Monday, September 26, 2011

Cooking for the Extremely Pregnant: Redux........I Have No Idea What Redux Means......I'll Put a Dollar in the DoucheBag Jar

THANK THE SWEET GOODNESS Pregpolean Bonaparte's crazy pregnant food craving was for something that didn't come out of a box with a talking glove on the front today!!!!!! I asked her what she wanted me to cook for dinner in passing, hoping she wouldn't give it much thought, thus preventing us from eating Tuna Helper with sweet pickles topped with pineapple and a side of raw hot dog......I hope she doesn't read this.......
To my distinct satisfaction, her craving was for a Jacked Up Grill classic, Grilled Chicken Fettucine Alfredo. I have been cooking this for her for years, and though it is totally phoning it in compared to some of the wacky food I have been making lately, it is tasty, so feel free to reproduce.....The food I mean. I'm not encouraging any of you to actually reproduce....I mean, it's the greatest joy of my life, but I'm old and wise and....old, so it is the right timing for Pregdemort and me, but you, my only reader, shouldn't jump into anything without thinking it through first. Jeez, this is awkward, just make the food, already.

So most of my cooking on this site is done on Meatblaster or in the as-yet-unnamed smoker, but some things call for a few minutes on the stove, and this is one of that group. This is quick, easy, and it tastes like something you would order off of a menu at a Chili's or O'Charley's at the very least. So go for it. And if you have an extremely pregnant lady around, you will make her very happy.

The Jacked Up Grill's Chicken Fettucine Alfredo
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
6-8 heads of broccoli
1/4 pound Fettucine pasta (we used Buitoni, which is in the cold food section, usually next to the cans of biscuits.......I know this section well)
1 jar Alfredo sauce (we use Bertolli 4 cheese)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

First, boneless chicken breasts are usually very thick, so wrap one in plastic wrap and beat it violently with something like a rolling pin until it is about twice its original diameter, and about 1/2 inch in thickness. This gives you more surface area for seasoning with salt and pepper, speeds the cooking time, and makes it easier to slice. Beating your proteins is a regular theme around these parts (see my post about Chicken Paillards), and it is a great technique to make better grilled food.
So pound out one chicken breast for every two people, and brush lightly with olive oil. sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place on a preheated grill for about 5 minutes per side. It doesn't take long when it's this thin, so don't let it dry out!
The rest is a piece of cake......that's confusing, there's no cake. Oh crap, PregaMind probably will read this and want cake........The rest is EASY. Just heat up the alfredo sauce in a sauce pan (the two are made for each other. No irony there), and add the butter to the sauce, to make it more luscious. Boil some water, and add a good dose of salt to the water so your pasta doesn't taste like dried glue. Drop in the pasta and let it simmer until tender.
NOTE!!! When you use dry pasta, it takes a while to cook. When you use fresh pasta, like we did, from the cold food section (next to the biscuits, remember? Mmmmmm biscuits), it only takes a minute or two to cook. If it goes too long, it becomes a mush the consistency I mentally associate with zombie brains, and no one wants to eat that.
The broccoli can be cooked in any number of ways, but we simply steamed ours for a few minutes. Very easy.
Slice the chicken on the bias (which means you cut on an angle, rather than with the knife blade straight up and down).
To assemble, put down a pile of pasta, pour over the hot sauce, and top with chicken slices and broccoli pieces.

Serve hot, accompanied with a pregnancy-friendly beverage (I gave the Old Gal Diet Coke), and prepare to reap the rewards of your cooking "labor." These rewards include a significantly lower chance of having your head bitten off for changing the channel off of House Hunters International, even when football is on.

Stay tuned, Loyal Reader. We will be back to creating zany, spicy, ironic grilled food very soon. Until then....

New Baby. We are waiting. But we are getting very impatient.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Angry Clams Casino, courtesy of Meat Blaster. That's Right, I Did 'Em on the Grill.......

