Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bobby Flay Challenged Me to a Grilled Ribeye Showdown, and I Totally Won...............Wait, This Sounds Far-Fetched.....

So my friend, Bobby Flay, heard that I was the guy to beat when it came to grilled meat, so he challenged me to a Throwdown! .......You know, that show where he makes people think they have made it into the big time by getting their own Food Network show, and then surprises them by saying "It's just a joke! You don't get a show! And also, I'll be making whatever specialty you have spent your career perfecting a lot better than you in front of a live audience and millions of TV viewers, whereupon it will be judged superior to yours, and you will be left thinking of yourself as a miserable failure! Surprise!!!!!!!"

Okay, so Bobby Flay DIDN'T challenge me to a Throwdown. He DID, however, personally call me with a recipe for the chili oils he uses on Iron Chef America so that I could spice up tonight's dinner from The Jacked Up Grill...........

That's not true, either........It wasn't a call, it was a Tweet. Tweets are the things on Twitter, where famous people send me messages using lots of punctuation I don't understand like # and @. But they don't pay Bobby Flay to use proper English, they pay him to cook food, so I forgive him.

It's fess up time. Bobby didn't Tweet me a recipe, but I did send him a Tweet asking for one. I'm sure he'll be getting back to me eventually, though, since I'm sure he reads The Jacked Up Grill.........

The Honest Truth is as follows:
I watched Iron Chef America, and Bobby Flay used some fancy oils, and I tried to replicate them tonight, and they tasted good.
That was hard..........

I went to my new favorite source of Grilltastic Awesomeness, Whole Foods today for inspiration on what to cook for dinner. I would be dining solo, since the 8+ month pregnant Pregga Legga Ding Dong can't eat after 3pm without turning into a Gremlin.....Er, I mean without having terrible heart burn all night. So, since I only had my own palate to please, I decided to get creative.

For my protein, the Dry Aged Beef section of the meat cooler was speaking to me........Dry aged beef is much much more tender and flavorful than simple refrigerated beef, so I was really treating myself already. The bone-in ribeye I chose was on sale (thankfully), and it was ridiculously marbled, and had been dry aged since August 6th. It was a sight to behold.
I wanted the steak to have some kick to it, so I dry rubbed it with ground cayenne pepper, chili powder, kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
My goal tonight was to match the caliber of food they come up with on Iron Chef, including complexity and presentation. So, I pulled a Bobby Flay, and decided to dress the meat with a red chili oil and a green herb oil.
The green oil was an easy one. I went with my own recipe for chimicurri, only varying by straining it, so that it was thinner than my usual sauce.
For the Chili Oil, I mixed about 8 red chilis given to me by a little old lady at work (her words, not mine) in the blender.

Red Chili Oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 small red chilis
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp lemon thyme leaves (from the Jacked Up Grill's own herb garden)
salt to taste
Add all ingredients into a blender, puree until smooth. Strain, and pour strained oil into squeeze bottle.

To accompany the meat, I charred a handful of the green and red peppers on Meat Blaster and served them along side a small arugula salad. For the salad, I made a simple vinaigrette with aged balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a few pink peppercorns I couldn't resist picking up while at Whole Foods. I topped the salad with a few slivers of a special kind of salami called Soppressata. It is full of fat and hot peppers, which makes it the Me of salamis. I crisped these up in a skillet and topped the salad with them for a salty touch.

I threw the super steak down on Meat Blaster for about 8 minutes per side along with the random peppers, and the smell was incredible.

When it came time to plate, I realized a few things.....
1. To make food good, I need some things I don't have. (white plates, bigger plates, better lighting, a decent camera (i use my iphone), a sense of perspective, any shred of photography skills, etc)
2. When drizzling with bright colored herb oils, less is more.
3. I have no idea how to properly compose a dish.

However, despite my shortcomings, this was a successful preparation of high end ingredients, and it tasted great. I felt really bad that Preggy Potter couldn't enjoy it, but I did offer to let her smell my breath. She declined.

So, as soon as Bobby Flay responds to my Tweet, I will edit my recipe for chili oil, but until then, I recommend this one to any of you who are looking for a way to spice up your grilling.
Until next time!
P.S. Follow me on twitter @thejackedupgril

Sunday, August 28, 2011

If the TV Said the World Was Ending in Earthquakes and Hurricanes, I Guess I would Eat Grilled Lobster Tails. Because It Did, And I Did.

