Friday, February 29, 2008

Re: Bud Sauce

Beer and barbeque. What a combination. Next to burgers 'n' cheese, or fried potatoes 'n' ketchup, tain't two words for which a man who's gotta eat should have more affinity than "beer" and "barbeque."

As much as I hate Budweiser beer, I have to admit that the folks at Anheuser-Busch can turn out a quality bottle of barbeque sauce (Bud Sauce):

Bud Sauce, if you will, is a little bit spicy and a little bit sweet; and it's obviously infused with a good deal of Budweiser beer. Indeed, each time I've cooked with it, the general area in which I've cooked started smelling like beer.

Good smells don't always equal good taste: Bread never tastes as good as it smells while baking; coffee never tastes as good as it does while brewing. That said, I can honestly say that the sweet/spicy/beer smell that comes off of a meat slathered in Bud Sauce will

I threw a couple of pork steaks on the grill ce soir, and I seasoned 'em with salt, pepper, and a goodly amount of Bud Sauce (see pic above).

Sweet, spicy, and beer-tasting, my pork steaks were , well, so very good ... especially since they were served with big dollops of Tennessee chow-chow.

Beer. Pork. Chow-chow. Don't you wish you were here?!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Here we go again ... with the White Bean Chicken Chili

Almost precisely one month ago, I posted a recipe for white bean chicken chili. I said:

Everyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that I detest chain restaurants -- especially "casual dining" chain restaurants. Last week, I was more or less dragged to a local Ruby Tuesday by three female family members (go figure).

Seeing nothing on the menu that struck my fancy, I opted for a bowl of white bean chicken chili and Ruby Tuesday's "famous" salad bar. The salad bar was nothing to write home about, to say the least, but the chicken chili was pretty darn good. If Ruby Tuesday ever starts serving its chicken chili in big-arsed bowls as an entrée, I might - might - be tempted to once again place my buns in one of their booths.

That said, I found a recipe for "authentic" Ruby Tuesday white bean chicken chile on Recipe Zaar over the weekend, and I cooked up a batch tonight. I followed the directions - listed below - faithfully, which was a mistake. With each bit I said, "Man, this needs something." What it needed was more cumin, more oregano, more tomatoes ... more everything!

You know, I made a batch of chili using the above-mentioned recipe. And it was pretty good. But when I consumed the end result, if you will, it seemed to be lacking something.

Tonight, I made a big pot o' white bean chicken chili. I followed the original recipe ... but I doubled-up on the amount of cumin added, and I threw in a tablespoon of chili powder. The final result was a dish that tasted JUST like its commercial inspiration:

If'n you tell me my chili don't look good, I'll die ... I'll just die (apologies to Mary Alice Carter).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Inside-out cheeseburgers

Thanks to Creeder Reader Kim for sending us the recipe for Inside-Out Cheeseburgers.

As a self-described burger-lover, I cannot wait to, ahem, consume one o' these ...

Inside-Out Cheeseburgers


1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Pre-heat grill to medium-high or preheat the broiler

Combine Cheddar and Gruyere in a small bowl

Mix beef, Worcestershire, paprika and pepper in a large bowl. Shape into 8 thin, 4-inch-wide patties.

Mound 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on each of 4 patties, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Cover each with one of the remaining patties.

Grill the stuffed patties about 4 minutes per side for medium-well. (Be sure not to press the burgers as they cook or they'll split open and the cheese will ooze out.)

Let the burgers stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cazuela de pollo Mexicana

Some ten years ago, my Mom received from a friend a recipe for Mexican Chicken Casserole. She passed the recipe along to me, and it quickly became one of my favorite casseroles of all time.

The first thing you'll notice about Mexican Chicken Casserole is ... there ain't nothing Mexican about it. I've been to Mexico a couple of times, and I don't recall ever eating anything there that featured a can of condensed soup as a major ingredient. (I don't recall eating any cheese-clogged dishes south of the border, either.) But so what? The dish could've been christened "Gristle Chicken Casserole" by its concocter, if you will, and it would still taste damn good to me.

It takes about 15 minutes to put the following casserole together, and it goes from notion to noshing in about an hour and a half. I've made this for friends, family and co-workers, and I've NEVER had to dispose of left-overs. That's a pretty good testimonial, if you ask me.

