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

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ace of Spades Burger/Arcade Brewery Grapefruit IPA/Stubb "Cry of the Ocean"

We haven't done a burger on these pages in a while but we came back in a big way with this one.  The Ace of Spades burger starts with a mix of grass-fed ground beef and bacon patty.  The grilled burger gets glazed with an apricot, ginger and horseradish chutney then topped with creamy havarti.  The burger is served on a toasted pretzel bun with a little more chutney and a heaping mound of sautéed onions and jalapeño pepper strips.  We were equally excited about the beer pairing, it's one of our absolute favorites that we always order on tap when we see it, but we were able to get our hands on three bombers of Chicago's Arcade Brewery's Grapefruit IPA to crack open during the BBQ.   Not wanting to let up on the music side of things, we finally got around to spinning an album that was at the top of many 2014 "best album" lists, Stubb's "Cry of the Ocean".

Ace of Spades Burger - All of the components of this burger can be made ahead, the order really doesn't matter on this one, so whatever you feel like knocking out first, have at it.   We're going to start with the peppers and onions, we'll get them nice and soft then just keep them warm.  We're going to need 1 sweet onion and 2 jalapeño peppers both sliced thin, olive oil, salt and pepper.  In a small saute pan, warm a couple of tablespoons of olive oil then add the sliced veggies.  Season with salt and pepper and cook down until soft, about 10 minutes and keep warm.

Next up we can form the burgers and let those set in the fridge for a bit.  We need a pound of 80/20 grass fed ground beef  that we separate into three 1/3 lb patties and 7 strips of cooked bacon that we coarsely chop.

In a burger mold, scatter 1/3 of the chopped bacon on the bottom and place a mound of the burger meat on top.  Press down and season with Back of the Yards seasoning.  Carefully flip the patty over so that the bacon in adhered to the top.

The last thing to complete before heading out to the grill is the chutney.   In a medium pan saute a shallot and 1/2" of of chopped ginger until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Next add in 1/4 cup of apricot preserves and cook down until melted then add in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and whisk until smooth.

Whisk in a tablespoon of horseradish and a teaspoon of garam masala.   Remove from heat.

Now we're ready for the grill.  Oil the grates really well and place the patties on a medium/hot grill with the bacon side up.  Let the patties go for 3-4 minutes until well-charred then flip over.

Move the patties to the cool side of the grill and glaze with the chutney then top with a couple of slices of havarti.

Cover the grill and let the burgers go until the cheese melts.   We can also toast the pretzel buns now as well.

Now we can build this awesome burger.  On the top half of the bun spread a little more chutney, then top the burger with the sautéed onions and jalapeños.  Close it up and dig in.  This may very well be the most balanced burger we've ever made; salty, spicy, sweet, creamy and slightly tart flavors all married together perfectly creating a totally addicting combination.

Arcade Brewery Grapefruit IPA -  We were beyond excited to grab a few bombers of this unbelievably awesome grapefruit IPA from Chicago's Arcade Brewery.  It's up there as not only one of our favorite local beers, but one of our favorite beers period.  The ale pours a dark brown which is cloudy and unfiltered like fresh pressed apple cider.  The head is medium sized, off white and frothy. The aroma is fairly muted for an IPA with the grapefruit bitterness coming in faintly.  If the aroma is subtle, the taste is anything but.  The flavor is full of lush tropical fruits on the front end with bitter grapefruit peel on the finish. The beer is super easy drinking and delicious, so going through the bombers went a little quicker than anticipated making us wish we had 1 or 2 more handy.  Pairing wise, it was a slam dunk as is normally the case when we match up a killer IPA with a big burger like this.

Stubb "Cry of the Ocean" -  Our introduction to this British trio comes by way of their latest release, the highly acclaimed "Cry of the Ocean".   Not knowing what to expect and not doing much research about them prior to the first spin of the album, we had only the album cover and title to go off of.   Needless to say we were ready for some pretty chill tunes. The album starts off with the title track's first and second part. From the opening wave sound effect and hypnotic guitar work to the slow jazzy drums we thought we were well on our way to listening to the album we expected. Well, then the roughly 3:19 mark hits and we were smacked in the face by a sonic wave so to speak. A seriously heavy fuzzed out psychedelic riff kicks in, the drums are ridiculously frenetic and the vocals strain with hard rock prowess. Part II takes the psychedelia to downright funky lengths with a sound reminiscent of the Buffalo Killers. "Heavy Blue Sky" is dripping with some killer bluesy swagger. You can almost see and smell the smoke when this song is on loud in a dimly lit room. There's a progressive stoner metal feel to "Sail Forever" recalling some of Mastodon's more catchier material. If you're a fan of Witchcraft's slower doom, and who isn't? "Heartbreaker" is the song for you. A very dark, stirring intro makes its way into some beautiful guitar work. It's a really cool contrast of sounds that works perfectly.   The band delves into late 60s heavy psychedelic rock in the same vein as Cream and Hendrix with "Devil's Brew".  It's loud,  noisy and fuzzy and rocks seriously hard.  "Snake Eyes" has a little more of the doom feel, dark and eerie to start off but then gives way to super melodic and catchy chorus.  The album ends with "You'll Never Know" which takes it cue from early 70s heavy metal referencing classic Purple.  It rocks, but at the same time is a little jammy, a little psychedelic and a little experimental.   After spinning this album all week, it's not hard to see why it's landed on so many "best of 2014" lists.  It's definitely a perfect "outdoor album" that just keeps getting better with each successive listen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Grilled Horseradish Meatloaf Sandwich/Schlafly Kolsch/Blue Snaggletooth "Beyond Thule"