"Just remember what ol' Jack Burton does in a time like this, when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol' storm right square in the eye, and he says, 'Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.'"
-Jack Burton
Big Trouble in Little China

So a couple months ago, the TV said the world was ending. Because I lend lots of credibility to things like TV, I started formulating what my "last supper" would include. Of course, the world didn't end, so I shifted these thoughts to the back burner. Come to think of it, I only really have back burners, so that statement has no meaning. Anyway, I moved on.

Then, last week, I was ripped from a perfectly peaceful nap by a 40 second earthquake, here in central Virginia, where there are no established fault lines. But the Richter scale rang in at 5.8 anyway, so once again, "what would I eat for my last meal?" popped into my mind. When the "state of emergency" turned into "the thing I bring up at work when the awkward silence stretches out too long," my last supper thoughts again faded away.

Then, Hurricane Irene started stretching her hungry jaws wide in anticipation of a bite of the East Coast.....Now, I am a giant clown, but I will not even dare to take away from the real devastation that Irene caused on the coast and further north from here. However, the hysteria that I witnessed here in sunny Charlottesville, where the natural disaster was neither natural, nor a disaster, was purely comical. However, even my cynical, skeptical eyes were not blind to the fact that things could have been ugly. END OF THE WORLD ugly. So, thinking about what my last bite might be just happened.

But the one sign I couldn't ignore.....the writing on the freaking image of the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast............was the fact that Harris Teeter had lobster tails on sale for $3.99.

SO, if you're going to eat food, and you're going to grill that food, and you have $3.99 to spend on it, make it a lobster tail. And do it like this........

To grill the perfect lobster tail, you need to cut it in half long ways. This is a little gross for you squeamish types. Lady Preg-Ga could barely stomach taking pictures whilst I did it. Anyways, save the blade on your knife and use some kitchen shears to cut right down the middle of the shell from the open end to the tail. Then use a large, sharp knife to cut the flesh all the way through until you have split the tail all the way.

As with any seafood, the breakdown process results in a sulfur compound that smells like dead fish. Because, of course, it is dead fish. So have plenty of citrus (lemon or lime) on hand. The juice of a lime does a lot to neutralize the funk. After cutting the tails, I hit them with their first squeeze of lime juice.

To grill them, you want some melted butter for basting. The butter will infuse the meat, as well as help it cook more evenly. I used my Go-To grill butter of summer, Lime Sage Butter.

Lime Sage Butter
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp sage leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Butter the tail halves liberally, then place them on a medium-high pre-heated grill flesh side down. Don't waste your baste on the shell side, but just watch the tails for 4-6 minutes, depending on how large the tails you are using are.

Flip them when the shells start turning red on the edges. Then apply the baste several times for 4-6 more minutes until the flesh is firm and no longer translucent. (translucent means see-thru.........)

Now if your lobster grilling is like mine, meaning it is grilled and eaten in anticipation of a brewing apocalypse that may or may not include a zombie invasion (because zombies are hot right now, and I am trying to make my blog more relevant to reach a broader audience), then you might as well go all the way and include some drawn butter to dip the meat in.

Drawn butter is super easy and super delicious, but it takes the most rudimentary understanding of physics to pull off. Here's the step by step.

First, get a stick of unsalted butter, and let it melt in a sauce pan. As it starts to boil, there is a foam that forms on the top (milk proteins). Spoon that part off and discard it. Whatever you do, don't taste it.

You are left with the liquid butter on top and a milky sludge at the bottom (milk solids). Simply pour off the clear stuff and discard the sludge. The golden, clear liquid you pour off is your delicious "drawn" or "clarified" butter. It just begs you to dip lobster in it. Or anything for that matter. Including a shoe.

Anyways, I served my lobster tails on top of cheese stuffed tortellini with basil marinara sauce, added drawn butter, garlic toast and the only good quality wine I have ever actually enjoyed, Kim Crawford's Sauvignon Blanc.

In case you were wondering, I prepared the pasta by opening a package of Buitoni four cheese tortellini and boiling it in water. I then topped it with Good Housekeeping Basil Marinara sauce that I bought BOGO.

So, the moral of this story is, don't ignore the signs. There have been psychic predictions, earthquakes, hurricanes and weekly circulars all telling us to go out and get a lobster tail and grill it. I followed my ethereal instructions, and you should, too.

