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

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sausage and Jalapeño Chili/Lagunitas Night Time/ABBOT "Between Our Past and Future Lives"

The working name for this dish was "pantry chili" but seeing as that name probably wouldn't get people salivating to run out and make it, we switched it to the much sexier "sausage and jalapeño chili".  In essensce though, this whole dish came about after scouring the fridge, freezer and pantry to use up some lingering items.  Italian sausage, kidney beans, chicken broth, onions, peppers and Ro-tel cook down in a large pot until thick and hearty.  We paired up the chili with a new seasonal release from Lagunitas, their Night Time ale.  For the tunes, Finland's ABBOT provides the perfect fuzzy stoner rock soundtrack for the evening.

Sausage and Jalapeño Chili - Usually our chilis are day long affairs with the cook time, not so with this one.  If you've got an hour, you can have this chili on the table and ready to eat.  We start by browning  1 pound of italian sausage in a dutch oven until no longer pink.

To the pan add 1 small diced white onion, 1 diced green pepper and 1 diced jalapeño pepper.  Saute the veggies until soft, about 10 minutes.

Next up we add 1 can of chicken broth, 2 cans of drained kidney beans, 1 can of Ro-tel,  1/2 cup of chili sauce, 1 tablespoon each of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and a teaspoon of dried oregano.

Cook the chili for about 45 minutes until thickened, if not thickened enough, you can add a tablespoon of brown rice flour to the chili and stir well to thicken.

All that's left to do is ladle the chili into bowls and top with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheddar and hot sauce.  We were blown away by the flavors this hodgepodge chili produced.  It was earthy, spicy, rich and delicious.  It's a chili we threw together but now one that we would make again and again.

Lagunitas Night Time - As a general rule, we don't pass up a new Lagunitas offering, ever.  These six packs were just off the truck at our local liquor store when we snatched them up.   The Night Time ale true to its name pours dark black and shiny like onyx. The head is tan and bubbly and stands atop the ale like a root beer float. The aroma is all grapefruit, which was getting us ready for a tasty black IPA. The flavor, while bitter with citrus peel also has a good amount of black pepper spiciness, charcoal smoke and rich unsweetened cocoa notes. It's a super complex ale that wears many hats, all of them delicious.  The beer worked really well with the chili too, the beer's spiciness and hoppiness melded nicely with those same spicy notes in the chili.

ABBOT "Between Our Past and Future Lives" - This new album from Finland's ABBOT was quite the find.  Bringing elements of the melodic Swedish stoner rock scene with the free-flowing fuzz of Palm Desert and mixing in the classic hard rock of Alice Cooper, "Between Our Past and Future Lives" captures all of it to produce a no-frills, good time album.   "Child of Light" is the disc's opener and lays down a fuzzy bluesy riff that is reminiscent of Mammoth Volume's "Helly's Creek".  It's one of the best tracks on the album and really sets the tone for what is to follow.  On "Diamond Heart" the pace picks up considerably.  The frenetic punk beat is countered with vocals that are equal part Hank III and They Might Be Giants.  The twangy, desert-y "Grave Encounters" has that summery feel of Masters of Reality.  "Moonsnake Child" is a melodic slice of metal  right out of the NWOBHM book.   It's back to the blues on "Supermind" with a Scorps-like "The Zoo" riff that forms the backbone of the song allowing for the guitar to noodle itself around in fuzzy fashion.   The title track is a nice piece of boogie rock and roll mixing classic Deep Purple with Fu Manchu.  Another bluesy gem is "Mr. Prowler Man" which gives a little more of a nod to the late 60s psychedelic blues than anything else.  The album ends with the slow churning "Keep on Moving" that true to its name, keeps on moving until it becomes one hell of a barn burner.    It's up there as one of the disc's best tracks.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homemade Chicago-style Italian Beef/Boulevard Brewing Boss Tom/Dead Feathers "Dead Feathers"

