it is to eat 'em.)

How does Melinda's taste? Like I said, it has a wonderfully fruity taste, but it's not as hot as I'd like from a sauce made from habanero peppers. Indeed, the heat-level of Melinda's is on par with regular Tabasco sauce.

Thus, my Melinda's verdict is:

Tastes great, tain't hot enough.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Country cooking, French-style

I'm so petit français it ain't even funny!

That said, Joltin' Django received his first official 2007 Christmas gift ce soir. Here 'tis:

First time I cook from this book, if you will, I'll be sure to post pics.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Picnic Pizza keeps on rulin'!

Earlier this evening, my best bud of all time, Bruce D, visited Chez Allison so's he could retrieve a Christmas CD I'd burned for him. Upon entering ma maison, Big Bruce asked if I'd eaten dinner. When I said "Non," Bruce asked, "Why don't we go to Picnic Pizza?" He didn't have to ask twice ...

As promised, the following (first published in August 2007) will be re-posted each and every time I visit Picnic Pizza:

I never get tired of talking about Picnic Pizza, aka Angelo's Picnic Pizza & Italian Restaurant. Picnic Pizza has been in business in Nashville for almost 25 years, and I've been raving about their pizza almost since day one.

What's so great about Picnic Pizza's pies? Well, each pizza starts with homemade dough, hand-rolled by Angelo himself; a zesty tomato sauce, perfectly spread, is added; then comes fresh-grated mozzarella cheese; and the whole shebang's topped with the best pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms and peppers I've ever eaten. Picnic Pizza' pies are sliced into big NYC-style slices (Angelo e la sua famiglia hail from Brooklyn) and are served piping hot.

When Picnic Pizza moved to its current location in 2000, Angelo added a lunch buffet. For the past seven years, Priest Lake/Antioch residents have had a place in which they can gorge themselves on the best Italian food Nashville has to offer: pizza, of course, stromboli, spaghetti and marinara, sausage and peppers, fried eggplant, baked penne with vegetables, and a well-stocked salad bar, which features a damn fine vinegar 'n' oil dressing.

Nashville has a lot of Italian restaurants that claim to have the best pizza in the city. I've eaten at most of 'em and I've come to this conclusion: There ain't a pizza joint in town that can hold a candle to Picnic Pizza. Indeed.

Angelo's Picnic Pizza
2713 Murfreesboro Road
Antioch, TN 37013

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Best cheap wines"

AOL's foodie blog says Trader Joe's Coastal Cabernet is an excellent "cheap wine" ...

... I cannot disagree.

You can find Trader Joe's wines at Liquor World in Antioch (Hickory Hollow). Be sure to tell 'em Joltin' Django sent you.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Chicken soup for the Joltin' Django

What is it they say about "best-laid schemes" ...?

Yesterday, I decided to make a big pot o' homemade chicken soup. I was going to accurately measure my portions and provide the recipe for my readers. Furthermore, I was going to document the process with my digital camera to show folks what a mean pot of chicken yours truly can make.

Well, things didn't progress like I wanted. I took a picture of all my "stock" ingredients in the pot waiting to be simmered; but before I could do anything else, a couple of friends stopped by. They agreed to stay for dinner, and I was too busy entertaining them to measure portions and take pics.

Here's the one picture I did manage to take; it shows two chickens in a pot with carrots, celery, onions, garlic, kosher salt and fresh black pepper:

Sometime in the very near future I'll be posting my chicken soup recipe in all its glory. Hopefully, I'll have a bunch o' pics, too.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

THE best hot dogs, period

The best store-bought hot dogs on the planet are Nathan's Kosher Beef Franks. Regardez:

No artificial colors or flavors. No by-products. Just all-beef goodness.

You can find Nathan's hot dogs at various grocery stores in and 'round Nashville: Wal-Mart, Publix, Kroger, Food Lion. However, if you want the Kosher franks - which are the tastiest franks in the Nathan's hot dog line, if you will - you'll have to visit the Kroger on Harding Road, in Belle Meade, or the Kroger on Hwy 70 in Belleview.