We've done a couple of meatloaf recipes on here, an open-faced chipotle meatloaf sandwich as well as a grilled bison meatloaf.  This time around we still use bison, but we mix it with old fashioned oats, chopped onion, horseradish, dijon and chile sauce.  We smoke it on the grill and place it on grilled rustic garlic bread and top it with an onion ring, spicy bbq sauce and a sweet mustard.  This hearty sandwich is paired up with a crisp Kolsch from St. Louis' Schlafly brewery.   For the tunes we went with Michigan's Blue Snaggletooth's latest, the excellent  "Beyond Thule".

Grilled Horseradish Meatloaf Sandwich - Even people that say they don't like meatloaf, like meatloaf when it's done right on the grill.  Tonight we gather the ingredients for yet another meatloaf recipe.  This time we need 1 lb. of ground bison, 1/2 of a chopped onion, 1/2 cup oats, 1 egg, a tablespoon each of chile sauce, dijon mustard and prepared horseradish, 1 teaspoon of Milwaukee Avenue seasoning and salt and pepper.

Mix all of the ingredients well in a large bowl until completely incorporated,

Form the mixture into a long thin loaf.

Now it's time to apply the glaze which is 1/2 chile sauce mixed with 1/4 each of dijon mustard and prepared horseradish.  Mix well and brush on to the meatloaf.

Get a grill going with a two zone fire; one side at a medium heat and the other side cool.  Place the meatloaf on the cool side of the grill.

Cover and cook the meatloaf over indirect heat for 40 minutes until it is nicely browned.  then place it directly over the coals to get a little crust on it.

We bring the meatloaf inside and get a griddle going to medium heat then squirt a little olive oil on it.  We slice the meatloaf in 2" pieces and flatten slightly to roughly the size of the garlic bread and place on the griddle.  Once the interior gets a little crust on it, we top with a heaping amount of freshly shredded dill havarti.

We finish off the meatloaf slices in a 375 degree oven for about 5-7 minutes until the cheese melts which is just enough time to knock out the garlic bread.  Add a little more olive oil to the griddle as well as to some rustic slices of Italian bread then we also sprinkle with garlic powder.  Place the bread slices on the griddle until golden brown.  The cheese on the meatloaf should also be nicely melted at this time and can be removed from the oven

Now we build.  Spread some sweet hot mustard on the garlic bread and top with the cheesy meatloaf patty and a large fried onion ring.

The final touch is a squeeze of a homemade spicy red bbq sauce and this open-faced sandwich is ready to be inhaled.  It was such a great combination of flavors and the meatloaf itself turned out super moist and flavorful.

Schlafly Kolsch -  Previously unavailable in the Chicago area, the St. Louis microbrewery Schlafly has finally started distributing a portion of their line up to these parts.  Today we paired up the meatloaf with their light and crisp kolsch.   This lager pours a dark yellow and effervescent with a thick white foamy head. The aroma is tart and bitter like a Pilsner but the taste is much smoother and more muted than your typical tangy and astringent kolsch.  What you do get is a fairly sweet malt forward beer with a crisp bite on the finish.  We loved it with the meal as it cut right through the rich and hearty meatloaf with ease and provided a nice light compliment to the heavier fare.

Blue Snaggletooth "Beyond Thule" - One of our favorite things is when we listen to an album for the first time to feature it on these pages and it winds up being the soundtrack of our week or longer.  Such is the case with this incredible new release "Beyond the Thule" from Ann Arbor's Blue Snaggletooth.   The album features three key things; a perfect guitar tone that is infectiously dirty, a tight rhythm section that keeps the groove chugging along throughout and killer soaring vocals that will have you singing along to nearly every tune.  The album starts off with "Reptiles" and right away that guitar sound will grab you by the throat and pull you in.  The frenetic paced song is also really catchy reminding us of Bad Wizard right down to the vocals.   One of the best tracks on the album is the heavy, building "Sleeping Mountain".    The chunky riff and groove will have your head banging immediately.  The great vocals just makes the song that much better.  "Serpent and the King" has a little darker feel to recalling a little of the NWOBHM sound with Paul Stanley on vocals.  It's another stellar track.  There's a cool little southern stoner/sludge feel to "Silver Goddess" then a funky edge to "Gawkers".    A cool early Iron Maiden-esque riff kicks off "All You See".  It's a huge number that needs to be played loud.   The band pulls out some serious blues chops on "Nameless Cults".   The album ends with "Transmutation" and there is no pulling off the gas pedal here if anything they rip the doors clean off in this frenzied track.  The solo on this track just smokes too.  "Beyond Thule" was an awesome album after the first spin but it somehow just keeps getting better and better after each successive listen.