Monday, November 30, 2015
I love turkey and all the fixin's but after several days of leftovers it is time to 'let it go'. We broke loose with an aged 38 ounce, 2in thick, corn-fed, USDA choice T-bone. This beautiful specimen was picked up at Willowside Meats on a mini Meat Adventure with the 'Great White Hunter'. The Great White Hunter was picking up his Willy Bird and Willowside was minutes away. The Great White Hunter and I have a rivalry of who can get through the door of Willowside first. This is because the first person to get through the door will have first choice at the meat counter. This is crucial to get the first slice of the T-bone meat offered. The way the muscle works is the first cuts have a larger filet. The first cut is called the Porterhouse with the largest filet. The next cut is the T-bone which has a decent filet but not as large. I pushed my way in first and bought this beautiful specimen.
A very hot mesquite charcoal fire was built. A dusting of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper was the seasoning. The steak was cooked for almost 25 minutes to achieve an internal temperature of 115 degrees. A 10 minute rest and we were set to feast on some of the best steak ever. I love turkey but it was time to move on.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving Y'all. Now that we got that out of the way let's grind our own burgers This method and recipe was inspired by a popular cooking show on PBS. Of course we put our signature on the original method. Today we are going to take beef 'Flap' meat, grind it, shape it and cook it into home made hamburgers. Have another piece of pumpkin pie and join us while we "Grind Your Own".
Flap meat is similar to flank or skirt steak. It comes from the bottom sirloin area. It is lean, fiborous and can be chewy if cooked improperly. It is popular in Mexican markets where it is sliced thin and marinated. It is sold for use as 'carne asada'. At one time this meat was very cheap. Like all secrets meat finds this was exposed but still remains reasonably priced. There is no shortage of Mexican markets in the Bay Area so this meat was easy to find. We need one and one half pounds for this recipe.
1 1/2 pds of flap meat, 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and salt & pepper are the ingredients. Slice the meat and butter into 1/4 inch cubes. Place mixture in freezer for 30 minutes to firm up for the grinding procedure. Thirty minutes later place 1/3 of mixture in food processor. Pulse mixture aprox 15 times. Repeat the grind process twice more. Season pulsed mixture with 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.. Form into patties. We made three good size patties because we (I) like them on the large side. Place patties on was paper and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
Monday, November 23, 2015
\Our latest Meat Adventure to Guerra Quality Meats provided this fine specimen of USDA Prime New York strip cut steak. This steak weighed out around 24 ounces before trimming. Our only seasoning was a liberal dousing of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. We trimmed all external fat from this cut of beef. There are different schools of thought on this maneuver. Some people claim there should be a little fat left to baste and add flavor. Fat is flavor and this cut had a lot of internal marbling of fat throughout. External fat also will drip and burn at high heats which I like to avoid. This is my preference. We seared the cut on all sides over a very hot mesquite charcoal fire. The internal temperature was 120 degrees when it was pulled. A 5 minute rest and we were ready. This steak may have been one of the best ever. Tender, juicy, corn-fed bliss and the mouth feel that hipsters like to call umami was all experienced in each bite. Buying prime beef is more expensive. This is an extra expense that pays for itself in the flavor and enjoyment results. What a treat.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
We are traveling at breakneck speeds to the ‘City’ by the bay in the Racing Honda. Maybe not breakneck speeds but the traffic is moving and that is a good sign because we are going on a Meat Adventure to Guerra Quality Meats. Since 1954 Guerra Quality Meats has been located in the Parkside district of San Francisco. Ms. Goofy and I notice the mansion size and opulence of the houses as we got closer to our destination. We joke that the prices may match the size of the houses. We arrive and parking is not a problem.
Once inside a feeling of warmth and familiarity encompasses us with comforting smells and sights. There is a small kitchen turning out food for sale and it smells good. A full deli and catering services are available. Meat display cases are abundant with plenty of employees to match. We first notice a display case with raviolis, pasta and sauces. I had my camera out and was taking a couple of pictures when one of the butchers, Milton wanted to see how his picture turned out.
We had an instant friend with Milton who wanted a copy of his image. Another employee became our personal valet to help purchase and answer any questions we peppered him with. There was a lot to choose from. One interesting service Guerra’s offers is old fashioned artery brining. This process is when brine is injected directly into the artery of say a brisket to cure it to corned beef. It is time consuming and not generally done anymore.
