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Everything posted by DTBarton

  1. We have just completed a 3 day trip to the Austin area that included 5 barbecue places. Wanted to add our impressions to the mix. We went to the big three in Lockhart last Tuesday. Black's first. The brisket was dry, the sausage was very good. Two kinds of beans, both were very good, as were the jalapeno corn muffins. The other sides we tried were not very good (deviled eggs and slaw) Smitty's market second. Wow. The brisket was fantastic, moist, tender and flavorful. Hands down the best sausage by a pretty wide margin, beautiful texture and a great smoke ring, not red all the way through. Beans were nice, not as good as Black's. Very good cole slaw. We tried a couple pork ribs. They were very nicely cooked, but no rub or anything on them, so a little plain. Kreuz market last. After all the accolades, we were pretty disappointed. As an aside, we ate limited quantities at each place, so we weren't stuffed at Kreuz. Everything we tried was off puttingly salty. Brisket, sausage, beans were all salty. Maybe we caught an off day. So, we thought Smitty's was the best overall by a pretty big margin. One note, all the sausage we tried was original, if they offered flavors, we didn't try them. Yesterday walked from our hotel to Franklin. Got there at 10:30, about 60 people ahead of us in line. Got served a little before 12:30. The brisket was fantastic like Smitty's, I'd rate them equal. The sausage was not bad, much more of a garlic, kielbasa type flavor, but not close to Smitty's. Pork ribs here are very good with a nice peppery rub on the outside, best pork ribs in Texas (that we tried) by a wide margin. Cole slaw was great, beans were very peppery and our serving had more brisket than beans, so kind of hard to evaluate. Franklin cuts all the meat himself, that's why it takes so long. Maybe he could apprentice a couple of other meat cutters to speed things up. He really cares, though. As I watched him cut our brisket, he discarded a couple of good sized pieces that didn't feel right to him. I talked to the head guy at Smitty's, and he said he tells his cutters that if it's not tender like it should be, don't serve it. I like that dedication. I think if I lived in Austin, I'd swing by Franklin once in a while at about 1:00 PM to see if I could grab some BBQ without the long wait, and have a backup lunch plan if he's sold out. Today, we tried J. Mueller's on South 1st street in Austin. having had a lot of brisket, we went for sliced pork shoulder and sausage. Pork was very good, but not over the top. Sausage was OK. Potato salad was good. After we ordered , the girl cutting the meat gave us brisket samples that were great, she was kind of saying you should go there for brisket, I think. Also, people rave about the short ribs at Muellers, but alas, they were sold out. Everything at J. Muellers was very peppery, including the sauce. I'm OK with that, but if you don't like a lot of pepper, it could be too much. So, overall I'd give Smitty's first place in a close battle with Franklin, the sausage wins it for them. Franklin's pork ribs were very good, but this being Texas, you get more points for brisket and sausage. Muellers gets third over Blacks in fourth, the dry brisket did in Blacks. Kreuz fifth for over salting everything, a surprising result. It would be interesting to do it again sometime and see if these results are consistent or how much they change from day to day.
  2. I had great coquilles St. Jacques in Paris that was made with roe on scallops.
  3. A previous poster thought that it was a bad idea to use garden tomatoes to make tomato sauce. I have to disagree strongly. When we have a good tomato year (like 2011), we have way too many tomatoes to consume even after much sharing with lots of folks. That said, my yard is very exposed to wind, so I get a lot of small, not so pretty tomatoes with cracks and splits. Making sauce allows you to use large quantities of these ugly duckling tomatoes. The trick is to squeeze as much of the tomato water and seeds out of the fruits before you dice them and put them in the pan with the olive oil, garlic, and onion. By greatly reducing the liquid content, you don't have to simmer the sauce for very long (15 - 30 minutes depending on juice quotient) and it maintains an intense, bright fresh tomato flavor. Finish with chopped basil. We froze about 15 quarts last summer in tupperware type containers and it was great even when you thawed it out the next March, blows away anything you can make with canned tomatoes no matter how pricey or San Marzanoey. Another dish we like is eggs in hell. Make a soffrito with garlic, onion, chili peppers (hot or not or a mix) and diced tomatoes squeezed as above for the sauce. Simmer until the liquid is reduced somewhat and poach eggs on top of the soffrito. Great with toast, even better with grits.
  4. I like to run the duck meat, skin side up under the broiler quickly to heat it and crisp the skin.
  5. Everyone else has given you good tips. I do agree with the Tyler Florence recipe that uses buttermilk instead of regular milk. I use buttermilk in all quick (i.e. non yeast risen) breads and really like the flavor and texture it produces.
