Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Home Place: Traditional Hatchie Botton Stew

Down Home

Down home cooking - what is it to you? Everyone has their own version. A meal traditionally served at a certain time or on a specific occasion. Usually a hearty comfort food that cures what ails you. It could be your family's Christmas morning breakfast or just the annual Thanksgiving meal. To me, it's something special, a meal that has been eaten by my ancestors for over a century. It's called Hatchie Bottom Stew, and it's my down home meal. The stew around the West Tennessee homelands originated with a number of things that come together only in the Fall season, when temperatures start to cool, and a hearty, warm stew is the ultimate comfort food. This is a stew inspired by my ancestors from Virginia, where the traditional Brunswick stew is a staple food. It may be served at squirrel-hunting camps, family reunions, church dinner-on-the-grounds, political rallies, or any other gathering.

Our farmer friends often freeze the basic ingredients and make a stew in the middle of winter when farming slows down. Fall is the ultimate food season to me because:

1) The late crop of sweet corn is at its peak.
2) The tomatoes are late in the season and are the sweetest and most flavorful.
3) Squirrel season has opened, and the little critters are plentiful.

The Setup

It's a simple food, taking very few ingredients, but lots of time, and usually some help with the stirring. Because this dish does take time, it's recommended that it be prepared outside, as is traditional, in the biggest pot you can find. Perhaps something in the near-bath tub variety. Your normal kitchen utensils need not apply to this task - you'll need a wooden tool that more closely resembles a boat paddle.

Now for the ingredients, you can make as big of a stew as you can fit in you pot, but the ingredients are as follows:

- One chicken (skin, meat and bones)

- One squirrel (not required, but traditional), meat and bones

- One stalk of celery, roughly chopped

- One onion, cut into eight chunks

- One can diced tomatoes

- One can corn


The method can be somewhat of a marathon. This is where the help comes in.

1. First, fill your large pot with all your meat, the celery, and the onion. Fill the rest of the pot with water. Then bring it to a boil.

2. Once it is boiling, cover it and turn off the heat (do not uncover until the outside is cool to the touch). By this time the meat will be cooked through. Now it is time to pick it. Begin pulling the meat off of the bones making sure to keep everything but keep the meat separate (this means no cartilage). It doesn't hurt to quickly run a knife through the meat to make sure that none of the pieces are too stringy and long.

3. After you have this completed, strain half of your original liquid, put meat in strained liquid and begin to simmer, stirring occasionally.

4. The rest of the liquid should then be boiled with the bones and skin to produce an excellent stock. As the pot with the meat begins to thicken and reduce, the addition of the stock is recommended after straining (when stock is finished, bones may then be discarded).

5. Once all liquid is added it is time to add the tomatoes. Continue to simmer for an hour, then add the corn, once the corn is added, the stew will begin to thicken quickly and will begin to stick to the sides. To combat this, constant stirring is necessary for an additional hour. After this final hour the stew is ready to serve.

The stew - not quite thick enough yet, but it will tighten up as time goes by


Service of the stew should be done quickly while it is still hot, or cooled in small batches and frozen. In my mind, only four things are appropriate as accompaniments: white bread, saltine crackers, cheddar cheese, and hot sauce. Anything else is just too much.

Further musings

The Anti-Recipe - Many great foods have great recipes. To make Hatchie Bottom Stew great, it is more important to observe what you don't do, and what you don't put in it. My Grandma Dorothy grew up at the center of the stew universe. Her highest compliment is "Well, I hear he makes a real clean stew."


- No Chicken knuckles (Bone-end cartlidge -- see Squirrel Heads, below)

- No Squirrel heads (Pick the meat out of the stock, then strain, rather than trying to pick stuff out of the stew pot as it floats by while cooking.)

- No Shotgun Pellets (Again, strain the stock and only put in the final pot what you want to eat!)

- No Livers or Gizzards (There is no more "dirty" stew than one that has livers and gizzards floating by. It's even dirtier if you grind them up. [See Anti-Method below.] Yuck!!!!! Dirty rice is one thing, dirty stew is entirely unacceptable.)

- No Butterbeans (Many good Brusnwick Stew recipes include butterbeans aka Lima Beans. That's fine, soup with butterbeans is often really good, it's just not stew)

- No Green vegetables (That might make it healthy)

- No Strawberries (Some noted stew-making friends of ours always froze mass quantities of stew ingredients whenever they were in season. They also froze a big batch of strawberries. You can see that train wreck coming. Actually, the amount of strawberries in the mass quantity of stew made little difference, but the story was good!)

Anti-Method - Do not grind anything you put in stew. Many people put their stew through a meat grinder. You grind meat for Vienna Sausage and Potted Meat. NOT STEW!!!! Your pulled chicken meat should be chopped up chicken salad size. I guess some people grind their stew to avoid that stringy old rooster!

- Dirt McGurt

Cover Me Christmas: Just Lay Down the Track...

Listen, love and get filled with Great Lakes Christmas Ale to a great cover of Hanoi Rock's "Dead By Christmas" by the Murder City Devils.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Man B Que-Approved: Leon's

Ed. Note: Please welcome the KingT to the Man B Que blog. He's a born and raised Chicagoan who runs the ChiBBQKing blog. This article originally appeared here, and now we're printing it for some of that sweet, sweet reflected glory.

Is Chicago a BBQ town? most out of towners might think so but others from here and also those who aren't might disagree. I view us as a 2nd tier BBQ destination. I also believe there was a time back in the day when it was much more of a presence here in Chicago. However there aren't too many places that aren't considered a part of the BBQ trail that have their very own regional style of 'cue. If you go to any respectable and real BBQ place in Chicago they will have a few things for sure. Rib Tips and links that are smoked in an aquarium style smoker is pure Chicago. While I don't consider Chicago to be an amazing BBQ town it has its fair share of places that have always done it right. One of these famous destinations and well known establishments is Leon's.

Just like any other spot in the food game if you've been around since 1941-which Leon's has-you are going to become legendary. Mississippi native Leon Finney Sr. started to smoke out Chicago in 1941. He started the business with his aunt and to this day it remains in the Finney family. As time passed and the legend grew they expanded and have quite a few locations in the area. Just like anywhere else that has this many outposts, the quality can vary. Also like any BBQ place the consistency can vary. There are a few Leon's including the one Lincoln Park that are franchised owned but I never go to them. If you want the real pork you have to make it to the southside to get the up to par standard that Leon Sr. set the bar with. I have heard that one of the older locations is the 79th street spot in South Chicago. I think its most likely the only location I've been to. It's another spot I've been hitting up since I had my license. Its located off the skyway on 79th just past Stoney.

