Posts tagged barbecue

What makes for Kansas City barbecue?

BBQ signTomato based, stirred with sugar, and finished off with a generous dose of paprika, Kansas City barbecue sauce stands apart from its Texas and North Carolina cousins.

LC's barbecue pit

Smokin’ ribs at LC’s Bar-B-Q

A few weeks ago I had a chance to sample some of Kansas City’s most legendary barbecue hotspots, Gates Bar B.Q. and Arthur Bryant’s BBQ along with a couple off-the-beaten gems LC’s Bar-B-Q and Woodyard BBQ.

 

But what sets Kansas City barbecue apart?

Pit Smoke

First, it’s gotta be pit smoked. The smoke tends to be mild woods like hickory and pecan instead of the bolder mesquite. The gently smoked meats stay moist in the pit and are basted with sauce.

Arthur Bryant barbecue sauce

Arthur Bryant is a love it or hate it kind of sauce

Sweet Sauce

Every barbecue establishment in Kansas City has their own special sauce. When I asked around at Arthur Bryant about offering a few hints on the spices the answer I got–”Even the cooks don’t know what’s in the sauce.” The spices are mixed offsite and unmarked to keep the mixture of decidedly strong paprika and pepper a secret. Yeah, they’re top secret. But what’s similar in all Kansas City sauces is that they’re sweet without even a hint of spice.

Kansas City ribs and beans

Meat

Kansas City makes dang good brisket and pulled pork but their sweet spot is the ribs and burnt ends. (Burnt ends is a conversation for another post.)

Eating a Kansas City rib

Time to eat some ribs

Love

There’s also the undefinable something in Kansas City barbecue. I suspect it’s from a long, strong tradition of making amazing smoked meats. I found that the folks making the barbecue–the so-called “pit masters”–weren’t big talkers. They were all business when it came to barbecue.

 

 

 

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Barbecue beef mac ‘n cheese

I know this looks tailor-made for Super Bowl Sunday, but we’ve been making this dish ever since sampling it as a small plate at a local restaurant One Red Door a couple years ago (I’m still trying to figure out how to make their chocolate mousse oatmeal cookie tower.)

So for a knock-out dish for the big game, or if you’re in need of amped up comfort food, here you go. Warning: after having mac ‘n cheese with barbecue sauce you’ll wonder why you haven’t been eating it that way for years.

Recipe:

Servings: 4-6


Ingredients

One creamy, homemade batch of mac ‘n cheese

1 1/2 pounds London broil or round steak roast, cut into 1″ chunks

2 cups prepared barbecue sauce

1/2 cup water or chicken broth

Flour

Oil

Directions

  1. Prepare your mac ‘n cheese and set aside. Don’t have a favorite recipe? Try this one from Zingerman’s Roadhouse.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saute pan, bring 1 tablespoon canola oil up to medium-high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, toss the beef pieces in flour to coat. You can do this easily by putting the chunks and about 1/2 cup flour in a heavy duty plastic bag and giving it a good shake.
  4. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot oil and cook until browned.
  5. Place the browned beef pieces, barbecue sauce, and chicken broth in a slow cooker set on LOW for 5-6 hours.
  6. Note: I also like to add a dash of Tabasco sauce or cayenne powder to the sauce to give it a kick.
  7. Serve each serving of mac ‘n cheese with a portion of barbecued beef.

Not a fan of beef? No problem. For a vegetarian version try roasting cauliflower or broccoli and then heat the barbecue sauce in a saucepan. Add the roasted vegetables to the mac ‘n cheese and grab a fork!

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Grilling squid

Grilled squid and pastaSo just how do you grill a squid? Let me tell you, it’s a lot trickier than a kabob! But a lot cooler. The squid shrinks as it cooks giving the impression that it’s moving on the barbecue. Again, this isn’t an everyday ingredient for me, but that’s the whole point of adding a little adventure to your dinner table.

First, where do you buy squid? Trader Joe’s offers some in their freezer section, but even if you’re breading and frying them I find that they turn out rubbery (Sorry, TJs–I really like everything else at your store!). The best place to go is to an Asian grocery store in your area. I found one by asking around and then letting Google point the way.