Every Italian Beef dish we've done on here has utilized pre-sliced italian beef from the deli (one of the many perks of living in the Chicago area) but today we unveil our recipe to make this delicious local delicacy from scratch.  Huge chunks of bottom round get heavily seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper then browned in a large pot.  The beef simmers in a combination of beef stock and giardiniera for the day until it shreds apart and sits in its own gravy.  From there we can pile it on a fresh roll with a little hot giardiniera on top or pile it on a large piece of garlic bread with mozzarella and giardiniera.  The choice is yours.  We wanted a pretty straight forward, easy drinking, lighter beer to go with the sandwich so we went with the Boss Tom golden bock from Missouri's Boulevard Brewing.  Since we're doing an iconic Chicago sandwich for the food, it seems fitting to crank up an awesome local band to go along with it.  The beautiful and mesmerizing yet doomy and heavy Dead Feathers proved to be the perfect disc to spin with their self-titled EP.

Homemade Chicago-style Italian Beef - All you really need for this recipe is time.  The prep work is almost nothing, it's just a matter of giving the dutch oven enough time to do its thing.  We start with a  nicely trimmed piece of bottom round that we slice into large chunks, roughly 4" x 4".  We heavily season all sides with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

In a large dutch oven heat 1/4 cup of olive oil and add the beef to the pan, but do not overcrowd.  This part can be done in batches if necessary.  Brown the meat well on all sides and remove from pan.

Pour a little beef stock in the hot pan and scrape the brown bits from the bottom.  Add back the chunks of meat and pour enough beef stock to come about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way covering the beef.  Next pour in a bottle of either hot or mild giardiniera.

Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours until the meat shreds apart.  Keep the pot warm.

From this point you can spoon some of the beef and gravy into soft french rolls with hot giardiniera and call it a day, for a real Chicago-style Italian beef.

Or, you can split some french bread and slather it with butter and garlic powder and pop it in a 375 degree oven for a few minutes.

Pile the beef on the bottom part of the bread and spoon on the hot giardiniera.  Layer a few slices of mozzarella on top.

The whole thing goes back into the oven until the cheese melts.  The top half goes on and this beast of a sandwich gets sliced up.  You can't go wrong with either version as the killer italian beef steals the show in both of them.

Boulevard Brewing Boss Tom - This typically adventurous and bold Missouri brewery can also throw down some a little more straight forward beer from time to time. As is the case with their golden bock, Boss Tom.   True to its name, the beer pours a dark golden color. The head starts out slight then dissapates to mere white bubbles almost immediately. The aroma is sugary sweet of apple and caramel. The flavor as well has a lot of green apple notes offset by some tart lemon. The yeast provides some good earthiness with a slight hop presence lending a bite to the finish.  Overall it's a really flavorful and balanced beer that was still light enough to wash down the salty and garlicky sandwich.

Dead Feathers "Dead Feathers" -  Our introduction to this incredible local band came by seeing them live opening up for The Well at Empty Bottle last week.  We snatched their self-titled EP at the show and have had it in the CD player ever since.    If you took the best of old Jefferson Airplane and the trippiest of the Stevie Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac and set that to some atmospheric doom, you'd get pretty close to what Dead Feathers is all about and it's quite a trip indeed, pun intended.   The EP starts off with "With Me" that features a dark, melodic, trance-like riff.  The vocals are airy and waft over the music for awhile.  The song builds both instrumentally and vocally from there into a fairly huge and powerful number.  "Night Child" is straight up late 60s psychedelic, honestly if you were watching a Woodstock documentary and this song was playing in the background, you wouldn't even question it.  The vocals are amazing and are allowed to weave a beautiful path throughout the music.  We've found ourselves hitting the "repeat" button on this track quite a few times over the last couple of days.  There is a trippy yet bluesy Doors-feel to "Color Exhaustion".  Juxtapose that sound with the stoner rock fuzzed out guitar tone used on the solo and you've got a really cool sounding tune.   The disc ends with the heavy "Horse & Sands" which combines the frenetic classic rock of Cactus with the eerie doom of Pentagram.    They've got the old school sound down on this rocker of a track, with a groove as thick as mud to boot.      At only four songs it left us wanting more, but hey, isn't that what the "repeat" button is for?  Also, make sure to catch these guys live when you can as they vibe is even more amazing in person.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Big 4 Sandwich/Schlafly Pale Ale/Moonbow "The End of Time"