Now don't get me wrong, I love ribs and they are one of my favorite things to eat but I usually order rib tips from Chicago BBQ joints. Its a part of our cuisine and when done up right I enjoy them greatly. The perfect combination of smoke and fat can make for a heavenly snack. I always order my BBQ with sauce on the side. I don't think smoked meat should be slathered in BBQ sauce. It takes away from the flavor and texture when its swimming in sauce. Its not that I don't like BBQ sauce with my smoked meat I just prefer to dip each bite ever so slightly so I get a taste of pig, smoke and sauce. The rib tips at Leon's can be good not great but usually very good. They have some good smoke flavor but sometimes can be too fatty, chewy and or just not chopped right which is more about the prep then taste.

It was on a day that Leon's was out of rib tips that I discovered their hot links. Obviously I have a love for encased meat along with a love for spicy and smokey. So hot links are one of my ideal eats and one of my favorite spots for them is at Leon's. I would recommend getting the dinner plate which is always enough for leftovers. However one of their great deals is the hot link sandwich which for under $4 gets you a couple links some of their fresh cut fries and a few pieces of wonder bread all soaked in their BBQ sauce. The sandwich is a meal in itself and has been in the lunch or dinner rotation for many people throughout the years. Leon's does it up consistently and that's what people are comfortable with. Its also one of those places where everything on the menu is popular from the ribs to the wings and everything in between. It's one of those stops that if your going to claim Chicago, well then you better know about the original.

- KingT

Monday, December 14, 2009

Manly Mixtape Monday: Your Black-Eyed Peas Antidote

The Manly Mixtape is a weekly six-pack of songs on a theme. It will rock your face every Monday.

There's a reason that hip hop has a bad reputation - everyone representing the genre on TV is either an idiot like Lil Jon or a bland, Wal-Mart friendly group like the Black-Eyed Peas. The latter is especially egregious. Their latest, "I've Gotta Feeling," mixes in Yiddish to prove that the group can suck in not just one, but two languages.

Luckily, we've got a solution for all of that. What follows is a selection of six excellent hip hop songs guaranteed not to throw you into a homicidal rage.

Madvillain - "All Caps"

Madvillain is the collaborative project between producer Madlib and rapper MF Doom, the greatest supervillain-themed rapper ever to throw down a verse. This animated video may invoke some Saturday morning nostalgia, but don't be mistaken, Doom wears that mask in real life as well. This Mixtape could easily be all Doom all the time.

Digable Planets - "Rebirth of the Slick (Cool Like Dat)"

Everyone's got the 1990s one-hit wonder that they can't stop enjoying. I suppose this is mine. If you want to see the video - which is actually pretty well shot - you'll have to link over to YouTube. The record label of this long-disbanded group apparently thinks embedding the real thing will hurt their sales. Jackasses.

Common - "Be"

Common is undoubtedly one of Chicago's finest, even if "Terminator: Salvation" sucked. I mean - one Terminator in the Terminator factory? What the Hell, man? But I'm getting off-topic. Despite the fact that parts of this video look suspiciously like NYC, I'll let that slide. I dig the line "Chicago nights, they stay on the mind." I'd agree, but add that a lot of those memories feature extended blurry spots.

Jurassic 5 - "What's Golden"

J5's three really good albums make up for recording a song with Dave Matthews on their last, terrible, one. They were a lot better than Wu-Tang at successfully incorporating the styles of multiple MCs. Now they're gone, and I blame Dave Matthews.

Align Center name="allowFullScreen" value="true">

Panjabi MC, feat. Jay-Z - "Beware"

I have an unexplainable love for Indian music, which I neither attempt to apologize for or explain. Apparently, this is something I have in common with Jay-Z, who during his time as the biggest rapper in the world decided to contribute a few verses to the debut U.S. album of an obscure but talented Indian hip hop artist. Jay is actually contributing to an existing track - "Mundian to Bach Ke" - which is itself based on the Knight Rider theme. Sweet. As is the bitchin' Bollywood-influenced video, edited down from the original song's video.

The Roots, feat. Cody Chesnutt - "The Seed 2.0"

The Roots are madly talented - why they ever decided to back up Jimmy Fallon's unfunny schtick on late night, I will never know. At least it's a steady paycheck for a band that puts on the most amazing live show I've ever seen.

- JB Mays

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Three-Time Gumbo

When Thanksgiving's just past and everyone has gone home, you're left with what some might consider leftover hell. Some eighteen pounds of the massive turkey that you and your family tried valiantly to eat on Thanksgiving Day is still left and there is no way you can stomach that many turkey sandwiches.

Some would say throw it to the dog, like my great uncle - “Never seen a dog that couldn’t eat a turkey carcass.” Thanks, Uncle Roy. But don’t feed your dog the leftover turkey - for at least two reasons: (1) if the dog is not used to eating those small hollow bird bones, and it will most likely kill the thing, and (2) The meat and bones are a wonderful base for a fine gumbo.

Of course, you can still save the white meat for sandwiches and the revisited thanksgiving dinner. This recipe uses all that hard-to-get meat, the stuff stuck to the bones. Gumbo is a an American tradition, especially in Louisiana, but you don’t have to be from there to eat like a Cajun. Pretty soon you will all be saying: J’adore me gumbo (I love gumbo).

This gumbo recipe is called Three Time Gumbo, but it can be made in a day - a long day, but still one day. It's called Three Time because it freezes really, really well. So well, in fact, that when a batch was entered into a local contest it won. The next year the winners decided to enter more of the same batch - why risk a bad batch? It won then too, and then again the next year. Hence, three time prize-winning gumbo. We will have to go freezer-diving to see if it can make Four Time but we're content with three for now.

Three Time Gumbo

The Dallas Cowboys or the Detroit Lions are on TV. All the relatives have headed for home. You've put away the desserts. All the sliced turkey and cranberry sauce is in the fridge. But there lays the turkey bones and a bunch of meat on them. What do you do? That turkey was pretty awesome. I'm not going to throw it out.

I think ahead. There's a gumbo contest coming up next fall. There's room in the freezer. What do you do? Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo.

Thursday, late afternoon (Thanksgiving Day)

Six seconds after Kirstie Alley showed up

- 1 Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey (Bones, Juice, Skin, Everything that you haven't carved)

- 1 Root end from a bunch of celery, what you have left when you cut off the bottom 2-3 inches, quartered (or an equivalent amount of leaves, ends, trimmings, etc.)

- 2 onions, Quartered and just rinsed, skin and all

- The bottom ends of a bunch of parsley, if you've got it. A tablespoon of dried parsley if you don't.

