Monthly Archives: August 2008

Where the Buffalo Roam

I have no real recipe posts to make this week.  I haven’t tried any new and daring cuisine lately, but this upcoming Labor Day weekend will find me alone in the kitchen with plenty of time.  Surely, there will be posts to come from that.

I just wanted to write briefly about this fascination I’ve had lately.  I’ve been cooking a lot of bison for protein in my dishes.  Bison has been lauded for its health benefits.  Key among them are less calories, greater amount of protein than beef, and very little fat.  The bison I’ve been cooking has make some excellent burgers, tacos, and any other thing you would normally cook with ground beef.  It’s also affordable.  My local Harris Teeter sells the ground wonder at 4.99$ per lb (look for it in your grocers’ frozen meat section).

I was like a kid in a candy store this weekend while shopping at the Dupont Circle farmers market for the first time.  The Cibola Farm Stand was exactly what I was looking for.  They had bison butchered any which way you can imagine not to mention it’s also natural and free range.  The prices were also very reasonable.  I made off with a big stack of buffalo burgers and some buffalo jerky.

One thing to note if you decide to cook up some bison; it is incredibly lean.  It cooks fast and like ground turkey, it dries out incredibly fast.  Burgers and steaks should be cooked no longer than medium rare.  Period.  You’ll end up with something not so juicy and not so good.

I’ll report back when I fire up these buffalo quarter pounders.

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Gnocchi

Daphne and Reg had Margaret and I over for dinner on Saturday night, and Daphne turned out some quite delectable gnocchi and bolognese sauce.  I love gnocchi, but I’ve never made it at home.  This certainly inspired me to give it a try next time I get a craving…or I could go to Daphne’s.

(Not pictured: a massive flan and apple pie…mmmm)

I got hitched again.

Adam W. Montjoy and I headed over to the Hitching Post to experience the best fried chicken in existence.  This was my second trip (read about my first), and this was his first.

My original post on the restaurant sums up all my feelings about it, and it certainly struck a culinary home run on my second visit.  It was lunch, and we were the only ones in the restaurant, so it was nice to get a different perspective on the atmosphere.  We ate chicken, macaroni and cheese, slaw, and watched some Olympic activities on the big screen.  Oh, and the portions were still the size of Russia…

Top Chef?

Not hardly.  Friday before a Nationals game, Margaret and I hit up Top Chef season 4 contestant Spike’s new burger and fries venture on Capitol Hill.  DC is saturated with really exceptional burger and fry joints, so the bar was set pretty high, and I was anticipating this meal for quite some time.

Too bad Good Stuff Eatery didn’t deliver on its namesake.  Upon entering the restaurant, you are struck by the farmhouse decor and the giant pictures of the fedora donning chef himself.  They are everywhere.  Every corner, every wall.  Once you get past the initial narcissism, you are to stand in line to order your meal.  The employees didn’t really seem to have a grasp on what was going on, so the line moved painfully slow (it took us 15-20 minutes to order when there were only 5 people in front of us).  I decided to go with the bacon cheese farmhouse burger and an order of onion rings; Margaret went with the turkey burger (w/ avocado, sprouts, LTO, etc.) and an order of the rosemary and thyme dusted fries.

After waiting about 15-20 for our food, the tiny buzzer went off, and I got excited for the experience to come.  I ran to pick up our order, got some napkins etc., and then brought it back to the table.  Upon examination of the contents of the bag, we realized we had two bacon cheeseburgers and no onion rings.  Boo.  Hiss.  I brought this to the attention of one of the staff at the counter, and her immediate reply was, “oh, that’s not good”, but even though we waited 20 minutes for “fast food”, she was able to produce a spare turkey burger and an order of onion rings on command.  Hmm.

Now to the food.  The good: my bacon cheese burger was actually quite delicious and messy in a good way.  It wasn’t eye opening or anything (I mean, c’mon, this is Washington – 5 Guys is king), but it was decent.  The onion rings were also quite tasty.  They were more like onion straws, but when dipped in the chipotle mayo from the dipping bar, they were finger licking good.

The bad: everything else.  The turkey burger that Margaret got was smaller than a McDonald’s cheeseburger.  For real.  It was missing the sprouts and LTO which thoroughly upset my dining companion.  The fries were also a mistake.  Very greasy and also terribly soggy for being fried twice, they almost bordered on un-appetizing.  They were also caked in dried rosemary and thyme.  I don’t understand the liberal use of dried herbs (fresh would of made a world of difference) on the fries.  Not even ketchup could save these little ones.

Anyway, I’ll give you a little food shot.  I don’t think we’ll be checking in with our “top chef” neighborhood burger joint any time soon.

Beer Can Chicken

I’ve been wanting to attempt this dish for a long time coming now.  It definitely is unique and flavorful, so I figured this past Sunday that I’d give it a go.  It is pretty easy so long as you have the right equipment.

  1. A whole chicken – guts removed
  2. You’re favorite barbecue rub
  3. an aluminum pan
  4. a half empty beer can
  5. wood chips

First, you slather the chicken with you’re favorite barbecue spice rub.  Then, place the chicken on top of the half full beer can (using the chicken’s gaping cavity of course).  The beer in the can not only provides  weight for stabilization, but it also heats on the grill making a beer steam for flavor.

You need to prepare your grill for indirect heat.  I use a Weber charcoal grill, so for me that means placing an aluminum pan in the middle of the area where the coals normally are.  The hot coals will then be divided around either side of the aluminum pan.  The pan serves both as a divider and a pan to catch drippings to minimize flareups.  Add hot coals to either side of the pan.  I like to use about a whole chimney starters worth divided evenly.  Then, sprinkle about a cup of woodchips (hickory does fine…soak them in water 30 minutes before using) amongst the hot coals.  This will release some great smoky flavor into the chicken.  Place the chicken on the grate up right.  You may need to maneuver its legs to make a tripod with the beer can in order to stabilize it.  Close the lid of the grill.  Walk away.  Make sure there is plenty of smoke coming out of the vents of your grill.  Add a few more hot coals and definitely more wood chips after about an hour.  The total cooking time on the chicken should be 90 – 120 minutes or until you reach an internal temp. of 170 (measure in the thigh).  The product is crispy, tangy, moist, and amazing.  The picture pretty much gives you the diagram of how this works on a charcoal grill.  I cooked two chickens (we had friends over) and split them in half.  Barbecue sauce optional.  Eat with beer of course.

Moules

Isn’t that the tastiest looking plate of mussels you’ve every seen?  That’s what I thought.  No, they aren’t from Granville Moore’s, but they are homemade deliciousness.  Margaret steamed them up in a broth containing beer, celery, tomatoes, onions, and bacon.  Mmm.  bacon.  They were amazing and that perfect bite of the ocean.

Vacation Part Two: Shana and Taylor’s Wedding

It was a whirlwind weekend, a rehearsal dinner, a bachelor party, and the marriage of Shana Till and Taylor Smith.  Given that both M and I were in the wedding (she a bridesmaid, I an usher), we stayed busy, busy, busy.  The wedding was fabulous though.  Great location, great fun, great wine selection, and great nibbles.  For the food, it was a buffet of lite bites and snacks that hit the spot.  The cake was the star though.  A vanilla cake threaded with stripes of lemon filling.  All of this topped off with a rich butter cream.  I’ll treat you all to some pictures.  Congrats Shana and Taylor.