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Is there a top barbecue in the Capital Region?

I am actually ashamed of BBQ in general in this area. There is ZERO reason, or any taste justification for $23.50 rack of ribs (http://www.pjsbarbq.com/pdfs/PJs-Barb...), and I'm not just picking on PJ's, $24.95 at dinosaur (http://www.dinosaurbarbque.com/locati...).

Think about it, BBQ started in America (but originated in China, but thats another story all together) because all the tough, almost inedible portions of swine and cow were given to the slaves. The only way you could eat them was by hours upon hours of slow-cooking to melt the connective tissues, fat etc. out of them.

So, with pork prices being the way they are, even if I bought a fairly expensive rack of pork baby-back ribs @ $4.50/lb, a rack of ribs costs $12-$15, retail prices. I am more than sure that your price would drop to $1.5-$2.00/lb buying in bulk. I am sure fuel prices (fruit-bearing tree woods, charcoal, etc) add to it, but does that justify the price?
An experienced pitmaster can oversee hundreds of pounds of pork shoulder, brisket, ribs, chicken etc. There isn't a reason why BBQ is now as expensive as my porterhouse steak. I have been all around the country, and eaten pretty much every style BBQ there is, and down South, BBQ is more of a love, a passion, then it is here. I find that people whom have traveled the country and eaten at different BBQ locations generally agree on the sorry shape of BBQ in the NE. There are exceptions, of course, but mostly, I find that BBQ is too much of a "restaurant" food up here, and not "a cheap labor of love", if that makes sense.

I realize that operating costs/location/traffic considerations are different here, but I have serious problems with paying $24 rack of ribs, $9 pulled pork sandwiches, etc. Its not that I can't afford it, its just that I refuse to pay those prices for something inherently and historically, cheap. I make my BBQ sauce, a gallon at a time, and all my spices, base, and ancillary ingredients cost me $8/gallon. If I sold it, it wouldn't be $10/12oz, maybe $3-5/12oz bottle.

I know, people are looking at my somewhat rant and saying "well, why don't you open your own cheap BBQ?". I am seriously considering it. My father passed away unexpectedly, and now I have some money to invest in the rest of my life. Don't get me wrong, I would MUCH rather have my Father, but he loved BBQ, and I've been making it most of my life (even though I grew up in Albany), and he loved eating my food. So, maybe I will, and I already have a business plan drawn up and ready to go. I just need to know more about the business end of things, permits, laws, etc.

P.S. If anyone has any information about this, I'd love to hear it. Thanks!

Jul 16, 2012
bwinter714 in New York State (exc. NYC)

After Oniongate, Can We All Stop Timing Recipes?

This reminds me of the courtroom scene in "My Cousin Vinny", when Joe Pesci says:

"How could it take you five minutes to cook your grits when it takes the entire grit-eating world 20 minutes?"
"Mr. Tipton: Um... I'm a fast cook, I guess."
"What? I'm sorry I was over there. Did you just say you were a fast cook? Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than any place on the face of the earth?"
"I don't know."
"Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove. Were these magic grits? Did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?"

I love that movie

Jul 09, 2012
bwinter714 in Features

What to baste a turkey with (other than wine)?

"Twinkie crème with a quarter cup of honey" Apparently lol. For some reason, when I saw your questions, this article came to mind, I thought it was hilarious and disgusting at the same time.

http://www.chow.com/food-news/97442/i...

But I usually use a homemade herb butter (well, I didn't churn the butter lol) and I keep a spray bottle of apple-juice on hand. I use the spray bottle when I'm doing pork or brisket in the smoker for example, but I tried it one year on the turkey and it came out great! Just alternate between butter and apple juice when you go to baste.

Nov 22, 2011
bwinter714 in Home Cooking

Turchetta with Vermouth Gravy

Rabid,

I made a turducken last year, and it wasn't that difficult to do, you just have to take your time. And I think the turducken was harder, because I had to debone the carcass w/o separating any of the pieces to stuff with the chicken and duck.

I am making this tomorrow night, am going to the turkey farm to pick up my dinner guest! I'm looking forward to the results, but I will just have to be careful to not tear the skin!

Nov 22, 2011
bwinter714 in Recipes

How much is your Thanksgiving Dinner?

Hmm, I think I could only get 1/2 of my turkey for $50! My turkey is going to be pretty damned close to $100. Then again, I have never bought a turkey like this, I went to the farm, saw the feed and living conditions, and even picked out and met my turkey! Cant wait to have him over for dinner :) But considering the operation, (all organic human-quality feed, actually free-roaming turkeys on 5 acres, etc) $5/lb is pretty cheap. Since it is so expensive, everyone is bringing something to help offset the cost.

Nov 18, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Countertop material: granite vs. solid surface (corian) vs. engineered stone (silestone)

Did they tout the dangers of natural granite being radioactive? I know granite can contain uranium, thorium, potassium, etc, the former decaying into Rn-222 which can cause lunch cancer in sufficient quantities. Though the Rn-222 is gaseous, (and the sealant probably mitigates the release somewhat) I would think that you inhale more carcinogenic particles driving to work every day. I had some 18 year old kid try to scare me into Silestone using that tactic. He obviously didn't know that there are actually people out there that know what they're talking about, and don't buy into most BS that stores spout out to sell their product.