- 1 tbsp peppercorns

- 2 cloves garlic, smashed

1. Cover carcass with water in the biggest stock pot you can find. Simmer about an hour, or until halftime of the football game. Pull out any pieces of the turkey that may render any meat using a slotted spoon. Rest until cool enough to handle. Pull any meat, roughly chop, and refrigerate.

2. Throw everything else back into the stock and simmer through the rest of the football game, at least three hours. Strain the stock, throw away the vegetables, skin and bones. Refrigerate the stock.

Black Friday

The quickest way to lose faith in humanity

You're so sick of Thanksgiving food, cooking, and everything else. Go back to work for the day and don't think about any of this stuff. Should you have any inspiration, you can start shopping for your Saturday gumbo cooking extravaganza, just try and avoid malls, boutiques, and for goodness sakes don’t go near Wal-Mart. Suicidal ideations never helped anyone make gumbo.

Saturday (Time to Cook!)

"I ga-ron-tee that you find my stereotypical Cajun accent amusing"

- 1/2 c oil (or preferably bacon grease)

- 1 c flour

- 1 c chopped onion

- 1 c chopped green onions

- 1/2 c chopped bell pepper

- 1/2 c chopped parsley

- 1/2 c chopped celery

- 1 gallon turkey stock (from above)

- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

- 1 tbsp fresh mint or 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried mint

- 3 cups okra, sliced 1/2 inch (frozen is fine)

- 1 pound andouille sausage or smoked sausage (sliced about 3/8 inch thick)

- 1 pound (2 c) leftover turkey meat (or more if you don't have other uses)

- Cayenne or hot sauce to taste

- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

- Salt to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add the flour to make a dark roux. (Most good Louisiana cookbooks will give instructions on a roux.)

2. When the roux is a good chocolate brown, add the next five ingredients in stages, stirring carefully until onions are translucent. Stir in the part of the stock to make a paste. Add the garlic and stir into the paste.

3. Transfer to your large, heavy bottom stock pot, and then add the rest of the stock. When all the stock is stirred in, then add all the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer over low heat at least three hours, stirring frequently.

Serving: All this makes about 8 quarts or so of finished gumbo. Each quart will serve about 4. Serve over rice with crusty French bread and butter. Whatever you are not eating, cool, package, and freeze in quart containers. (I generally use quart freezer bags.)

This is a basic and traditional gumbo. It's good served as-is. Add shrimp, oysters, and/or crabmeat to make it a seafood gumbo. You can do that when you heat up a quart. Just always have some frozen. There's always a gumbo contest out there somewhere.

- Dirt McGurt

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thunderdome: Man B Que v. Professional Hamburglar

Sadly, The Hamburglar Touch led to the Hamburglar Restraining Order and the Hamburglar Tamper-Proof Ankle Monitor.

As has been frequently documented, Man B Que has a borderline-unhealthy fixation with burgers. This is something we share with Kevin Pang, who, no kidding, holds the title of Chicago Tribune Cheeseburger Bureau Chief. While I still think Professional Hamburglar is a much cooler title, being the the host of The Cheeseburger Show isn't exactly a bad resume line either.

Aside from being a dream title, I imagine that Pang has a pretty tough job. Imagine it - you love cheeseburgers, then suddenly you have to grind through tens of dozens of them on deadline. And I'm guessing it's not all top of the line gourmet jobs. Anyone's who has had a ketchup-drowned hockey buck on a soggy bun would likely agree. Point being, the man's got some authority, and has used it to create 16 observations on the state of Chicago burgerdom.

I applaud this Herculean cheeseburger effort, but it's apparent that Pang and Man B Que have somewhat diverging taste. And given that Man B Que is no slouch in the burger category, we're going to throw in on the matter. So herein, we are going to use the beauty of Fair Use to offer our comments on Pang's final sermon in Hamburglary. No hard feelings, and no veggie burgers. Our comments in italics.

Pang's Cheeseburger Commandments

1. Ketchup and mustard are overrated as condiments. Too acidic and pungent, respectively. If you must, add a little. Underrated: mayo.

Agreed about the criminal overuse of ketchup in a lot of burgers. Have you been to Portillo's and ordered a burger? It's like eating a ketchup sandwich with beef garnish. But mayo? Underrated? Mayo is a disgusting abomination, and putting it on a burger detracts from its original intended use - as salad dressing for ridiculously fat people.

2. Tallgrass beef, for the most part, lacks the unctuousness, moisture content and brawny flavor I seek. That said, the Tallgrass beef burger at Harry Caray's Tavern, above, is most excellent (3551 N. Sheffield Ave., across from Wrigley Field). Order it rare or medium-rare.

Second one in, and you're starting to lose people. Not a lot of people refer to a burger by the name of the purveyor. Strike one. Strike two - unctuousness. Sure, you get what he means, but that doesn't change the fact that he's saying it sort of like a douche. And if you don't get it, that means it's two things you have to look up. That's a lot of work for a line in a burger article.

3. Texture and mouth feel are important considerations. Easiest way to improve this: Ask for toasted buns (buttered, preferably). You can actually taste the difference between toasted and untoasted buns.

Again, a good lesson wrapped in a thin candy shell of fancy-pantsery. Toasted buns are good, soggy burgers are gross. Why must we bring "mouth feel" into it? A lot of people who love food and cooking would still sooner punch you in the back of the head than listen to you rave about "mouth feel."

4. Favorite casual sit-down chain restaurant burger? Red Robin's A.1. Peppercorn Burger.

This tip brought to you by Red Robin.

5. Favorite turkey burger? Found at Marc Burger, Marcus Samuelsson's food court burger joint on the seventh floor of Macy's in the Loop.

Favorite turkey burger? That's like saying "least painful root canal." Also, many may not feel like going up to the 7th floor of that godforsaken store to eat a food court burger.

6. When they say "Kobe" ... With very few exceptions, any burger labeled "Kobe" is essentially a burger that costs $5 more. (Also, the "Kobe" label is misleading. It probably doesn't come from the Hyogo prefecture in Japan. It's like wrongly labeling sparkling wine as "Champagne" when it didn't come from the Champagne region in France.)

Excellent tip - also of note: that Kobe business costs $16-30 an ounce. So that $6 plate of "Kobe sliders" at Finn McCool's is just a plate of lies.

7. The best patties I've had are cooked on a griddle top. Something about stewing in their own fat.

Amen! Hallelujah! Steamed Hams!

8. Fries? Glad you asked. Although french fries fried in duck fat are in vogue, serious gourmands know potatoes fried in beef tallow are far superior. The flavors are more robust, buttery, savory. Top Notch Beefburgers (2116 W. 95th St.) and Labriola Bakery Cafe (3021 Butterfield Road, Oak Brook) do excellent beef tallow fries, pictured above.