Mexican Chicken Casserole


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 can RO*TEL® tomatoes (I prefer extra hot)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
4-6 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 cups crushed Doritos Nacho Cheese® chips, crushed
Kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in shallow, aluminum foil-lined baking dish Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Remove chicken for baking dish. Shred and set aside. Discard aluminum foil.

Mix soups and RO*TEL® in a small bowl. Place shredded chicken and onion in baking dish. Cover with soup/RO*TEL® mixture. Top with cheese and chips, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with green peas or a small salad (and lots of Tabasco®)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Y'say "tuh-mah-toe"; Joltin' Django says, "Here's a great tomato gravy" ...

Weeks ago, I toted a pot of spaghetti sauce to a party. More than one party-goer asked me, "What's in that great-tastin' sauce?" I didn't tell them, but I'm tellin' you ...

What follows is my recipe for Italian red sauce. It ain't authentically Italian, by any stretch. But what can I do? I'm just a Scots-Irish/Frog from Middle Tennessee. What the hell do I know 'bout Italian gravy? Just this:

Joltin' Django's Special Spaghetti Sauce


1 roll Italian sausage
1 large white onion, diced
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 large cans chopped Italian tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup red wine
10-15 frozen "Italian" meatballs
2 tablespoons dried basil
Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste


Brown sausage in large pot over medium heat. Break sausage into small pieces with wood spoon. Add onions and garlic and stir until onions are soft.

Pour in olive oil, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine; add frozen meatballs, basil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir very well.

Bring pot o' Italian stuff to a boil. Reduce heat to "extra low" and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Ladle over penne or spaghetti noodles, and serve with a crusty bread.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Ma bière préférée

Earlier this evening, some buds came over to do a little pickin', grinnin', and drinkin' ... not necessarily in that order. This was our drink of choice:

I distinctly remember the first time I had a Samuel Smith's beer ...

When I was in college, I went on a "French immersion" trip to Montréal and Québec City. Montréal was a complete bust. My hotel was in a distinctly English section of the city, and I spent three-quarters of my time there speaking nothing but English.

While in Montréal, however, a couple of my traveling companions and I went into a charming little pub run by British expats. A little squat feller sitting at the bar was nipping from a bottle of something really red, which looked really good.

"What is that?" I asked. The little guy kindly told me that it was "Sam Smith's Pale Ale," his favorite beer.

"Gimme one of those," I told the bartender.

Bold with an almost fruit-like finish, Samuel Smith's Pale Ale was unlike any beer I'd had to that point. I think I'd consumed three Victorian pints of the stuff before mes amis and I got up to leave that little pub.

As my fellow travelers and I stepped out into the street, I turned to one of 'em and said something to the effect of, "If I can't get Samuel Smith's back in Nashville, I don't know what the hell I'm going to do. That was the best damn beer I've ever had!"

Well, it didn't take long for me to discover that I could indeed get practically every "flavor" of Samuel Smith's in Nashville. I've tried 'em all, but I enjoy none of 'em half as much as I enjoy pale ale. And every time I take a nip from a big bottle of Old Brewery Pale Ale, I can't help but say a little thanks to the guy who introduced me to the stuff in a Montrél bar.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"'Cause you're in New York, but I'm not."

Anthony Bourdain is my Culinary Hero. I said as much over at my political blog.

Thanks to Creeder Reader Aaron for forwarding this "Bourdain does NYC" interview:

Read it. internalize it. And please understand that folks who live in New York City have their tastebuds regularly tickled in such a way that non-NYC residents should be jealous to the point of tears.

Anthony Bourdain tells us so!

La nuit passée

I failed to post yesterday because mes parents and I went to dinner with folks, the DeWitts, who lived next door when I was a kid.

Where'd we go? Here. Why'd we go there? 'Cause our former neighbors wanted "Italian."

The DeWitts had nothing but praise Angelo's Picnic Pizza. 'Tis another "don't just take my word for it" arrow in my pro-Picnic Pizza quiver, indeed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nashville's Tastiest Street

A co-worker recently passed along the March/April 2008 Good magazine (I'd never heard of it either). Normally my co-workers would know better than to give me left-leaning journals of, well, unabashed leftism, but the current Good is the "Food Issue." In this case, food trumped politics ...