  6. Cinghale web site is back up http://cgeno.com/ I believe Obrycki's is closed. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-11-05/entertainment/bs-md-obryckis-closes-1106-20111105_1_ed-obrycki-rob-cernak-lump-crab-meat For crabs in Baltimore, there is Bo Brooks in Canton http://www.bobrooks.com/ Not an eat in spot, but for some great kielbasa (fresh or smoked, I love the fresh) to take home, try Ostrowski's on Washington Street in Fell's Point. http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/31/352012/restaurant/Fells-Point/Ostrowskis-Famous-Polish-Sausage-Baltimore
  7. Some of my favorites in Baltimore include: Cindy Wolfe's restaurants - Charleston http://www.charlestonrestaurant.com/ The most fancy and pricy of the three, 3 to 6 courses prix fixe. Pazo http://www.pazorestaurant.com/ more casual with both small and regular plates in a cool old building (I'm eating there this Friday). Cinghiale http://www.yelp.com/biz/cinghiale-baltimore (web site wasn't responding just now) Upscale Italian. Attman's deli - http://www.attmansdeli.com/ Old school deli with excellent corned beef. The corned beef is much better than the pastrami. it can be very crowded at lunch time, best to go a little earlier or later. Cross Street Market - http://www.bpmarkets.com/crs1.html A real Baltimore experience is to go walk around the market and sample different foods.
  8. I'd like to see trucks that offer serious sandwiches like at a good Delaware or Philadelphia sub shop. Italian subs, cheesesteaks, roast pork. Or a good deli truck with pastrami and corned beef.
  9. I've seen another forum on this topic. There were definitely strong opinions with preference for either product. I'm a devoted Diet Coke person. It seems to me that Coke Zero is designed to more closely resemble regular Coke in flavor, i.e. really sweet, which is what I don't like about it. My mother started me on diet soda when I was very young ( Tab, which was nasty, and Fresca, which I still like sometimes), so I'm used to the slight bitterness of old fashioned diet soda.
  10. We were having an early lunch before the return drive to Annapolis, so we didn't peruse the wine list, sorry. If the same care that went into the food preparation continues with the wine there should be some nice choices.
  11. Had the opportunity to have lunch at Haven pizzeria last Saturday in Bethesda http://www.havenpizzeria.com/ The place has been getting a lot of buzz lately in the local media. Here are a couple of examples: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/value-added-accountants-love-of-pizza-causes-him-to-toss-some-dough/2012/04/29/gIQAFSWGqT_story.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/restaurants/haven,1229815/critic-review.html From my experience, the buzz is justified. Everything we had was very good, fresh, and made with excellent ingredients. The mozzarella on the caprese salad and the tomato pie was great, the sausage on the pie was flavorful and had a nice shot of fennel. The clam pie was terrific, good olive oil, wonderful clams, lots of garlic. The pizza crusts are thin and crisp with a beautiful smoky char. Staff was friendly, they gave the wife a tour of the back of the ovens where they load the coal. Only thing we didn't try was the gelato, but they have a very fancy gelato maker. So, they seem to be obsessed in a good way with quality equipment and ingredients.
  12. Any soup/stew/braised dish that combines multiple ingredients improves with some age. The flavors marry and the dish becomes much more finely integrated. If I have the time, I'll cook a multiple ingredient dish to be served the same day as early as I can as it benefits greatly from resting for several hours before serving. If the dish has noodles or beans and gets a little thick, just add some broth and reheat gently.
  13. I've got two WSMs (18" and 22"), they're great smokers. I was about to give up and get a gas smoker when I bought my first one. Really holds temperature nicely. A few hints: I've found them to be warm weather cookers, hard to keep the temp up when it's chilly outside. For ease of clean up, thoroughly coat cooking grates, rib racks, etc. with cooking spray. As mentioned above, the larger water pan is a good idea. Wrap the pan in heavy duty foil, as you mentioned. An easy way to add a thermometer is to use the thermometer through cork method shown here http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/moretherm.html . The neat thing about the WSM is if you follow the directions on virtualweberbullet.com, the learning curve is very short. I made excellent ribs the first time I fired it up.
  14. I'll put in another word for Bertucci's, although as noted, it is a regional chain. Ours in Annapolis is easily the best pie in town, not that we're known as a pizza destination. Also agree with gfweb's review to stick with the pizza. The few times I've strayed from it you're sitting there saying, "Why didn't I get pizza"? Don't know if this is chain wide policy, but in Annapolis, the lunch deal is good. Order a pizza and you get all the salad and rolls with olive oil dip you want gratis. Their rolls are good and yeasty and usually warm fom the oven. They give you a bag of rolls with a take out pizza also.
  15. DTBarton

