Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BBQ Root Beer Pork

"Crock Pot" ...

That phrase doesn't exactly conjure the image of men grilling out, smoking cigars, and drinking beer. But it happened, and actually it was green beer, around St. Patrick’s Day. Men do use crock pots - and why not? The food is ready when you get home from work, and it’s an easy process, requiring you to do roughly nothing between returning from the grind and consuming a good meal with a cold beer. Of course there are many recipes as complex as assembling a small engine – but who needs those? I say keep it simple. Italian beef – keeping it simple.
Cornish hens – simple. Ten-layer tortilla stack - not simple.

As we were talking about our recipes that dreary St. Paddy's weekend, it became clear that men like meat cooked slowly, cut up, and placed on some sort of bread. Not exactly a revelation, but an important realization.

Here may be the most uncomplicated recipe for slow cooked pulled pork I have ever come across courtesy of Michael "Tripod" Palm from the Chicago Western Burbs Man B Que Chapter. It doesn’t require a rub, hours of loading coals into a smoker or grill, making of a sauce, or the need to call your butcher for a pig. I say let your neighbors smell the delicious swine all day, then tell them “yes I like pig, and no you can’t have any.”

The Setup

1 bottle quality root beer
Pork tenderloin or loin
1 bottle BBQ sauce
Salt and pepper

I’ve tried to keep things in a Chicago theme by using Goose Island
root beer and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce.


1. Trim fat from pork and place in crock pot.

2.Pour bottle of root beer over pork. Season the meat with salt and pepper.

3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

4. Shred pork and mix with BBQ Sauce. Serve on a bun alongside chips and potato salad.

Yes, it really is that easy. As you can see from the pictures I only used ½ of the loin that is
shown in the set up shot. I probably could have cut the loin in half and fit it, but then I’d be eating pork sandwiches for a week.

- Death Toll Scholl

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Buena Vista Chops w/Citrus Sauce

Editor's Note: This piece marks the debut of Man B Que's newest writer, Vizz. She (yes, that's right, she) will be sharing meat-centric recipes on a weekly-ish basis. Her excellent blog, Food vs. Face, can be found here.

When springtime rolls around, young men's thoughts turn to those of fancy (read: boners), but mine turn to food. As much as I would love to be grilling, my precious has a defective valve and I have to improvise. A food fare that incorporates much of my favorite animal (the pig), as well as bold (but not spicy) flavors and doesn't necessarily require a grill hails from the home of Castro, cigars as long as your arm, dominoes and the guyabera.

I've been known to keep a brick in the kitchen for making Cuban sandwiches and thumping hobos, so while the press-sandwich is easy and tempting, I wanted to experiment. Or, how do they say in Cuba, "prostituta?"

The set-up

1 C corn flake crumbs
1 clove minced/crushed garlic
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/4 pepper
2 tsp orange zest
4 pork loin chops (boneless or bone-in)
1/2 C buttermilk

olive oil
1/2 C fresh lime juice
4 tbsp orange juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
honey or agave nectar to taste


1. Preheat your oven to 400. Combine all of the dry ingredients for the chops (corn flake crumbs, seasonings, orange zest) in a shallow bowl. Fill another shallow dish with the buttermilk.
Prep in advance note: If you have time, let the chops sit in the buttermilk in the fridge for an hour or two. It's the same tenderizing process used in most Southern fried chicken.

2. Dip the pork chops into the buttermilk (if not already marinated in it), then into the crumb mixture on both sides. Use your hands to pack the crumbs onto both sides tightly.

3. Delicately* place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chops. *Delicately (adv): Using extreme caution and care, like when you called your mom from jail.

They may look good enough to eat already, but it's worth the wait if you want to avoid worms.

While your pork is in the oven, get crackin' on your sauce, as it needs to be cooled in the refrigerator before serving.

4. Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Saute the garlic until it's just barely golden brown. Add your orange and lime juices, increase the heat a bit and bring it to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes. If you have honey or agave nectar on hand, add it while the sauce is simmering.

5. Remove from heat, add your cilantro, and stir to combine everything. I had a little orange zest left, so I threw that in as well.

6. Divvy into ramekins or one big sauce dish and refrigerate until your chops are done.

If you have extra thick pork chops, it's not a bad idea to check the internal temp to make sure it's reached 160 before serving.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ive Missed You, Nirvana

They say if you love something, let it go. If it was meant to be, it comes back to you. Well, it’s the same with music. I was recently going through my iTunes library when I realized I was missing a lot of good stuff I once owned. Being that I don’t exactly have my “own” place, I lack storage room and thus have to download songs more often than I buy CDs. Don’t judge me, dammit!.