Ya....It's true. I am an emotional guy. NO, I don't cry at movies.....well, when Rudy sacks that quarterback, and everyone is cheering his name, that gets me every time.....NO! I have never welled up at that scene........and when that Air Force Pilot flies in front of the missile to save the President in Air Force One (the Harrison Ford movie, duh)........I get a little teary......NO! It is a lie! My tear ducts are atrophied from lack of use!

I'm glad that's over. The point is, I have strong emotions. Sometimes, that emotion is anger. It's true. The Big J gets angry from time to time. The fastest way is when my wife or my son and their safety/happiness/well-being is threatened. That happened today. And it angered me. I heard that Big Cat (which I am now certain is a Sabre Tooth Tiger) growling menacingly inside my head, and my vision turned all reddish, and I thought unhappy thoughts. It wasn't pretty. It took ten minutes of thinking about puppies and Christmas and watching my one year old giggle and splash in the bath to bring me back to Happy Town.

It is interesting how emotions show up in our cooking. I had been planning on making something totally new and crazy tonight, since it would just be for me (Preggy Potter was only interested in plain white rice for dinner), and while I felt very sorry for her, I was excited to try something that she might not normally go for. I have always loved seafood, but she isn't wild about it, so my cooking experience with it is very beginnerish. Undaunted, I have been thinking Clam thoughts lately, so I stopped by Whole Foods today on our way back from our prenatal checkup (only 1 cm, guh!) to pick up some shellfish.

I have never had Clams Casino before in my life, but I have seen it on Food Network many times, and it always looks like something right up my alley, so I decided that would be my dinner. It's basically a clam on the half shell, baked with cheese, garlic, onions and bread crumbs. What's not to love? I decided to make it. On the grill. And make it angry. Jacked Up Grill Style. Here's how it went.

I got 6 medium sized Longneck Clams from Whole Foods, and Googled Clams Casino to have a basis for my recipe. Giada DeLaurentis from the Food Network had one that looked great, and that I thought I could adapt for the grill, so I went with it. After kissing Jack the Lil' Ripper goodnight, I went to work on this dish.

Angry Grilled Clams Casino

6 Medium Sized Longneck Clams
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 small shallot, finely diced
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 strips bacon, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
Sriracha Chili Sauce, to taste (don't be a sissy. This is what makes it ANGRY)
1 tsp Worchestershire Sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

So, these clams come from the store sealed more tightly shut than Fort Knox, so you basically have 6 fishy smelling rocks to begin with. When I googled how to "shuck" them, as Giada's recipe called for, it said "use your oyster knife to pry open the shell"............hold the phone, I don't have an oyster knife! What the devil. So, since Meat Blaster was already pre-heating, I got him to give me an assist. Slap those clams on the hot grill, and within about thirty seconds, they had opened up just slightly, so a regular butter knife could be inserted between the shells.

 Place the blade near the hinge, and forcibly twist until the two sides come apart. Discard one side, and use a sharp knife to separate the hideous looking clam meat from the shell itself, leaving the meat and clam juice sitting, unattached in one half of the shell.

Meat Blaster has an infrared burner on the side, which is perfect for cooking with a skillet, which this recipe calls for. If you don't have a burner, this can be done directly on the grill, so don't give up yet. In the skillet, heat the olive oil and then add the chopped bacon. When the bacon has browned, remove the pieces and set them aside. Add the chopped peppers, shallots, and garlic to the bacon fat and cook them until the shallots are mostly translucent and the peppers are tender (about 5 minutes).

Pour in the wine, and allow to reduce until almost all the liquid is evaporated. Remove from the heat, and add 2 tbsp of the parmesan cheese, the crispy bacon pieces, as much Sriracha Chile Sauce as you are interested in, the Worchestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.

Place each of the clams on the half-shell onto a sheet pan covered in aluminum foil. Place a heaping spoonful of the pepper mixture on top of each clam. Then sprinkle with bread crumbs and remaining parmesan cheese. Make sure the grill is pre-heated to at least 500 degrees, and then place the whole sheet pan on there.