We picked up some house made sausage and some stuffed pork chops. We also picked up a beautiful New York steak. It looked fantastic with its fat marbling. It cost almost 20 dollars a pound and I just assumed it was because it was because of the location. I asked if this was ‘USDA Choice’ grade beef. I was informed it was ‘USDA Prime’, so the cost all of a sudden sounded fairly reasonable; almost a bargain.
There was a lot of prepared food for sale such as; twice baked potato, heat & serve pasta with swordfish, and many deli style items. Ms. Goofy picked up some dried mushrooms to add to our basket. This market had almost every ingredient imaginable to form a decadent and gourmet meal. This was our kind of meat market.
Guerra Quality Meats is a destination meat market. It is located far away from downtown so parking is not a problem. The service was friendly, almost like we were old friends. Stay tuned for a look at our Prime N.Y. steak but we would like to leave you with an image of our stuffed pork chop. This was a great Meat Adventure.
490 Taraval StreetSan Francisco, CA 94116
Thursday, November 19, 2015
We had some mighty fine Millionaire's Bacon from our Sunday breakfast at Bacon in Novato. The owner’s wife teased us with the details of how the bacon had been baked for four hours with sugar and salt. I took this information as a challenge. Maybe we can do Millionaire's bacon bigger and better. Hence, my creation of Billionaire's bacon was created. The process could not be simpler. The only secret is to use the best ingredients possible.
We had some fantabulous slab bacon from Chico Meat Locker procured on our last Meat Adventure. It is hard to imagine that we could improve on this mighty fine specimen of cured belly. We sliced the slab into fairly thick slices. I wanted them to hold up to the baking process. We then drizzled each rasher with a little maple syrup. Pure maple syrup, the real deal would moisten and be the glue to hold down a packing of brown sugar. This was placed on a cooling rack over a foil lined baking pan. Ms. Goofy would of killed me if I had not used the foil for easy cleanup. This syrup and brown sugar was only put on one side. It was then baked for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. We then turned the bacon over and applied the sugar and syrup coating to the second side. Another 25 minutes and the Billionaires Bacon was done.
The house smelled scrumptious while our bacon was transforming in the oven. The bacon was removed from the oven and set to cool. It was difficult to wait until our creation was ready. Wow!!!! Salty, sweet with a hint of maple is a combination that is addicting. So easy and so satisfying was the word. Millionaires bacon was great but ours with the addition of maple syrup was worth a billion more.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Our friend Greg from ‘Life’s A Picnic” is a blogger, professional photographer and World Class Ocean Liner Voyager’. Greg, who lives in Marin County the home of all things politically correct and possibly the only place that tye dye is still fashionable, told me about a new breakfast spot in Novato called ‘Bacon”. He definitely knows what catches my attention. We loaded up the Racing Honda on this rainy Sunday and headed to our breakfast destination; Bacon.
Downtown Novato was almost deserted this early Sunday morning. We found a spot right in front. We also seemed to be the first customers at 7;30am even though the place had been open for an hour. We were greeted by the owner’s wife immediately. Strong black and great tasting coffee was served to prepare us for the food to come. Eggs benedict for Ms. Goofy and buttermilk pancakes for me was our choices. Where is the bacon you may ask? There was an item called ‘Millionaire’s Bacon’ on the menu. Of course this signature item had to be explored.
Let’s begin with the good. Our meals were picture postcard yummy looking. The Millionaire’s bacon was the highlight of our meal. This is smoked bacon that has been baked for 4 hours in a low oven and coated with brown sugar and salt. It is served warm with a drizzle of maple syrup. This bacon was fabulous. It was chewy, sweet, smoky and possibly a religious bacon experience. Homerun!
Ms. Goofy thought her eggs benedict was decent but thought the eggs were a little over done. My pancakes were like little hockey pucks and needed a serrated knife to cut them. They were not piping hot so the wrapped butter pats did not melt over the cakes. We will award bonus points for real maple syrup. I did enjoy the festive looking fruit cup that accompanied my pancakes.