Nov 17, 2011
bwinter714 in Cookware

Countertop material: granite vs. solid surface (corian) vs. engineered stone (silestone)

"Granite is lovely but the seal will be destroyed by hot pots and the stone will become porous again."

Wait, what? I have large tan-ish colored granite in my kitchen after a remodel 6 years ago, and my island is right in front of the ovens. When I roast in my cast iron pans, I take them out when finished (oven temp around 400F) and put them right on the sealed granite to rest. I've had both 18" CI skillets come from both ovens resting at the same time many times, and never have had a problem.

Though as with all things, I'm sure there are better engineered sealants than others, in terms of durometer and heat degredation.

I have the "medium" glossed granite. Wasn't my first choice but I got a great deal on it. And my kitchen gets some damned serious use :)

Nov 17, 2011
bwinter714 in Cookware

I don't bake because?

1. I have thought about that before, and here is what I came up with. Baking is a lot like engineering. Measurements are exact, if one measurement or calculation is off even by the slimmest of margins, the results can be disastrous. There is little room for creativity (there are exceptions of course) when it comes to the technical aspects of baking, the same as when designing the load-bearing structures of a bridge or sizing servo motors and gearboxes for material handling. There is room for creativity in the final product, such as a new cake or a new bridge design, but the technique is pretty much set in stone.
In full disclosure, I'm an engineer.
So you're probably thinking "But you said you're an engineer, and attention to detail is paramount to a good finished product, so you'd probably be good at it". I am a pretty competent cook, and I love to try new flavor combinations and ingredients. I am good enough to know what will generally work together and what wont, so thus far have averted any culinary disasters when it mattered. So I give my left-brain some exercising at home when I cook, and my right-brain for work.
I also love playing jazz guitar, probably for the same reasons. Jazz's musical structure is essentially chaotic, with no real defined structure to speak of. Again, I'm generalizing. For me, jazz is an escape into a state of mind where it's OK to do whatever you want to musically, something that I can't afford to do at work.
So in conclusion, I respect the science of baking (as well as the art), I just don't want to do it in my free time. Cooking accommodates creativity a lot better than baking, and that is what I like to do when I relax. You'd be surprised though, being creative at home and by-the-book at work, really helps me develop my engineering skills and solve problems. I have solved more than one problem that had been haunting me at work over my skillet :)

Nov 17, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Ranking of steak cooking methods?

I would disagree with the "cast iron certainly works better if you're using a dry pan" statement.

Now I may be wrong about this, but this is my opinion.
I always use a little oil when pan-searing in my cast iron. The Malliard reaction occurs between 300 - 500 degrees F, and heating a cast-iron skillet dry to much above 400 can start to damage the seasoning layer if left for too long. The oil draws a lot of heat off of the pan and uses the energy to brown the outside of the meat instead of burning off the seasoning layer.

If you want to get that reaction w/o oil, you generally put it in the broiler. I like my steak black and blue, so a rediculously hot cast-iron skillet with a bit of peanut oil is my best friend!

Nov 17, 2011
bwinter714 in Home Cooking

How do you like your feet?

Hmm, I like my feet........ attached to my ankles :)

Nov 14, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Do your buns taste like gym mats? The where's azodicarbonamide game - McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, BK, KFC, etc [moved from General Topics]

There is still a difference between mass-production and artisnal production methods. You can't really expect a guy (or gal) making 50 loaves a day to compete on a dollar-for-dollar basis with a corporation making thousands of loaves per day. Think about it though, if wonder bread costs around $3 a loaf, and a artisan loaf around $5 - $9 a loaf, then in terms of efficiency, I think the artisan company (1-50 people) is doing a lot better than Wonder Bread (1000's of employees) in keeping the price down without mass-production and food-additives. I'm sure if it wasn't an oxymoron to mass-produce artisan bread, that they could be competitive with Wonder Bread on a $ for $ basis.

Just my opinion though, and unfortunately we'll never be able to prove our points :)

Nov 14, 2011
bwinter714 in Chains

Do your buns taste like gym mats? The where's azodicarbonamide game - McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, BK, KFC, etc [moved from General Topics]

I don't know if my buns taste like gym mats, I can't get my head and back to contort that way! :)
Sorry, couldn't resist!

But yeah, I read a lot about that too. But the question is, why do we need that? It seems as though now-a-days with chemical engineers concocting a new bun with some new chemical, it's costing more money. Here's a thought, get rid of all the food "engineers", cut-down on the hundreds of food-chemical suppliers, and it'll probably cost less to use higher-quality back-to-basics recipes! Yeah, I know there will always have to be preservatives for fast food, but come on. When the list of ingredients in that "bun" is longer than my arm, when it should be flour, water, salt, etc. there is a problem. And in some cases, the main ingredient isn't even "wheat"

Nov 09, 2011
bwinter714 in Chains

Have you ever "trained" yourself to eat something?

