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The finished pork, awaiting the caress of a roll.

I don’t know about you, but here at Garlic Press we like us some Bar-B-Que with a ferocious passion that goes nearly unmatched by any of the other loves in our lives (and we are a passionate bunch when it comes to good eating and drinking, among other things…) I’ve wanted to take a crack at making some pulled pork for a long time, however a certain somebody that I share living space with is not a fan of this style of BBQ. Sacrilege I tell you! Fortunately for my taste buds I found myself in a house with no food to speak of (thanks to recent snow storms…) and a girlfriend who was away all week watching her sister. This was the perfect opportunity to whip something awesome up. I figured you can’t really screw up pulled pork too badly on a first pass, and it would leave me with something delicious to eat for the rest of the week. With that in mind I dug my car out (finally) and went to Wegmans to acquire the necessary goods that I didn’t already have. So anything but spices, but the beauty here is that it’s not really an overly complicated ordeal to bring this together in terms of ingredients.

I had already settled on needing something mildly spicy, as compared with my normal ingestion of wildly hot food (more to come on that front in the near future) so, while I considered obtaining hotter peppers, I settled on a big bag of dried Chile de Arbol peppers that I have at home. They provided the proper heat and flavor – I can’t endorse using anything else in retrospect. On a side note, I love Wegmans – it’s nearly impossible to go in and buy just what you need. Anyhow, since this recipe takes all day to cook, and it was now late afternoon, I opted to make it the following day. I engaged a friend, Luis, to stop by and join me before he takes a long trip and he was certainly happy to provide some company on the vague promise of some form of delicious dinner – food like this is best enjoyed with others.

Before we get to how to whip this up, let me share this: I expected to like the pulled pork if only because I had been dreaming of having some for weeks, and beyond that I hoped it would actually be delicious. It turned out perfect, so good in fact that Luis demanded that upon his return I remake it so we can sit down and try our hand at eating a whole batch at once – a measly ~5 lbs of BBQ between two people – at his expense. I look forward to it. I also look forward to eating this for every meal until it’s gone (it was already consumed for breakfast, lunch and another dinner prior to completing this write up, so I’m well on my way.) With that self-glorification and four straight meals of pork out of the way, let me share with you how to create this symphony of sweet, spicy, tangy and porky on your palate that (if you’re like me) will give you an intense food buzz… or maybe that was the Nugget Nectar Luis and I were drinking in anticipation. Either way, win!

Ingredients:

  • Pork shoulder roast (whatever fits in your slow cooker, I got 8 lbs and cut it roughly in half to make it fit)
  • Grill seasoning (I used my own, any grill seasoning would be fine here)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 green pepper
  • Numerous dried Chile de Arbol
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • Malt vinegar
  • Tabasco
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce
  • Rolls
  • Corn starch

Method:

Slice onions and chop green peppers and pull out a number of chiles, whatever you are comfortable with. I like things quite hot so I used two palm-fulls. Drop about half of the onions into the bottom of the slow cooker, along with some of the chile peppers. Place pork roast on top of this and cover with grill seasoning.

Drop the rest of the peppers, onions and chiles on top of the pork and pour the apple cider over it. Grab the Tabasco and malt vinegar and give a few good shakes of each on top of everything. I also gave a few extra shakes of crushed red pepper for good measure.

Seal up your slow cooker and set it to high and a timer for 6 hours. Find something entertaining to do…

If you do this on the weekend, or work at home as I do, be prepared for an increasingly delicious smell to waft in from your cooking area. After 6 hours are up, pop open your slow cooker for an awesome site:

Push the vegetables to the side and remove pork to a separate bowl. Clean any fat off the bottom and shred it as best as possible with a couple of forks and a knife. Pour the rest of the contents of the slow cooker through a strainer and retain the juices. Place drippings in a container and put in the freezer to allow the fat to congeal. Dump the onions and peppers in with the pork and combine well – they should fall to pieces and mix in nicely. Add BBQ sauce to taste – I used about half of a 28 oz bottle. If you don’t have access to Sweet Baby Ray’s be sure to use a somewhat sweet sauce as it compliments the tangy heat that the peppers have imparted very nicely. Mix well and return to the slow cooker. Set to high for 5-10 minutes to bring to a near-boil, then mix well with a spoon and set to low or keep warm and let sit for at least another hour and don’t touch it.