It’s always easier to get the kids to try something new if it comes with something you know they already like. With that in mind I got a pound of shrimp to go along with the squid. When my husband was ordering at the seafood, the man behind the counter asked, “Do you want it cut and cleaned.”Squid by the pound

“No, I can take care of that,” he said quickly. The man raised an eyebrow then returned to bagging our two squid. See, you should know that when we used to buy squid in New York, they were small, maybe, oh 10 to 12 inches long, max. At this market, the squid were twice that size. My advice if you’re asked if you want the squid cleaned? Say yes.

Squid preppin' timeThat leads me to prepping the squid. Once home you’ll need to separate the tentacles and head from the body–just pulling on the tentacles should do the trick (don’t be surprised if some of the little suctiony cups come off–totally normal). Cut the head and the beak from the tentacles and discard. You’ll also need to reach inside the body part to properly clean it and remove the quill, which feels like a piece of plastic (and as you learn later this week, that hard quill separates the squid from an octupus). There’s a thin skin layer on the body that you’ll also need to remove. This comes off fairly easily, but if you’re having any trouble run the body under some water and that should help.

At this point, you can make squid rings from the body (which is what you’d do for calamari) or you can split it open and lay it flat for grilling. We marinated the squid in Mojo sauce (a citrus blend) and olive oil for about half an hour before cooking. (Squid is low fat so adding olive oil is key or else the meat will stick to the grates.)

Grilling squidOff to the grill. Bring the fire to a high heat. Keep in mind that the squid will shrink as it cooks, so you can place it on metal skewers if you’re worried you won’t be able to flip the meat, but usually most grill grates are close enough so that it’s not a problem. Cook the squid for 1-2 minutes on each side, any more and it’ll get tough and rubbery. And no one likes an overdone squid.

That’s it! We served the squid and shrimp in a light marinara sauce over spaghetti. My kids didn’t go wild over the dish; then again when we got it at the Asian grocery store we ended up getting a few samples at the cafe tucked inside (Chinese donut, anyone?). Yeah, they were still pretty full when we put a plate of pasta and squid in front of them so I wasn’t entirely surprised that no one cleaned their plate.

Next time, I’d probably grill the body whole and then cut it into rings afterwards. You can grill squid to include in main dishes or putting it in salads has become very popular too.

Have you tried squid salad? Grilled squid? What did you think? And how about your kids?

*Keep checking in during the week, tomorrow I’ll have a guest post about squid, Hawaiian style.

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Chef Q&A: Thai Bistro’s Lada Sripinyo

Photo credit: Barron

Years ago when our family moved from New York to Michigan a friend told us we had to try the Thai Bistro in Canton. Italian food. Chinese food. Mexican food. Japanese food. I’d already learned that I liked to sample a variety of flavors. But I’d never had Thai fare, with its spicy-sweet sauces, rich curries and tender noodles. The first time we went to Thai Bistro, I ordered the drunken noodles. I was hooked.

The owner and chef of Thai Bistro, Lada Sripinyo moved from Thailand to the U.S. in 1968 and at the urging of a friend opened the restaurant in 1994. “I said, ‘Sure, why not?’” explains Sripinyo. The eatery quickly drew notice and a devoted following in the area. “We opened in February 1994 and by April we were very popular,” she recalls.

For a MKES first, the digital-shy Sripinyo passed along a handwritten recipe for her Thai BBQ ribs.

What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?

Chile. Red chile, onion, garlic.

Your favorite meal to make or serve?

My favorite is ga poa guy because it’s a little spicy and it tastes really good. It’s very popular here at the restaurant.

We all have a favorite indulgence, for a foodie like you it must be something spectacular?

Dark chocolate. Not in ice cream. Either in a bar or a box, I just like dark chocolate.

What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?

I don’t know. Maybe once when I made a stir-fry and I put too much salt in it and it was way too salty. I didn’t even let people try it. I tried it and then just threw it out.

There are so many great Michigan-made food products, what is your pick?

Potato chips.

What do you suggest for first-timers to Thai Bistro? What menu item should they make sure to try?

If they like noodles then the pad thai—it’s a little sweet and it’s very popular here. You can choose whether you want it mild or spicy. If you like something with rice than the ga poa guy is very good and spicy. It comes with chicken, Thai basil, red pepper. The eggplant stir-fry with shrimp is very good too.

