Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Canned bacon? Why not? Yoder's makes a canned bacon. I believe it is sold as stock for your pantry in case of an apocalypse or a bacon disaster. In any case my bbq friend Jon gave me a heads up on this must have product. When my canned bacon arrived the first thing I noticed was the camouflage packaging. I believe that is very prudent to hide your precious stash from zombies or intruders in the final hours. It is time to try some canned bacon. Ms. Goofy could only shrug her head in canine disbelief for my bacon obsession..
It was very difficult to remove said bacon from the can. Both ends of the can had to be opened with a can-opener. The tightly wound bacon roll was forced through the cylinder to reveal a greasy parchment paper cache of cooked bacon. It had a smoky bacon like smell. It looked like bacon. (It is bacon). Ms. Goofy and I both tried a slice. It was salty but passable as your garden variety store bought bacon. It was not bad. There were probably fifty slices crammed into this little can. The texture was limp and not very desirable
To change the texture and add a little crispness we broke out the trusty black iron. A quick searing and good texture was achieved. This also rendered a little bacon love left in the pan. The light bulb went off and cornbread came to mind. Bacon cornbread of course. We used a standard corn bread recipe and used our pre-seasoned pan we crisped the bacon in. Oh my did it smell heavenly while baking.
Yoder's canned bacon is not that bad. Our bacon cornbread was a success. I am not sure my pantry is, or will be stocked for the Zombie Apocalypses but if I do Yoder's canned bacon is a must have item. Thank Jon for the heads up.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Bacon cream cheese may be the best thing since sliced bread. How about making it spreadable? Oh my! I did peak at the ingredient list and it claims to have 2 percent real honest to goodness cooked bacon bits. Needless to say you do not want to know the rest of the long list of ingredients. It is creamy, smooth, rich, decadent and has a slight bacon flavor. It is most excellent in my book. Maybe I can talk Ms. Goofy into making a cheesecake.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Be forewarned some of the following images are not suitable for vegetarians, faint of heart, and people who are not prepared to see pigs heads in various stages of undress. To begin our journey we start at the Farmer's market. It is Sunday morning and the 'True Grass Farm' (notice my restraint) vendor has a signboard advertising; 'Pig Head for Sale". I did a double take before the hook drew me in. This was no ordinary pigs head it was a cross of Black and Berkshire breed. This head had the credentials to make any hipster proud. I am no stranger to cooking a pigs head. Read Here. This was a no-brainer purchase as far as I was concerned. Would Ms. Goofy understand and be tolerant of this very special acquisition?
The last time I cooked a pigs head, I waited for Ms. Goofy to leave town to visit her sister Shastina. Ms. Goofy was visiting her sister again when I made this purchase. The only problem was she was returning in the afternoon. I prepped my heads by a good scrubbing in the sink. I then dried them. A layer of vegetable oil and a dusting of salt would be next. I wrapped my cabeza'a in garbage bags for their overnight rest in the ice cave. Ms. Goofy returned and I greeted her. She knew something was up because I was hovering in front of the ice cave door. "Don't open the door", I pleaded. She guessed right away. "You bought pigs head again?".
The two heads were cooked in the Weber Smoky Mountain cooker at 250 degrees. I used hickory wood for the smoke component. These heads smoked for almost five hours. I took several temperature readings and decided to pull the meat at 165 degrees. They were placed in a service pan and covered with foil. I let them rest for 2 hours. When I began to pull the meat it was still warm. It smelled fantastic of smoke and pork.
Today, I was only interested in the cheek meat. My goal was to have Ms. Goofy try some. There was no way she would try the brain pictured above. It has a scrambled egg sort of texture. I did not think it had a lot of flavor. Below is the cheek cavity pulled away from the head. This meat is very tender. The cheek is surrounded by a ton of fat. I have my fingers crossed that Ms.Goofy will like this.