I had the Nirvana song "Aneurysm" stuck in my head so I HAD to listen to it. When I pulled up my Nirvana collection, it was gone. More importantly, I realized that my whole Incesticide album was GONE. This was a true shame and I wanted, NEEDED, it back. It was like that girlfriend you once had, dumped and forgot about because time and subsequent girlfriends have pushed her further back into the memory’s dark corner, but thanks to technology and/or Facebook (FB being iTunes if you’re following the analogy) you were able to get her back! How easy. Except, it’s really just an album so you don’t have to deal with the threat or fear of the angry current husband/boyfriend or the shame that comes along with “tracking down” that lost love (score one for the stalkers!).

Anyway, Incesticide was a compilation that Nirvana released in 1992, after Nevermind had blown up, further extending the gap between teens and parents everywhere while giving that youthful angst a flanneled image coupled with a greasy mane. A few of the songs on Incesticide had been previously released on other EP’s, compilations and singles. I remember scouring record shops, looking for the latest Nirvana single just so I could get that extra, b-side and truly be “their biggest fan.” Do they still even make singles? Incesticide did all the record shop scouring for us. Interestingly, unlike Nevermind, Incesticide never even made it near the top 10 in the Billboard 200. It peaked at #39!

There are some real gems on the record, my personal favorites happen to be the most un-Nirvana soundings songs on the album. It was just great to hear my favorite band at the time go outside of their “grunge” norms. I especially love the 3 most poppy and friendly (how un-angry) songs on the album; "Been a Son" was originally on a 1989 EP (Blew) that was only released in the UK, "Molly’s Lips" and "Son of a Gun" were cover songs of a the Scottish band, The Vaselines. My other favorite is "Aero Zeppelin," a 1988 demo song that sounds as if it were written with an extended pot session in mind. There is also a great version of "Polly" that is the complete opposite of the sad and suicide-inducing version that appears on Nevermind. Again, I think the fact that these songs weren’t puked on with distortion and raped with over-production is what makes them so appealing to me.

Sigh. I’m so happy to have you back, my old love!

- The Godfather

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Mighty Fein Marinade

Today's entry comes via Death Toll Scholl

Thanks to the power of Facebook, I was recently united with a high school classmate-turned-chef – Tim Fein. He suggested that his marinade recipe would hold up at any grilling event and could be used with any meat. I wondered if this marinate would really stand up to Man B Que standards so I decided to try it out on my new grill.

The Setup

A Fine Fein Marinade

3 c v8 juice
2 shots whiskey (2 oz.)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
¾ c oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced shallot
2 limes, juiced
3 tbsp of minced fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper


Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, then apply to whatever you deign to grill. I applied it to shrimp, but think it would be a great chicken and beef marinade as well. I also grilled the shrimp skewers with some good corn on the cob - a prospect which is only going to improve as the weather improves and we venture into Illinois sweet corn season.

1. Shell, de-vein, and remove head from shrimp. Marinade shrimp for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. Soak skewers if using wooden skewers.

2. If you haven't already, skewer the shrimp, allowing for even spacing between individual shrimp. Do not pluralize shrimp as "shrimps," because that is a fool-ass thing to do.

3. Shuck the outer layer of the corn, remove the silk, and soak in water for a few minutes.

4. Get your coals ready in a chimney starter, like so:

5. And set up your grill for indirect grilling, like so:

6. Remove your corn from the water and shake off excess.

7. Oil your grill grate and place corn over the direct heat, allowing for a couple of minutes per side before placing skewers over indirect heat.

8. Grill the shrimp 1-2 minutes per side, until pink.

9. Remove corn and skewers from grill, enjoy your feast of food with built-in handles.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fast Food: Basil Goat Cheese Pizza

Imagine how much better this would be if I could roll dough into a remotely recognizable geometrical shape. Magic, I tell you!

You know those nights where work sucks, the commute is a bastard, and the last thing you feel like doing is cooking? This recipe is perfect for those kind of nights, with time and effort comparable to picking up crappy takeout, and a much better result.

Using a pre-made crust might not be much of a foodie's purist approach, but Tuesday nights after an eight hour day don't always allow for that. This is still a fresh, fairly healthy meal that beats the hell out of obstructing your colon with Arby's.

Let's set out how to make a superb pizza in a half hour. But first, a tedious note about equipment!

Tedious Note

The instructions assume you have a pizza stone. I got mine as a gift, but if you don't have one, there are alternatives to dropping $40 on a stone at a fancy kitchenware store. You can use a cookie sheet, at the expense of the extra-crispy crust, or you can head down to Lowe's or Home Depot and ask for some unglazed quarry tiles. Buy a bunch of them and line the bottom of your oven with them, taking care not to block the vents. They're about 70 cents apiece. Buy extras in case a tile cracks. Go crazy. You'll get all the benefit of an expensive stone at a tenth of the price. Leaving them in the oven all the time will help temper them to heat changes and keep a more consistent temperature in your oven.