Close the lid, and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Using tongs, remove the sheet pan and then place the clam shells directly onto the grill grate, and cook with the lid down for an additional 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

I'm not kidding, when I bit into the first one of these, I was prepared for it to taste like hot garbage juice. I was blown away. It was spicy. Angry is definitely the right word for it. It was bacon-y. Always a plus. It was Clammy. That's the whole point. I have never cooked a better tasting bite of food in my life. And I have cooked some Gooder than Good bites of food. The happiness that each bite of perfectly seasoned, smoky tasting, peppery goodness imparted on my brain was almost enough to make me remember that something made me angry today. Almost.

Try this one. You'll thank me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dining with the Extremely Pregnant.......

Men don't know what it's like to be pregnant. The closest thing, I guess, will be if that Sonny and Cher kid gets pregnant, which seems unlikely. So, the rest of us have to deal with the fact that there is one area about which women can honestly say "This sucks on so many levels, none of which you can understand with your tiny brain and lack of a uterus." Mind you, I'm not complaining. A baby bump would just simply look awkward on me. Though I am jealous of the voluminous Spandex tops on all of The Notorious P.R.E.G.'s pants. If you wear a long shirt, you can't even tell!

Anyways, because of this irreconcilable gender specific burden, certain concessions must be made. Now don't get me wrong, I would do anything for My Beautiful Wife (I even have her number in my phone under this title), and I would do it just because of the endless fount of love that I have for her which springs from my eternal soul, and not because of some child-bearing related entitlement. But nonetheless, with less than two weeks away from a delivery, which I am sure will only be able to be described as.....laborious, I am not about to impose my cooking hijinks on my little basketball smuggler. She has been chomping TUMs night and day (New Baby will have the strongest bones in the universe) due to the scorching heartburn she can't escape. She can't sleep. She can't keep her eyes open. When she describes the exact locations of her pains, I find my face contorting into shapes I can only acheive another way by sipping hot Natural Ice and then taking a bite of curdled yogurt. For Jimminy Cricket's Sakes Alive, give the woman what she wants to eat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, tonight, I left it up to Mama. And our menu included the following. And this is no lie.

Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff
Green Beans (from a can)
Pineapple slices (from a can)
White Bread

It wasn't pretty. But for my baby, it was perfect. And a little gummy. But perfect. And MSG-y. But, again...Perfect.

Come on home, New Baby. Come on home.

BTW: Preglociraptor approved this message....

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tennessee Volunteer Grilled Gator Sushi.......(It's Really Shrimp)

So, let's talk about rivalries. My wife (Pregpocalypse) has a distaste for sports, because she always feels bad for the team that loses. I, on the other hand, savour the thrill of victory so much that the threat of the agony of defeat is worth the gamble. I love that feeling of triumph over your adversary. In fact, when I compete at anything, I don't just want to win...I want my opponent to never want to play the game ever again......It's just who I am.
This, of course, makes it very frustrating to be a Tennesse Volunteer fan for the last few years. Tennessee has been on a slump (a very frustrating one, costing a lot of money in coaches' salaries), that has been lowlighted by repeat losses to our arch-nemesis, the University of Florida. Nothing is more frustrating to a Volunteer than to know that that Smug, Boy Scout, Wonder Boy Automaton, Tim Tebow bested my Vols every time he had the chance. Well, guess what, this year, the losing is at an end. I have a feeling the Vols are going to decimate the Gators tomorrow, and in commemoration, I have invented the ultimate UT vs. FL tailgating food, the Grilled Gator Sushi Bite.

Now, of course, the only thing remotely sushi-ish about it is that it looks similar to sushi, but who's keeping score? And,. of course, i couldn't find any actual alligator meat in Charlottesville, so the main protein is Key West Pink Shrimp, but who really cares? The main thing is, part of tailgating fun is to poke fun at your opponent, and I plan on giving the Vols a win, just based off of the awesomeness of my tailgate food. So, You're welcome, University of Tennessee....I'll send you a bill for my services.