Honestly, most of us are never going to seek out fries on the basis of the substance in which they were fried, but those Hot Doug's duck fries are tasty. Chicago's a good town for fries. It's a good town for heart disease too, but that's a separate story.

9. Consider balance. Don't just pile your favorite ingredients and accouterments between two buns. Example: The smokiness of bacon demands to be paired with American cheese (or perhaps a less-sharp Cheddar). The earthiness of mushrooms pairs better with a milder cheese, such as a Swiss or provolone, perhaps Gruyere.

And this marks the first time someone's ended a sentence in a cheeseburger article with "perhaps Gruyere."

10. Steer clear of feta, bleu and brie as cheese options. They just end up overpowering the burger.

Agreed. Feta can be alright, but bleu tastes like kitchen chemicals and brie smothers the sandwich like the haughty judgment of a chain-smoking Frenchman.

11. Lettuce and tomatoes end up getting in the way.

Damn straight. A big piece of lettuce ends up acting like an emergency exit for the more delicious toppings.

12. There is no greater flavor combination than bacon plus cheese plus caramelized onions.

I call subjective. It's the food blogger equivalent of calling someone a witch.

13. Look out, bacon. Egg with runny yolk is the new sexy topping.

Here we find that Kevin's been spending a little too much time around other food industry people, and a little too much time eating a sit-down burger places. What your bok choy-loving friends might find cute doesn't translate to the rest of us poor schlubs. Also, "look out bacon"? Don't warn meat. It's unseemly.

14. Best bang for your buck. Schoop's (19 locations, mostly in northwest Indiana and Calumet region of Illinois), and Illinois Bar and Grill, above, (4135 W. 47th Ave. in Chicago's Archer Heights; 1131 S. State St. in Lemont; and at Midway Airport).

This tip brought to you by ... oh, wait I made that joke already. Maybe we can go with 14 commandments next time?

15. Favorite fast-food burger? A tie between Steak 'n Shake, above, and Schoop's. Both have something in common: beef patties with thin, crispy edges that accentuate the "steak" flavor.

Do I hear 13? 13 commandments? Also, Steak 'n Shake is a cop-out answer. That's not your classic fast food. Casual sit-down or diner, perhaps. Although give it to Steak 'n Shake, their northwest burbs branches have enough surly, toothless waitstaff to compete with any fast food place in pure customer service misery.

16. The biggest rule of all: There is no rule. If it tastes good to you, it tastes good.

So to sum up, we have 4 rules that are really just the names of places to eat, and 1 that negates all the previous rules. And an editor couldn't have cut this down to an even ten?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Harvest Ales: 'Tis the Season to Be Hoppy

Alright hop heads, it’s my favorite time of the beer-drinking year - fall. When the leaves turn and the temperatures start to drop, I can’t help but think of the arrival of seasonal harvest brews. Harvest (or wet-hopped) beers are special because they utilize the freshest hops available. The result is very much evident in the fresh flavor profiles of these once-a-year beers.

When hops are harvested, they are typically dried and either kept in whole leaf form, or made into pellets or plugs. The drying process allows the hops to stay fresh for a longer period of time so brewers are able to make beer all year round. But once a year when the hops are ripe, brewers get a unique opportunity to use the freshest hops around.

Wet-hopped beers are different from most others in the fact that the hops never go through the drying process. The hops are picked straight from the vine and are immediately used by the brewer. The only way this works is that the hops have to be directly thrown in the brew kettle right after harvest time. Because the hops haven’t been dried, time is of the essence and you need to get them into the boil before they go bad.

The resulting beer is very much akin to using fresh herbs and spices as opposed to dried when cooking. The flavor is less biting and you can taste a “green-ness” that is unmatched. What you are looking for in a great harvest ale is that beautiful grassy hop flavor. It is for this reason that you DO NOT age these beers. Even after the beer has been bottled, the hop profile can die with age just like any other beer. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?

Make sure to pick up your harvest beers from a reputable beer retailer that rotates selection often. This ensures that you’re not getting last years batch. Place the beers towards the front of the fridge so you don’t forget they’re there. There’s no such thing as drinking too much during the hop harvest season.

Cheers from Hop Cast!

Some examples of wet-hopped beers to look for…

Three Floyds Broo-Doo
Two Brother Heavy Handed IPA
Founders Double Trouble
Sierra Nevada Chico Estate Harvest Ale
Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale
Surly Wet

- Hopcast Ken

Monday, November 9, 2009

Manly Mixtape Monday: Mom and Dad's Records

The Manly Mixtape is a weekly six-pack of songs on a theme. It will rock your face every Monday.

As adolescents and young adults, the great majority of us spend time rebelling against the music of our parents. Certainly, we reason, the new contemporary stuff builds on the shoulders of all that came before. Which stands to reason that Incubus on CD is totally better than Pink Floyd on vinyl. This, dear friends, proves that you and I were fucking stupid as teenagers. The truth is, as much time as we spend swimming against the tide, we often end up not only embracing, but really loving the same stuff as our parents. That is, unless your parents were nerds, lame, or bible-thumping weirdos. Mine weren't - I didn't admit it until much, much later (well, now) but they had some taste in music. Here are six of my favorites.

The Police - "So Lonely"

Before Sting became a hilarious parody of ... well, Sting, he fronted a group that had excellent, tight ska-infused rock/pop songs. You might not get this from some of their later or more popular work (drunk people have ruined "Roxanne"), but the Police started with two albums of startling urgency that still hold up well today. You'd do well to check them out.

America - "Horse With No Name"

This song personifies the music of my parents - I initially hated it just for that. But this song remains catchy and haunting, even 200 listens later.

Willie Nelson - "Whiskey River"

As a child, I didn't know much about whiskey. I just knew it figured into a lot of the music my family enjoyed. Certainly I didn't connect it with the fact that when my dad took the 7-Up out of the fridge and poured a glass, the end result looked darker and tasted stranger than when I did the same thing. Kids are dumb. Later, I would learn it was the greatest thing in the history of things.

Creedence Clearwater Revial - "Bad Moon Rising"

Even as a kid, I loved the Creedence tapes in the house, and I hated the fucking Eagles. This is one of the many reasons The Big Lebowski blew my mind.

Jim Croce - "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"

A provincial chap like myself has to work a Chicago reference in here somewhere. And this song - about a badass getting fucked up by another, bigger, badass - appeals to my Chicago love. Never mind the fact that as a longtime North Sider, I'm genetically frightened of anything south of Jackson. This song about the South Side kicks ass.

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young

Clearly, this was a Neil Young contribution to the supergroup. As a kid, this song gave me chills, and I had no idea why. As an adult, I know why, but the power hasn't diminished one bit.

