Salsa Verde and Tubular Meat

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I never say no to tubular meat. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve wasted on overpriced dogs at Phillies games and at concerts when I in no way need a hot dog. Last summer I found myself with an entire freezer full of Ballparks after a sale at Wegmans. It’s become a running joke among my friends that I am a hot dog hoarder (make fun all you want, I ALWAYS have hot dogs). And two weeks ago on a trip to Chicago I FINALLY visited the infamous Hot Doug’s, which remains one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in Chicago (it was the only meat I had covered in slices of brie, and…..there were cheese fries).

Anyway. To kick off the release of the new book Haute Dogs, a bunch of other bloggers and I were asked to each make a component of the Ecuadorian Street Dog — and I volunteered to do the Salsa Verde. In my opinion, any salsa made with tomatillos is just superior. The flavor, the texture…I could drink this stuff like soup. I don’t, but I could. And sometimes I do throw it in a batch of white chicken chili, because why not? This salsa verde, however, is unique because it contains tomatoes, making it less verde than I prefer, and definitely less picante, but delicious on a piece of meat. It’s better if it makes it on o food, and isn’t just eaten straight from the bowl. Trust me.

 Salsa Verde from Haute Dogs by Russell van Kraayenburg

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Food Porn Bonanza: Franklin BBQ Edition

If you’re a BBQ lover, you’ve probably heard of Aaron Franklin, owner of Franklin Barbecue and the dude who makes brisket so delicious that all the food magazines/TV shows rave about it and people will wait 3+ hours in line to get their hands on some. Franklin Barbecue has only been open since 2009, originally a little trailer, but it’s already become an Austin legend. 

Last week I attended LiveFire, a big BBQ event out in Texas Hill Country, and of course Franklin was there serving up his meat to a long, long line of people. The dish? “Beef plate with ribs and smoked pimiento cheese.” The meat was tender and fatty (in a good way) and the pimiento cheese was straight-up crazy good.

So, now that you have the backstory, here’s just a few up close and personal moments with Franklin’s meat.

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Is This the World’s Spiciest Burger?

StarCityKitchen_GhostBurger2

At Star City Kitchen in El Paso, Texas, Chef Sarah Kosravani recently introduced “The Ghost Burger.” It consists of five separate elements, each designed to light your mouth on fire.

1. Bun brushed with cayenne-infused butter

2. Burger patty seasoned with secret-recipe salsa, pepper flakes, and raw, diced habanero

3. Pepperjack cheese laced with he notorious ghost pepper!

4. Roasted habanero and garlic aioli.

5. Battered and fried toreados (jalapenos that have basically mated with onion rings).

Would you try it?

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Food Porn of the Day: Burgers on Burgers

Smashburger Sampler Austin

I was invited to the pre-opening tasting of the new Smashburger here in Austin. I’m not much for burgers (unless they’re really exceptional) or “fast casual” type restaurants in general, but I’d heard a fair amount about the Colorado-based chain and decided to check it out. I will say the burgers (ground beef, chicken breast, and black bean) were much higher quality than your average chain burger, but they were still greasy, decadent, meaty… burgers. They held nothing back at the tasting event; the pic above is only part of what I was given to sample. I only ate a bite or so of each, otherwise I think my stomach would have exploded.

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Salt Block Root Beer Steak

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You’re probably wondering what a salt block root beer steak is, and you’d be right to, because well..until now, that has definitely not been a thing.

Here’s what happened: I had two exciting new products burning a whole in my kitchen, waiting to be used.

1) My still unused Christmas present: a Himalayan pink salt block from the Meadow. Salt blocks allow you to cook foods at 600-degree temperatures, while the salt rapidly sears proteins, caramelizes sugar, and yes, adds a wee bit of salty deliciousness. By the way, this is how beautiful it looks before you get into the nitty gritty of grilling on it:

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2) A bottle of McCormick Root Beer Concentrate that came my way as part of McCormick’s Flavor of Together program, a yearlong initiative to share 1.25 million stories about how flavor both unites and defines people across the globe.

So, what exactly is root beer concentrate? Well, it’s kind of like vanilla extract, except instead of vanilla it adds a dash of root beer flavor to whatever you’re cooking.

In 1889, Willoughby M. McCormick went door to door selling one of McCormick & Company’s first products, Root Beer Extract. From there, the product quickly rose in popularity and led to a trending sensation of root beer floats and root beer home brewing in the early 1900s. In 2014, McCormick marks its 125th anniversary by celebrating the role flavor plays in all of our lives, inspiring flavorful conversation, and giving back to communities around the world. They asked me to come up with my own Root Beer Concentrate recipe…and clearly I was not going to make a plain old root beer float.

I’ve glazed meat in coke before, so I figured, why not root beer meat?

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100 Ways to Use Beer in Food #16: Chili

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100 ways to use beer in food is BACK and better than ever. As Winter Storm Janus trapped the fiancé and I indoors for TWO days straight, we had the typically rare opportunity to cook a meal together. Thinking about what meats we had in the freezer, we finally came to using the ground beef to make CHILI.

Why did Chili come to mind first? Well, I had this bottle of Billy’s Chilies that ML and her BF brought over for me. Billy’s Chilies is a BEER flavored with Serrano, Habanero, Jalapeno, Anaheim, and Fresno chili peppers. Yup…I’ve been saving this for the right time, and with frigid temperatures and going out to brush off 4 inches of snow from the cars every few hours, some extra heat was needed in the chili.

ML warned us that some antacids would be needed before and after indulging in the suds. She was right. I took a small taste to see if it would complement the flavors in our chili. YOWZA. Screw beer…you can taste the chilies in liquid form—start to finish. Of course there is a hint of wheat malts, but this was the perfect brew for chili.

I’ve had some spicy chili, but usually it’s been the kind that burns your tongue until it’s numb and you can’t even taste the chili. This had a different feeling. First off, the beer really changed the flavor in a big way. Chili powder definitely adds a spicy flavor, but the peppers included in the beer really came through the chili. The chili had a big KICK to it that continued throughout, even after you were done with the chili. This stuff is perfect for a cold winter day…when you have to brush the damn snow off your cars several times a day. Trust me: this will warm you up.

Billy’s Chilies Chili

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Butternut Blue Cheese Bison Chili

Butternut Bison Blue Cheese Chili

Welp, it’s chili weather. Chili is basically the best fall/winter dinner ever. It’s easy to throw together, super cozy, and you can really feel good about it because it’s chock full of fiber and protein (and SPICE!) Also because it makes me feel like I’m watching football, even if I’m not. (What, is that weird?)

I usually make my chipotle sweet potato chili but I was in the mood to mix it up this week. I had some butternut squash to use up and figured it’d be a great chili ingredient, along with your requisite beans and meat (in this case, ground bison—it has a sweet, meaty taste with tons of protein and it’s way leaner than ground beef. Thanks, bison!).

To keep things interesting, I decided to top this one with a sprinkle of gorgonzola crumbles and Louisiana hot sauce—blue cheese and butternut squash is lovely together, and obviously hot wings have taught us that blue cheese and hot sauce are also a match made in heaven. I’m pretty proud of this flavor combination, y’all!

Butternut Blue Cheese Bison Chili

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