Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Tailgate: Nuclear Bomb Steak Sandwich

Are all sandwiches created equal? The existence of Vegemite suggests that the answer is a resounding, and disgusting, no.

Vegemite: Proving the mental illness of the entire country of Australia

The sandwich is a staple of lunches everywhere, from the PB&J in the Ghostbusters lunchbox of a child (or socially inept comic book store employee) to the corned beef sandwich at your local Irish pub. The varieties of sandwiches around the world are endless. Different meats, bread, cheeses, veggies and condiments (bacon is both a meat and a condiment) allow sandwich explorers to roam to whatever combination soothes the savage glutton. Clearly, some are much better than others. Which raises the question of how to rank them.

Made with love by a bar cook with a knife scar on his face

I am not here to tell you the perfect stack - merely to offer some help in judging. The sandwich which all others should be judged by, the tasty combo that has graced us for years (its probably in your child’s lunch box today) is the bologna and cheese on white bread. It’s simple, tasty and readily available. It's both a classic standby and the unemployed bastard's last defense against starvation (because Ramen noodles suck).

My favorite version however uses hand sliced bologna seasoned with a quality barbecue dry. You grill it, then before taking it off the grill add sliced Hoop cheddar. When it's all melted and delicious, serve it on toast with yellow mustard, barbecue and hot sauces (Texas Pete’s hot sauce works well).

Something like this, except not snagged off of Google Images in real life

Although this is one of my favorite sandwiches, it is not the world's best. Only Sandwich Nazis declare absolutes. There's always something better and more fattening around the corner. Another slightly more sophisticated interpretation of the above-described bologna sandwich follows, but use your imagination. Some say the sky is the limit. I disagree - the other piece of bread is the limit. Unless you're some open-faced eating crackpot.

Nuclear Steak Bomb

The elegant plating and dinner napkin placement suggests this may not be a Man B Que-taken picture. Hell, the existence of a napkin at all in it is pretty conclusive evidence.

1 sirloin steak
1 bell pepper sliced
1/4 onion sliced
1 can croissant dough
1 jar mushroom gravy
Worcestershire sauce
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Season and grill your steak to your desired doneness. Simplicity works best with the seasoning - Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, salt and black pepper.

2. Heat a skillet over medium, then add gravy, bell peppers, and onions

3. When steak is finished resting, slice across the grain of the meat into bite-sized pieces.

4. Put steak chunks into skillet until gravy is thick.

5. Roll out croissant dough, making sure no seams break. Pour gravy steak mix into the center of the dough. Wrap dough around the mixture and bake following the instructions from the can.

Who said a croissant couldn't be manly?

- Dirt Man

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cooking With Booze: Steamed Hams

What's a blog without pop culture referencing?

There are those in our fair city that live without the luxury of a deck or porch. While this is not a lifestyle choice of which I approve (I'm wagging my finger in a fatherly way right now), this should not deprive them of their right to ridiculously delicious burgers. So fear not, intrepid shut-ins, I've found a way for you to turn your stovetop into a steam-billowing short order diner line.

Oh, and if the whole "Steamed Hams" reference is throwing you, I suggest you click here and join the rest of us. Frankly, I'm surprised it took us this long to shoehorn in a Simpsons reference.

Cartoons aside, I'd also read a story from Gourmet editor Sara Moulton about her first job cooking, where they took a burger covered with mushrooms, onions, and cheese and steamed it with beer. I didn't have a griddle and a big-ass metal bowl, but I did have a skillet and more than enough beer to do the job.

The Setup

(Makes 2 burgers - double it for 4. Yay, math!)

- 1/2 lb ground chuck
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Coarse-grained salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 c diced white onion
- 4 sliced mushrooms (Whatever kind you'd like. I bought a pack of Essex Kent mushrooms. They were on sale.)
- 1 jalapeno, quartered and diced
- 8 olives, diced
- 1/4 c grated white cheddar
- 1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 c dark ale (I used Half Acre's Over Ale)
- 2 buns, toasted or steamed


1. Combine the ground chuck, mustard, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and black pepper.

2. Divide beef and form into thin 1/4 lb patties.

3. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet to medium.

4. Add onions to pan, cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes.

5. Raise heat to medium hi and add mushrooms. Cook another 4-5 minutes, until the mushrooms are browned and glossy.

6. Season the onion/mushroom mix with salt and pepper, and remove to a bowl. Wipe out the skillet.

7. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to the skillet, heat to medium-high.

I did just one burger at a time - you know, for illustrative purposes. And because I don't own a very big skillet.