The next time you're visiting the folks, take a look through their music collection. You might be surprised. I left out at least a dozen classics. If you find nothing but the Bay City Rollers, however, I command you to destroy the site with cleansing fire. I'm fairly certain it's legally justified.

- J.B. Mays

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Tailgate: Nuclear Steak Bomb

Are all sandwiches created equal? The existence of Vegemite suggests that the answer is a resounding, and disgusting, no.

Vegemite: Proving the mental illness of the entire country of Australia

The sandwich is a staple of lunches everywhere, from the PB&J in the Ghostbusters lunchbox of a child (or socially inept comic book store employee) to the corned beef sandwich at your local Irish pub. The varieties of sandwiches around the world are endless. Different meats, bread, cheeses, veggies and condiments (bacon is both a meat and a condiment) allow sandwich explorers to roam to whatever combination soothes the savage glutton. Clearly, some are much better than others. Which raises the question of how to rank them.

Made with love by a bar cook with a knife scar on his face

I am not here to tell you the perfect stack - merely to offer some help in judging. The sandwich which all others should be judged by, the tasty combo that has graced us for years (its probably in your child’s lunch box today) is the bologna and cheese on white bread. It’s simple, tasty and readily available. It's both a classic standby and the unemployed bastard's last defense against starvation (because Ramen noodles suck).

My favorite version however uses hand sliced bologna seasoned with a quality barbecue dry. You grill it, then before taking it off the grill add sliced Hoop cheddar. When it's all melted and delicious, serve it on toast with yellow mustard, barbecue and hot sauces (Texas Pete’s hot sauce works well).

Something like this, except not snagged off of Google Images in real life

Although this is one of my favorite sandwiches, it is not the world's best. Only Sandwich Nazis declare absolutes. There's always something better and more fattening around the corner. Another slightly more sophisticated interpretation of the above-described bologna sandwich follows, but use your imagination. Some say the sky is the limit. I disagree - the other piece of bread is the limit. Unless you're some open-faced eating crackpot.

Nuclear Steak Bomb

The elegant plating and dinner napkin placement suggests this may not be a Man B Que-taken picture. Hell, the existence of a napkin at all in it is pretty conclusive evidence.

1 sirloin steak
1 bell pepper sliced
1/4 onion sliced
1 can croissant dough
1 jar mushroom gravy
Worcestershire sauce
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Season and grill your steak to your desired doneness. Simplicity works best with the seasoning - Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, salt and black pepper.

2. Heat a skillet over medium, then add gravy, bell peppers, and onions

3. When steak is finished resting, slice across the grain of the meat into bite-sized pieces.

4. Put steak chunks into skillet until gravy is thick.

5. Roll out croissant dough, making sure no seams break. Pour gravy steak mix into the center of the dough. Wrap dough around the mixture and bake following the instructions from the can.

Who said a croissant couldn't be manly?

- Dirt Man

Monday, October 26, 2009

Manly Mixtape Monday: Black Monday

So I showed up to work today, already hating life, because who really wants to work on a Monday - or any day of the week for that matter? Anyway, some really clever guy at work looks at what I'm wearing and, because I was wearing a black shirt and slacks, says, "I wonder what your favorite color is, heh heh." I then put my fist through his throat and said, (please read this aloud in your best Schwarzenegger voice) "I'm sorry, I can't hear you. Can you repeat that? I guess you can't!" as the blood gushed all over my arm and onto the floor.

That hand is going straight for your throat!

Ok, so I didn't rip through his throat. But I did get to thinking and realized two things:
1. Most things I can't live without are black: my clothes, my heart
2. Some of the best music is put out by bands with "black" in their name

I won't share my clothes or heart, but I will share some of my favorite bands with "black" in their name.

Black Sabbath-"N.I.B."

That is either a fat lady or the lead singer of Fall Out Boy. Oh, wait, nope. It really IS Ozzy. Anyways, one of the best Black Sabbath songs.

The Black Halos-"Darkest Corners"

Theses guys are so cool that I can't even tell they're Canadian.

The Black Keys-"10 AM Automatic"

These two guys put out more awesome noise in one song than most countries do all year. (awkward silence) This song is awesome and the video has old people in it, how cool is that?

Big Black-"Kerosene"

LIVE AT CBGB!!! How awesome is that? Too bad the place is gone. Never fear, you can go to any Target or Hot Topic and your very own CBGB shirt to impress your friends!

Black Mountain-"Don't Run Our Hearts Around"

This is the second Canadian band on this Mix Tape. What gives? This is a band that everyone should know about. Seek them out, go, go now! (This video could pass for a commercial for the tasty and guaranteed to make you 10 times more awesome, American Spirit cigarettes.)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club-"Whatever Happened to "

BRMC can be hit or miss overall, but this song is fucking awesome! I always have these weird dreams of being in NYC at some fashion fight between these guys and Interpol.

Note to all: I left out Black Flag because I could not find any videos of them without Henry Rollins and I cannot stand that guy. Now HE should be punched in the throat!

-The Godfather

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cooking with Booze: Steamed Hams

What's a blog without pop culture referencing?

There are those in our fair city that live without the luxury of a deck or porch. While this is not a lifestyle choice of which I approve (I'm wagging my finger in a fatherly way right now), this should not deprive them of their right to ridiculously delicious burgers. So fear not, intrepid shut-ins, I've found a way for you to turn your stovetop into a steam-billowing short order diner line.

Oh, and if the whole "Steamed Hams" reference is throwing you, I suggest you click here and join the rest of us. Frankly, I'm surprised it took us this long to shoehorn in a Simpsons reference.

Cartoons aside, I'd also read a story from Gourmet editor Sara Moulton about her first job cooking, where they took a burger covered with mushrooms, onions, and cheese and steamed it with beer. I didn't have a griddle and a big-ass metal bowl, but I did have a skillet and more than enough beer to do the job.

The Setup

(Makes 2 burgers - double it for 4. Yay, math!)

- 1/2 lb ground chuck
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Coarse-grained salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 c diced white onion
- 4 sliced mushrooms (Whatever kind you'd like. I bought a pack of Essex Kent mushrooms. They were on sale.)
- 1 jalapeno, quartered and diced
- 8 olives, diced
- 1/4 c grated white cheddar
- 1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 c dark ale (I used Half Acre's Over Ale)
- 2 buns, toasted or steamed


1. Combine the ground chuck, mustard, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and black pepper.

2. Divide beef and form into thin 1/4 lb patties.

3. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet to medium.