After all, Jack Burton said it best.......
"When some wild-eyed, eight-foot tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that. 'Have ya paid your dues, Jack?'..'Yessir, the check is in the mail.'"

Goodnight everybody!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake!!! Hurry, Find Me a Can of Steven Seagal's Energy Drink!!!!!!

From the shattered, post-apocalyptic remains of Central Virginia, we here at The Jacked Up Grill have clawed tooth and nail through the rubble to bring you this special post. For those of you living in a cave, at two p.m. today, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit about 30 miles from our house, causing literally tens of dollars in damage. The reports of devastation are still pouring in. There was a chair overturned in Crozet. Free Wi Fi at the Downtown Mall was interrupted for almost a minute. A very close game of Jenga ended in disappointment and inconclusive results at the Rosewood Village Assisted Living home. Luckily, the Jacked Up Grill is still standing.

In times of life and death.....that's too dramatic. In times of life and life with a slight vibration, the important things are really put into perspective. What have I done with my life? What will I leave behind? How come I haven't done what I said I was going to do, and tracked down a can of Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt Energy Drink so that I can use it to cook with?


I'll just let that soak in.


All that was a segue into a call to action for you, my loyal reader (singular). If you know anything about me, you should know that I am Steven Seagal's biggest fan. When I heard that he had his own energy drink a few years ago, I was intrigued, but I never got my hands on any. Now it has been out of production for a while, and when they turn up on the internets, they go for crazy prices. So here is your challenge:

Find me at least one can of Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt Energy Drink, preferably in Asian Experience flavor.

Your Prize Package:
1. A copy of Steven Seagal's Bluegrass CD, Songs From a Crystal Cave (that is not a joke)
2. the Jacked Up Grill's summer cookbook
3. A collectible scoop of Virginia soil that was shaken by the earthquake
4. A Steven Seagal DVD from the Jacked Up Grill's personal collection
5. The recipe that I make using the energy drink will be named after you (awesome!)
6. Special Edition Jacked Up Grill Emergency Preparedness Earthquake 2011 Recipe Cards featuring the following design:
7. An autographed picture of my one year old son doing a Steven Seagal impression
8. Immortality

Now that is a prize pack worth fighting for!

So get to work loyal reader! Find me a can of Asian Experience and glory shall be yours!!!!!
If you find a lead on a can, contact me at for further instructions.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of This Perfect Fried Chicken..........Except the Chicken, I Guess....No Animals Other Than the Chicken Were Harmed in the Making of This Perfect Fried Chicken

My Mom was the best cook I ever knew. Her food was the best, not because she used the most expensive ingredients, or followed the recipes the closest, but because she had good food instincts. She was extremely creative, and she wasn't bound by any conventional rules. I have been thinking about her quite a bit lately, and any thoughts about her best cooking always settle on her fried chicken, which was exactly everything fried chicken was ever meant to be.

I have tried many times over the years to replicate her fried chicken, but it always ended in miserable failure.  So, tonight, I tried a few new things to right my chronic chicken wrongs......Man, that should be a song. "Tonight I tried to right my chronic chicken wrongs....Doo Doo Diddly Doo." Someone should write that down....

Fried Chicken is all about the breading. For Mom, it was all about eye balling it, so don't bother measuring anything if you try to make this recipe. I used all purpose flour, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and garlic powder. Just add the spices to the flour and mix, little by little, until you can taste them.
I pounded out the boneless, skinless chicken breasts (not my favorite protein) so that they would hold the breading better and cook faster. Simply put them between two layers of plastic wrap and beat them violently with something heavy (I used a rolling pin) until they are about 1/2 inch thick all the way around.

Mom always used ice cold water on the chicken and then powdered it with the flour and straight into the oil. I have never been able to do this correctly, and my flour always falls off, so this time, I tried dipping it in milk, and then into the flour. It seemed to work.
Heat a skillet (cast iron works by far the best) with about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil over medium heat.
Slowly lay the chicken into the oil, so you don't shake off the batter. Don't mess with them for at least 5-7 minutes. Flip them just one time, until each side is golden brown. Remove the breasts, and place them on a paper towel to drain.
We paired the chicken with our new summer favorite, grilled corn with sage lime butter, and a simple salad of cucumber slices in italian dressing.

