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

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jalapeño-Brined Fried Chicken Sandwiches/Dogfish Head Aprihop/Grifter "The Return of the Bearded Brethren"

The inspiration for this dish came while flipping through the latest bon appetit Best New Restaurant issue while on a flight from Chicago to Charlotte.   The top restaurant was Rose's Luxury in D.C. and one of their featured recipes was a delicious looking boneless piece of fried chicken thigh brined in pickling spices.  We borrowed the concept and brined our chicken thighs is some liquid from a jar of pickled jalapeños and added similar spices of coriander, dill, mustard and sugar.  We let the chicken brine for a couple of hours then soak them in buttermilk before coating them in seasoned flour.  These get panfried in grape seed oil until golden brown then placed on soft white buns.  All this sandwich gets is a splash of hot sauce and some slices of pickled jalapeños and pickles.  For the beer pairing, we went for the Aprihop ale from Dogfish Head to wash these spicy sandwiches down with.  On the stereo  was the latest release from Britain's Grifter with their high octane raunchy rock on display on " The Return of the Bearded Brethren".

Jalapeño-Brined Fried Chicken Sandwiches - These sandwiches really look more complicated than they actually are.   All we need to do is make a quick brine, an even quicker breading station and pan fry these things.  We start with the brine which is 1/2 cup of the liquid from a jar of pickled jalapeños, 3 garlic cloves, 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of dry mustard, 1 teaspoon each of ground coriander and dried dill and 1/2 cup each of sugar and salt.  Mix well and submerge some boneless chicken thighs that have been seasoned with fresh cracked pepper in the brine.  Cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

After a couple of hours in the brine, remove the chicken and pat dry.  Create a breading station with a bowl of buttermilk and a plate of flour seasoned with black pepper, salt and paprika.  Using one hand submerge the chicken in the buttermilk then dredge in the seasoned flour.  Move the breaded chicken to a wire rack then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

We're actually going to fry these on a griddle outside on the grill. We get a medium fire going and pour a shallow amount of oil to cover the entire pan.  Once the oil is hot we add the chicken.

Fry for about 5 minutes per side until the chicken is a deep golden brown and cooked through.  Remove from heat and drain.

In keeping with the classic southern tradition of minimally adorning their chicken sandwiches, all these get are a few splashes of hot paper sauce, sliced pickles and pickled jalapeño slices after placing them on a soft white bun.  It may be simple, but the taste was anything but.  The chicken thighs were moist and juicy and bursting with jalapeño flavor.

Dogfish Head Aprihop  - Anytime we pop open a new Dogfish Head brew around here, we know it's going usually going to be an adventure.   Actually, a hoppy apricot beer seemed a little tame for the normally half-cracked brewers at Dogfish head.   The beer pours a dark orange, almost brown and is very cloudy.  The head is a light tan that dissipates quickly.  The aroma is sweet and slightly malty with a faint hop nose.  We were not prepared for the flavor that was to come.  The first note was booze.  So boozy in fact, that we totally see why the eyes of the apricot-eating rabbit that adorns the label are bloodshot red.  This is followed up by a sweet fruit punch flavor that is only on the palate momentarily before the hoppiness kicks in full force.   The beer is not nearly as light or easy-drinking as we would have suspected, but again should have known better given the brewery it came from.  Their 120 minute IPA clocks in at over 15% ABV!    Something a little lighter would have probably worked better with the salty and spicy sandwich, but the pairing certainly wasn't bad.

Grifter "The Return of the Bearded Brethren" - With an album title like that, especially in this genre, how could we not be intrigued?   While the album title and cover may have got us into the door, it was the gritty boogie-fueled rock and roll that kept our attention and made us not want to leave.  Britain's Grifter combines classic rock riffs with a dirty grit that puts "The Return of the Bearded Brethren" firmly in southern stoner rock territory.   The album begins with "Black Gold" and right away the groove captures you along with a killer riff.  It's a quintessential opener and perfectly sets the tone for the album.  "She Mountain" is reminiscent of classic Molly Hatchet from the southern boogie sound to the Danny Joe Brown-esque vocals.  The twangy slide guitar makes an appearance to kick off "Paranoiac Blues".  The song has a cool swagger to it even though it still maintains a heaviness throughout.   One of the best tracks on the album is "Braggard's Boast".  The song clips along at a Bad Wizard-like clip blurring the line between boogie and punk.  The chorus is super catchy, mixing a little bit of psychobilly into the fray.   It's a song we've been playing over and over.  "It's Not Me, It's You" has a classic heavy blues riff that serves as the songs backbone.  The title track is a good time party anthem with a Kiss vibe just a lot grittier.  The album closes with a cover of one our all time favorite Sabbath songs, "Fairies Wear Boots" and the band does a phenomenal job with it.  Musically, it's true to the form to the original.  Vocally, singer/guitarist Ollie goes the gravelly route with excellent results putting the exclamation point on an amazing album.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Grilled Citrus-Marinated Skirt Steak Tacos/O'So Brewing Night Train/Lonely Kamel "Shit City"