Grilled Gator Sushi

For the Marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ginger, chopped
1 tsp Sriracha Chile Sauce (or more, if you are a TRUE Volunteer)
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and then pour over peeled, deveined shrimp and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Take one yellow bell pepper and one hot green pepper (I used a pacillo), and place them on a hot grill, turning frequently until a nice char is present on all sides.
Remove the peppers and allow to cool. Peel off the charred, waxy outer layer of each, and then slice, removing the seeds.

Make the slices of the bell and hot peppers about the same length as the shrimp in the marinade. When ready to assemble, skewer the shrimp, using a flat metal skewer, and place a strip of green and yellow pepper on each side. Wrap tightly with a piece of bacon, and secure in place with a toothpick.
Dunk the entire concoction into the shrimp marinade, and then place onto a hot grill.
Flip the skewer every few minutes until the bacon is browned, and the shrimp inside is opaque and firm. Remove the bundle from the skewer, and remove the toothpick, leaving a perfectly wrapped sushi piece of barbequed Gator meat (shrimp).

Nobody really knows what gator meat tastes like anyway, so might as well proceed like it's the real thing.

In the end, you have an asian flavored, complex tasting, bacon wrapped ball of goodness that looks pretty, is easy to eat with your fingers, and pokes fun at the team you hope to beat. Sounds like the perfect tailgating fare to me. What do you think?

Go Vols!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thanks, Internets, for Helping Me Make This Baked Potato Fancy...

So. Here we are. I can only assume that, since you are reading this (ha ha ha, I am making a foolish assumption that anyone will read this), that you have at least a rudimentary understanding of the "internet." The "internet" is the program my computer has that is similar to an unreliable encyclopedia. I'm guessing yours has it, too. Some of you, no doubt, are much more experienced than I am, and you will be somewhat less impressed by my wonder and amazement at the "internet"'s many wonders and amazements, but, anon, I will continue, undaunted.

Because my chimp-like brain is incapable of thinking too deeply, or about too many (2) things at once, I find the vast amounts of information, stored in the hundreds of disorganized "pages" to be too overwhelming, so I limit my "serfing" of the "world wide web" to three categories: Food, sports, and correspondence with the exiled Prince of Nigeria, who I have benevolently been supporting through his difficulties with frozen assets in his war-torn former home. We mutually hope to get a resolution soon, and any if he decides to compensate me for my troubles with $10,000,000, then there will be water if God wills it.

Anyways, I have mastered the use of three "vehicles" used to drive the "information super highway." These include The Facebooks (please "like" the Jacked Up Grill on the Facebooks!), The Tweeter (Please "follow" @TheJackedUpGril), and The Pinterest (Please "follow" Justin!).....................It's confession time. I have only the tiniest bit of understanding what any of these things are, what they are useful for, or why someone my age is even using them, but I PRESS ON! Because that's what I do. I muscle through and make the "internet" meet my needs.

The other day, my need was to see pictures of good food. When you want to do this, The Pinterest comes in very handy. If you have the Pinterest, lots of people send you pictures of things you might like. I like food, so I get lots of food pictures. One such picture so captivated my appetite, that in less than 24 hours, even after a long day at work, I had to try and replicate it. That picture was of a baked potato. But not just any baked potato. A fancy baked potato. The Fancy Baked Potato.
photo originally pinned by Sonya Stark
When I saw this picture, it spoke to me. It said "Justin.........if you have a knife....and a potato.....you can have this......" When I get messages like that, which I'm pretty sure come from Steven Seagal, I usually listen, so I investigated.

Luckily, the picture came with a recipe, so it was pretty easy. Apparently this is a Swedish style of baking potatoes, and it is pretty well known. This made me feel a little stupid for not knowing this, when one click of the "google" showed me about ten thousand more pictures of similar potatoes, so it seems like everyone BUT me knew about them, and didn't need Steven Seagal to encourage them. 

