Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Contest

I love Halloween, so here's a little contest. Post your own ghost story in the comments of my Smokin' Pete's BBQ ghost story (previous post), and be entered to win a copy of my book, She-Smoke. Here are the rules: 1) It has to be "real": It can be a local ghost story, one you've heard from a friend or read from a non-fiction book, or it can be your own experience. 2) Comment must be posted by 11:59, Halloween.

That's it! You do not have to believe in ghosts to participate :).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spooked by the Smokin' Pete's Ghost

The other night I was working late on a Monday. We recently decided to be closed on Mondays during the fall and winter, to give ourselves and the business a break. I find I love to work in the peace and quiet.

Only the other night, it wasn't at all quiet.

If you've visited our restaurant, you may have seen the sign above on the green bathroom.

That sticker was there before we opened. It was put there while it was a butcher shop and there are a number of supposed sightings of a ghost, or ghosts, in the building.

One worker from the Butcher Shoppe days told me he saw a short man with a black hat standing with his horse in what is now our dining room. A ghost horse? I recall smirking when I first heard it.

Another story goes that after one of the past owner's father died, the green bathroom kept getting locked...from the inside. Hence the sticker.

I've never liked working at night alone at Smokin' Pete's. It's in part because of the stories, and in part because old buildings make noises, but also because of something else. Something not super scary or menacing, but definitely something more.

I heard that something the other night. I was in the bathroom when something, or someone BANGED the door. Hard. It jolted me out of my end of the day brain drain, and immediately all senses went to high alert. This wasn't a door creaking from a sudden gust of wind. The bang I heard was so hard and definite that the door shook, echoing for a few moments after.

"Hello? Who's there!" I called, quickly gathering up my things.


I was outta there faster than you could say "I AM NOT AFRAID."

Don't worry. I've never heard or seen hide nor hair of any ghosts during business hours. But whomever is there likes the place to themselves once the open sign is turned off and the dishes are done.

I understand. Maybe we, me and the ghost that is, can find a way to share the lovely silence on Mondays. Since this Monday is Halloween, I might skip it and work on my ghost personnel issues later.

Have any of your own ghost stories you'd care to share?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scrap Pile Chili

You may not generate a barbecue scrap pile like a restaurant, but for those of you dedicated to firing up the coals no matter what the weather, you probably have more than a few bags of zipped up meat scraps in the freezer.

What better time of year than to make a big ol' pot of chili from the scraps to garrison your insides from the coming cold?

I love using barbecue leftovers in dishes. All that love and smoke brings an extra layer of flavor. I've featured a number of barbecue leftovers like this barbecue lasagna or a yummy brisket dip. Barbecue tacos are also standard fare in our house.

Today I give you my recipe for Scrap Pile Chili. It doesn't sound pretty, but it tastes so good.

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I encourage deviation from all recipes and using what you have, so feel free to tinker.

You'll notice that the ingredients sound like someone was cleaning out the fridge. I was. Much like my Uncle Jack's Clean Out the Fridge Barbecue Sauce. What can I say? I'm a multitasker.

Scrap Pile Chili

Canola oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 fresh jalapenos, seeded, finely diced (*Gloves highly recommended)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup mix of cumin, kosher salt, chili powder, paprika, chili flakes & black pepper
1/4 cup chopped bacon
3 cups mixed barbecue scraps, cubed. Be sure to trim obvious chunks of fat off, but not all of it.
      I used a mix of brisket, pulled pork & chopped up hot links
1 cup salsa mixed with 2-3 cups water (more as needed)

2 cups pinto beans, pre-cooked: I used leftover beans which were fully flavored and spiced. If using canned beans, which you should for this recipe since it's a quick chili, not a proper stew-all-day-chili, bump up the mustard and brown sugar quantities below.
1/2 bottle of mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar

Heat oil to medium high and add onion. Stir until starting to turn clear and add garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno & bacon.

Once bacon begins to brown, add spice mix and meat scraps. Reduce heat to medium.