Good's Adam Matthews compiled a list of America's top seven "tastiest streets," and Nashville's Nolensville Road was listed among 'em -- alongside noted culinary thoroughfares like Roosevelt Ave. in Queens, Broadway in Chicago, and West Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. To wit:

"What Nolensville Road lacks in charm and walkability, it compensates for with a thorough culinary road map to the New South -- count on Mexican, Middle Eastern, and African cuisines. You'll need a vehicle and a few visits to master the terrain, but it's worth it. Move beyond the Middle Eastern food of the Levant at the ornate Persian restaurant Parisa's, which specializes in khoresht, stews that pair meat with fruits. Of those, fessenjoon (chicken braised with crushed walnuts and pomengranate) is easily the best. For lighter fare, the nearby Istanbul Café's brick oven turns out admirable versions of the Turkish pizza called lahmacun: a thin disk of dough topped with minced beef or lamb and baked crisp in the oven.

"About a dozen or so blocks down Nolensville, pop by La Hacienda Marisqueria and scarf down the superior fish tacos, underpinned by cooling cabbage and doused with crema. The nearby Abay Ethiopian offers spongy injera bread to sop up its combination platter, a wise choice for indecisive diners. Head several storefronts back up Nolensville to sample the indigenous cuisine. Norman Couser's Country Cooking's venerable meat-and-three has occupied three different locations since 1955. For the last two decades, it has sat across the street from the Nashville Zoo. Opt for the fried chicken as a protein and choose three sides. Just don't feed the animals."

One of the best aspects of Nashville's recent influx of immigrants - and, yes, there are good things that come with a growing immigrant population - is the number of quality ethnic restaurants in the city and in surrounding counties. Nolensville Road is the main street of ethnic eating in Nashville. A feller could eat lunch or dinner at a different Nolensville Road ethnic eatery every day, and you couldn't get through 'em all in a month ... hell, two months. We so lucky.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Me like raw, too!

Show me a hippy-dippy vegetarian, or someone obsessed with body cleansing, who's not pretentious, and I'll show you a dead hippy-dippy vegetarian/body cleanser. Check this out:

"A diet that consists solely of raw food can be intimidating and a little jarring if you're not used to it. But despite its associations with body 'cleanses' and hippy-dippy living, it's really a welcomed change from the overly-cooked, overly-fussed with food many of us are used to.

"This month, Domino Magazine features a days' worth of raw food recipes (minus dinner) that are heavy on taste and light on pretension."

Maybe the hippy-dippy set is on to something after all. Maybe I'll try the raw thing tomorrow night. I'll start with some raw oysters. I'll make me a salad, heavy on packed-in-oil anchovies. And for the main course I'll have me a rare tuna steak ... no, a rare beef steak. I want that sombitch so rare that I hear a "moo" every time I take a bite.

Goin' raw rawks!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What is that, like a little chicken?

I had a couple of Cornish hens in my freezer that were just begging to be cooked. (I mean that literally. 'Bout once every other wee morning I could hear my Cornish hens exclaiming: "Cook me, cook me!") Cook 'em I did. Like this ...

After a good thawing, I removed the backbone from each Cornish hen. In a small bowl, I mixed two tablespoons olive oil, a half-teaspoon of finely chopped garlic, a little pinch of cayenne pepper and a big-ass pinch of dried rosemary. I worked a finger under the breast and leg skin(s) of each hen, and then I poured in my oil-herb mixture. A liberal dousing of salt and pepper, on each side, came next.

I pre-heated my grill to 350 degrees and gave it a good Pam®-spraying. I threw my hens on the grill, skin down, and I then I carefully placed an aluminum foil-wrapped brick on each.

I cooked my birds for 25 minutes before removing the bricks and flipping 'em. After they'd cooked for another, oh, 10 minutes, I removed 'em and let 'em rest for a bit.

I don't like to toot my own horn, but ... TOOT! Damn, those hens was goooood!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Buffalo Herd Theory

Thanks to Creeder Reader Nate for sending us this:

"A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

"In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

"And that's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."

Can't argue with logic like that!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I smell bacon! Do you smell bacon?!

To hell with Des Moines. Nashville should be hostin' National Pig Day's Bacon Festival ...

"Bacon evokes memories of weekend mornings when, like summer days at the grill, dad found his culinary place, flipping thin slices of meat, calling out to the primal man.

"Bacon is about sustained attention in a click-happy TV-remote-and-computer-mouse world. It must be forked, flipped, watched. It must not be under- or overdone. It must be honored."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

[?]'s sweet 'n' spicy coleslaw

I recently procured my favorite BBQ restaurant's recipe for coleslaw. I ain't gonna tell you which BBQ joint is my favorite 'cause I'm going to do a review one of these days. Just know that this is good:

[?] BBQ's Sweet 'N' Spicy Coleslaw


1 cabbage
1 large white onion
2 large carrots
1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably Duke's)
1/4 cup mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper


Mix mayo, mustard, vinegar, sugar and pepper in large bowl. Set aside.

