Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BBQ Ravioli

As promised, I picked up some frozen BBQ ravioli from Lucchesi's last night. They seem to be quite popular as I got the last package – 2 dozen small for $6.99. E stopped at Tops for some beans, slaw and sauce to go with. The verdict? I was right. BBQ ravioli are genius, and Lucchesi's makes the best I've ever eaten. However, I think I can make some improvements.

Containing only BBQ, spice and sauce, the filling seemed a little too dense, and I think the addition of cabbage or some other barbecue-related vegetable would lighten the texture. Also, the flavor was a bit too strong. I'm sure that's intentional because the ravioli aren't meant to be served with sauce – just a little butter and cheese. I'd rather see less spice on the inside and a good BBQ sauce on the outside.

Monday, October 30, 2006


For my wife's Italian-American family, the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are traditionally the time to make dozens and dozens of ravioli for the upcoming holiday meals. The spinach and sausage filling is usually made in advance, and on the day (or days) of construction, an assembly line of however many family members are available is created. Roll out the dough, place spoonfuls of filling on the sheet, fold it over, cut out the ravioli, seal the edges, poke them with a fork, put them on a tray, etc., etc. – it's a lot of work. I just watch.

On the plane back from Frisco, E and I were discussing the upcoming festivities and just what my level of involvement might be when I was struck with a Eureka moment. I reveled in my genius, and I've been excited about this idea for days.

Barbecue Ravioli!

Take some leftover BBQ pork shoulder and grind it up in the food processor along with some cabbage, some dry rub, and some cheese (romano or jack or possibly both). Use that as the filling for some good ol' ravioli. Boil 'em up and serve with a splash of BBQ sauce. Even better, fry those babies up, and you might have the next great fair food sensation.

Before beginning this post, I consulted The Great Google about BBQ Ravioli. Unfortunately, I cannot lay claim to the creation and in fact exclaimed to my wife on the plane, "I can't believe no one has thought of this before!" I am proud to say that according to the Interweb, the BBQ ravioli was invented right here in Memphis. I'm going to stop by Lucchesi's Ravioli & Pasta Company tonight and pick some up for dinner.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Airport BBQ

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Night Videos

Some messages should not be sung. Mr. Spriggs has such a message.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kushikatsu Update

All hail Wikipedia! Recovering from a marathon combined with the unique difficulty of walking the streets of San Francisco have led to an unusual amount of vacation downtime. In other words, I've spent more than a few hours sitting on my butt in the hotel searching the Interweb.

My investigation of kushikatsu recipes led me to Tonkatsu. Tonkatsu sauce is most likely the dipping sauce I was served with my kushikatsu at Mifune. It's described as having "a taste similar to Worcestershire sauce or Kansas City-style barbeque sauce." This opens up a whole new area of exploration for The Sauce.

In-N-Out Burger

Tonight's dinner? A Double-Double, fries and a Diet Coke at the best fast food burger joint in the world – followed by another Double-Double. Gluttonous? Yes. What can I say? It's been five years since my last In-N-Out burger. It might be longer before I get another.

This has nothing at all to do with BBQ. I just wanted to make fans of The Big Lebowski jealous.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Jing Char Siu Bau

Dim Sum in Chinatown is the number one reason to come to San Francisco. What's the Bar-B-Log connection? Steamed BBQ Pork Buns – the number one reason to have Dim Sum.

I remembered my camera this time.

Noodles & BBQ

I'm vacationing in San Francisco having participated in a marathon last Sunday. Now that the running is over and the recovery has begun, we get to the good part – eating my way across the city.

It should be said that when it comes to Japanese noodles, I'm a bit of a nut. Udon, somen, soba, ramen, I could eat my weight. So yesterday when my lovely wife suggested that we stop at Mifune, a noodle shop in the Japan Center, during a bus ride across town, I was more than enthusiastic.