I hope that some of you will try to make this fried chicken, because this is my best and closest attempt at making it like my Mom used to. I apologize if you are the type who needs very specific measurements in a recipe, but that is just not how Mom rolled. It's not how I roll either, as I'm sure you might have gathered if you have read anything on this blog since it started.
I think Mom would be proud of what I've been doing on here, so I'm going to keep doing it for a while. If you enjoy reading this blog, or even better, enjoy cooking or just eating the food you see on here, then give a little thanks to Bridgett, because all the qualities that make my food worth eating came from her.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Moink Balls.................Insert Joke Here

Some of my favorite food are balls..........Okay, that sounds bad. Some of my favorite foods are spherical in shape?......Forget that, let's call a ball a ball. Cheese balls? Gooooood. Meat balls? Goooood. Moink balls? .............Anybody? Moink Balls? Trust me, they are GooooooOOOOOooood.

A Moink Ball is a frozen meatball, wrapped in bacon, sprinkled with barbeque rub, and smoked. I discovered them on a feature my computer has called "The Internets." You click on a big "e," and then pull up a "google." The "google" finds things that you are looking for. I think it is tied to some kind of library somewhere. Anycrap, I used the "google" to find fun party food for a neighborhood cookout we were going to today, and I discovered Moink Balls. Moink is a combination of Moo and Oink, since the meatballs are beef and the bacon is pork. Kind of a lame name, but I didn't invent it.
***UPDATE****  I have learned that another name for the smoked jalepeno poppers that have made a few appearances on this blog are elsewhere known as Atomic Buffalo Turds. I am officially not trying hard enough in the names I have have been giving my food.

My friend has been saying that he would make more things from the Jacked Up Grill if the recipes were geared more for beginners, ie had less ingredients. So here you go, Chris Koogler, these little babies only really have two ingredients, and they are both fan favorites: bacon and meatballs.

I set up a Moink Ball making station in the kitch, while mi familia got a quick nap in.

Any kind of frozen meatball will do, but I went with these little babies.
I thawed them out for about 2 minutes in the microwave, so that I could get a toothpick through them without it slipping off the side and ramming into my thumb  (1:30 is NOT ENOUGH time to prevent this!!!! Trust me).
Simply cut the bacon in half, and then wrap a piece around a meatball and secure with a toothpick. This alone, when grilled, smoked or cooked in the oven would make a delicious appetizer, so those of you who have no sense of adventure, or who are afraid of making food SUPER DELICIOUS, feel free to quit now (Chris Koogler). If you want to Jack Up your cooking, read on........

I planned on smoking my moink balls, so they needed a rub. I went with my stand by favorite, the Memphis Style Rub. I will put the recipe at the end of the post. It is spicy, and heavy on brown sugar, which carmelizes nicely in the smoker. I sprinkled them liberally before going in, and then again with about 15 minutes to go.

If you have a smoker, throw the moink balls in for about 2 hours at 250 degrees, or until the bacon is crispy. If you only have a charcoal or gas grill, try and set up indirect grilling (heat not directly under the food), and make sure to put a drip pan underneath the moinks, because the bacon drains so much fat, which can cause flare-ups. If, you poor soul, you don't have a smoker or a grill, this appetizer can still be made in the oven, set at 350 degrees, and watched carefully until the bacon is crispy.

Now don't get me wrong, straight out of the smoker, my moink balls tasted great. However, more can be done to make them even better. Enter glazes and sauces. I bought a jar of hot pepper jelly from Harris Teeter today, and it made a perfect savory glaze for half of my batch of moinks. I melted it for 1 minute in the microwave, and then brushed it onto about 15 of the balls 15 minutes before I took them off the heat. This made a perfect sweet slash spicy slash glazey coating. For sauces on the finished balls............what else could they be called weirdo?, I offered a squeeze bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce and one of my own making, a Thai Sweet Chili sauce that will melt your ever lovin' face off.
I have been meaning to add a bottle of Sriracha chili sauce to my cabinet for awhile, and this gave me the perfect excuse.

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
1 part Sriracha Chili Sauce
1 part Honey
Mix well and put into squeeze bottle. USE CAREFULLY! VERY HOT!!!
I ran into Eric, who was hosting the cookout today, earlier at the grocery store. I told him I was bringing Moink Balls, and he asked, nervously, if they were similar to Lamb Fries or Rocky Mountain Oysters. I replied that they had no testicles whatsoever. Now that I have made them, I realize that that statement was premature. These are the manliest of all appetizers. They are jam packed with fortitude, and when matched with a wicked rub, a rocking glaze, and a blazing sauce, they become the type of food that people could write dissertations about.......