Below is the tongue. It has a slight beefy taste with a mineral nuance. The texture is firm. The meat is dark in color. It is not pretty looking but would make some good taco filling
I save the best for last. Eyeball tacos were not on the menu today. I did try them the last time and it was a texture thing. I chopped the cheek meat. It was warmed in a pan. I seasoned it with salt & pepper before I doused it in some bbq sauce. This mixture was put into a very flavorful sandwich. Did Ms. Goofy like it? Well, sort off. She took the tiniest nibble and proclaimed it tasted like bacon. She tried it sort of, so my pig head adventure was not a total loss. Did I mention that we are having too much fun. Talk to you soon.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que has been on the bucket list for quit some time now. Ms. Goofy left me with an empty ice cave on her excursion field trip with her sister Shastina. It was time to experience this national chain barbeque restaurant. Without the Racing Honda it took 20 minutes to arrive in Concord California to my destination. (Ms. Goofy would of made it in 10 minutes) The parking karma does not apply today because Lucille's is located on the perimeter of a large shopping mall. Upon arrival, I was greeted with a cheerful scripted welcome. It was the lunch hour and I was seated immediately.
The interior is fun and festive. I would compare it to another national bbq chain which will remain nameless. (F.D.).The walls are adorned with kitschy bbq items. The bar area is full of televisions and looks like a fun place to watch a sporting event. A huge smoker is located in the middle of the restaurant. It has a name; Smokestack Lightnin. I am not sure if is in use or just for show.My waitress is prompt and polite. She goes though her rehearsed greeting and welcomes me. I order the combination platter which comprises of three meats and one side.
The table has three bottled sauces with the Lucille's logo. The 'Original' has ketchup listed as its first ingredient. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing. It has a strong molasses bite with a prevalent kiss of liquid smoke. There is a hot version offered too. These two sauces did not ring my bell. The third offering of a mustard based sauce did. It was sweet and tangy with mustard and vinegar. If you are so inclined these sauces are offered for sale at the hostess station.
Before my entree arrives a complimentary basket of bisquits arrive. They are flaky and warm. A sweet whipped butter accompanied. I could not identify the sweetness and spice until I asked the waitress. It was apples and cinnamon. I like the bisquits but not the butter. My platter arrives faster than you can say "Grass-fed hipster conspiracy'. It looks like a painting. It is beautiful. I forgot to ask for sauce on the side but it is used in restraint and actually enhances the appearance. My meat choices were; St. Lois ribs, pulled pork and brisket burnt ends. Let's start with the good.
The pulled pork was tender and juicy. It had good smoke and with the drizzle of mustard sauce on a warm bsquit was wonderful. The brisket burnt ends were tender with good smoke too. They had a great beef taste. I am a little perplexed about calling this offering of brisket burnt ends. Burnt ends are usually from the point end of the packer. It has a marbling of fat that has rendered and the outer edges have caramelized with spices and sauce. These cut were tender but very lean. I have a feeling that they were cubed pieces of the brisket flat. This is only a technicality because they did taste good
The St. Lois ribs were some of the smallest ribs I have every seen. Did they come from some small pygmy breed of pig. I even asked the waitress if they were the St. Lois ribs. She verified. The bones were very flat. They were overdone to competition standards. They were a little chewy. They did have a ton of great flavor, smoke and I cleaned these bones. The Cole slaw was fairly standard faire.
My dinning experience at Lucille's was very good. There were a couple of little technical bumps with the ribs and burnt ends. Overall flavor won out. This Mad Meat Genus cleaned his plate and rewarded himself with a piece of brownie cheesecake for dessert. Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que does a great job for a chain restaurant. Great service, fun atmosphere and very decent bbq. It is not competition bbq but I do not expect that. That is not entirely true. The bbq judge is part of my D.N.A. now. I did enjoy my meal at Lucille's.
Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
Thursday, January 15, 2015
This beautiful Black Angus sirloin roast was the star of our meal last night. It will be only a teaser to grab your attention to share a just as glamorous side of Romanesco cauliflower. Romanesco cauliflower is plentiful at our local farmers market. Roasting this Dr. Seuss looking vegetable will bring out the natural sugars. Even an hour of roasting this vegetable will still have a slight crunchy texture with a nut like flavor. With the addition of smoke we have a vegetable that rocks. The beets were not bad too.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
It is the dawning of the 2015 competitive bbq season. These few months of incremental weather we have not abandoned our passion of barbeque judging. We love to barbeque year around and Ms. Goofy hones her judging skills by the score card she keeps on my cooks. An all day teaching seminar was offered on the subject; "Advanced Judging Class" by the California BBQ Association. (CBBQA}. We participate in numerous activities of the CBBQA during the year. This just seemed like a perfect way to spend a Saturday. Not only would we gain new knowledge but would be able to reconnect with our barbeque community friends. This event was held in Alameda California in a beautiful old 'Elks Lodge".
It is early Saturday morning and Ms. Goofy let me drive the Racing Honda. I think I fouled a couple of spark plugs because of my light touch on the throttle. We made it to our destination without the usual whiteness of the knuckles. The Elks Lodge is huge and we had to search for our classroom. Once found we were greeted by approximately 50 like minded bbq judges. The setting was informal with table seating. I loaded up on beverages and snacks to prepare for the onslaught of knowledge.
The session was split into eleven modules. Each module was taught by experienced people in the bbq community. These people consisted of bbq celebrities, bbq representatives, promoters, cooks, and Master Judges. These also were our friends that we have gotten to know over the years. We were very comfortable and excited to start the day. Here is an outline of the modules.
Module 1 Roles and Responsibilities
4. Contest Organizers
6. Ranch to Table
7. Regional Taste Profiles
10. Tenderness & Texture
11 Judging Myths (Panel Discussion)
We absorbed a wealth of knowledge in the morning. The history was an extensively researched presentation. Did you know that bbq may or may not have some origins in cannibalism? The sessions flew by with Ben finishing the morning by sharing his expertise as as a promoter. A welcome break for a catered lunch was held. Surprising it was not a barbeque lunch. It was most likely because of the hall full of bbq critics. Chicken, sausage, salads, rolls and various sides of vegetables and rice made for a nice lunch break It was time for the afternoon sessions.
The afternoon was another barrage of learning bbq knowledge. The last section was my favorite. It also involved a panel discussion with a celebrity panel. Harry Soo (Pittmaster, Celebrity), Donna Fong (Master Judge and reigning Oakland Grand Champion) Scott Simpson, (Master Judge) Amber Stipecevich (Cook & Judge) Ben Lobestien (Organizer), Aaron Staines (pending Master Judge) with Kelly Mcintosh (KCBS Representative) as moderator was our all star panel. This lead to discussion that was informative and a highlight of our day.
It was a long wonderful day of learning. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. We hope to be the best bbq judges we can be. This was a wonderful day in our journey. If you are interested in taking this class, it will be offered again in Southern California. Thanks to the organizers and instructors. We cannot wait for the new bbq season to start.
Advanced Judging Class
Friday, January 9, 2015
The late great Huell Howser had a corn-pone friendly style of delivery and style that made the ordinary seem spectacular. Case in point' sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is not something I get excited about. I can take it or leave it. There have been some great new sauerkraut renditions being sold at the farmers markets. The sauerkraut I remember was stinky and not very appealing. It was something my father liked. I normally would pass this condiment by until now. Seeing Huell Howser tour the Kruegermamn's sauerkraut plant spiked my curiosity to revisit this old fashioned sour condiment. Kruegermann's sauerkraut was found at a roadside produce stand in Northern California. I could not resist.
There were no surprises when the top was removed from the jar. It stunk of that familiar fermented cabbage aroma. We, I mean just I because Ms. Goofy wanted no part of this tasting, tried a spoonful. Slightly sour with a slight crunch with a salty type finish was my impression. My opinion of the flavor was neutral. I neither liked it or disliked. Maybe with some sausage this condiment would shine. Sausage, mustard and a freshly baked roll would be the vehicle to eat some more Kruegermamns. I enjoyed it. Did I love it? Well let just say P. T. Barnum was right. "There's a sucker born every minute". I still enjoy watching Huell Howser.