    KFC 2012–

    Cooking KFC was my first real job in 1976. I can put some perspective on to the original versus extra crispy thing, at least as it was in the late 1970s. Both the egg wash and the coating flour mixture are different for original and crispy chicken. For the original, the egg wash mixture (made by mixing a pre-packaged dry ingredient bag with water) was a sort of light orange color that I assume came from dehydrated egg yolks. None of the pre-packaged dry mixtures listed ingredients. To make original recipe breading, 25 pounds of flour was mixed with a pre-measured bag of salt and a pre-packaged spice mixture, the Colonel's secret recipe. You dipped the chicken in the egg wash and then into the seasoned flour. The chicken is browned in an open pressure cooker (400 degree oil) for about 4 minutes and then the pressure lid is locked on and the chicken cooks for about 9 more minutes. The crispy chicken egg wash had a faintly bluish color reminiscent of skim milk. The flour was seasoned with salt and nothing else. The crispy chicken goes from egg wash to flour, then back in the egg wash and into the flour a second time to build up extra coating. Then the chicken was deep fried in a 375 degree open vat for about 20-22 minutes, no pressure involved. I actually worked at a Geno's restaurant, a northeast hamburger chain that also served KFC. The story of the cooking oil is interesting also. We started with 50 pound blocks of vegetable shortening (this was the days before trans fat scares) that were melted in the french fry vats and used to cook fries for a few days. When the oil was deemed to be too dark for french fries, it was moved to the crispy chicken vats. When it was too dark for crispy chicken it moved again to the original chicken pressure cookers. That's why original is always darker than crispy, it's by design.
  16. DTBarton

    Smoked Chicken Skin

    I agree with Mike the chilihead. I find that, for my taste, slow smoking poultry like you do pork or beef gives you too much smoke that overwhelms the meat and leaves you with the rubbery skin issue. I've been grilling chicken more or less as described in Mike's post for years. Indirect around the fire to start, I move more over the coals as the fire cools off somewhat. Gives a gentler, grill smoke taste and nice crispy skin. You can baste with a little barbecue sauce thinned down with vinegar at the end. Changes the skin texture a bit, not as crispy, but nice caramelized sugar char.
  17. Here is a recent Charleston City Paper article talking about hot spots around town: http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/the-10-places-to-eat-right-now-in-charleston/Content?oid=4025880
  18. Almost all the folks I've seen taking photos of food were doing it discretely without flash. I certainly enjoy seeing photos online and they have been a factor in my decisions about where to eat. Also, I can't recall seeing any posted photos of food that were not trying to be complimentary, so I think overall it's a positive thing for restauranteurs.
  19. I cook ducks the same way on a gas rotisserie and get the nice crispy skin. While I agree with Rotuts choices of sauces (except I'm not a big marmalade guy), I have found that putting them on the bird while cooking does take the edge off the crunch. I like to serve them on the side after cooking. We have found this to be a very satisfactory hoisin: http://www.amazon.com/Koon-Chun-Hoisin-Sauce-jar/dp/tags-on-product/B000EIP6MA
  20. A little late to the show here, but I have a good alternative to brining for pork shoulder. When I smoke them, I inject them with unsweetened apple juice. Adds internal basting moisture and a hint of fruit sweet.
  21. The reasons for the bread/milk mixture and the egg have been well covered. I also use one egg to a kg (or 2 lbs.) of meat mix. I usually use a little more bread/milk mix than most recipes call for because I like the texture the bread/milk mix brings. I have not found that the order you mix things matters, but the egg blends better if it is beaten before adding. For a fun experiment on why you use the milk/bread mix and eggs, next time you make meatballs, make a couple without the milk/bread mix and egg. Then add those ingredients and make the rest of the balls. The ones without the bread and eggs will be noticeably drier and chewier than the others.
  22. One way I like to do tuna is to pan sear it with salt and pepper and serve it with a highly flavored tomato sauce. The tuna really stands up to the sauce. For the sauce: Olive oil diced garlic diced onion chopped black olives chopped anchovy Diced canned or fresh tomatoes (if using fresh, squeeze out the excess juice and seeds) lemon juice I don't have exact measures for the ingredients, you're looking for balance between the flavors.
  23. Here's another Charleston thread, some of the last entries are fairly recent. I'm partial to FIG: http://www.eatatfig.com/ Also partial to Seewee but it is a bit of a drive up 17 north from the city. Great job of all things fried. http://www.hollyeats.com/Seewee.htm
  24. This crawfish selling site has instructions for purging crawfish. Just click on "how to boil crawfish" on the right side of the page: http://www.cajungrocer.com/fresh-foods-crawfish-live-c-1_15_19.html
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