Core cabbage, peel carrots and peel onion. Finely chop cabbage, carrots and onion in food processor.

Place chopped vegetables in bowl with "sauce"; mix well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Monday, February 11, 2008

'Shamed to admit ...

My hockey game-attendin' pal, Joe, shamed me into tellin' this story 'bout our recent trip to Piranha's Bar & Grill:

I tried to order a Yazoo draft beer by saying: "Gimme a Yahoo." When the Piranha's bartender -- a rather comely gal, you should know -- asked for clarification, I again asked for a "Yahoo." Ms. Bartender then gave me a most cross-eyed/you're a dumbass look. Goodness!

When I attempted to explain that my Yazoo/Yahoo faux pas was a result of my having read about Yahoo!'s maybe-merger with Microsoft in the WSJ, Ms. Piranha's Bartender seemed most uninterested. I started to say something tacky ("Can you even spell 'Wall Street Journal?'"), but I - wisely - decided to just let "it" go.

Let every piece be an edge-piece!

My Pop loves brownies. Specifically, he loves edge-piece brownies. Methinks I've found his this year's Father's Day gift:

Pop ... will ... love ... it!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Take a bite outta Piranha's

Last week, a Joe I Know and I attended the Predators-Lightning game at the Nashville Arena, er, Gaylord Entertainment Center, er, Sommet Center (that's the one!). I suggested Piranha's for a before-game meal. Since I had a coupon for the place, and since Joe had never been there before, to Piranha's we headed.

From the outside, Piranha's looks like a run-of-the-mill watering hole. That's what it looks like on the inside, too. When you see the little grill and deep fryer behind the bar, you can't help but think that the only thing you'll be able to eat there is a greasy burger and/or some equally greasy chicken wings. How wrong be anyone who thinks such.

Piranha's claim to fame is Pittsburgh-style sandwiches. A Piranha's Pitt-style sandwich is unlike any sandwich I've ever had in any other restaurant in the U.S. of A. (Since the only time I ever stepped foot in Pittsburgh was to change planes on a return trip from D.C., I'll take the folks at Piranha's at their word when they say that their featured style o' sandwich is ubiquitous in Steel Town.)

A Piranha's sandwich treats its, um, eater to an entire pub-style meal stuffed between two slices of bread. A thick-sliced piece of country white bread is topped with meat(s) and cheese, a large pile of fresh-cut french fries, and a creamy, slightly sweet - and very tasty - coleslaw. When all the pilin' stops, the sandwich is topped with another slice of bread and served with a kosher pickle the size of the fat end of a German potato-masher grenade.

During our visit to Piranha's, the Joe I Know and I both ordered the same thing: The Italian Stallion. The Italian Stallion features capicolla ham, salami, thick-sliced bologna, and provolone cheese. We watched as the meats we ordered were turned on the grill a couple of times, which allowed the cheese to just start dripping when the fries and slaw are jammed on. We watched as our potatoes were sliced and placed in the deep fryer.

When Joe saw his sandwich, which was at least 5 and a half inches tall, his eyes bugged out. "How am I supposed to eat this thing?!" he asked. I told him to just lean over his plate, grab the thing with his both hands, and just do his best. I also assured him that I would not cast critical eyes - or laughs - his way if he had to keep re-building his sandwich. (Piranha's sandwiches have a propensity to partially or completely fall apart after each bite. Re-stacking the contents of your sandwich simply adds to the charm of the Piranha's experience.)

Though it took awhile, Joe and I were able to finish our sandwiches. We also finished off a half-dozen draft Yazoo beers. As we walked out the door, Joe was already askin' when he thought we'd be coming back. I guess that's about as good a tribute that one can give to Piranha's ... indeed.

Friday, February 08, 2008

News you can use

I've received numerous requests to enable comments on A Man's Gotta Eat. Well, I've finally gone and done it. So comment away, folks.

That said ...

Over at Music City Bloggers, Claudia gives my chicken soup recipe a major shout-out. Check it out:

"So i was sent a link to this blog and upon perusal I was thinking - this just isn’t for me… I mean his blog description reads:

"'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.'

