Light the Grill....Crack a Beer....Crank the Tunes

Light the Grill....Crack a Beer....Crank the Tunes

Friday, December 19, 2014

Buffalo Grilled Cheese with Spicy Ranch Dipping Sauce/Lake Effect Brewing Houblonee/The Shrine "Waiting for the War"

This little buffalo wing/grilled cheese hybrid came to be when a little too much buffalo cheddar was purchased at the deli counter.   The cheese on its own is super spicy but when combined with tangy blue cheese and grilled on Italian bread then served up with a side of spicy ranch and homemade dill pickles, it made for one heckuva a sandwich.    We paired up the spicy sandwiches with the excellent unique Houblee from Chicago's very own Lake Effect Brewing Co.  Since this meal was so quick, it was the perfect opportunity to spin the teaser 12" maxi-single "Waiting for the War".

Buffalo Grilled Cheese with Spicy Ranch Dipping Sauce -  There is not too much to do here, seeing as though as its core, it's just a grilled cheese sandwich.   We can get the players all assembled before we begin.  Sliced Italian bread, slices of spicy buffalo cheddar, crumbled blue cheese, hot sauce, ranch dressing and pickles.

Get a griddle up to a medium heat and melt a couple of tablespoons of butter.  Place a slice of bread down and top with a couple slices of the buffalo cheddar and a handful of crumbled blue cheese.

After a couple of minutes, the bottom of the bread should start to brown and the cheese to melt.  Add another slice of bread on top, flip and repeat until the other side is browned and the cheese is thoroughly melted.

Remove from the griddle, slice in half and serve with a side of ranch dressing that's been mixed with a few shots of Franks as well as some homemade pickles.   This sandwich looked liked a grilled cheese, but one bite had us in buffalo wing bliss.

Lake Effect Brewing Houblonee -  This marks our third bomber from the outstanding Lake Effect Brewing on Chicago's north side.   Houblonee is definitely the most adventurous of the three with it being a Wild Wheat IPA that is brewed with some more unique hops.  The result is a beer that pours a cloudy orange with a frothy head similar to fresh-apple cider.   The aroma is sweet and crisp with some spicy Belgian yeast qualities.  The first sips reveal a slightly acidic and sweet champagne flavor that is quickly followed by fruity hops.  Some spicy black pepper notes on the back end round things out nicely creating an addictive beer that goes down super smooth.    The beer worked extremely well with the spicy, salty grilled cheese.

The Shrine "Waiting for the War" -  Hot on the heels of 2014's "Bless Off", California's The Shrine is right back at it with this maxi-single "Waiting for the War" with two new tracks that will be featured on their upcoming 2015 release.  What better disc to spin for a meal this quick.   The disc starts off with the title track and it comes out blaring with a "Live Wire" riff combined with a Pepper Kennan-snarl straight from "In The Arms of God"-era CoC.   "Rare Breed" has a heavy, psychedelic early Monster Magnet vibe to it.  As spaced out as it gets, the song slams like there is no tomorrow.  The third and final track is an instrumental version of the title track solidifying the fact that good music doesn't always need lyrics when it rocks this hard.   We refer to maxi-singles as "teasers" for a reason, after playing this one on repeat for a couple of days, we are counting the days for the full length to come out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Grilled Short Rib Meatball Sliders/Founders Brewing Dark Penance/Siena Root "Pioneers"

Don't ask us how or why, but we suddenly had this insane urge for the House of Blues Short Rib Meatball Sliders that we last had two years ago before a Clutch show.  In order to satiate the craving, we moved to recreating this tasty app at home.  We combine ground short ribs with grated carrot, cojita cheese, diced chiles, red wine and a few over things that we roll into balls and press down slightly.  These get grilled until mostly cooked through then finish cooking in a homemade marinara.  The meatballs are tucked into mini french rolls and topped with a little more marinara, more cojita cheese and a few homemade dill pickle slices.  We paired up the sliders with the imperial black IPA Dark Penance from Michigan's Founders Brewing.  For the tunes, we went with the early 70's psychedelic rock sound of Sweden's Siena Root on their new album "Pioneers".

Grilled Short Rib Meatball Sliders -  These are pretty simple sandwiches, but more time consuming than one would think with the homemade pickles, marinara and meatballs.  The pickles are better if they can sit in the fridge for at least a day, so that is where we shall start.  On the thinnest setting of a mandolin, slice 1/2 of an english cucumber.  We can also get the other ingredients ready; white vinegar, fresh dill, garlic, red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, salt and sugar.