When meat is fully hot, add salsa, water, beans, mustard and brown sugar. After 30-40 minutes, reduce heat to low.

Simmer for at least an hour, adding water and more salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with sour cream & green onion.

*A note about chopping fresh jalapenos or any fresh peppers. The juices, and in particular, the seeds, carry the most heat. Be very careful when handling and I highly recommend using disposable gloves. After you remove your gloves, still wash your hands thoroughly in hot soapy water.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Little Gordon Ramsay

A few nights ago, I planned to bang out dinner and a blog post while I was at it. The kids waited (im)patiently as I photographed their dinner from 12 different angles. Done, I thought. I'll post the recipe tonight after the kids go to bed.

Unfortunately, dinner didn't have that WOW factor you want in a recipe.

"I'll have to redo this, with some tweaks," I said, after a few bites.

My 5 year old son was a little less forgiving.

"You should do the OPPOSITE of what you did on this dinner."


My son often critiques his meals. We get a daily report card on his lunch. A half sandwich and orange slices don't made the grade. There has to be something special, another layer, to make it memorable. Some fruit leather, or an item not in the usual rotation, like the homemade chicken nuggets I packed today.

Don't get me wrong, he gives us plenty of thumbs ups and "best dinner EVER!" comments. Nor is he what I would call a picky eater. Compared to kids his age, his pallet is wide. You should see him scarf down eel at the sushi bar.

He's discerning, though. He can tell if the cooks at our restaurant put too much pepper in the mac-n-cheese...and he'll tattle on them. He knows when I've tried to sneak in zucchini in the marinara sauce, a vegetable not on his approved list. Overall, the kid's pallet is good. And when he says dinner doesn't cut the mustard, well, he's usually right.

My own little Gordon Ramsay.

So it's back to the drawing board. I'll let you know when I've worked out the kinks, so to speak.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Smokin' a Fatty

We of the barbecue religion love our double entendres, puns, and new ways to slip pork butt into a punchline. Just look at the KCBS roll call - it'll make you smile. The Fatty is no different. It's a standard smoked sausage roll that, I suppose if you've guzzled enough tall boy PBR's, looks like a giant spliff on the grill.

Whatever the name, they are tasty. In looking through recipes from the past two years, I noticed I've been remiss in devoting a diversion for this dish delish.

The concept is simple: Make a sausage roll, wrap it in bacon, sprinkle some rub on it and smoke it. Whether you stuff it with something, what you mix in with your sausage, and what rub you choose generates endless variations, and where the creator can make her mark.

Stuffed Italian Fatty Recipe
1 lb mild Italian sausage, uncased (if using plain sausage, herb it up with some dried oregano, basil & rosemary).
3 oz Queso Fresco (may substitute grated mozzarella)
4 Tbs. tomato sauce
10-14 slices good quality bacon (regular thickness)
Rub of your choice (I made one of paprika, black pepper, ground red pepper, garlic salt, dried basil)
Wax paper or plastic wrap

1) On a flat surface or flat edged cookie sheet, lay a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper.

2) Roll out sausage, either with hands, or put another sheet on top and roll out with dough pin.
3) Down center crumble the Queso and spoon a strip of tomato sauce.
4) Roll both sides into the center and smooth sausage together. Pinch ends closed. Set aside on plastic or wax paper.
5) Using another sheet of plastic or wax paper, lay out 4-6 strips of bacon in a row, touching. Weave 4-6 strips in a lattice like you would a pie.

6) Place sausage roll on one end and roll lattice over it, using the paper to roll it. Use 2 more strips to lay over the ends, or pinch any lattice overhang to seal sides.
7) Sprinkle with rub of your choice.

8) Fire up your grill and get your smoke on. Smoke indirectly from the flame at 250 degrees for approximately 2 & 1/2 hours. Pull when internal temperature reads 160 degrees.

Let it rest for at least 5 minutes. Slice and serve as a meal or as a tasty appetizer. Excellent cold or reheated the next day.