8. When oil is heated, add burgers to the skillet and cook 3 minutes.

9. Flip and cook another 2 minutes.

10. Add the toppings to burgers - onion/mushroom mix, jalepenos, and cheddar on one, and onion/mushroom, olives, and feta on the other.

11. Add beer to the skillet. Cover and steam for 3 minutes, until cheese is melted.

The beer gave its' life for deliciousness.

12. Put onto buns and enjoy your mouth-watering steamed hams.

Serve with beer

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crimes Against Food: Enough With the Damn Sliders

Feeds 1 ... unless you're hungry. Or a man.

You like hamburgers, right? You'd damn well better - about half of everything we post here is a hamburger recipe. Well, what if I offered you a burger, but instead of a big, juicy patty hanging over the edges of the bun, I told you that I'd instead pound the everliving shit out of the meat and slide it onto a dinner roll for that ever-so-delicious 80/20 bread/meat ratio? You might not think it's a great idea, but you know who does? Every damn restaurant. Everywhere. You can't throw a handful of cholesterol pills in this town without hitting a place trumpeting its' "NEW! Prime Beef Sliders!" And it's not just here in our fair city of Chicago - it's everywhere.

"Waiter? I hate to be a bother, but a bird has apparently begun building a nest on my entree."

Case in point: Washington, D.C.'s Matchbox. I go to D.C. for work a few times a year, and every time I do, people are telling me about the sliders (pictured above) - how awesome they are, how they could eat a million of them. So the last time I find myself in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood, I hit Matchbox and order them. They come with a pile of greasy fried onions on top, just dripping fryer oil all through the white bread bun. You also get a thin slice of cheese on the burger. And that's it. So they taste like slightly beefy grease. I love greasy food, but not when grease is the only flavor. That's why when we make bacon, we eat the bacon instead of drinking what collects in the pan. But I didn't share this with the waiter, because I hate seeing hipsters cry. Their mascara runs. Yes even the men. Especially the men.

It's not that sliders aren't a delicious food concept. But the execution almost always sucks. It's a pinch of ground beef smashed on a griddle and thrown onto a roll, maybe with a slice of unmelted, somewhat plasticized cheese. Fucking hooray - nothing better than paying $9 for the taste of unseasoned ground beef, bread, and Sysco cheese. Or alternately, "sliders" made of crock-pot BBQ pork, dry shredded chicken, or whatever else they've lot laying around. So maybe the super-expensive high end shit would be better?

"Only $60? Why, that's a bargain! ... Why the sudden urge to cut my own wrists?"

Fuck no, it's not better. Some of your fancier-pants restaurants have decided to put Kobe sliders (or comparable American-raised Wagyu) on the menu. This is actually a much, much worse idea. Kobe beef, depending on the quality and market, costs between $16-30 PER MOTHERFUCKING OUNCE! They're taking the most expensive beef in the world, pushing it through a meat grinder, overcooking it, and slapping it on a brioche bun. Meat like that is meant to be eaten as a rare, in steak form. You don't want a rare slider - ergo, you don't want Kobe sliders. Ever. It is a terrible, terrible idea.

There are easy ways to make excellent, inexpensive sliders that have actual flavor. We will share this knowledge with you later this week, as ranting has left little room for recipes. But until then, let's all rack our collective brains to try and find out what evil douchebag is responsible for this regrettable fad.

Well, that didn't take long

- J.B. Mays

Sunday, October 18, 2009

JB Mays' K.C. Brisket

Two tickets to paradise

So far as most people see it, a proponent of grilling has to choose one of two camps - charcoal or gas. The gas users say that charcoal is inconvenient and can provide inconsistent heat. The charcoal users say that gas doesn't get quite as hot and doesn't impart that distinctive charcoal aroma. Meanwhile, the guys who cook over hardwood just laugh, take a slug of whiskey from the bottle, and call both of them pussies. And not wanting to be called such, I've always wanted to try my hand at smoking. Which brings us to today's recipe, a tangy, smoky brisket inspired largely by Mike Mills' excellent Peace, Love and BBQ.

At it's heart, the practice of grilling is about taking something ordinary and making it excellent through skill, practice, and sheer force of will. Nowhere is that more evident than with brisket. You take a tough, fat-covered cut that most meat departments don't even stock, and you turn it badass - much like Mr. Miyagi did to Daniel Russo. Except, you know, Miyagi didn't end up eating him. But if it helps you to put on some badass '80s music in hope of a montage, you go right ahead, sport.