4. Add onions to pan, cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes.

5. Raise heat to medium hi and add mushrooms. Cook another 4-5 minutes, until the mushrooms are browned and glossy.

6. Season the onion/mushroom mix with salt and pepper, and remove to a bowl. Wipe out the skillet.

7. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to the skillet, heat to medium-high.

I did just one burger at a time - you know, for illustrative purposes. And because I don't own a very big skillet.

8. When oil is heated, add burgers to the skillet and cook 3 minutes.

9. Flip and cook another 2 minutes.

10. Add the toppings to burgers - onion/mushroom mix, jalepenos, and cheddar on one, and onion/mushroom, olives, and feta on the other.

11. Add beer to the skillet. Cover and steam for 3 minutes, until cheese is melted.

The beer gave its' life for deliciousness.

12. Put onto buns and enjoy your mouth-watering steamed hams.

Serve with beer

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crimes Against Food: Enough With the Damn Sliders

Feeds 1 ... unless you're hungry. Or a man.

You like hamburgers, right? You'd damn well better - about half of everything we post here is a hamburger recipe. Well, what if I offered you a burger, but instead of a big, juicy patty hanging over the edges of the bun, I told you that I'd instead pound the everliving shit out of the meat and slide it onto a dinner roll for that ever-so-delicious 80/20 bread/meat ratio? You might not think it's a great idea, but you know who does? Every damn restaurant. Everywhere. You can't throw a handful of cholesterol pills in this town without hitting a place trumpeting its' "NEW! Prime Beef Sliders!" And it's not just here in our fair city of Chicago - it's everywhere.

"Waiter? I hate to be a bother, but a bird has apparently begun building a nest on my entree."

Case in point: Washington, D.C.'s Matchbox. I go to D.C. for work a few times a year, and every time I do, people are telling me about the sliders (pictured above) - how awesome they are, how they could eat a million of them. So the last time I find myself in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood, I hit Matchbox and order them. They come with a pile of greasy fried onions on top, just dripping fryer oil all through the white bread bun. You also get a thin slice of cheese on the burger. And that's it. So they taste like slightly beefy grease. I love greasy food, but not when grease is the only flavor. That's why when we make bacon, we eat the bacon instead of drinking what collects in the pan. But I didn't share this with the waiter, because I hate seeing hipsters cry. Their mascara runs. Yes even the men. Especially the men.

It's not that sliders aren't a delicious food concept. But the execution almost always sucks. It's a pinch of ground beef smashed on a griddle and thrown onto a roll, maybe with a slice of unmelted, somewhat plasticized cheese. Fucking hooray - nothing better than paying $9 for the taste of unseasoned ground beef, bread, and Sysco cheese. Or alternately, "sliders" made of crock-pot BBQ pork, dry shredded chicken, or whatever else they've lot laying around. So maybe the super-expensive high end shit would be better?

"Only $60? Why, that's a bargain! ... Why the sudden urge to cut my own wrists?"

Fuck no, it's not better. Some of your fancier-pants restaurants have decided to put Kobe sliders (or comparable American-raised Wagyu) on the menu. This is actually a much, much worse idea. Kobe beef, depending on the quality and market, costs between $16-30 PER MOTHERFUCKING OUNCE! They're taking the most expensive beef in the world, pushing it through a meat grinder, overcooking it, and slapping it on a brioche bun. Meat like that is meant to be eaten as a rare, in steak form. You don't want a rare slider - ergo, you don't want Kobe sliders. Ever. It is a terrible, terrible idea.

There are easy ways to make excellent, inexpensive sliders that have actual flavor. We will share this knowledge with you later this week, as ranting has left little room for recipes. But until then, let's all rack our collective brains to try and find out what evil douchebag is responsible for this regrettable fad.

Well, that didn't take long

- J.B. Mays

Manly Mixtape Monday: Embarrassing AWESOME Karaoke Mix

Manly Mixtape Monday is a six-pack of songs on a theme. It will rock your face weekly.

Umm ... what?

No matter what walk of life you come from, karaoke is the great uniter. Pour enough alcohol into anyone, and they take on the awesome karaoke ethos of the Japanese businessman. Or Huey Lewis in Duets. Or this guy on any given whiskey night. Part of the enjoyment is the ability to not only enjoy cheesy '80s hits, but scream those very hits at the top of your lungs. And if you don't agree with me, you're some sort of robot. Or Nazi. Or Nazi-bot. And I'm coming for you soon, Nazi-bot. Let's check out 6 of the songs I personally enjoy rocking. I'll leave out Rick Astley, because honestly, I believe the Internet has had enough of that business.

Huey Lewis and the News - "The Power of Love"

No matter where you're enjoying a night of drunken karaoke, every single person present will have seen Back to the Future. Hence they will not only know, but madly adore this song. You knock it out of the park, and you're the Hero of the Drunks. You'll probably never win the Pulitzer, so I'd say that's an achievement to shoot for.

Kenny Rogers - "The Gambler"

Before he started getting so much plastic surgery that he looks like a poorly-aging woman, Kenny Rogers pumped out some true classics. Its' legacy has lasted longer than the man's chicken franchise. "The Gambler" is literally better than fried chicken.

Big Country - "In a Big Country"

Perfect for a karaoke evening. Where else, in your life, will you ever be able to utter the phrase "I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert, but I can look and breathe and see the sun in winter-time" without derision, much less belt that shit to a roomful of people full of '80s nostalgia.

The Spinners - "Rubberband Man"

As a red-bearded Irish guy, I'm clearly the best choice to sing a Motown classic. Which is good, because this song rocks. Now if I could only get the Mai Tai stains out of my powder-blue tuxedo.

Toto - "Africa"

The mere opening bars of this will cause all assembled to snap to attention. With that refrain, it's either going to be an entertaining success or a way more entertaining failure. To be attempted only by gentlemen who (a) have a bar bill surpassing the price of a 4-star dinner and (b) trained for it over a lifetime of singing Rush songs in the shower. On a side note: Ugliest band ever to hit the Top 40.

Go West - "King of Wishful Thinking"

Why Go West? Why not Go West? It's possibly the '80-est song ever. Ever.

- J.B. Mays

Monday, October 19, 2009

J.B. Mays' K.C. Brisket

Two tickets to paradise

So far as most people see it, a proponent of grilling has to choose one of two camps - charcoal or gas. The gas users say that charcoal is inconvenient and can provide inconsistent heat. The charcoal users say that gas doesn't get quite as hot and doesn't impart that distinctive charcoal aroma. Meanwhile, the guys who cook over hardwood just laugh, take a slug of whiskey from the bottle, and call both of them pussies. And not wanting to be called such, I've always wanted to try my hand at smoking. Which brings us to today's recipe, a tangy, smoky brisket inspired largely by Mike Mills' excellent Peace, Love and BBQ.

