Sunday, May 30, 2010

Double Buffalo Sliders

Pretty soon, Dayton is going to have a ManBQue chapter to call its own. The official kick off will be in June or July, but this weekend Mr. FvF and I decided to host a CoedBQue (read the rules, totally allowed on weekends) to let some folks try out their recipes. GK served up some fabulous Buffet burgers, stuffed with beer-can peppers and onions and smothered in pepper jack cheese...
Hoeflich grilled up some ribeyes that "fell off a truck," marinated in bacon fat and garlic...

and Evil Josh had the brilliant idea of stuffing skirt steak with apples, smoked mozzarella and crushed almonds.
All of that was tough to top, the Mister's Double Buffalo Sliders stole the show. Even though I'm sure you've already gorged on your share of holiday meats, you're going to want these inside you.

I apologize for the lack of set-up and prep photos, but the resident photographer may have had one too many drinks. What of it?! Besides, it's not rocket surgery. Chances are, if you read this blog, you know how to mix up a burger.

The Set Up (makes 12 sliders):
1 1/3 lb ground bison
6 oz blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2-3 tbsp hot sauce
2 tbsp melted butter
For the spice mix:
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne (or more, to taste)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder

Mix all of your spices together first in a small bowl and have them ready to go. In another bowl, mix up your bison meat, melted butter, hot sauce, egg, spices, then add the bread crumbs and blue cheese crumbles towards the end. You could use more or less bread crumbs depending on how much the meat mixture is absorbing it. The bison meat is very, very tender, so you'll need the bread crumbs and egg as binders.

Form them into 2-3" balls and grill at high heat (about 400-450) for 3-4 minutes per side. The meat is also very lean, so be sure not to overcook it, because it will dry out on you quickly. We served them up on split King's Hawaiian rolls, which had just enough sweetness to balance out the heat, which will sneak up on you like Roman Polanski at a Girl Scout cookie sale.

We created this recipe because it sounded like two food groups that hadn't been adequately combined yet (wings and burgers), because our local butcher always has buffalo meat available - but mostly because Mr. FvF is Native American, and we love perpetuating stereotypes. Sure, he can talk to animals and make corn grow, but I always get a free pass when shit comes up missing because I'm a drunken, dirty Mick and I don't know any better.

Friday, May 14, 2010

All aboard the gravy train!

I promised I'd post a gravy tutorial to follow up John's biscuit recipe, and last night's BFMFD finally gave me the chance to fulfill my obligation.

In the kind of household I grew up in, gravy was considered a condiment fit to put on almost anything - biscuits, eggs, toast, chicken, ham, potatoes, etc. Hell, it was practically considered a beverage. Mine was a very blue collar home, meaning we weren't wiping our asses with hundred dollar bills, and gravy was often used to "round out a meal." That probably explains a lot about my figure, actually.

The most important thing you need to know about gravy making is that you need the right fat. You'll find all kinds of recipes on the internet telling you that vegetable oil or shortening is suitable for a gravy base. IT'S NOT. You need meat fat, preferably of the pig variety. Every time you cook bacon, drain the cooled fat into a coffee can, peanut can, or an air-tight storage container. It will keep in the fridge for months, so long as it's properly sealed.

You're basically making a giant roux, so gravy requires your full attention to ensure it doesn't scorch.

The set-up

3/4 C all-purpose flour
about 4-6 heaping tbsp bacon grease
(fresh or saved)
1 C milk
fresh ground black pepper

Start by heating a saucepan or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat and melt your bacon fat if you've been saving it in the fridge. Let it get toasty, but not spitting hot. Once you can feel the heat coming from it, start slowly sifting in your flour, whisking as you go.
It will be very bubbly, but keep the heat right around low-medium for now. Make sure you're getting all of the lumps out with the whisk. It will also feel pretty thin for a rue, but a a whole chemical reaction will take place once more liquid comes into the equation, so don't go adding more flour all willy-nilly.
Once you have a nice caramel-colored roux, start slowly pouring your milk in as you whisk. Make sure you have about half a cup extra on-hand in case you need to thin it out towards the end. Now you have a little wiggle room to stop whisking for a few seconds at a time, so take this time to add about 1 tbsp of salt and 1/2-1 full tsp of black pepper, and continue whisking.
Within 2-4 minutes, it should be looking pretty close to proper gravy.
Once the consistency feels about right, turn the heat down a bit so that it doesn't get too thick and give it a taste. Add more bacon drippings, salt and pepper to taste. If you're looking to make sausage gravy, there's really only one thing done differently. Cook up some bulk breakfast sausage in a skillet (cast iron is always best) and leave it in the pan, drippings and all - then you can follow through with the flour, milk, salt & pepper.
Smother damn near anything in it, and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mex-Cellent Food (Part 1): Pork Carnitas

Last week, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo, the commemoration of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin's victory over French Voltron on the surface of the moon. Or so I've been led to believe. I know that it's not Mexican Independence Day (September 16), and that it's bigger here than in Mexico. Either way, we here at MBQ celebrated with Mexican-influenced dishes. And we figure now that you're fresh off your Cinco de Mayo high, you may want to incorporate Mexican flavors into your cooking. These pork carnitas are a good place to start. And perhaps you'll decide to have it with this salsa.

The Setup

3 lb pork butt, cubed to 1"
7 strips orange zest
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 stick of cinnamon (use the really good Mexican stuff if you've got it)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves (not ground)
2 tsp Kosher salt, plus more for additional seasoning
1/4 tsp ground cloves

This recipe is simple as it gets. You don't need any equipment other than a large, deep pot, a knife, and a cutting board. Just make sure to throw away any cubes that are pure fat. But you probably either (a) already get that or (b) really enjoy pork fat.


1. Put the cubed pork in a large, heavy pot. Add enough cold water to cover by one inch.

2. Add the zest, garlic, onion, red pepper, cinnamon, bay leaves, salt, and garlic.

3. Bring the pot to a boil, then knock it back down to a simmer. Skim off any unruly crap that may foam and bubble at the surface. Simmer like that, completely uncovered, for an hour and a half.

4. The water will have evaporated to the point where you'll be able to check the seasoning. Salt to taste and continue to cook until the water has completely evaporated, about another 30 minutes.

5. When the water has evaporated, turn up the heat a bit to let the pork fry and crisp up a bit in its own rendered fat. Trust me, this is a vital step. When it's to your liking, remove from the pot.

6. At this point, you can eat it over rice with veggies, make tacos, fill tamales, or whatever else you can think of. You'll have a lot of pork, so perhaps try all of those things and see what else you can come up with. One thing's for sure - you're not going to get sick of it.