By the way, everyone who reads this should text message Chris Koogler and tell him that this is an easy recipe, and that he should stop being a little girl and actually try and make it. His cell number is 334-618-2175. A prize goes to the person who sends him the most creative text message encouraging his participation.

Memphis Style Rub
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
(don't worry Chris, buying all this stuff might seem expensive, but if you look, you probably have half of it already from all those times you make pink cupcakes, and once you add the smallest jars of the ones you dont have, you will probably only spend a few dollars, and they will last you a long time)

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Last Cheesesteak You Will Ever Eat...........Because It Might Kill You

Everyone has a philly cheese steak sandwich. Everyone. I mean, the name just speaks to you if you are perusing a menu. "Philly Cheese Steak here....Eat Me, please.....No, seriously, forget that chicken tender platter.....Eat Me instead...." So everyone puts one on there. Even Waffle House has a philly cheese steak for crimminy sake. Unfortunately, these little gems are usually the source of much taste bud let down. It would seem that steak, cheese and a bun would be hard to mess up, but I have found that nine out of ten are like eating a dried up horse jerky sandwich.
But there are winners out there. In Birmingham (our old friend, how we miss you....that was weird), you need look no further than Tavern on the Summit. It comes with an awesome thinly sliced roast beef, a ramikin of jus that I want to dip everything including ice cream and pickles in, and a creamy horseradish sauce that you have to ask for that will make you drool enough to need one of those cups that attaches to your face. It is only available at lunch time, so make it happen! (Ooooh, that's bossy.....What's with the parentheses?)
In Charlottesville, there are two little nuggets of Cheesesteak goodness that you need to know about. For the fast, cheap option, go with Fabio's NY Pizza #3. Their beef is chopped up very fine, almost like ground beef, but it is well seasoned and comes on a toasted french roll with a good salty cheese. Plus the staff is very friendly.
If you want to spend a little more, wait a little longer, and see some real weirdos walk by while you sit, go get an outdoor table at Miller's in Charlottesville. Miller's is on the Downtown Mall here in town, and for those of you who don't know what that is, it is the old main street with a bunch of old school store fronts that is closed to traffic. Now it has a ton of upscale restaurants, music venues and shops (most of which survive on mere pretense alone), and is where Charlottesville stores most of its homeless. The clash between the ultra needy and the ultra douchey is just upsetting. The elite are so disgusted by the Great Unwashed that they even tried to pass an ordinance that would outlaw panhandling within so many feet of a store front or outdoor dining area. In certain places, this meant that the street was off limits to the homeless from one side to the other, so it was illegal for them to even exist on a public city street if they even thought about asking a Lacoste wearing, bikini waxing, tortoise shell glasses on top of the head sporting, white bread eating, family money inheriting, Jersey Shore idolizing, Teacup Chihuahua owning  tool bag of a dude for money. Nice feature for a town that was home to three of the Founding Fathers of American Independence.  (Wow, he sounds angry! ......Who is saying that?)
Somehow we got off track here.....Charlottesville's exciting Downtown Mall has lots of fantastic opportunities for the adventure seeker or the casual diner!.......Ok, so most of it should be closed for good, but there are some really awesome places that keep us going back. Miller's is one of them. It used to be a drugstore back in the day, and as a hack pharmacist, that appeals to me. It also was the first venue that the Dave Matthews Band played, which probably appeals to many people, though I stopped liking Dave Matthews when I realized that the only people who still like Dave Matthews are 21 year old white girls who are thinking about getting tattoos, but can't make up their minds what to get so they think about it for a month and then finally get a white tattoo of a ring on their middle finger, which they promptly cover up with an actual ring. Anyhoo, Miller's is awesome. The staff are all tatted up, but all super nice, and not a trace of douche can be found on any of them. They are always extremely accomodating to our one year old, which is a lot of fun, and their outdoor seating is in a shady area that is very comfortable even on hot days. There is live music from some pretty well known groups every night, and their food is top notch. They also have a "beer club" which gets you special honors after you drink 100. I am on number 7. If I stay in CVille long enough to get to 100, I'm going to need 100 more. (Is there something about Cheesesteaks coming? Jeez.........Okay, now that's starting to freak me out).
ANYWAYS, their cheesesteak is the second best one in town. It has good quality, real steak, and it is well worth the ridiculously long wait when they are busy.

So, who has the #1 Philly Cheese Steak in the world?