At it's heart, the practice of grilling is about taking something ordinary and making it excellent through skill, practice, and sheer force of will. Nowhere is that more evident than with brisket. You take a tough, fat-covered cut that most meat departments don't even stock, and you turn it badass - much like Mr. Miyagi did to Daniel Russo. Except, you know, Miyagi didn't end up eating him. But if it helps you to put on some badass '80s music in hope of a montage, you go right ahead, sport.


1 beef brisket ~7 lbs.
1 c apple juice

Mustard Slather
1/4 c yellow mustard
1/4 c Dijon mustard
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c beer

1 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar, dried
1/3 c seasoned salt
1/3 c celery salt
1/3 c paprika
3 tbsp ancho chile powder
2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp lemon pepper
2 tsp ground sage
2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp thyme

The Setup

Sure, it says "Smoker," but it's the blackening that really convinces me

- First thing's first - if you want to smoke, you're going to have to come to terms with the fact that you're going to need an entire day. And probably half of the previous evening. If this is unacceptable, then go get yourself a chicken caesar wrap from Applebees, Sally Mae.

- For this job, you're going to need a smoker. I know that a lot of BBQ cookbooks try to throw grill-owners a bone and say that you can use indirect fire and wood chips, but that's not going to work. You most likely won't have a side door to drop in fresh coals on your kettle grill, and you don't want to be lifting the lid every time you need to add heat. Just get a smoker. You can snag one for about $65.

When starting coals, make sure you've got a friend nearby in Chuck Taylors. You know, for atmosphere.

- You're also going to need a metal bucket, or a chimney starter with a stone or metal sheet under it to keep prepared coals ready. When you're cooking low and slow, you can't be throwing on unlit coals and hope they'll catch at 230 degrees.

- Get a pair of comfortable tongs. You're going to be transferring a lot of lit coals. A lot. You don't want to end up with some sort of clawed hand, like you're a 13 year old boy 48 hours after the new Victoria's Secret catalog comes in the mail.

- Also good? Suede grilling gloves. As you may imagine, a bucket of coals is hot as fuck.

Gentlemen make sure to not giggle when saying "probe" ... more than three times.

- Keep a probe thermometer on hand to keep an eye on the smoker temperature and check the brisket when it's nearly done. Also keep a spray bottle to spritz the brisket when you have to turn it.

- The type of hardwood you use (apple, mesquite, hickory, etc.) depends on your preference, but make sure it's small enough to fit in your smoker. Unless you've got a wood shop, or are some kind of unholy urban lumberjack, you're not going to be able to split it at home.

The Night Before

1. Combine dry rub ingredients in a large bowl. If the brown sugar isn't dry, spread it out on a plate, microwave 15 seconds, break up the clumps, and repeat until dry. Sift to take out any remaining chunks.

2. Reserve ~1/2 c of the rub, storing the rest in a tightly-sealed jar for future use.

3. Whisk together mustard, vinegar, and beer until smooth. Set aside.

4. Place the brisket, fat side up, onto your cutting board. Trim the layer of fat until it's 1/4" thick.

5. Cover brisket with mustard slather. Just use your hands. Or a pastry brush if you're French.

6. Season the brisket well on all sides with the reserved rub. Don't be stingy, or the horrified looks of your guests will forever haunt your soul.

7. Place into a plastic bag or container, and let marinate overnight, if possible.

Brisket Day

1. Get up early to start the fire. Earlier than you think you need. Resent those still warm in their beds. Consider how early is too early to begin drinking.

2. Use a chimney starter to get a batch of hardwood coals started. Place them in the smoker, along with some smaller pieces of the wood. Continue to burn coals and wood until you have a consistent heat of 230-250 degrees.

Why yes, starting a fire on a third floor wood deck is a very good idea, smartass

3. As the fire builds, take the brisket out of the refrigerator to let it come closer to room temperature.

4. Light another batch of coals in the chimney starter, and either keep them in the starter, or place them into a metal bucket. This is what you're going to use to regulate the heat.

5. Place the brisket on the grill, making sure that it's fat side up. That quarter-inch of fat is going to melt through the meat in a way that's going to make you love life.

6. Keep the temperature between 230-250 for 1 1/2 - 2 hours for each pound.

7. Give the brisket a 90 degree turn at each halfway point in the cooking process. So if you're cooking for 12 hours, turn with 6 hours left, then 3 hours left, then an hour and a half left, etc.

I wish there were a manlier word to use than "spritz." I'd consider the term "Man Spray," but that sounds even worse.

8. When you turn the brisket, spritz the top of the meat with the bottled apple juice.

9. When you think that your delicious slab of meat is done, check for an internal temperature of 185 degrees. If it's finished, wrap it in aluminum foil and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

A meal fit for a king. Also fit for Ted Nugent.

10. Slice thin and eat it. You eat the hell out of it.

- J.B. Mays

Friday, October 16, 2009

U2 and Rolling Stone: Lame Meets Bland

Which has suffered a more precipitous decline - Irish band U2 or the venerable Rolling Stone? We will attempt to find out, inspired by this laughably bad cover:

"Thank you for coming out to space! We'll get back to the music in a minute, but I'd like to take a second to talk to you about the plight of the Vornyxxians from Rigel 4. They're enslaved by debt to the Intergalactic Monetary Fund. They can't even make payments on the space interest."


Once a fairly cutting-edge band with catchy singles and deep lyrics, they've undergone a mystifying transformation into the most punchable band on the planet. Witness the facts:

- All those hit singles since 2000? Same song. You know it.

- As their song lyrics got much shallower ("Un, dos, tres, catorce!"), they countered by becoming insufferable pricks wherever possible about third world debt.

-They call for blanket forgiveness of African debts. I criticize them for not emphasizing infrastructure in developing nations.

- What's that, you say? They're just a rock band, they don't know about building roads, hospitals, and irrigation systems? THEN WHY DO THEY KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIRD WORLD DEBT? I don't ask Derrek Lee for his views on pre-natal care for mothers in poverty, and I don't ask for global economic treatises from some sunglasses-wearing pop music douche.

- Their concerts feature 4 minutes of heavy-handed preaching for every 4 minutes of ... ahem ... "rock."

- Just about the one Irish thing this writer finds unlikable.

Laura Dern? Lenny Kravitz? Blues Traveler? Was this some kind of early prototype for Stuff White People Like?

Rolling Stone Magazine

Once a leading voice in the vanguard of rock music, last seen in a Muncie, Indiana, Dominick's checkout lane - right next to Cosmo's "35 Ways to Please Your Man" issue.

- Gives most everything a 3 or 4 star review.