My soba were delicious as were E's ramen, but noodles aren't the real topic of this post. As an appetizer, I also ordered kushikatsu because I had never heard of it and because both the picture on the menu and the plastic replica in the window outside looked tasty. One really can't go wrong with breaded, deep-fried pork chunks on a stick. Imagine my surprise when I tasted the accompanying dipping sauce only to discover that it was mighty similar to Memphis BBQ sauce. I haven't had much of a chance to look, but I can't find any recipes confirming the ingredients. I tasted Worcestershire, vinegar, soy and pepper. I think the only thing missing was a tomato product and perhaps some sugar. I believe this bears further investigation as it pertains to development of The Sauce.

E took some pictures of our lunch, but I can't download them from her camera. Instead, here's a shot of kushikatsu I found on the Interweb.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Time Out

Bar-B-Log posts will be very light for a week or so.

Friday Night Videos

You can read about this commercial at Mothership BBQ.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jack Stack Sauce

I almost forgot. Last night we did a taste test of two BBQ sauces at Jack Stack. The "original" is what you'd expect – too sweet, fake smoke, boring, basic grocery store sauce. However, I was a little surprised by the "spicy" sauce. Expecting the recipe to be simply original + cayenne = spicy, I instead found a completely different set of flavors. It wasn't very good, but it was different. Actually, it tasted much like my first attempt only not as hot and not as gritty. I applaud the effort.

Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue

I'm in Kansas City on business. After re-reading, that sounds really silly to me – as if I'm a sitcom dad from the fifties. "June, I'm awfully sorry I can't make it to Wally's big baseball game," our plucky hero said with genuine regret, "but I have to go to Kansas City on business." In such instances, I often feel as if I'm 6 years old and playing a game called "business meeting." OK. I'll be the businessman, you be the boss and Sally will be the salesperson. I'll get the crayons, and we can draw pie charts. We'll pretend this is coffee...

Anyway, I'm in Kansas City on business. I would be remiss as the author of Bar-B-Log were I to avoid KC BBQ. So after work last night, the team (CD, DC and Christina B. Martin) visited Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue which was recommended by several locals. When we stepped inside, I thought I was at Corky's with the hostess station, the long line and all the BBQ merchandise for sale. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised.

In Memphis, it's pork. In Texas, it's brisket. In KC, everything is on the menu. Pork, beef, chicken, turkey, sausage, lamb were all represented. I ordered the "burnt ends" and ribs – pork and lamb respectively. I'm not sure I understand the burnt ends thing, but it's simply chunks of smoked meat with BBQ sauce. It was odd but tasty. I sampled the beef burnt ends also which I liked better. I really enjoyed the lamb ribs. The slaw was pretty good but wouldn't work on a BBQ sandwich. The beans had a nice flavor but were too runny for my taste. The bread pudding was awful, but I have exceptionally high standards when it comes to bread pudding… CD didn't like it either.

All in all, it wasn't great, but it certainly wasn't bad – equal parts Tourist Trap and BBQ Joint maybe. If you're in KC, try Jack Stack, unless, of course, you already live in a town with great BBQ.

I apologize for the picture quality, but it was kinda dark in the restaurant.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Blueberry BBQ Sauce

As you know, I am attempting to create the world's greatest BBQ sauce through trial, error, blogpaging and a few secret ingredients. One of those ingredients is not a cup of blueberries.

I ran across this recipe today, and God help me, I might have to test it out.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño chile
1/4 cup catsup
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Heat oil in a nonreactive saucepan. Add onions and chile and cook over moderate heat stirring until wilted, about 3 minutes.

Add catsup, vinegar, sugar, mustard and Tabasco sauce and bring to a simmer. Add blueberries and simmer over low heat, stirring until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Purée the sauce in a blender or processor until smooth. Pass through a strainer and season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The CA Sucks Up

I want to rant about Leslie Kelley's review of Corky's in yesterday's Playbook. I actually wrote a very long rant about it, but instead of posting those thousand-plus words, I reduced my vitriol to a few rhetorical questions. Why was this review written? Why was it written so poorly? Why was it then published? Does any reader of The Commercial Appeal want or need a review of Corky's?
Is anyone going there to get a hamburger? How in the good Lord's name could she give them three stars?