Great coffee, service and some fantastic ‘Millionaires’ bacon made this breakfast decent. Ms. Goofy enjoyed her eggs benedict but was a little disappointed in the eggs. She did mention that she was enjoying the garlic after effect (burp) from the home fried potatoes. My pancakes were a fail. We were glad to experience the restaurant ‘Bacon” but will probably not return.
1516 Grant Ave,
Novato, CA 94945
Friday, November 13, 2015
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
What is a 'Picnic Roast', you may wonder? Usually it is a cut of pork from the shoulder area. The shoulder area is divided into the 'Boston Butt' and the 'Picnic" The Boston Butt is the most common cut used in competition. The Picnic is triangular shaped and has a large bone. Both of these cuts are layered with fat and perfect for low and slow cooking. The Picnic cut is inexpensive and with the proper cooking techniques can taste like a million dollars.
We had one of the first rains of the season. We have a covered patio so firing up the smoker was not a problem. In fact the smells that emitted from the smoker was intoxicating with comforting aromas of cooking pork. This particular roast spent 10 hours in the smoker. I did not even monitor the temperature. I pulled it 1/2 an hour before dinner time. What a treat this roast was. We love transforming a inexpensive cut of pork into a wonderful meal. In fact it will be several meals. Oh my!
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Social media, (Facebook) was the invitation that combined this like-minded group of bbq people today. Kickoff time was 11:00am. This was probably a relief to most competitors that are used to staying up all night tending their cooker fires. This group of ‘Barbecue Junkies” arrived right on time most likely because of their practice of making turn-in times. The tables were set and the food was spread out.
Pork dishes ruled the buffet table today. Smoky posole, chile verde, numerous variations of chili, and tamale pie lined the festive table. Desserts and possible left over trick or treat candy pleased this sweet toothed judge. Dips, chips and various snacks were put out for munching purposes. Dana brought some practice competition brisket for our enjoyment. Nobody left this table hungry.
My contribution to this potluck was to make some jalapeno cheese bread in a dutch oven. At home I proofed the dough and added parmesan, cheddar and sliced jalapenos. At the park this was baked off in the dutch oven. My dutch oven skill were a little rusty but everybody seemed to enjoy the finished product.
An impromptu Scotch tasting was held by several barbeque enthusiast. Everybody had a great time. The pressures of competition and judging were not present today. It provided a festive atmosphere of sharing food, stories and friendship. It was fun to see barbeque people out of the competition element. Of course I ate too much but that was alright because we are ‘Barbecue Junkies’. We cannot wait till next time.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
New York City? Who would of thunk we would buy bacon from such a distant purveyor of smoked meats. Pedricks Produce stand in Dixon, actually stocks Schaller & Weber smoked slab bacon. I hate to admit it is actually very good. We do not have a lot of information on the cure and smoke except it is dry cured and smoked with hardwoods. The cure does have a lot of sugar because the sliced bacon will burn if you are not careful. The balance between salt and sweet leans to the sweet side in a good way. There is a decent amount of smoke flavor present. This slab was very meaty shown with above image. Overall this is a very good product except for the fact it is from New York City.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Our conclusion of the 2015 competitive bbq season is here. Today we travel to Spartan Stadium in San Jose. Spartan Stadium is located on the San Jose State University campus. We are here to judge a rib only contest benefitting the ‘Women’s Softball Team.’ Thirty teams surround the stadium perimeter preparing their finest competition pork ribs for judging by certified bbq judges and yours truly. Of course, we would like to share a couple of images with you.
Some of the participants were in costume because today is Halloween. Each booth gave out candy to costumed children. I have to admit that I scored several packages of peanut M&M’s possibly because I was mistaken for the court jester. The festivities were jovial. There were actually two bands, one at each corner of the stadium. There were several booths selling Women’s softball themed items benefiting the softball team. This also included a raffle and silent auction.
The public was allowed the opportunity to purchase tasting tickets. This was a great way to sample competition bbq ribs. The snack bars were open selling other items to satisfy everyone’s wishes. The Women’s softball team was present volunteering throughout the day. We actually had team members as table captain in the judging booth.
We were able to sample and score some of the best ribs ever today. There were a couple of entries which I will have to say were interesting too. Our friends Dave & Deny Bart of “Barts Blazin Q” were the victors today. This was also a victory for the Womens’s Softball team. This is the end of the season but not the end of bbq adventures. Stay tuned.