- A notable exception to the last statement is this review of Mick Jagger's Goddess In the Doorway, which received the exceedingly rare 5-star review. How can I adequately stress how awful this album was? Oh, I know!

- You can only get a 5-star review if you're an established legend. Even if you churn out sewage like "Goddess in the Doorway." An rising star on the way to legendhood? Then you can go fuck yourself. Jay-Z's "The Blueprint"? 3.5 stars. Nirvana's "Nevermind"? 3 stars. Bob Marley's "Exodus"? Not even reviewed.

- Radiohead hasn't fared much better, averaging 3.5 stars for their entire catalog. Oh, but wait, Rolling Stone goes back every so often and re-issues reviews. And once Radiohead became one of the most popular and acclaimed bands on the planet, RS changed most of those to 5-star reviews. That's pretty much admitting that you don't know shit.

- They once ran this article, in which they accused then-president George Bush (not the Simpsons one) of being influenced by the authors of those weirdo Left Behind books and their apocalyptic vision of Christianity. They then gloss over the fact that neither of the authors had ever met Bush, and when directly questioned, Bush said that he hadn't read any of them, but had heard the books mentioned once or twice. Journalism! Really, was it that hard to find a legitimate criticism of George Bush in 2004?

- At one time featured the manic, drug-fueled writing of Hunter S. Thompson, a legend in outsider writing who remains relevant today. Now they have Chuck Klosterman, who not only writes about The Sims, but also looks like a big ol' lesbian.

"... and this is my life partner, Willow."

So who wins this matchup of the pompous and the sad? Certainly not us. I say let U2 and Rolling Stone have each other. They both deserve a little misery.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Crimes Against Food: Bag o' Meat

Crimes Against Food features the greatest offenses committed against the greater eating public and the hallowed institution of food itself.

Earlier this week, I stopped into Costco for some productive meat shopping. Honestly, you wouldn't picture a concrete box the size of a Boeing hangar as the ideal place to find quality meatstuffs, but quality meat is to be had here. Lots of it. For cheap. Hilariously, you can also buy a coffin in which to bury your meat-engorged ass when you finally kick off the mortal plane, waving two middle fingers and a half-drunk Schlitz to the dreadlocked trust-fund vegans of the world.

Anyway, the brisket was beautiful, the rib racks massive, and the strip steaks perfectly marbled. This, I thought, must be the meat eater's paradise. Until I stumbled upon this abomination:

Pre-cooked? Pre-cut? Pre-seasoned? (And what is this mysterious "a seasoning," anyway?) Did they not have a pre-chewed option, as well? Or maybe you can just get a representative of the company to vomit their Arby's lunch back into your mouth for a cool $12. On top of all that, it spells out for you the fact that they had to add caramel coloring to make it look like something normal people would eat. This, my friends, is no way to eat. This is not Man B Que. In fact, let's run down the key facts.

- Pre-cooked meat
- Artificially colored
- Ready out of the bag
- Pre-seasoned
- Even the professional photo of it looks gross

A ha! It's dog food for humans! Have we fallen so far in our ability to make an enjoy a delicious meal for ourselves that we would willingly and wantonly cram bagged scrap meat down our gaping maws? Can we not wait the ten minutes it takes to season, sear, cook, and cut a piece of steak?

"Remember kids, when you eat bagged meat, you're eating communism! And possibly Type 2 Diabetes."

I say no to bagged meat, dammit! Let the Rascal scooter fatties of the world have their Bag o' Meat, and may heaven have mercy on their colons. I will continue to walk right past this cooler of depravity to both the butcher and self-respect. That's the Man B Que way.

- J.B. Mays

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Tailgate: Bacon-Cheddar Tailgate Burgers

Ed. Note: This post serves as the introduction to Man-B-Que's newest food writer, Stuart. Yet, as we all know, there is no Man-B-Que without kickass nicknames. Seeing as how Stuart made his bones as a grounds intern for the 2007 Boston Red Sox and now works as a head groundskeeper in the minor leagues, I dub him Dirt Man. Man makes his living in the dirt, and I'm feeling literal today. Feel free to call him Old Dirty Bastard, Dirt McGurt, Big Baby Jesus and all other such nicknames. So shall it be written. Man-B-Que!

What is a tailgate? Some would say that a tailgate is the part of a truck that keeps things from falling out the back.




Others, like myself, cannot deny this definition, but might also say that a tailgate is any party outside that precedes a larger event. Whether it is a group of friends reminiscing together in a parking lot before a class reunion or a lavish tent complete with a chandelier, fine wine, and homemade croissants(as witnessed in “The Grove” of The University of Mississippi).

Yes, seriously

I submit that tailgating has become the new American pastime. The tailgate can be humble and simple, but it can also be extravagant and highbrow. In travels around the NCAA, MLB, and NFL, I've noticed the best tailgates all have one thing in common - the best food. Tailgate food is most often charred to perfection over open flame. People seem to be cooking up anything of the right size to be placed on the grill. Some of the grilled delicacies that I have seen at tailgates include everything from generic burgers and hotdogs, to full-on slow cooked Bar-B-Que, to any assortment of vegetables, jalapeƱos stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon, shrimp in a sweet spicy mustard base sauce, marinated gator tail, and fresh venison roast.

Anything you can think to grill and serve as tailgate fair probably already has been or soon will be. My advice is to join in and grill with some friends before any event - not just concerts and sporting events, but also academic competitions, municipal board re-zoning hearings, and the funerals of one's enemies. Here is my favorite burger recipe to get you started:

Dirt Man's Tailgate Burgers

4 lb. ground chuck

4 andouille sausages, diced

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1 Vidalia onion, diced

Worcestershire sauce

Grilling seasoning (recommended: Montreal's Grilling Seasoning)

1/2 c brown sugar

1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce

8 good hamburger buns (none of this $0.99 store brand shit - you'll end up with two handfuls of mushy bread and condiments)


About 4 c sliced mushrooms, sauteed ahead of time

16 slices smoked bacon, cooked ahead of time

8 thick slices smoked cheddar


1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.

2. Combine diced sausage, pepper, and onion. Sweat mixture in large skillet add a quarter cup of Worcestershire sauce 8 tablespoons of grilling seasoning, and brown sugar cook until thick and combined. Let the mixture cool and combine with ground chuck. Shape into patties.

3. Place burgers on the grill. Brush the burgers with your favorite barbecue sauce as they cook.

4. Once they are almost cooked to your desired degree of doneness, divide the following toppings over the burgers: the sauteed mushrooms, 2 slices of bacon, and 1 slice of cheese, in that order. Cook just until cheese is melted and toppings are heated through.

5. Now shove into face. Repeat.