"Although I was somewhere between agreement and being perhaps a bit off-put, I wasn’t convinced that I’d find anything here for me until my eyes fell upon this recipe and I realized, hey - this guy can cook! He even uses kosher salt as opposed to the dreaded ‘umbrella girl’ brand. My respect was elevated and I read on.

"'Remove chickens to a platter or shallow baking dish. Strain stock into smaller stock pot
(Note: Now, some limp-wristed chefs will tell you to skim off the little droplets of fat that rise to the surface of chicken stock. Hell, I’ve even heard some TV chefs say that stock should be put in the refrigerator for several hours so all of the fat can congeal at the top and be removed. As Anthony Bourdain once said, most of the flavor in a stock is concentrated in those little droplets of fat; and only a fool would remove such from a homemade stock.)'

"Django, you got that right! Good going man, but if I could just suggest, next time use fresh thyme. Big diff. Anyway - I was beginning to feel pretty good about this guy and then I spotted the last picture and had to grab for my reading glasses. ...

"Sure enough, a box of matzoh. Wow. I love this guy. Nashville. Matzoh. Who woulda thought?

Spicy skirt steak

I found a recipe last night that I do not remember writing down. Thus, I do not know from whence it came -- that is, I don't know if I saw it on TV, in a magazine, in the paper, etc.

My discovery was a recipe for spicy skirt steak. Since I had a 2 lb skirt steak in the freezer, I decided to make it for dinner tonight. I was already cleaning up the kitchen when I realized that I'd failed to take a picture of my fine meal. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Spicy Skirt Steak


2 lb skirt steak, cut into three equal pieces
3 jalapeño peppers
2 limes, squeezed
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup light olive oil


Roughly chop jalapeños. Peel garlic cloves. Place peppers, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, and lime juice in a blender. Quickly pulse 5-6 times, or until peppers are finely chopped.

Place steaks in shallow baking dish. Pour marinade over steaks, turning to make sure both sides are evenly covered. Place steaks in refrigerator for 1 hour. (Allow steaks to reach room temperature before cooking.)

Heat charcoal until grey ash appears. Cook steaks 1 minute per side. When finished cooking, wrap meat in aluminum foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Remove meat from foil, reserving foil and juices. Slice thinly across the grain of the meat. Return to foil pouch and toss with juice. Serve with grilled peppers and onions, if desired.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Have a Tampa (Sweet)

One of the perks that comes along with runnin' a semi-successful foodie blog is occasional freebies. Yesterday, I opened my mailbox to find an 8-cigar package of Tampa Sweet cigars. Hoo-ray for free cigars!

The folks over at Tampa Sweet recently sent me a questionnaire via e-mail. I dutifully answered all of their questions never expecting that I'd receive something in return. The something in return came today, and here's the verdict:

Tampa Sweet cigars smell sweet, and they taste sweet before they're lit, but that's where the "sweet" ends. Light one up and you'll be regrettin' it, and then some. Talk about tastin' like crap.

If I'm ever asked to give a testimonial for Tampa Sweet, I know what I'll say. "Chew it ... smell it ... but for God's sake, don't spark it!"

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Soup for you!

If you have $89,500 to $301,500 eating a hole in your pocket - and you have a desire to be a restaurateur - you can become a Soup Man franchisee.

"Who's the Soup Man?" you ask. He's none other than Al Yeganeh, aka the Soup Nazi. Remember the Soup Nazi? "Next!"

I've been wantin' to get into the restaurant b'iness. Perhaps a Seinfeld-themed soup stand is the way to go.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Beef stew is sho' good for you

At this time last week, I trying to decide what to cook for my family's little Super Bowl party. I finally decided on beef stew when I was I given a recipe for slow cooker beef stew from a friend of a friend's mother.

Long about Thursday afternoon, I started receiveing requests for my soon-to-be-famous chicken soup. I knew right then that beef stew would have to be put on the back burner (no pun intended).

This slow cooker beef stew was good, but it seemed to be missing something, which I could not put my, er, tongue on.

Next time I make stew I'll use my own top-of-the-stove recipe ... and I'll be sure to post that recipe - with pictures - when I do.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew


3 pounds cubed beef stew meat
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup baby carrots
4 large potatoes, cubed
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups boiling water
1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
3 tablespoons butter
3 onions, sliced
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Place meat in a large plastic bag. Combine 1/4 cup flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt; pour into the bag with the meat, and shake to coat.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add stew meat, and cook until evenly browned on the outside. Transfer to a slow cooker along with the carrots, potatoes, parsley, and pepper. In a small bowl, stir together 2 cups of boiling water and dry soup mix; pour into the slow cooker.