This was a two taco night type of week, which is what happens when you go overboard with the tortilla shopping.  The star of this meal is a beautifully marbled piece of skirt steak that is marinated in a combination of grapefruit and lime juice, olive oil, cumin, garlic and cilantro.  The steak gets grilled to a  medium doneness over a charcoal fire then diced up and piled into charred corn tortillas.  The tacos are topped with grilled jalapeño slices, crumbled queso fresco and a drizzle of homemade creamy red chile sauce.  We paired the tacos up with the sweet, dark porter Night Train from Wisconsin's O'So Brewing.      For the tunes, we turned to an album that we just couldn't wait to be released.  The brand new "Shit City" from Norway's fuzzed out doomy sleaze rockers Lonely Kamel.

Grilled Citrus-Marinated Skirt Steak Tacos - Both the skirt steak and rich chile sauce are going to take some time for the flavors to meld.  We like marinate the skirt steak overnight, so let's start there.   In a blender combine the juice of a grapefruit and a lime with 3 garlic cloves, a small handful of cilantro, a tablespoon of cumin seed and a 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Pour the marinade over a nice piece of skirt steak, turn to coat, cover and refrigerate.

Now we can move on to the red chile sauce.  For this we'll need 1 box of chicken broth, a medium yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, 5 dried ancho chile peppers and 6 corn tortillas.  In a large pot bring the broth to a simmer and add in the onion that has been quartered, the whole garlic cloves and the dried peppers.

Let this mixture simmer for about 10 minutes until the peppers start to soften then add in the corn tortillas that have been shredded.  Let those go for another 10 minutes until everything is soft.

Transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and puree until smooth.  

Pour the sauce through some cheese cloth to strain the the liquid.  Add a few splashes of cayenne pepper sauce to taste.

To the sauce add a 8 oz. container of plain greek yogurt and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate.

We can know head out to the grill armed with the marinated steak and some jalapeño peppers.  Get the grill going to a scorching hot and place the steak over the hottest part of the grill along with the peppers.

These only need only a few minutes to get charred on the outside, but still juicy on the inside.  Pull from the grill and let rest.

We blister some corn tortillas on the hot coals then dice the skirt steak and pile that on top along with a generous handful of crumbled queso fresco.

A drizzle of the red chile sauce, a squeeze of lime and some sliced grilled jalapeños are the finishing touches.   Really, the possibilities for tacos are endless.  We've done several steak tacos on here before, but add a citrusy marinade and a smoky and spicy sauce and it tasted unlike anything we'd ever done.

O'So Brewing Night Train -  You can immediately spot a bottle from this eccentric Wisconsin O'So Brewing from a mile away.  Their labels act as cliff notes for beer reviewers, adorned with several adjectives describing what is inside their bottles.  Their Night Train porter promises a beer that is roasty, creamy and bold amongst other things.  The beer pours a pitch black with a formidable light tan head.  The aroma is slightly sweet with a bunch of roasted coffee in there as well.  It's super rich smelling and that carries through to the flavor with some big boozy notes alongside sweet raisin and earthy cocoa.   The mouthfeel is fairly viscous but not overly thick.  It's a great porter and with an ABV of under 7% this Night Train won't make you loaded like a freight train after a couple of bottles.   We really liked the  pairing as well, with the sweet and rich beer working very well with the buttery steak.