The Setup

1 pre-made pizza crust, 10 oz. (12")
2 tsp cornmeal
3 med garlic cloves, quartered
1 c arugula
1 c fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated fresh Parmesan
Salt and black pepper
4 oz goat cheese

You're also going to want a food processor and a pizza peel (the wooden pizza board you seen in every movie ever with a pizza parlor in it) along with the aforementioned stone/tiles. You're also definitely going to want fresh Parmesan, as opposed to the sawdust in the green can that you shake over pasta.


1. Preheat oven to 500, allowing stone to heat up along with the oven.

2. Put the garlic, arugula, parmesan, basil, and olive oil in the food processor along with salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until a paste forms.

3. Spread cornmeal on pizza peel. Roll out dough on top.

4. Top the pizza with paste and goat cheese. Add additional toppings if you'd like, like cherry tomatoes, red pepper flakes, or some sopressata.

5. Slide pizza onto stone and bake until pizza is crisp and puffed, 6-9 minutes (see top picture, or ... you know, use common sense).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Home Sausagery: The Maxwell Street Polish

The Maxwell Street Polish sausage is a true Chicago classic, a sort of hybridization of the classic hot dog and the kielbasa. It's the closest thing to street food we have in this overly-regulated town, minus a couple elotes stands in the neighborhoods.

According to various stories I've heard slurred from bar stools over the years, the Polish wasn't invented by a Polish guy at all, but a Macedonian immigrant named Jimmy. Now it's got a place in the Chicago food pantheon along with Italian beef, Chicago-style dogs, and deep dish.

Since UIC's push outward has relocated most of the original Polish purveyors, it's as good a time as any to start a Polish sausage tradition of your own. This comes straight from Death Toll Scholl, who may not be Macedonian, but definitely isn't Polish either.

Man B Que Maxwell Street Polish

3 lbs pork shoulder – cubed
1 lb bacon – cut into 1" pieces
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 med onion – 1 finely chopped; 1 cubed
1 tsp ground mustard
1 bottle yellow mustard

1. Place all utensils and sausage making tools in freezer for at least 1 hour prior to beginning the grinding process. You don't want any of the fat getting warm and mushy - that will screw with your sausage-making in a powerful fashion. So everything must be as cold as possible. Some people just keep their meat grinders in the freezer at all times - if you've got the space, it might be a good idea to do so.

2. Cube pork and cut bacon and arrange on a cookie sheet; put in
freezer for at least 30 minutes.

3. While meat chills, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and prepare onions.

4. Take cookie sheet out of freezer and add the cubed onion to the meat.

5. Grind meat/onion mixture into a cold bowl set on ice.

6. Using a Kitchenaid or other type of mixer, mix chopped onion, dry ingredients and mustard

7. Prepare sausage casing. There are various types of both organic (hog, lamb) and synthetic casings to use.

8. Stuff casing, as pictured.

9. Hang casing for 1 hour. Heat the grill while practicing your Macedonian-American accent (whatever that is).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Great English Food: Shepherd's Pie

Picture snagged from here. PROPER!

English food has long been misunderstood in this country. Even classified as repulsive by those who may not appreciate the combination of beans and toast for breakfast. But some of us know better. A lot of that undeserved reputation seems to be a problem in translation. People from the UK have a history of taking perfectly delicious foods and giving them horrifically unappealing names.

- “A nice hearty sausage? Oy, let’s call that blood pudding”

- “Delicious back bacon? What’s a good name for that, mum? Roight, they’s called rashers, they is.”

- “Fruit dessert? That’s called trifle. Shut up, that's why.”

What you see is the foundation of American mistrust of British cooking. Had these people invented hamburgers, they probably would have named it Goatse (note: don’t Google that term if you don’t know it. Give thanks for your ignorance).

Smashy smashy!

Likewise, today’s meal suffers from a name that rubs Americans the wrong way. Shepherd’s pie is an excellent dish, especially in the fall/winter months. But when we hear the word pie, we expect it to be either topped with ice cream or torn out of a Hostess wrapper. Minced lamb (or venison, or beef, or unicorn), carrots, and mashed potatoes is quite the shock when one’s mind is conditioned to expect apples, sugar, and pastry. I’m not taking a side on who is “right” in this issue. I’m telling you to man up if you’ve never tried this before. It’s worth it.

The concept is simple, but you can take it a number of ways (see anal-retentive note below). You take minced or ground meat, brown it, and sweat some aromatic vegetables and herbs. You then combine these with some wine, broth, and maybe a little tomato paste. When the mix is nice and reduced, put it into a dish, top with mashed potatoes, and bake until the potatoes are nice and brown. Sing “God Save the Queen” (original or Sex Pistols version) and eat.