In a pint size mason jar, add 1 cup of white vinegar, a small handful of dill, 6 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon each of sugar and salt and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and black peppercorns.

The jar goes into the fridge to chill.  Fast forward to the next day and we can get to work on the marinara sauce.  In a large saucepan, warm 1/2 cup of olive oil and add 1/4 of a yellow onion with the top still in tact.  Cook the onion until browned.

Add in a large can of whole plum tomatoes, a small can of tomato sauce, 1 small grated carrot, a rind of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

As the sauce is simmering, we can roast some garlic in a 400 degree oven for about an hour then add the roasted cloves to the sauce along with some chopped basil.

Simmer the sauce for a few hours and remove the onion.  Add 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of olive oil to the sauce, then using a potato masher, crush the tomatoes and garlic into a chunky sauce.

Keep the marinara warm while we get to work on the meatballs.   Here is what we'll need: 2 lbs of ground short ribs, 1 large grated carrot, 1 egg, 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, 1/4 red wine, 1/2 cup of cojita cheese, 2 rehydrated chile de arbol, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine the meat with the shredded carrot, cojita cheese, diced chile, salt and pepper.

In a medium cup combine the fresh bread crumbs with the red wine and mix well.  Add the wine-infused breadcrumbs to the meat mixture and add the egg.  Combine all the ingredients well into a ball.

Using a scoop, portion out equal portions of the meatball mix onto parchment paper.

Form the mixture into balls then press down slightly so that they are flatter than a meatball but rounder than a patty.

These are ready for the grill which we have at a fairly low/medium flame.  The short ribs are pretty fatty so anything hotter than that will cause flare-ups.  Place the meatballs over direct heat and cook until browned on all sides.

Remove from the heat and transfer to the warm marinara sauce.

Time to serve these up.  We toast some mini french rolls then place a couple of meatballs with sauce on top.  A liberal dusting of cojita cheese goes on next.

These sliders get placed on a platter with a side of homemade pickles.   Load the sandwiches up with the pickles and devour.  It's been too long since we had these at HoB to compare, but this homemade version was incredible.

Founders Brewing Dark Penance -  Michigan's Founders Brewing brings the big guns on this imperial black IPA, Dark Penancce. The beer pours black as night with a medium-sized tan head that dissapates quickly. The aroma is strong with heavy pine and some sweet chocolate and vanilla notes. The flavor is equally strong beginning with that same pine flavor before moving quickly to straight up booziness which makes it taste higher than it's already staunch 9% ABV. This beer is definitely a sipper, as the hops don't stand a chance against the boozy wallop in this fight.  It's probably a little too big of a beer for these little sliders, not horribly overpowering but just a little heavy.

Siena Root "Pioneers" -  The new Siena Root album "Pioneers" is a change of pace album from 2008's "Far From the Sun".  Where as "Far From the Sun" had a more late 60s psychedelic vibe, the new album, while still retro sounding, comes in heavier and doomier.  This is evidenced right away on the opening track "Between the Lines" with the dark Pentragam-esque vocals and a huge Spooky Tooth-ish organ.  Toss in a fiery little guitar solo/jam and things are off to a rip-roaring start.  "7 Years" is a boot-stomping good time that begins with a bullwhip riff and a funky, yet no less dark organ groove.  There is a southern rock vibe to it along the lines of Raging Slab.  It probably gets our vote for best track on the album.  "Spiral Trip" picks up some pretty good speed in its own rollicking way and is combined by some sweet raspy vocals and a downright funkified jam.   The blues get introduced in a big way on "Root Rock Pioneers" with a slow bluesy interplay between the guitar and organ.  It doesn't stay slow for long, going right for the mid-70s blues rock boogie sound.  Channeling their inner Deep Purple, the band burns through the heavy organ-influenced "The Way You Turn" with reckless abandon.  A "Ridin The Storm Out" siren begins "Keep on Climbing" which is another highlight of the album.  The song builds slow with a slow heavy groove to start then moves into a bluesy Door-like number then back and forth throughout the song.   "Going Down" will have your head banging along to the groove immediately,  the song straight up rocks.  With a name like "In My Kitchen" you'd have to think blues song and at almost 10 minutes long, you'd definitely have to think blues song.  It's blues along the lines of what you'd hear on Zeppelin's debut album.   Speaking of Zeppelin, the album ends with a bonus track of the band's cover of "Whole Lotta Love" which should come at no surprise is much more organ-forward than the original though still rocks.   This new album is a gem and will be on repeat on our stereo for awhile.