1 beef brisket ~7 lbs.
1 c apple juice

Mustard Slather
1/4 c yellow mustard
1/4 c Dijon mustard
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c beer

1 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar, dried
1/3 c seasoned salt
1/3 c celery salt
1/3 c paprika
3 tbsp ancho chile powder
2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp lemon pepper
2 tsp ground sage
2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp thyme

The Setup

Sure, it says "Smoker," but it's the blackening that really convinces me

- First thing's first - if you want to smoke, you're going to have to come to terms with the fact that you're going to need an entire day. And probably half of the previous evening. If this is unacceptable, then go get yourself a chicken caesar wrap from Applebees, Sally Mae.

- For this job, you're going to need a smoker. I know that a lot of BBQ cookbooks try to throw grill-owners a bone and say that you can use indirect fire and wood chips, but that's not going to work. You most likely won't have a side door to drop in fresh coals on your kettle grill, and you don't want to be lifting the lid every time you need to add heat. Just get a smoker. You can snag one for about $65.

When starting coals, make sure you've got a friend nearby in Chuck Taylors. You know, for atmosphere.

- You're also going to need a metal bucket, or a chimney starter with a stone or metal sheet under it to keep prepared coals ready. When you're cooking low and slow, you can't be throwing on unlit coals and hope they'll catch at 230 degrees.

- Get a pair of comfortable tongs. You're going to be transferring a lot of lit coals. A lot. You don't want to end up with some sort of clawed hand, like you're a 13 year old boy 48 hours after the new Victoria's Secret catalog comes in the mail.

- Also good? Suede grilling gloves. As you may imagine, a bucket of coals is hot as fuck.

Gentlemen make sure to not giggle when saying "probe" ... more than three times.

- Keep a probe thermometer on hand to keep an eye on the smoker temperature and check the brisket when it's nearly done. Also keep a spray bottle to spritz the brisket when you have to turn it.

- The type of hardwood you use (apple, mesquite, hickory, etc.) depends on your preference, but make sure it's small enough to fit in your smoker. Unless you've got a wood shop, or are some kind of unholy urban lumberjack, you're not going to be able to split it at home.

The Night Before

1. Combine dry rub ingredients in a large bowl. If the brown sugar isn't dry, spread it out on a plate, microwave 15 seconds, break up the clumps, and repeat until dry. Sift to take out any remaining chunks.

2. Reserve ~1/2 c of the rub, storing the rest in a tightly-sealed jar for future use.

3. Whisk together mustard, vinegar, and beer until smooth. Set aside.

4. Place the brisket, fat side up, onto your cutting board. Trim the layer of fat until it's 1/4" thick.

5. Cover brisket with mustard slather. Just use your hands. Or a pastry brush if you're French.

6. Season the brisket well on all sides with the reserved rub. Don't be stingy, or the horrified looks of your guests will forever haunt your soul.

7. Place into a plastic bag or container, and let marinate overnight, if possible.

Brisket Day

1. Get up early to start the fire. Earlier than you think you need. Resent those still warm in their beds. Consider how early is too early to begin drinking.

2. Use a chimney starter to get a batch of hardwood coals started. Place them in the smoker, along with some smaller pieces of the wood. Continue to burn coals and wood until you have a consistent heat of 230-250 degrees.

Why yes, starting a fire on a third floor wood deck is a very good idea, smartass

3. As the fire builds, take the brisket out of the refrigerator to let it come closer to room temperature.

4. Light another batch of coals in the chimney starter, and either keep them in the starter, or place them into a metal bucket. This is what you're going to use to regulate the heat.

5. Place the brisket on the grill, making sure that it's fat side up. That quarter-inch of fat is going to melt through the meat in a way that's going to make you love life.

6. Keep the temperature between 230-250 for 1 1/2 - 2 hours for each pound.

7. Give the brisket a 90 degree turn at each halfway point in the cooking process. So if you're cooking for 12 hours, turn with 6 hours left, then 3 hours left, then an hour and a half left, etc.

I wish there were a manlier word to use than "spritz." I'd consider the term "Man Spray," but that sounds even worse.

8. When you turn the brisket, spritz the top of the meat with the bottled apple juice.

9. When you think that your delicious slab of meat is done, check for an internal temperature of 185 degrees. If it's finished, wrap it in aluminum foil and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

A meal fit for a king. Also fit for Ted Nugent.

10. Slice thin and eat it. You eat the hell out of it.

- J.B. Mays

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Crimes Against Food: Bag o' Meat

Crimes Against Food features the greatest offenses committed against the greater eating public and the hallowed institution of food itself.

Earlier this week, I stopped into Costco for some productive meat shopping. Honestly, you wouldn't picture a concrete box the size of a Boeing hangar as the ideal place to find quality meatstuffs, but quality meat is to be had here. Lots of it. For cheap. Hilariously, you can also buy a coffin in which to bury your meat-engorged ass when you finally kick off the mortal plane, waving two middle fingers and a half-drunk Schlitz to the dreadlocked trust-fund vegans of the world.