ACTUAL RECIPE TIME!!!!!!
AnyCrap, To make these, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, then scrub a russet potato down to clean off any dirt. Then, take a sharp knife, and slice the potato almost all the way through starting at one end, and then working along the length. Make the slices about 1/8 of an inch or less apart.
Then, finely mince 1 clove of garlic, and tuck a little garlic between each slice, all the way across. Then, melt 2 tbsps of butter and brush between each slice, and all over the potato skin. Sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
****Awesome Variation for the Adventurous!!!******
Earlier this year, I started making greek potatoes, which have garlic, butter and lemon, and which are AWESOME. SO, if you like a little mediterranean flare, then squeeze a lemon over the potato before baking it.
****End of Awesome Variation******
Place potato in the oven for about 1 hour, until skin is crisp and the center of the slices are fork tender.

I was very proud of my finished product, which looked very similar to the Pinterest one, and they tasted ridiculous. How can you go wrong with potatoes, butter and garlic? You can't, that's how. Just ask the "internet." I did. And it confirmed. Thanks, Al Gore.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tennessee Volunteer Big Orange Mini Pizzas! A New Tailgate Classic!

Vegetarians always get left out of tailgating. This is not only beacause most tailgating fare is high in meat, but also because tailgating means a sporting event, and a sporting event means happiness, and Vegetarians are uncomfortable with  happiness. Well, my Vegetarian friends, this one is for you. If you get forced into tailgating, steal the show with this extremely fun and delicious idea: Make grilled mini pizzas, and then use toppings that represent your team's colors.

 It is pretty easy to find toppings that will work in almost any team's colors, as long as you get a little creative. Plus, these pizzas can be made from start to finish on location as long as you have a grill, and they make a perfect size for eating while standing up.

Grilling pizza in general is extremely easy, and it takes almost no time at all. I use a pre-made dough that comes from the frozen section at the grocery store. You simply let it get completely unfrozen in the refrigerator, and then start rolling it out when you're ready to use it. You can make your own dough, but this is a cheap, easy and good tasting result.

I used a dough knife to cut the dough into six pieces that, when stretched, made little pies about three inches across.

Brush them lightly on both sides with olive oil, and just drop them onto a raging hot grill. It won't take but about two minutes to cook on one side, so watch them carefully. At this point, REMOVE THE CRUSTS FROM THE GRILL WITHOUT COOKING THE OTHER SIDE!!!!!
The other side will cook once you have added your toppings. If you cook it now, it will burn later.

The fun part is adding toppings that match your team and the away team. Today, the University of Tennessee will be whipping the University of Cincinatti, so we needed orange and white fot UT and red and black for Cincinatti.

We found a perfect orange pepper and an orange tomato, and added alfredo sauce and cheddar cheese for the Tennessee pizza. For the Red and Black, we used a red pepper, red pizza sauce, pepperonis and black olives. Place the toppings on the side you already grilled, and place the mini pizzas, uncooked side down, onto a baking sheet or pizza pan back on the grill. Close the top so that the toppings can brown and the cheese can melt.

When they are almost done, slip them off the sheet pan and directly onto the grill just long enough to get grill lines. It should only take about 1 minute.

And there you have it! You have little pizzas that look just like your team's colors, and they happen to be phenomenally delicious. And for you Vegetarians, my Tennessee pizzas were totally meat free, so there. I threw you a bone........and that's just a figure of speech, no actual animal bones were thrown.

Go Vols!!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Smoked Crab Meat Potato Skins! Even if Your Team Hates Winning, Your Can Tailgate Like a Champion

So, my team always loses. If you want to be a millionaire, just simply ask me who I want to win at anything, and then bet against them. Of course, you have to be reasonably sure that I am not lying with my response, which may be a challenge, but there are no guarantees in life. Except, of course, death, taxes, and the fact that my team ALWAYS loses.
Now this wasn't always true. After all, my beloved University of Tennessee Volunteers did win the BCS National Championship in 1998, and the Rock did become the Undisputed WWE Heavyweight Champion of the World multiple times back in the day, so I have to ask, what happened around 2003 that caused any competitive team or individual that I care anything about (including minor league hockey teams like the Knoxville Ice Bears and the least annoying contestants on Chopped) to lose, lose, lose and lose so utterly consistently? Not sure, but I'm launching a thorough investigation.

