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

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Grilled Scallop Tacos with Chorizo Cream and Warm Corn and Jalapeño Salsa/Greenbush Brewing 400 Divine Rabbits/Royal Thunder "Crooked Doors"

This is what happens when you buy a huge 30 pack of corn tortillas, you make tacos quite often. On the heels of the delicious Mercadito-style Grilled Shrimp Tacos we bring you this evening, Grilled Scallop Tacos with Chorizo Cream and Warm Corn and Jalapeño Salsa.  Buttery bay scallops are wet-rubbed with a chile oil then seasoned with salt and pepper before hitting the grill for a touch of smoke.  The scallops finish cooking in a thick chorizo cream sauce seasoned generously with cumin.  These rich tacos are topped with a warm corn and jalapeño salsa and a drizzle of sriracha.  We thought an agave brewed beer would pair up nicely with the tacos and when said beer is coming from the famed Greenbush Brewing, we got even more excited.  Rounding out a perfect summery BBQ was the latest from Royal Thunder and their incredible "Crooked Doors" LP.

Grilled Scallop Tacos with Chorizo Cream and Warm Corn and Jalapeño Salsa -  Alright, let's rock and roll on this recipe.  The salsa is first up, we can get it done and keep it warm while all of the other parts of the tacos are quickly knocked out.    We're going to need 1/2 of a chopped yellow onion, 1/2 cup of corn kernels, 1 diced jalapeño pepper, a small handful of chopped cilantro, two tablespoons of butter and the juice of 1/2 a lime.  We'll finish it off with some salt and pepper.  In a saute pan melt the butter and add the onion and jalapeño to the pan.  Saute until the veggies just start to turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the corn to the pan and season with salt and pepper.   Saute the corn until just warmed through and transfer to a bowl.  Add the cilantro and squeeze the lime juice on top.  Stir until mixed and cover.

Next up are the scallops.  We're using about a pound of scallops and to that we add the wet marinade which is just 1/4 cup of olive oil and a teaspoon of chile powder.  Toss well to coat and set aside for a moment.

The last station is the chorizo cream sauce.  In a skillet add 3/4 cup of cream and season with a tablespoon of cumin and a little salt and pepper.  Bring the mixture to a simmer then add 1/2 link of browned chorizo.

Let the cream sauce simmer while we head out to the grill with the scallops.  We get the grill going to a medium heat then throw a grill pan over the fire.  Toss the scallops in the pan.  Continuously toss the scallops in the pan over the flame until cooked through and slightly charred about 5-7 minutes.   Add the grilled scallops to the warm chorizo cream sauce.

If the cream sauce is still a little thin, add a handful of crushed tortilla chips and mix into the sauce until thickened.

To assemble these babies, warm some corn tortillas until soft and pliable then fill with the scallop and chorizo mixture, top with the warm jalapeño and corn salsa and a drizzle of sriracha.  These were absolutely addicting from the sweet seafood and corn as well as the spicy jalapeño and sriracha.  Ridiculously good.

Greenbush Brewing 400 Divine Rabbits -  We've done so many Greenbush beers on here, but all of them have been beers purchased from the brewery either in a growler or bottle.   When we saw 400 Divine Rabbits available at a local liquor store around here, we snagged it up specifically for this meal.  400 Divine Rabbits pours a cloudy dark yellow with a white foamy head. The aroma is sweet, malty and a little tart. The flavor follows suit with a bready sweetness and a crisp hop bite.   With all of the maltiness going on, the beer remains fairly easy drinking with a light mouthfeel which went a long way to pairing up with the rich, but light tacos.

Royal Thunder "Crooked Doors" - So funny story, we were in a Royal Thunder mood which had us scoping through their Bandcamp page looking for an old EP or something and we find "Crooked Doors" has just been released.  So much for us being totally on top of the new releases.  Oh well, who cares this album is incredible and we're glad it was there.   A Royal Thunder listening experience is first and foremost about getting lost in Mlny Parsonz amazing vocal prowess then getting swept away by the heavy, groove oriented and melodic music that accompanies it.   The album starts off with a bang with "Time Machine", a perfect early 80s period piece recalling Pat Benetar just heavier.  The tune is super catchy while still maintaining its heaviness.   "Forget You" is a slow sludgy, grungy piece that has a sultry blues feel to the vocals.  The airy, melodic "Wake Up" slows thing down a bit at the start but then ramps up with a building drum beat and huge anthemic vocals.    There is an early 70s, boot-stomping rock and roll vibe to "Floor" featuring a killer groove.  "The Line" begins with a "Hey Man, Nice Shot" riff and takes the song through various stages from heavy to trippy.   One of the album's best tracks is "Forgive Me, Karma".  The tune has a classic Queen feel;  it starts super chill showcasing an amazing vocal range then gets louder with equally amazing vocals.  "Glow" has a sleazy Runaways sound to it while "Ear on the Fool" is pure trippy psychedelia.  The album ends with "The Bear I and II".  "I" is a sultry, bluesy, smoky tune that highlights the vocals perhaps better than any song on the album and  "II"  is more of a straight forward ballad with beautiful piano, strings and those haunting, angelic vocals.   "Crooked Doors" is just such an incredible album and will be up there with the album of the year releases.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Chorizo and Queso Fundido Burger/Destihl Brewery Vertex IPA/The Judge "The Judge"