Before creating this sandwich we had a pizza that was loaded with bacon, pepperoni, ground beef, chicken and italian sausage the day before.  That salty craving obviously leaked into the next day when we made this sandwich of our version of The Big 4;  italian beef, ham, pepperoni and salami.  Oh yeah, with two kinds of cheese and chopped green olives and pickled jalapeño.  Then there is the bread; a tomato and cheese focaccia roll.   For the beer we went back to St. Louis' Schlafly Brewery and this time we went with their pale ale.  The tunes were courtesy of Kentucky's Moonbow and their amazing "The End of Time" release.

The Big 4 Sandwich -  The huge sandwich comes together in mere minutes, which is about how long it takes to get the ham, salami and pepperoni slightly crisp in the oven and the cheese melted.  On a baking sheet place a few slices of black forest ham folded over to roughly the same size as the focaccia bun and place a couple slices of salami and several slices of pepperoni on top.  Place in a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes until browned and crisp.

Two slices of provolone goes on top, then under the broiler it goes for a minute until the cheese is melted.

We toast the bottom half of a tomato and cheese foccacia then layer several slices of italian beef on top.

Carefully move the broiled meat and cheese patty atop the italian beef.  Spread pizza sauce on the top half of the focccia then sprinkle with grated asiago cheese.

Pop the top half of the foccacia back into the 375 degree oven until the bread is slightly crisp and the cheese is melted.

The last step is to throw a rough chop on some pickled jalapeño rings and green olives then mix together to form a relish.

Add the jalapeño olive relish to the sandwich, close it up and slice in half.  This may very well be one of the best sandwiches we've done, it was that good.

Schlafly Pale Ale -  Two beers from this St. Louis Brewery in as many weeks, this time we sample their flagship pale ale.  The ale pours a shiny bronze color with a slight lacing.  The aroma is malty with some lemon notes. The flavor is sweet and subtle, more like a straight forward amber ale than a pale ale.  The hoppiness is there but it is fairly faint. The beer is more malt forward than hoppy. It's a smooth easy drinking beer to be sure, and worked really well with the huge sandwich.

Moonbow "The End of Time" - Your search for boot-stompin', shit-kickin',  fuzzed out rock and roll ends here with Moonbow's "The End of Time".   Hailing from Kentucky, the band's southern rock influence gets detected right away, but so does their knack for southern groove metal.   The title tracks opens with a fiddle and twangy guitar that quickly gets kicked aside for a heavy yet infectious groove.   The vocals are gravelly while still being insanely catchy.  It's the prefect tune to kick off the album.  "Journey of the Iron Horse" is a barnstorming track that is custom made for the highway.  It chills out slightly with some cool bluesy chops, making the entire song reminiscent of some of Halfway to Gone's material.  A little heavy sludge makes it appearance on "Fire Bath" before making way to a more jazzed up groove.    A familiar, legendary voice lends his chops to "Take It For Granted".   John Garcia takes over the mic with his cool cadence during the verses and bridge with Moonbow's Matt Bischoff dropping the hard and heavy vocals on the chorus.   "Octavia" is a down-tuned gem with a definite 90s feel in the same vein as AIC and Sugartooth.  The closing track on the album is the very Clutch-like "Black Widow", specifically in the groove and vocal department.   "The End of Time" is one incredible, good time album and a "must have" in any collection.