Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tofu Time

It was about this time a year ago that I first posted about barbecued tofu. It was a favorite recipe from back in the days when yours truly was a dedicated vegetarian.

Now Flannery, our 13-year-old has gone meatless, so we're trying to introduce her to some of our old recipes. With the help of her little sister, MoJo, I whipped up the maranade and sauce, baked the tofu fillets, then served them with a salad and some couscous.

Although Marcy and I made this recipe many times before, it was particularly tasty this time. Maybe because we were sharing it with our kids, which makes everything special.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Pits

A couple of weeks ago I made my first effort at a couple of local favorites - Baltimore-style pit beef and pit turkey.

When we first got to town almost eight years ago now, I was intrigued by these little roadside pit beef shacks that were scattered around. Sometimes they were in the parking lots of restaurants, sometimes they were attached to fruit stands, or gas stations or just sitting by themselves. When I finally pulled off and ordered one of the sandwiches, I was hooked.

It wasn't like the bbq I'd enjoyed in Kentucky, Texas or Chicago. There's no sauce applied during the cooking and sometimes not even a rub added before. The beef, grilled over direct heat has a crunchy crust and is sliced as thin as possible, then piled high on a kaiser roll and slathered with a horseradish sauce.

Pulaski Highway, which runs through Baltimore's east side, is Pit Beef Alley. Chaps is perhaps the Mecca of pit places, drawing well locally and bringing in aficionados from all over.

I prepared the beef and turkey the night before grilling, using a rub attributed to Big Fat Daddy, who used to be among the Pulaski pit bosses. The recipe is:

1/2 cup Season-All seasoned salt
1/4 cup paprika
4 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp oregano
2 tsp ground black pepper

After rubbing the beef (3 lbs top round) and a turkey breast, I covered both with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator overnight to cure.

The next day I prepared the Weber for direct grilling and when the coals were ready, put both meats side by side over the coals.

I turned the meats about every five to seven minutes to make sure they cooked evenly. After about an hour over the coals, both were nicely blackened on the outside and cooked to temperature inside (about 150-160 degrees for the beef, whenever the plug popped out of the turkey breast).

I brought both in, tented them on a cutting board for 30 minutes, then began to slice as thinly as I could. I also mixed up the requisite horseradish sauce:

1 cup Hellmann's mayo
1/2 cup prepared white horseradish
1 Tbl lemon juice
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste.

I don't know if I'm quite ready to open my own roadside pit joint, but it wasn't too bad for a first attempt.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Last night we saw John Hiatt in concert at the Hot August Blues Festival in Cockeysville, Maryland. It was the fourth time we've seen Hiatt in concert. Great shows, every one.

The first time I heard of Hiatt was in the mid-1908s when we lived in Chicago and WXRT FM was playing Memphis in the Meantime. To this day it's still my favorite John Hiatt song.

There's a line in the song I didn't think about much until last night, and it jumped out at me - "At least we can get ourselves a decent meal down at the Rendezvous." Rendezvous? Why does that sound familiar?

Today I figured it out. I was just reading about the Rendezvous in Steven Raichlen's BBQ USA. It's the Vergos family's bbq restaurant in Memphis. The Rendezvous is famous for mouth-watering ribs, pork shoulder and leg of lamb. And you can order just about anything off their menu and they'll ship it to you.

Now I have a reason to like the song even more.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Peace, Love & BBQ

There are two things I miss most about Austin, Texas, where we lived during the late '90s and early '00s - the music and the food.

Marcia Ball calls to mind both. A bluesy, soulful mainstay of the Austin music scene, we saw her a couple of times in downtown restaurants, where she was eating, not performing.

The clip above preserves that duality and is a perfect fit for the theme of this blog.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Tube Steaks

Looking to flaunt my grillmanship this weekend, I stopped by the butcher and picked up a pound of his finest, all-beef tube steaks.

While the beefy links were still fresh, I prepared the Weber for direct grilling. Once the coals were white hot, I carefully placed the links perpendicular to the grate, to give them a lovely striping of grill marks.

These doggies cook quickly, so I hovered over the fire with tongs at the ready. Since these things are round, there's really no "side" to cook them on. I allowed them to rest for roughly 45 seconds before giving each tube a nudge with the tongs to expose another section to the flames.

Within 2-3 minutes, the meat was perfectly browned and the skin was bursting open. I carefully removed them from the grill and placed each in a soft, elongated roll that was split down the middle. They were then dressed with a line of mustard and a sprinkling of dill relish. They were complemented by a side salad of baby spring greens with a balsamic reduction and a perfectly chilled glass of Chardonnay.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The BBQ Song

Calamity Jeff sent me the link to the above video, which is Rhett and Link's musical review of bbq across the southern states. Great stuff!

You can see more from them here.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Head Case

The older I get, the more my head looks like an egg.