Gluttonous.  We can think of no better word to describe this burger that is stuffed with jalapeño queso and chorizo then topped with hababero jack, fresh salsa and pickled vegetables.  Pair it up with the delicious and hoppy local Vertex IPA from Destihl Brewery and spin the retro boogie of St. Louis' The Judge and we are in so business.

Chorizo and Queso Fundido Burger - Stuffed burgers are fun to make, there are no two ways about it.  Tonight we start with 1/2 pound of 80/20 ground beef and place a divot in the patty that we fill with a ring of jalapeño queso and some browned chorizo then top with another 1/4 pound of ground beef and season with black pepper.

These are ready for the grill which is set up for a two zone fire, one side scorching hot, the other cool.   Place the patties over the hottest part of the grill and char on both sides then move to the cool side of the grill.

Drape a slice of habanero jack on top and cover the grill until the cheese is melted.

Toast some pretzel buns and place the patties on top.   On the top bun add some fresh homemade salsa and some pickled veggies.

All this burger needs is to be closed up and devoured.  The flavor is exactly like queso fondido at your local Mexican restaurant except this is stuffed between a delicious grilled burger with a crazy good salsa slathered on top with those addictive pickled veggies.

Destihl Brewery Vertex IPA - We've really been stretching the parameters of "local" beer around here lately.  First it was Rockford and now we go south on Route 39 a ways to Bloomington and Destihl Brewery.  The maiden beer we tried from this brewery is, any guesses?  If you guessed IPA, that would be correct.  Their Vertex IPA to be exact.   This beer pours a shiny gem-like auburn color with a foamy, frothy head.  The aroma is sweet and full of tropical pineapple.  On the flavor side, things are sweet and smooth with a grapefruit-y bite at the end.  It's a fantastic, easy drinking IPA with a slightly creamy mouthfeel.  They paired up perfectly with the ginormous burger too.

The Judge "The Judge" - We got turned on to these guys through a Facebook post from Spiral Shades that sang this St. Louis band's praises.   We thought any band Spiral Shades is touting has to be worth a spin, and man, were we (and they) right!  This self-titled debut is heavy 70s blues rock served up raw and loud.  It's a little Deep Purple, a little Spooky Tooth and a little Foghat.  The opener is the electrifying "The Witcher" and features some extensive wah-wah pedal work before a heavy psychedelic groove locks in.  The vocals are bluesy, raspy and melodic matching up perfectly with the music.   "Heepster" is a huge number with some larger than life bass work that serves as the backbone for the song.   The album's best track is "Evil Woman" which shares a lot of similarities with Sabbath's "Wicked World" from the jazzy drum intro to the slow bluesy riff that churns along.   The solo on this track is incredible and further cements the tune as an amazing blues song.  "Tartarus" is a jazzy chunk of instrumental psychedelia.  Looking for some full-tilt boogie?  Look no further than "Movin' and Groovin'" which is equal parts ZZ Top and Grand Funk with a little of Rush's first album mixed in for good measure.   "Planet Doom" isn't exactly doom but does start as a chill "Planet Caravan"-ish atmospheric chill number that transforms into a boot-stomping rocker about halfway through then back again.     "Suite of Jam" is just that, a Zeppelin-esque instrumental jam that transitions into the Sabbath-y  "Desire" recalling "St. Vitus' Dance" a little.   It should be no surprise that this disc ends on the same high energy rock and roll note that it started on.  The jam that ends "Rock Kickin' Blues" rivals just about any of the best southern rock jams of the 70s.   As the Bandcamp page states, the band suggests this album be played at maximum volume and we concur wholeheartedly.  We can only hope this stellar release sees it way on to vinyl and soon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mercadito-Style Grilled Shrimp Tacos/Pipeworks Brewing Easter Bunny vs. Unicorn/The Sword "Age of Winters"