The Jacked Up Grill does, mi amigo. The Jacked Up Grill does.

I asked Preglicious what she wanted me to grillerize for her the other night, and without hesitation she said "Make me one of those famous cheese steaks, you handsome hunka man, and I'll bear your children." I asked her if I could quote her using those exact words, and she replied "Sure, no one's going to read it anyway."

The perfect cheese steak starts with your willingness to chop up a top quality steak. Harris Teeter Select Premium Angus Ribeye goes on sale every four weeks for $7 a pound, and this is your time to strike. I get a super sharp knife and slice it as thin as possible.

Next, finely chop 1/2 of a yellow onion and dice a green bell pepper. Add a few pieces of pickled banana pepper rings and jalepeno slices, coarsely chopped. I season the meet with salt, fresh ground black pepper, and garlic powder. The best bun I have found is Maier's Enriched Italian Style Steak Rolls.
I acquired a large flat top griddle a few years ago, and it makes the creation of the pinnacle of cheese steak achievement very easy (Did that sentence make sense? He's losing me..............Stop that!)
This whole thing can also be done in a skillet, but it is just more fun to see everything all spread out and cooking at the same time on the griddle.
First, butter the buns and let them toast in the corner while everything else cooks. Throw down two strips of bacon, and let them get all the way crispy. Remove the bacon and crumble it and save it for later. Then, throw the peppers and onion into the bacon fat, letting them cook until just soft. Move them to the cooler part of the griddle and throw down the ribeye.

The thin slices will cook very quickly, so just keep moving them around until they are all brown. At this point, mix the vegetables back in with the meat and let everything get all wiped all over each other. Then, arrange into two sandwich sized piles, sprinkle with the bacon pieces, and cover with smoked provolone cheese slice. Allow the cheese to melt and start turning brown in little puddles around the meat.
The transfer to the bun is a critical moment. It doesn't have to be pretty, but leave no cheese behind. Dress your finished sandwich with mayo, lettuce and tomato, and you are about to have the most excellent philly cheese steak you will ever have in your life. You will start boycotting restaurants who claim they make a good one, because you will know they pale to what you made with your own hands. You will start dreaming about's just that kind of good. (A little melodramatic, fatty................okay, I've had enough out of you, with your high pitched parenthetical voice. People are going to read this and think, "That's really weird. Why did he put all that commentary in there? He's weird." And it will all be your fault! Don't blame me, loyal reader!)


Anyways, try this at home. It's the last philly cheese steak you'll ever want to eat again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Not-Quite-Gourmet, Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved, Probably-Part-Organic, Definitely Awesome Cookout Like None You've Ever Been To Before For All Time....Forever

You know how annoying it is when a terrible band with only one song you can even remember comes out with a greatest hits album? Well on Sunday, the Jacked Up Grill was that Band. The unbelievable success of this blog and its loyal reader have been so much fun these past few months that I decided we needed to have some of our new friends from our new town over to celebrate. And in true Jacked Up Grill fashion, just throwing a couple dogs on the fire wasn't acceptable. And that is because the grocery store was out of dog. Otherwise, we would have grilled probably a weimaraner.   
Just kidding.
We wanted to have a greatest hits tasting menu of all the things that we have sort of figured out how to cook this year. And we wanted to go all out. So all out we went. We invited a total of 23 adults and kids to our backyard (the only place in our tiny rental house large enough to seat more than 1.4 people) and we wanted them to come hungry and leave happy....That has a nice ring to it. Someone should write that down.....
My plan was huge, as my plans always are. We needed multiple courses with multiple offerings. There are plenty of vegans round here, and while I don't really know what a vegan is (I think they only eat fruit that has fallen from trees that have fallen from natural causes. Like getting hit by meteors.), I thought we should at least have some vegetarian food. I just threw up in my mouth a little.
As all good huge plans do, we needed a dry erase board.

Pregzilla and I took Jack the Lil' Ripper to the store to stock up on ingredients, and he had his first spin in the Car Shaped Shopping Cart.
After cooking and prepping and cleaning and cooking for two days, we came up with the following menu. Click on the links for the posts that contain recipes. Otherwise, the recipes will be at the end of this post.