So, to take the edge off of the inevitable defeat that any team I root for this season will suffer, I am drowning our mutual misery in AWESOME tailgating food. I mean, it hurts to see that last second field goal get blocked, but it hurts a little less when you can turn your face away from the tv screen and see a Smoked Crab Meat Potato Skin sitting there staring back at you.

So, if you are like me, and you are a ferocious competitor, but you are suffering from a voodoo curse that riddles your teams with injuries, immigration problems, and dwarf-pitfighting ring scandals, add this recipe and the ones that will follow for the next couple weeks to your tailgating repertoire, and it might just take the edge off...........................

Also, if you want to see other great ideas for washing your football woes away with awesome food, check out Robyn over at www.GrillGrrrl.com. She is a grilling pro, and is featuring top notch tailgating food on her website as we speak!

So, this recipe can be used as an awesome crab dip, but for potato skin purposes, the wet ingredients should be dialed back somewhat, so it can be used as a firm topping.

Crab Topping
3-4 clusters of crab legs, or enough to get 3/4 lb of meat
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 strips bacon, crisped and crumbled
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s is the best)
4 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
Sriracha chili sauce to your heat preference
Salt and pepper to taste

Place whole crab clusters (I used 3 Dungeness at 1.5 lbs) onto a preheated smoker or grill set for indirect grilling at 225-250 degrees. Place soaked wood chips on the coals and let cook for about 45 minutes.


Extract every last bit of meat from the crab bodies, legs, knuckles and claws. If you struggle, email me. I am the world's most incredible crab meat extractor. I can do seminars or group lessons, but I am EXTREMELY expensive. Talk to my agent.

Mix the meat with the other ingredients, adding the wet ingredients like mayo and cream cheese a little at a time, so the topping doesn't get too sloppy.

Potato Skin Shells
Make the shells at home in the oven before the tailgating begins, and then add the topping at your tailgating location.
Scrub 4 large russet potatoes clean, and dry with paper towels
Poke several holes per side with a fork to prevent Potatsplosions, and rub the spuds down with olive oil.
Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour until soft. Allow to cool, then cut in half long ways, then cut long ways again so that each potato makes 4 long wedges. Carefully scoop the center out of each quarter, leaving about 1/4 inch from the skin.
Cover inside and out in olive oil, sprinkle again with salt, and place in oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes on each side, until the shells are crispy.

Add a scoop of the crab topping to each of the skins, and place on the grill or in the oven for about 5 minutes at high heat until the crab topping gets golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and chopped green onions and serve raging hot.

If you share in my curse, then you should definitely start making football party food like this for your friends. It will distract them from realizing that it is YOU who is killing their team's record. It has worked for me for years.............
Go Vols!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Asian Flavored Beef Short Ribs! Never Heard of a Short Rib? It's Like a Regular Rib............Only Shorter

You know why I am awesome? I'll tell you. Because I have the courage of my convictions. Ever heard that before? I have heard it many times.........I have no idea what it means. However, I am certain that it applies here. Preggapotamus (her own term) is my Ultimate Supporter (some say Enabler), and when she gives me compliments, I attain super powers and my ego reaches dangerous levels. One of the things she sometimes says to me is that I don't wonder if I CAN do something, I simply DO it. Like that time I wanted to have Christmas lights on the house synchronized to music. Or the time I wanted to star in a rap music video. Or the time I decided to go to Mexico and compete in the Baja 1000 offroad race in a 1978 Volkswagen Beetle.....That last one actually hasn't happened yet, but I've got my eyes on summer 2012 (Love you Babe!)
I now know that she tells me these types of things when we're watching cooking shows so that I will go out and replicate the recipes for her to eat. At least, that happened this weekend.