These tacos at Mercadito are super strange.  When you're eating them you think "yeah these are pretty good" but then about an hour afterward you start to crave them something awful.  We scoped around and found the recipe, perhaps it's the butter, chipotle and garlic combo that contributes to that fierce craving.  The recipe is super simple.  A quick marinade of chioptle sauce, garlic and olive oil gets whirled together for some raw shrimp to hang out in for a few hours.  The shrimp gets grilled until almost cooked through then we throw a rough dice on the shrimp then toss in a pan with olive oil, butter, chipotle sauce, salt, garlic, onion and white vinegar.  The shrimp is unbelievable on its own so the presentation is pretty bare bones.  A warm soft corn tortilla and a slice of avocado.   For the beer we went with local Pipeworks Brewings Easter Bunny vs. Unicorn to pair up with the tacos.  The tunes were courtesy of The Sword, going back a few albums to their killer 2006 release "Age of Winters".

Mercandito-Style Grilled Shrimp Tacos - Tacos this good, shouldn't be this easy to make.  We'll just start by saying that.  The first thing to do is make the marinade which is 1/2 cup of chipotle sauce and a tablespoon each of garlic powder and olive oil.  A quick whisk to combine then the mixture gets poured on a pound of raw shrimp.  We toss in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours.

After the shrimp have marinated, we can start our warming sauce that we will finish out on the grill.  In a saute pan warm a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  Saute a very finely diced small yellow onion and 6 cloves of diced garlic until soft and translucent.   Add a 1/4 cup of chipotle sauce and 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan.

Next we add a pinch of salt and a capful of white vinegar.  Whisk to combine then transfer to a disposal foil pan.

Get a grill going to medium/low heat and place the foil pan over the lowest heat on the grill.  Place the marinated shrimp directly over the coals.

They only need a minute or two per side until almost done then we remove from the heat, discard the tails and throw a rough chop on the shrimp.

 Add the shrimp to the buttery warmed sauce and toss to coat until cooked through.

Finally warm some soft white corn tortillas in a dry skillet and spoon the shrimp and sauce into the warmed tortilla.  Top with a fresh slice of avocado. We could probably eat a dozen of these guys without even batting an eye.  They are that addictive.

Pipeworks Brewing Easter Bunny vs. Unicorn - This was only our second offering from Chicago's Pipe Works Brewing, but after sampling the amazing A Midsummer Night, we'd be pretty much willing to try anything from this incredible brewery.  Easter Bunny vs. Unicorn pours a shiny brown color with a pillowy tan head.  The aroma is sweet like sangria mixing the three critical components of  citrus, grape and booze.  The flavor follows the same sweet and boozy path with a super viscous mouthfeel and a slight burn in the throat adding to the "bigness" of the beer.  This wheat wine style ale clocks in at 10% ABV and will have you feeling like you've been drop kicked in the head by the samurai bunny that adorns the label.  The beer was probably a little too robust for the tacos, we were swayed by the wheat wine style thinking it would have paired well with the lighter shrimp, but the violence displayed on the label should have clued us in otherwise.

The Sword "Age of Winters" - We've been working backwards chronologically with our features of this amazing Texas band.  We've already featured their two latest releases, but tonight we turn back the clock further to this awesome 2006  release "Age of Winters".   The band's recent releases have been more straight forward rock and roll with a retro Thin Lizzy-esque sound, but when they started out the feel was a much heavier Swedish stoner rock sound.   The opener is the instrumental "Celestial Crown", a building 2 minute pace setter that transitions right into Barael's Blade which is a barnburner of a tune that slams like there's no tomorrow and pushes the foot even more down on the pedal.   The album's "single" for lack of a better word is the ultra-catchy "Freya" which features not only a cool riff, but also a smokin' guitar solo.  "Winter's Wolves" might be the album's best track with a groove that rivals Clutch to go along with some killer vocals.   Tapping into some Texas/NOLA-style doom in the same ilk as Crowbar is "The Horned Goddess".  A slow, sludgy number that is super heavy.  Things slow down a bit with the Eastern-y intro to "Iron Swan" but then get that much heavier when the song goes full throttle in full on speed metal mode.   "Lament for the Aurochs" is an 8 minute exercise in fuzzed-out riffage.   After the instrumental "March of the Lor" the album closes with "Ebethron" which features a cool, catchy Sabbath-y riff.   This band has brought the goods from day one and has just continued to get better with each release, which is crazy considering how amazing they were from the very beginning.