Anyway, the brisket was beautiful, the rib racks massive, and the strip steaks perfectly marbled. This, I thought, must be the meat eater's paradise. Until I stumbled upon this abomination:

Pre-cooked? Pre-cut? Pre-seasoned? (And what is this mysterious "a seasoning," anyway?) Did they not have a pre-chewed option, as well? Or maybe you can just get a representative of the company to vomit their Arby's lunch back into your mouth for a cool $12. On top of all that, it spells out for you the fact that they had to add caramel coloring to make it look like something normal people would eat. This, my friends, is no way to eat. This is not Man B Que. In fact, let's run down the key facts.

- Pre-cooked meat
- Artificially colored
- Ready out of the bag
- Pre-seasoned
- Even the professional photo of it looks gross

A ha! It's dog food for humans! Have we fallen so far in our ability to make an enjoy a delicious meal for ourselves that we would willingly and wantonly cram bagged scrap meat down our gaping maws? Can we not wait the ten minutes it takes to season, sear, cook, and cut a piece of steak?

"Remember kids, when you eat bagged meat, you're eating communism! And possibly Type 2 Diabetes."

I say no to bagged meat, dammit! Let the Rascal scooter fatties of the world have their Bag o' Meat, and may heaven have mercy on their colons. I will continue to walk right past this cooler of depravity to both the butcher and self-respect. That's the Man B Que way.

- J.B. Mays

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Tailgate: Bacon-Cheddar Tailgate Burgers

Ed. Note: This post serves as the introduction to Man B Que's newest food writer, Stuart. Yet, as we all know, there is no Man B Que without kickass nicknames. Seeing as how Stuart made his bones as a grounds intern for the 2007 Boston Red Sox and now works as a head groundskeeper in the minor leagues, I dub him Dirt Man. Man makes his living in the dirt, and I'm feeling literal today. Feel free to call him Old Dirty Bastard, Dirt McGurt, Big Baby Jesus and all other such nicknames. So shall it be written. Man B Que!

What is a tailgate? Some would say that a tailgate is the part of a truck that keeps things from falling out the back.




Others, like myself, cannot deny this definition, but might also say that a tailgate is any party outside that precedes a larger event. Whether it is a group of friends reminiscing together in a parking lot before a class reunion or a lavish tent complete with a chandelier, fine wine, and homemade croissants(as witnessed in “The Grove” of The University of Mississippi).

Yes, seriously

I submit that tailgating has become the new American pastime. The tailgate can be humble and simple, but it can also be extravagant and highbrow. In travels around the NCAA, MLB, and NFL, I've noticed the best tailgates all have one thing in common - the best food. Tailgate food is most often charred to perfection over open flame. People seem to be cooking up anything of the right size to be placed on the grill. Some of the grilled delicacies that I have seen at tailgates include everything from generic burgers and hotdogs, to full-on slow cooked Bar-B-Que, to any assortment of vegetables, jalapeƱos stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon, shrimp in a sweet spicy mustard base sauce, marinated gator tail, and fresh venison roast.

Anything you can think to grill and serve as tailgate fair probably already has been or soon will be. My advice is to join in and grill with some friends before any event - not just concerts and sporting events, but also academic competitions, municipal board re-zoning hearings, and the funerals of one's enemies. Here is my favorite burger recipe to get you started:

Dirt Man's Tailgate Burgers

4 lb. ground chuck

4 andouille sausages, diced

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1 Vidalia onion, diced

Worcestershire sauce

Grilling seasoning (recommended: Montreal's Grilling Seasoning)

1/2 c brown sugar

1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce

8 good hamburger buns (none of this $0.99 store brand shit - you'll end up with two handfuls of mushy bread and condiments)


About 4 c sliced mushrooms, sauteed ahead of time

16 slices smoked bacon, cooked ahead of time

8 thick slices smoked cheddar


1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.

2. Combine diced sausage, pepper, and onion. Sweat mixture in large skillet add a quarter cup of Worcestershire sauce 8 tablespoons of grilling seasoning, and brown sugar cook until thick and combined. Let the mixture cool and combine with ground chuck. Shape into patties.

3. Place burgers on the grill. Brush the burgers with your favorite barbecue sauce as they cook.

4. Once they are almost cooked to your desired degree of doneness, divide the following toppings over the burgers: the sauteed mushrooms, 2 slices of bacon, and 1 slice of cheese, in that order. Cook just until cheese is melted and toppings are heated through.

5. Now shove into face. Repeat.