Primal Grill is a show on PBS starring Stephen Raichlen. He walks you through all kinds of grilling, smoking and outdoor cooking with a focus on Barbeque from around the world. Now, like most cooking shows, there are usually many barriers between what you see him do on screen and what is practical for the Average Joe to do at home. There is some specialty piece of equipment that is critical to the process and costs three hundred dollars, or there is some key ingredient you could never find that is only available at midnight on a full moon in a village on an uninhabited island in the middle of Lake Michigan. It just seems to me that for all the food we see cooked on tv, hardly any of it ever actually shows up on the menu at any of our houses.
Well ladies and gentlemen, we here at the Jacked Up Grill are all about smashing through barriers. It was my goal when I started this site to show that untrained, average people (my face is next to the definition of the word "untrained" in the dictionary....because dictionaries have pictures....) could make food at home that is as good or better than you would get in a restaurant. So actually making a recipe we saw on tv was right up our alley. Turns out it just takes a few ingredients we didn't have, and a little determination.

The one that spoke to us yesterday was Raichlen's Shanghai Short Ribs. Short Ribs are all the rage these days in really fancy restaurants, and on high end cooking competitions like Top Chef and Iron Chef. Basically, short ribs are 4-5 inch long sections of flat rib bone with a cube of meat, fat and gristle laying flat on top. Like flank steak, which you see grilled often, it is a pretty poor cut of meat. However, they have lots of flavor, and with a little love, can be a real gourmet winner.

 The meat needs to be cooked for a long time at a low temperature to break down the connective tissue so it can be tender, so Raichlen put his in the smoker. I just happen to have a smoker, so I did the same. If you don't have a dedicated smoker, these can be prepared on a charcoal or gas grill using indirect grilling. This means placing the meat over a drip pan beside the coals or burners instead of directly over them. If you don't grill, this can also be done in the oven for the same time at the same temperature. Here's how it goes.

To put the Shanghai in our Shanghai ribs, we prepared an Asian spice rub. The key ingredient was one barrier to cooking tv food. Chinese Five Spice is a mixture of clove, cinammon, white pepper, fennel and star anise. It basically smells like Christmas. How many of you have this in your spice rack? I didnt think so. Right there, this can be a reason to quit and eat Lean Cuisine instead. BUT I SAY NAY! Do like I did and go to Whole Foods (......I am in full blown stalker love with that place), and get a scoop out of their spice section. You can buy as little as you need (mine cost $ .50). I also picked up some additionaly white pepper which the recipe calls for ($.75).
Shanghai Rub
1 tbsp Chinese 5 Spice
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground white pepper

Rub the ribs liberally, then put them in the smoker at 250 degrees for 2.5 hours until the meat has pulled back from the bone on the edges.

With about 15 minutes of cooking left, it's time to apply the Shanghai Barbeque Sauce.
Raichlen's recipe for this is a standard lesson in Asian flavors. But again, there is a reason to be intimidated and quit, but YOU MUST NOT QUIT! Hoisin sauce is a dark paste made from fermented soy beans. Mmmmmmmm sounds good right? Trust me, you've had it before in some Chinese dish or another and wondered what kind of crack they put in the dish to make it so addictive. Hoisin is that crack. Plus, it's cheap. Mine cost about three dollars for a whole jar. BUY IT.
Shanghai Sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsps rice vinegar (don't freak out, it's dirt cheap too. Any white vinegar will work though)
1 large clove garlic minced
1 tbsp ginger peeled and minced (if you're a wuss, just get dry ginger from the spice aisle)
2 green onions or scallions, minced

Mix all ingredients and let simmer for ten minutes on a burner.

Brush on the sauce with 15 minutes to go, and then serve the remainder at the table.

We dressed the ribs with chopped green onions and added some stir fried vegetables, and they were phenomenal. I think Pregatron felt connected to her primal inner cave woman while she was gnawing on those dinosaur sized bones, and I have a feeling I'll be getting more compliments on how uninhibited and determined I am the next time we see something that looks good to eat on Food Network.