After 30 minutes or so the fat should have solidified out of the drippings, scrape it off or pour through it as your health needs dictate and warm slowly in a saucepan. When volume has gone down slightly, 15 or so minutes, whisk in a touch of corn starch to thicken the sauce and get some rolls in the toaster. From here it’s all up to you. I ran my forks through the pork one more time to shred it a bit further, then piled it high on a roll with a little extra Ray’s and some of the sauce and served it up with some freshly steamed broccoli, coleslaw from Wegmans and a pickle. As this is a hot dish I suggest a pale ale at least, and if you go hotter as I did an IPA will help cut the sauce so you can enjoy every bite. Enjoy!

I know it's not the best shot, but whatever. It was dinnertime.

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To quote an angry Peruvian,

“If you don’t like the smell of burning meat, get off the planet!”

Here at the Garlic Press, we agree wholeheartedly. As the grilling season comes to a close (for cowards, anyway) here on the Mid-Atlantic, we decided to craft the best burger ever. In a lot of ways, we succeeded – and in a few, it ended in bitter, bitter failure. Nevertheless, the Ancho Relleno burger delivered a serious smack in the taste buds that brought me to the verge of a flavor-gasm of the hottest variety. This burger is a Southwestern take on Minnesota’s famous Juicy Lucy Burger. The Lucy Burger, invented in the Twin Cities, is essentially 2 burgers pressed together with a core of molten cheesy goodness. After being introduced to this beautiful crime against nature, we knew we just had to make it our own.

I’ve loved Southwestern cuisine since long before I learned how to say mas carnitas.  Of course, by ‘Southwestern cuisine’ I’m referring to the earthy and unpretentious food popularized by the kind of Texan we love. This is not to be confused with that chipotle mayo garbage promoted by morons like Guy Fieri or a that particular chef who runs a certain bar and grill in the city. Flaming aside, the Lucy Burger begged for the spicy treatment and some gourmet flair. Some hot inspiration came in the form of a shaker of chili flakes and powders from the good folks at Dave’s. Really, you should get some.  Now. Furthermore, I was seriously missing Keswick Creamery‘s Dragon’s Breath pepper jack cheese, my absolute favorite! As a side note, this cheese hails from central PA, close to where I attended college. However, you can pick it up at the DC farmer’s market every Saturday, and you may recognize it from their feature in the Washington Post. Although I have run out of their sexy dairy products, I had some random pepper jack around that would suit the recipe nicely.

What resulted was a match made in West Texas Hell, sinfully delicious and a touch north of picante. The test kitchen often has a pound of 80/20 ground chuck on hand, because anything made of 90%+ lean ground beef is crime,  the punishment for which involves having to eat that crap. It is one of those staple items we can’t be without, and thus we have a standard burger format: 1 lb. of 80/20, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup of grated hard cheese, sea salt, cracked pepper, and some oil. This burger base is almost infinitely versatile and easy to style up. Spices, herbs, and other bits of amazing can safely be mixed in without fear of destabilizing our beef sculpture. Once the ancho chili and pepper jack had been selected, it was just a matter of raiding the garden and pantry. Some ciabatta bread, spinach, thyme, mushrooms, orange pepper, and Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard made the cut. We fucking love that mustard. Arugula would have been better, but someone behind the scenes here at the Garlic Press refuses to plant or buy any…ever. Such shortcomings aside, we all thought the burger was better than opium and Fake Plastic Trees.

Ingredients

Burger Mix

1lb. 80/20 ground chuck (no substitutions)

1 egg beaten

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tsp. oil

1/4 cup finely chopped thyme (or marjoram or oregano, just as long as its fresh)

1 tsp. fleur de sel (kosher salt is okay too)

2 tsp. cracked pepper

1 tbsp ish Ancho Chili Pepper

1 tsp Green Yucateco Sauce *9000SCU

The Rest

2 slices pepper jack cheese

1/2 orange bell pepper

1/2 cup sliced baby portobella mushrooms

  • 2 tsp. butter (for mushrooms)

4 slices of ciabatta bread

  • 1 tbsp oil

Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard

Process

Add all of the burger mix ingredients to a large meat safe bowl. Mix carefully by hand until the ingredients are evenly spread throughout the the ground chuck, but do not over mix. Remember this isn’t an erotic massage, the beef only has egg holding it together. Next divide the meat into 4 sections as shown below.


This should be done by hand and roughly as shown. Next, move the meat to the refrigerator. Brush the orange pepper in oil and char it lightly on a hot grill. Then begin sauteing the mushrooms in butter on low heat. Retrieve the burgers, and remove 2 of the 4 sections. Roll each and press lightly onto a plate as shown.

oh yeah

From here, simply fold one slice of cheese in half twice and place it in the middle of one of the patties.