Lonely Kamel "Shit City" - With all of the great releases in 2014, this one was near the top of our list in terms of anticipation.   After spinning it, it is now on our list of one of the best new releases of the year.    "Shit City" is the crowing moment in the band's already killer discography.   The album starts off with the title track, and let's just say you might as well have the whiskey and beer ready to go before you press play.  The tune is a toxic mix of Motorhead's heaviness and speed mixed with the Hellacopters boogie and it sets a high bar that the rest of the album has no problem keeping up with.  "White Lines" is a catchy rocker with an infectious groove and riff.  Add in some great vocals and you've got one killer track.  Desert-y, psychedelic blues start off "Is It Over?"  in Doors-like fashion not unlike a modern day "Roadhouse Blues" mixed with Great White's "Rock Me".  "I Feel Sick" starts with a punk-like grungy Mudhoney sound then a sick riff kicks in and the song turns into a a kick ass Sabbath-y rocker.  The laid back "Seal The Perimeter" has a cool, dark outlaw rock vibe with some great bass work peppered in.  "Freezing" harkens back to early 70s heavy classic rock with a touch of psychedelia, similar to early Monster Magnet.  "BFD" brings the classic boogie of Foghat to the party and shoots it up with a good dose of heaviness.   For a little more blues, the band goes the Kenny Wayne Sheppard route on "Falling Down".  The track also features the dirty bluesy swagger of early ZZ Top.   The album ends with a cover of Necromadus' "Nightjar".   It more than does the original version justice, the sound is just a little thicker and heavier but stays true to form including the excellent vocals.  The disc has not left our stereo, nor do we intend for it to anytime in the near future.  It's an absolutely incredible release that will no doubt be on our year-end top ten list.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Grilled Shrimp and Chorizo Tacos/Boulevard Brewing Pop-Up IPA/YOB "Clearing the Path to Ascend"

After a weekend out of town, we needed to raid the fridge/freezer for dinner options for the week.  The first things we laid eyes on was a small bag of shrimp and a link of frozen chorizo.   Perfect!  Grilled shrimp and tacos would be one of the week's meals.  Piled on a charred corn tortilla with a chunky radish-spiked guacamole, this was perfect weekday fare.  To drink, we paired these tacos up with the easy-drinking Pop-Up IPA from Kansas City's Boulevard Brewing.  On the stereo, the latest release "Clearing the Path to Ascend" by iconic heat doom metallers YOB was melting the speakers.

Grilled Shrimp and Chorizo Tacos - Using already cooked shrimp here makes this quick dinner come together even faster.  The most time consuming part of the meal, and we use that term lightly, is the browning of the chorizo.   Once that's down, we can bring the shrimp out to the grill.  We toss them in a little olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.

Next up we place a grill pan over medium heat and toss in the shrimp.   Since these are already cooked, a few shakes of the pan is all they'll need to warm up and obtain a slight char.

Pull the shrimp from the grill and keep warm.  While the coals are still warm, we can toast the corn tortillas over the heat until they turn soft and blistered and keep those warm as well.  The last thing we need to make is the guacamole.  In a mortar and pestle add two avocados, a small handful of chopped cilantro, 1 small jalapeño finely diced, 6 radishes finally diced and the juice from a slice of grapefruit.

 Now we can construct these things.  We start with a spoonful of chorizo on the bottom of the tortilla and place a few shrimp on top.

Spoon a layer of the guac along side the chorizo and shrimp then add a few dashes of hot sauce.  Ever since we made the chorizo and shrimp quesadillas, this combination has been one of our favorites.  It's especially great in these tacos.

Boulevard Brewing Pop-Up IPA - Kansas City's Boulevard Brewing puts out some serious beers from their excellent Farmhouse Series beers to the delicious 80 Acre Wheat Ale.  This brewery is no joke.   We were super excited to see what they would do with the newly popular (and rightly so) low ABV IPAs and their take on it, the Pop-Up IPA.   The beer pours a cloudy dark yellow with a pillowy white head.  The aroma is full of crisp citrus and bitter pine.  The flavor starts off with a mango sweetness, followed by earthy/grassy notes with just a nit of citrus.  The mouthfeel maintains an extreme lightness throughout making this an excellent example of the sessionable IPAs.  That drinkability went well with the tacos making the pairing pretty close to perfect.

YOB "Clearing the Path to Ascend" -  Sometimes you need a little dark, heavy doom metal to bludgeon a light meal.  YOB's latest release "Clearing the Path to Ascend" was just the album to do so.   Mixing the heavy NOLA sludge of Crowbar with the southern metal of Black Tusk, Oregon's YOB bring the noise on this brilliant disc.   Four tracks of earsplitting, gut-pounding carnage all clocking in at well over 10 minutes is what's in store, beginning with "In Our Blood".   This 17 minute track starts out low, slow and ultra heavy.  The dark and sludgy doom is paired up with the higher pitched vocals reminiscent of Judas Priest and King Diamond that is peppered with the guttural Kirk Windstein-like roar.   "Nothing to Win" gets even heavier and more fast-paced with a certain catchiness not unlike early Mudvayne.  Things go back to a slower, albeit no less heavy state on "Unmask the Spectre".  The album closes with "Marrow" that starts off with a super chill that goes through about a level of chill on this 20 minute track.  "Clearing the Path to Ascend" is a must hear and an album that must be played in its entirety to truly appreciate it the way it is meant to be heard.