In the same skillet, melt butter and saute onions until softened; remove to the slow cooker. Pour red wine into the skillet, and stir to loosen browned bits of food on the bottom. Remove from heat, and pour into the slow cooker.

Cover, and cook on High for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to Low, and cook for 6 hours, or until meat is fork tender. In a small bowl or cup, mix together 2 tablespoons flour with 1/4 cup warm water. Stir into stew, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until thickened.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Chicken soup for the Joltin' Django (redux)

A few months ago, I endeavored to post my very own recipe for chicken soup -- with accompanying pictures, no less. I had some problems with my digital camera and it didn't happen. Well, it's happening now.

Joltin' Django's Chicken Soup


2 whole chickens (cheap chick'ns from the supermarket, or "organic" bug-eating/sh**-eating chick'ns from the Yuppiemart)
7 carrots
1 package of celery (with plenty of leaves)
2 large white onions
5 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Dried thyme
Egg Noodles


Peel three carrots and cut 'em in half
Pick out three stalks of celery that have a lot of leaves on 'em
Quarter one onion
Peel garlic cloves
Rinse chickens in cold water and pat dry

Throw chickens, carrots, celery, onion and garlic in a large stock pot and cover with water
Dump in, oh, a tablespoon of salt and an equal amount of black pepper

Bring chickens and stock vegetables to a boil
Lower heat to slow simmer and cook for 2 hours
(Note: My large stock pot didn't cost very much. Thus, it has a very thin bottom. Since I don't have a heat-diffuser, I slowly bring my chickens and vegetables up to a boil - while constantly stirring - so's nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.)

Remove chickens to a platter or shallow baking dish
Strain stock into smaller stock pot
(Note: Now, some limp-wristed chefs will tell you to skim off the little droplets of fat that rise to the surface of chicken stock. Hell, I've even heard some TV chefs say that stock should be put in the refrigerator for several hours so all of the fat can congeal at the top and be removed. As Anthony Bourdain once said, most of the flavor in a stock is concentrated in those little droplets of fat; and only a fool would remove such from a homemade stock.)
Discard boiled vegetables

Remove skin from chickens and debone; hand-pull into large chunks
Dice remaining carrots and remaining onion
Dice three large stalks of celery
Place chicken and vegetables in stock
Throw in a tablespoon of thyme and more salt if needed
Bring soup to medium simmer and cook for 10 minutes
Remove soup from burner and throw in 2 cups of egg noodles
Cover and let stand for 10 minutes, or until egg noodles are soft


Saturday, February 02, 2008

The world's hottest pepper

It's 200 times hotter than the jalapeño, and workers have to handle it with gloves, goggles and face masks. It is the bhut jolokia chili pepper; and I am now officially on a quest to get me some!

"The bhut jolokia chili pepper fires up the imagination, as well as the taste buds. The thumb-sized chilies are so potent they could be used in pepper spray, says the director of India's Defense Research Lab, R.B. Srivastava. 'I've been told the U.S. and Israel have considered it for antiriot material,' he says.

"Most admirers prefer eating them. The Indian pepper is the latest discovery by a fraternity of eaters who relish the sweaty, addictive pleasures of hot chilies.

"The bhut jolokia pepper, which is farmed in the northeast part of the country, was plucked from obscurity last year when the Guinness Book of World Records declared it the world's hottest. The standard measure for such things is the Scoville Heat Unit, or SHU, named after Wilbur Lincoln Scoville, a chemist who in 1912 developed a method of assessing the heat given off by capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers. Jalapeño peppers measure about 5,000 SHUs. The bhut jolokia tops a million."

Read the rest here.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Beans, beans ... good for your heart

It's been cold and spitting snow for the past two days, so I figured tonight would be a good night to cook a big pot of pinto beans and a skillet of cornbread.

There're few meals that are as simple to make as Pot o' Beans. Soak a pound of beans in a big pot while you're at work (6-8 hours); rinse beans and then cover with water; throw in some seasoning meat (country ham, salt pork, ham hock, etc.); add salt and pepper; and simmer for 2 hours. Serve with cornbread, chopped onions, hot sauce, and Beano®.

Mmmm, mmmm, good!