On the bright side, I found the reader comments heartening – especially the following: "You're not from here, are you, darlin'?"

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Night Videos

The gravy is kept inside the meat fibre.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Bar-B-Q Shop

About 15 years ago, I decided that I didn't like The Bar-B-Q Shop. Someone who shall remain nameless urged me to give them another chance, stating not only that it was good BBQ but that it was her favorite. Several others concurred. I couldn't really argue. 15 years is a long time, and I had no clear memory of why I disliked the food. A grudge is a grudge.

On a cold, rainy day after a haircut at a nearby establishment, I decided to give it another go. I also thought I'd get some extra sauce on the side for taste tests while making another batch of The Sauce. My haircut came way too close to lunch, and I was starving by the time I walked over to the restaurant.

What did I order? One large, pulled-pork BBQ sandwich on Texas Toast, an order of seasoned fries and an extra cup of sauce. What did I receive? One sandwich with huge slices of extra dry roast pork on what I think was regular toast with a teaspoon of what may have been BBQ sauce. No slaw. Did you hear that? No slaw! My order came with fries but not with the extra sauce. All for only $8.19. Is the sarcasm coming through? One crappy sandwich and fries with no drink for 8 bucks. Of course, 65¢ of that was for an imaginary 2 oz. of BBQ sauce.

I can't really describe how bad the sandwich tasted. No smoke flavor, no sweet flavor, no juicy pork fat – just dry roast pork on Wonder bread with what I'm beginning to think was burned ketchup on it. The Bar-B-Q Shop remains firmly planted in the Tourist Trap category. In fact, they have become my official "Worst BBQ Restaurant in Memphis" until further notice.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

First Name Mister, Middle Name Period, Last Name T

This has nothing whatsoever to do with BBQ, but I must shout it from the mountaintop. Mr. T has a new Reali-T show on TV Land called "I Pity the Fool." It starts tonight and has the potential of being the greatest show ever made. Watch it, fool!

Mothership BBQ

RJA ran across the Mothership BBQ blogpage today. It's a new BBQ joint in Nashville with a weird name, but I really appreciate the P-Funk reference. They call the BBQ "Nashville-style," but I have no idea what that means. I'll definitely give it a taste test during my next visit to Nashvegas. In the meantime, they get the first listing in a new Bar-B-Log section for out-of-town restaurants because any fan of George Clinton is a friend of mine.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Beer-Battered Chicken-Fried Cheese Brats

Inspired by the recent visit of the Mid-South Fair and by news from the State Fair of Texas, DW has been dying to create the next generation of Fair food. You know – deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried Snickers, deep-fried Oreos, etc. – Fair food. We decided to go the savory route instead and, yesterday, tested an idea.

I can't really provide a recipe because I was just winging it. We added some things along the way and tried a few different techniques. In the end for the batter, we used self-rising flour, beer, 1 egg, paprika, garlic powder, tabasco, salt and pepper. Then we took a Johnsonville "Beddar with Cheddar," patted it dry, rolled it in flour, dunked it in the batter and fried it in vegetable oil for about 5 minutes. Coating the battered brat in bread crumbs didn't really add anything. Add a stick and some mustard and you got yourself a Beer-Battered Chicken-Fried Cheese Brat.

The experiment worked fairly well. I can't say that it tasted great, but it did taste like Fair food. Our next step is to find a way to incorporate bacon. Ideally, I'd like to wrap the thing in bacon before battering, but I can't imagine that working. Perhaps we'll add bacon bits to the batter.

Friday, October 06, 2006

2nd Annual Texas Barbeque Festival

I've spent quite a bit of time in various parts of Texas over the years. I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. However, I've never been to Austin. Everyone says Austin is different. I love Austin City Limits. I love the University of Texas Women's College Volleyball team. Maybe I'll love Austin. Maybe I'll go this weekend.

Friday Night Videos

I know it's been a week without posts, but I've been sick in bed for most of that time. Getting back in the swing of things, here's video of a BBQ device I mentioned once before.

Gross, huh?