Place the other pattie on top and begin to carefully crimp and mold the edges together until the seam disappears.

Repeat the process with the two remaining portions of burger mix. Then mold the the two burgers roughly into the shape of your slices of bread, only a little larger as they will draw up as they cook.

The burgers should then be placed in the refrigerator again. Finish the mushrooms, and brush the ciabatta with oil. Grill the bread a little on each side until grill marks appear. Go back or the burgers, and place them on a hot grill for 4-5 minutes on each side. Do not press or poke the burgers EVER. Remember they, are 1/2 lb. each.  Remove them from the grill, and let them sit 1-2 minutes while you add mustard to your bread and cut and slice the cheeks of the pepper. The cheese needs a minute to cool inside the burgers. Assemble roughly in accordance with the following or initial photo and enjoy.

From there its up to you to man up to a mighty burger, and to remember that ketsup is for poseurs. Enjoy this burger with with a strong ale or lager. We like it with Chimay Red Ale, and Rogue Dead Guy Ale.

-Chase

photo credit to luke.nicholas at Picasa

photo credit to luke.nicholas at Picasa

While working on a citrus-based marinade in the test kitchen last week, we accidentally made something so unbelievably thick and spicy that it couldn’t be called a marinade, but instead had to be named a hot sauce. The accidental dish was based primarily on thick pulpy orange juice, orange blossom honey, and my favorite pepper, the habanero. The habanero tips the scales between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville units, so for those of you who can’t stomach Tabasco sauce (topping out at 5,000 SCU, max) it might be time to pack up and go home. This fiery chili, for those with the properly-suited palate, has a wonderfully fruity citrus flavor that absolutely sings in the presence of sweeter fruit-based flavors such as oranges or  honey.

Once we decided to develop a hot sauce, there were several things we needed to consider. Color, flavor, heat, and geschtalt are all crucial to concocting the perfect sauce. We proposed early on to avoid the use of vinegar in all of our sauces, as it is a poor excuse for an ingredient in hot sauces that is used more often to dilute than to flavor. Heat was an easy feat to accomplish – we just played with the number of habaneros and the use or exclusion of the seeds and veins (the spiciest part of a pepper). The orange juice , honey, and our ubiquitous garlic did the heavy lifting in the flavor department. Color was a bit of a trick, because at the Garlic Press, we don’t use food additives like coloring or dyes. The milky yellow that resulted from the blending of garlic and orange juice just didn’t cut it aesthetically-speaking, so we had to root around for something colorful, tasty, and subtly flavored. Ultimately, a container of paprika and a bag of organic baby carrots came to the rescue. The result was a pleasantly orange sauce that danced spicy-hot circles of fire around our mouths.

Ingredients:

2 habanero peppers, whole

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup Orange Blossom honey

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup carrot, chopped

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. sea salt

Process

Combine all of the  ingredients in the blender and pulse until you have a thick but pourable consistancy. Use with caution.

Wet Ingredients

2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil

Dry Ingredients

1/4 cup white rice
1/4 cup lentils
2 cups veggie stock
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/8 sliced red onion

handful green onion (finely chopped)
Gouda

Spices

1 tsp. paprika
cayenne
oregano
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

Process

Combine the wet ingredients and a pinch of sea salt in a medium sauce pan and heat to medium. Once the honey dissolves add the red onion, garlic, and carrot.  Bring the soup to a a slow rolling boil for 2-3 minutes, and add the rest of the spices. I would take it easy on the oregano, more than a dash or two will over accentuate the lemon. 1 tsp. of paprika will add color and a smokey taste that pairs well with the Gouda used to finish the soup. As for the cayenne, use your own discretion, I prefer a lot, but start slow or you’ll ruin your whole meal. A few more minutes will give the onion and carrot some time to soften and release their flavor into the soup. At this point it is time to add the lentils and rice. Most white rice has about the same cook time as lentils, which is one reason why I don’t use brown rice. Simmer on med-low for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked.  When you are ready to serve the soup add the green onions and grated Gouda to each bowl and serve.

Spicy lentil soup is a great 3 season lunch or dinner. The quick prep time, under 30 minutes, gives you plenty of extra time to spend with the person you’re cooking for. As an added bonus lentils are full of protein which is great for vegetarians, and for those of use who love meat, this soup pairs well with a nice chorizo sandwhich. If you enjoy wine with lunch, I would reccomend a semi dry tempranillo like La Vendimia. The fruity notes of this variety of wine are excellent with any mild to moderately spicy dish.