Grilled Tomato Soup
Bacon Wrapped Smoked Jalepeno Poppers

Chimichurri Chicken Paillards
Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders
Grilled White Pizza

Ultimate Guacamole
Homemade Bacon Salt Potato Chips with Chipotle Ketchup and Garlic Aioli
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime Sage Butter

Key Lime Pie
Poor Man's Profiteroles with Habanero Blackberry Sauce and Ice Cream

For the soup this time, I used tomatoes given to me by one of my patients at the pharmacy. It was a goal of mine to get to know my patients well enough for someone to bring me produce from their garden and for a little old lady to bake me a pie. Both have happened. Incidentally, it is also a goal of mine for a patient to give me a million dollars in small, non-sequential bills, in case any of you are reading. Then my career will be complete.
I really hit my stride with the pulled pork this time. The rub was perfect and the smoke time was spot on. It should be, considering I started it at 3:30 in the morning. I wasn't even sure there actually was a 3:30am. There is. I hope you never see it. The pork was better than any I have had in Virginia by far.
We borrowed some long tables and Boom Pregalegga did an excellent job of decorating them. We used pieces of paper from a scrapbook pad as place mats and ate off of  .25 cent plates from Goodwill. We served the soup in anything we could find at Goodwill including several creamers, a pewter cup engraved with the name Lloyd Shipley, President of the Real Estate Association, 1974, and a souvenir coffee cup fromt the US Senate gift shop. Overall the look was awesome.
Our guests arrived just as we were frantically trying to get everything finished. It was a miracle the guacamole made it onto the table, considering I was chopping garlic and mashing avocados with a fury that should have landed me in the hospital minus a few fingers. However, it all got done just in time. We pretty much stuck to schedule and pretty much got everything crossed off the list.
When the dust cleared, we dodged the rain, welcomed the guests, said the blessing (which included a special request to delay the onset of food poisoning until after everyone had eaten somewhere else the next day so that I couldn't definitively be blamed), and dug in. Everyone found something they liked, including any Vegans present, though they will remain anonymous since we are practicing the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy for meat preference. The kids ran amock, as kids do, and we all had a great time.
We owe a special thanks to Allison for her excellent photography!!

 Our first major food service was a great success! Of course the dishes took us two hours the next morning, but it was totally worth it. Whoever gave me the idea to use real plates needs a punch in the pancreas though. Anyway, we appreciate everyone who participated, and we are looking forward to our next greatest hits dinner....In about 5 years.

Ultimate Guacamole
One large Avocado
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 white onion, finely diced
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of 1 lime

Cut meat out of avocado and cut into 1 inch cubes. Cover with lime juice and toss. Mash with a potato masher until its as smooth as you like guacamole. We like ours pretty smooth. then add garlic, onion, salt, cumin and cayenne. Mix thoroughly. Gently fold in tomatoes at the end. Eat with chips. Write me a thank you note for introducing you to the world's best guacamole. Include cash.

Homemade Bacon Salt Potato Chips
1 large baking potato
2 cups vegetable oil

I have a mandolin, which is a small guitar like musical instrument. I also have a mandolin, which is a kitchen tool for slicing things thin. I used the latter to make very thin potato slices. I tossed them into the hot oil until they were crispy and golden brown and then drained them. While still hot, I sprinkled them with Bacon Salt, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Chipotle Ketchup
Heinz Ketchup
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce

Super easy, but watch out, because these peppers will melt your face off. Just portion out about 4 ounces of ketchp for every pepper you add. Puree in a blender until completely smooth. This is excellent stuff.

Garlic Aioli cheater style
Dukes mayonnaise
1 clove garlic finely minced
Cracked black pepper
lemon juice

I just whipped together all the ingredients until completely smooth and put it in a squeeze bottle. On the potato chips, this was the way to go. Very good. Get your thank you notes back out.....

Poor Man's Profiteroles with Blackberrry Habanero Sauce
1 package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
1 cup blackberries
1 cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1 habanero pepper, seeded
Vanilla Ice cream
1 egg

Roll out puff pastry and cut into half dollar size circles. Using water or an egg wash, (1 egg and about 1/2 teaspoon of water mixe together) stick two of the circles together, then brush the top one with egg wash. Bake at 350 until golden brown and puffed up (about 10 minutes). When cooled, split in two like a biscuit, and place a dollop of ice cream in the middle like a little sandwich. Top with blackberry sauce.
Place berries, lime juice and sugar in a saucepan and stir over medium high heat until liquefied. Finely chop pepper and add  to berries. When syruppy, allow to cool and then blend in a blender of food processor until no lumps remain. Refrigerate.