Yep, that's right. We used it a second time. That's how we roll.

(Note: Far as my ignorant Yank self understands, this dish is only deemed Shepherd’s Pie if you make it with lamb. Should you elect for venison [my favorite] or beef, it apparently becomes a Cottage Pie. It’s like magic.)

Shepherd's Pie

The Setup

That beer? That's for you, champ.

Pie filling
- 2 lb minced lamb or venison
- 1 white onion, small dice or minced
- 1 carrot, small dice or minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (This is important. Don't go dried if you can help it.)
- 1 c red wine
- 1 14 oz. can beef stock or broth
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp paprika
- Flour for dusting
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
Mashed potatoes
- 2-4 med/large russet potatoes (2 lb total)
- 1/2 stick (2 oz) unsalted butter
- 4-5 oz. whole milk

Cut it small. And on a Space Invaders cutting board. Both are key.


1. If using cubed or minced meat, rather than ground, dust with flour. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat 1-2 tbsp oil in a 12-in skillet over med-hi. Brown meat in batches, adding oil during the process if necessary.

3. Add onion, carrot, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, until the onions and carrots begin to soften.

4. Add Worcestershire, tomato paste, and rosemary. Cook for another minute.

5. Pour in red wine. Bring to a boil and reduce until wine is almost evaporated.

6. Pour in enough stock/broth to cover ingredients. Check seasoning and simmer for another 20 minutes.

7. Add paprika and allspice. Preheat oven to 450.

8. Boil or simmer potatoes until tender. After potatoes cool, pass through ricer and whisk with butter and milk.

9. Spread meat mixture evenly around the bottom of a medium casserole or souffle dish. Top evenly with mashed potatoes, and use a fork to rough up the top of the potatoes. Kind of like this:

10. Bake at 450 for 25-30 min, until the top of the potatoes are browned to your liking.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Que For the Choir: The Belated Menu

February 25th's Que For the Choir - and I may be biased here - was an excellent first public event for Man B Que. We (note: making no show of editorial independence or impartiality) ended up serving food to well over 100 ladies and gents of both vegetarian and meat-loving dispositions. And considering the fact that our shirts pointedly demonstrate the most delicious parts of the cow, the vegetarians were both extremely nice and incredibly trusting of our veggie/vegan options. Live and let live, I reckon.

Anyhow, this post is intended to set correct something that's been bugging me. I intended to design and laminate a menu for the gentlefolk of the event, but week-of preparations ended up getting the best of me. People ended up having to hear descriptions of the dishes from our lovely lady severs - the horror!

So if you attended the event and wondered what it is that was so delicious, then the answer is likely located below.

Meatless Options

My Sister's Vegan Chili (The Godfather) - Chopped peppers (bell, banana, jalapeno), red onion, portobello mushrooms, chili beans, and a little bit of love. Plant love, that is. Actual interpersonal love is not vegan.

Portobello Burgers (Ricky Thumbs) - Seasoned portobellos on a bun with whatever meatless toppings your too-healthy heart desires.

Grilled Veggie Salad (Joey Grease) - Asparagus, peppers, radishes, and whatever else we could find fresh, grilled and tossed with a homemade vinaigrette by Man B Que's own lovable Italian stereotype.

The Main Event

The Gordon Mays Gouda Haze Burger (The Godfather) - A cheese and butter-filled patty seared over charcoal and dropped onto a kaiser roll, because it will give you the strength to go out and punch the Kaiser. Too bad WWI ended a couple generations ago.

Four Funerals and a Wedding (Joey Grease) - Four kinds of bacon wrapped around a scallop. You will envy the scallop.

Death Toll Habanero Wings (Death Toll Scholl) - Real chicken wings (boneless wings are for housewives at Chili's) slathered in butter, cayenne, hot sauce, and real habaneros.

Babe/Bambi Crossover Burgers (JB Mays) - Come to terms with your cinematic childhood traumas in one delicious bite. A 50/50 mix of venison and pork combined with mushrooms, apples, dijon and worcestershire. Served on a King's Hawaiian roll with chopped raw onions and aged Vermont cheddar. (All-venison edition available for those keeping Kosher. We dig.)

The Original Linus Burger (Ricky Thumbs) - The centerpiece of Man B Que's vast menu, a fresh beef patty artfully built around a foundation of cheese. Served in two varieties - Blue cheese, basil cream reduction and fresh oregano; and triple-cheddar and bacon.

Vienna Beef Chicago-style Dog - From our friends and sponsors at VB comes a grilled all-beef frank with the entire murderer's row of fixings. No, you brain-dead philistine, there is no damn ketchup!