The Best Damn Burgers

Whenever I’m entertaining a crowd, I instinctively fall back on burgers. There’s a lot of room to play and people’s expectations always seem low so it’s easy to blow people away. So I thought I’d try something new again, but a little simpler than the burgers I’ve made before. The goal: less “extra” flavors and something incredibly rich and beefy–more of a steakburger.

The Best Damn Burger Ever

This was my excuse to play with my new KitchenAid meat grinder. I started with two separate cuts of beef: chuck (for fattiness–keeps the burger juicy) and ribeye (also fatty, but much more intense beef flavor). You could certainly throw the steak in a food processor, but a real meat grinder won’t turn your meat into texture-free paste. The goal is to nicely emulsify the meat and fat so you have a somewhat… click to read more…

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Indian-Inspired Barbecue Chicken

Every now and then, I have odd cravings that don’t jive with one another, so something new is born. In this case, I wanted Indian and barbecue. There just isn’t much cross-over in that realm (as far as I know). My compromise? A whole chicken, halved, marinated tandor style, smoked, and then slathered with a tangy, strongly spiced sauce that borrows from both barbecue and Indian cuisine for style and flavor.

In reality, this is quite simple and that’s why it’s so darn good (but such is barbecue). The chicken is slowly smoked–richly flavorful, crispy skin, and surprisingly tangy from a simple marinade. Plus, whole chicken is the best (I always love a good roast chicken).

What made this different was the sauce glazed on at the end. It’s a simple barbecue sauce, but tinged with a generous helping of Indian flavors–cinnamon, cardamom, tamarind, fenugreek, cilantro, etc. The total combination worked wonderfully and had me licking my fingers clean.… click to read more…

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Pulled Beef Brisket over Sweet Potato Waffles with a Chile Tamarind BBQ Sauce

I have a special place in my heart for southern food and flavors. Until I can convince my wife to try pulled pork (she won’t be able to fight it forever once we’re in North Carolina!), I have to find other ways to quell my cravings. This is such a dish. My thinking? Fried chicken and waffles are a beautiful combo…same goes for meat and potatoes… so why not serve pulled beef (instead of pork) over sweet potato waffles?

Pulled Beef Brisket over Sweet Potato Waffles with a Chile Tamarind BBQ Sauce

Now I know this one sounds strange, but this was incredible. This begins by making a barbecue sauce where the big players are chiles, tomatoes, and tamarind–fruity, earthy, spicy, sweet, sour–there’s a lot of flavor going on. The tamarind flavor was distinctly present, but not overpoweringly so while the chiles gave a very solid flavor backbone… click to read more…

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Carne Asada Tacos with Watermelon Mango Avocado Salsa

Watermelon salsa. Sounds different, right? But not in a bad way–more like really interesting. I certainly thought so when I first heard of it, and while the watermelons were abundant around here, I knew I had to try it. So closely following Susan’s very tempting recipe, I made some Carne Asada Tacos with Watermelon Mango Avocado Salsa.

And how did it come out? Quite surprising–I’d never had watermelon in any form other than dessert, so I was really curious to see where it would go. The end result didn’t quite have the tex-mex sort of flavors I was expecting, but it was nonetheless quite enjoyable.

The peppers give the salsa a bit of heat, the avocado some creaminess and richness, the jicama a tartness and a firm crunch, while the watermelon played the curious role of…refreshment. Sort of like having a salsa with really juicy tomatoes…but not. It… click to read more…

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Smoked Mustard Crusted Spare Ribs

We’re in the dead of summer and with July 4th right around the corner, barbecue should be on many a mind. Countless different images might come to mind when you hear “barbecue”–burgers, wings, pulled pork, etc–but if you had to pick any single one dish to represent this delicious style of cooking, what would it be? For me, it would have to be a smoked rack of ribs.

I used to be of the saucy ribs camp, but given everything I’ve heard about dry rubbed ribs, I thought it was time to give this a fair shot. I could never fathom it before–I mean after all, its just meat! Wouldn’t it be dry (“dry rub”–sounds dry!)? Wouldn’t it be bland? And so on. Ribs simply needed sauce.

Well now that I’ve finally tried dry rub, this is definitely the way to go. I love a good sauce, but keep it off of my ribs! You start with a light… click to read more…

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Smoked Chicken Thighs with Pineapple Barbecue Sauce

While I’ve professed the wonders of brining turkey to ensure a moist bird, I’d never brined chicken before. However, after seeing what Jeff did with some chicken thighs, it seemed like it was time to give this a try. So I brined, smoked, and glazed some chicken thighs with a tangy pineapple barbecue sauce.

This was absolutely delicious and very well suited to July 4th weekend (or any summer weekend) kind of grilling/barbecuing occasion. The effort is pretty minimal and the results are very flavorful. If you were to taste the sauce alone without the chicken, it will taste a little unbalanced as far as a barbecue sauce goes (in my opinion–it leans most heavily towards sweet and spicy), but when combined with the chicken as a glaze after being flavored with… click to read more…

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