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Slow’s Bar BQ Hickory Blackened Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

Ingredients

8 tomatoes
3 red bell peppers
1 jalapeno
1 tbl spn salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
1 cup water
juice of three limes
fresh cilantro for garnish
hickory chips or small logs (substitute other woods to experiment with flavor)
Directions

Start by lighting your coals. It’s best to use a chimney starter so you don’t impart the flavor of lighter fluid.  When your coals are nearing white hotness, apply the dry chips of logs.  You’re trying to create more fire than smoke.  When the flames are licking the grill, apply the clean dry tomatoes and peppers.  Turn them for several minutes until their skin is black to the point of crisping.  Remove the tomatoes and peppers and place them in a bowl.  Close the grill to put out the fire.  While you’re finishing the soup, your grill will be ready for your next course.  Continue by removing most of the skins, leaving a little for flavor. Remove the seeds and stem of the peppers, being careful to save the juice. Stem the tomatoes. Transfer all ingredients to a blender and puree until the desired consistency.  Serve warm or chilled with a garnish of fresh cilantro.

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Q&A with Michael Metevia, Slow’s BBQ in Detroit

With barbecue staples like St. Louis spare ribs and Carolina-style pulled pork served alongside one-of-a-kind creations like beef brisket, smoked gouda enchiladas and salads called the Charles Bronson (and kickin’ flavors to match the epithet) it’s no wonder that Slow’s Bar BQ has become an it spot in Detroit since opening its doors nearly five years ago.

An anchor in the emerging rebirth of the Corktown area, Slow’s, takes pride in using fresh, local ingredients and all-natural meats, explains the head chef of the kitchen, Michael Metevia. He also notes that “the staff here is great and they work really hard give it there all.” The flavorful, slow-smoked entrees along with a diligent staff, has made the BBQ joint popular among a diverse clientele—from business people to hipsters to families and, of course, Tigers fans. Metevia recommends that families try out the restaurant during one of their off hours, between 2pm to 4pm, “or you can come right when the doors open at 11am.” (Early lunch before a venture to the Detroit Science Center, anyone?) Metevia made the mistake of bringing in his 15-month-old during a Tigers’ game were lively fans filled the 80-seat establishment. The crowded restaurant induced a fit in the younger Metevia; since dad/chef has avoided bringing him in during busy times. Metevia points out that Slow’s does take reservations for parties over six people, so if you’re set on a certain time, grab some friends and call ahead to make sure you get in.

Below, Metevia shares some of his thoughts on cooking, as well as his own recipe for something fun to grill this summer—vegetables. He roasts a variety of veggies and then purees them for a summer soup that can be served either warm or cold.

What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?
As simple as it sounds, I always have kosher salt, fresh peppercorns and quality olive oil. I put those ingredients in almost everything. I also use a lot of quinoa [a healthy, whole grain seed prepared like barley] and coconut oil.

Your favorite meal to make or serve?
At home my favorite meal is pot roast. It’s a great family meal and easy to put together—everyone is always satisfied. But I don’t always prepare it the same way. I don’t like to be in a rut and I think that happens to a lot of people when it comes to cooking. When you’re cooking for kids especially, it’s important that you mix things up so that they won’t become fickle when it comes to food. I like to mix it up, use different fresh herbs—it really depends from time to time what I use. Most of the time, I use some red wine, usually mushrooms.

We all have a favorite indulgence, for a chef like you it must be something spectacular?
Coney dogs. Usually, I’m a pretty conscientious eater and in general I try to find organic, natural foods. I know it’s bad for you, but I love having a Coney dog. With everything. It’s part of living in Detroit.

What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?
I made 20 loaves of banana bread using salt instead of sugar. I could try to blame someone else—whoever did the stocking in the kitchen put salt in the sugar container—but I should have checked. All 20 were in the oven and then I tested one. I just spit it out it was so salty. That’s definitely the biggest cooking mistake I’ve ever made and I haven’t made one like it since.

There are so many great Michigan-made food products, what is your pick?
Calder’s chocolate milk. That stuff is delicious and the dairy is located in Lincoln Park.

What do you suggest for first-timers to Slow’s Bar BQ? What menu item should they make sure to try?
If it’s your first time, I recommend the mac ‘n cheese. Our preparation is unique to Slow’s with the dish—we find people just come back again and again for more. Everything is made from scratch—it’s really just good, old-style homecooking.

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