My mothers cooking, unfortunately :( Sorry Mom, but that's why I decided to learn how to cook! Plus, Laura and my friends like the fact that I cook, so it's not a total loss!

Nov 09, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Popular flavors that you don't care for

Hmm, lets see. For one, licorice flavor of any kind (sambuca [which has e.o's of anise], anise, fennel, tarragon, whatever is in twizzlers and black jelly beans besides corn syrup) probably due to the fact that I once ate all the black jelly beans out of a bag at once when I was a kid, and got horribly sick. Now, I almost vomit if I smell it, and trust me, I can eat/like almost everything.

Kraft american cheese. It seems as though every kid in America loved those ubiquitous plastic-covered squares of cheese, except me. I could never get over the taste, even at 7 I knew that wasn't cheese.

While we're on cheeses, I don't know if this can be technically defined as "cheese", but Velveta. That is not a flavor that is anywhere even remotely close to "cheese", unless of course you're talking about cheese that's been cultured in bigfoots a**hole! :)

****and I didn't see before I posted that huiray posted above, things very similar to mine. I'm glad I'm not the only one!

Nov 09, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Cilantro Haters, it's not your fault!

"I'm still waiting for the "good" part of durian …"

Find it, and get back to me, because I don't think there is one! :)

Oct 05, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Pollster: Your favorite kitchen knife

Yeah, the blade shape says "Germany", while the VG-10 Steel and 17degree edge says "Japan", so who knows lol, I just know I like it! So "C" it is.

Oct 03, 2011
bwinter714 in Cookware

How Do You Peel Garlic? [moved from General Topics]

That's crazy, I'm going to have to try that!

Oct 03, 2011
bwinter714 in Home Cooking

Pollster: Your favorite kitchen knife

I really like my Hybrid (Shun classic), I generally rock my knife when dicing, slicing etc. While the shape of the German-style blades is my preference, I really like the back-weightedness (is that a word? haha) of a Japanese-style knife. I feel like I have more control, and I can finesse the blade a little better than a heavy-handed bruiser like a wustoff chefs knife.

So I guess in not so many words, I would have to go with C, unless you add a "L", Hybrid Japanese-German Chefs knife.

Oct 03, 2011
bwinter714 in Cookware

dining alone

Well, this depends, do you prefer a table, or are you OK with eating a nice meal at the bar? I travel a lot for work, and when I travel I usually find a nice place (not too nice, anyway) and eat at the bar. I like to talk with the bartenders, because they usually live in the area that I'm traveling in and can usually tell me about some hidden gems.

I have suggestions, but they will differ on where you prefer to sit when you're dining alone. Also, what types of food do you like? Is it important to have a nice wine list to accompany said meal, or are you a beer/cocktail drinker or not a drinker at all?

-Brian

Oct 03, 2011
bwinter714 in New York State (exc. NYC)

How Do You Peel Garlic? [moved from General Topics]

Yup, cleaver, smash, peel, repeat.

And you don't have to smash the thing to a paste; I find sometimes I want to be able to slice the garlic afterwards, so a light hit results in the garlic splitting. I can then peel and slice the garlic using a razorblade, so it liquifies in the pan (kudo's to those that get that movie reference). If I need crushed garlic, a healthy smack with the cleaver, peel and lightly chop to break up the clove.

Oct 03, 2011
bwinter714 in Home Cooking

Cilantro Haters, it's not your fault!

I just tried them, and chow tries to redirect them like their a chow page. Just copy and past them into the address bar.

Or, when you click on them, erase the "www chow.com/xxxxxxx" that they put infront of the real web address

Sep 30, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Cilantro Haters, it's not your fault!

I hear you BWG, I find it interesting how polarizing a food is. Usually, you have people on both sides of the fence, and some sitting in the middle. With cilantro, either you love it, or hate it, it seems anyway!

Sep 30, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Cilantro Haters, it's not your fault!

Me too, I get a bright, citrusy flavor with a scent that compliments that. I consider myself lucky to be able to enjoy this herb!

Sep 30, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Is creamed chipped beef only liked by the people who were or are currently in the military?

Ooh-rah Semper Fi! Now, they let parents and family eat in the chow halls and visit the training grounds on graduation day :/ My stepfather was Force Recon in Vietnam, and his father was also a Marine, who looked strikingly like Chesty Puller! So when Mike graduated, his father took a jog around the training facilities, and all the DI's made their recruits stop and salute because they thought he was Lt. General Chesty Puller (He was still alive then). I wish I could've seen that. Anyway, back on subject......

Sep 30, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Cilantro Haters, it's not your fault!

This may have been posted before, so if it has, I'm sorry!

I am a cilantro lover, I love it in salsa, burrito's, salads, you name it. But I have found that there are a lot of people who absolutely abhor it. To each their own, then I remembered reading an article about it awhile back. I found it, and there is a little excerpt from it below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/din...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12344...

{Dr. Gottfried turned out to be a former cilantrophobe who could speak from personal experience. He said that the great cilantro split probably reflects the primal importance of smell and taste to survival, and the brain’s constant updating of its database of experiences.

The senses of smell and taste evolved to evoke strong emotions, he explained, because they were critical to finding food and mates and avoiding poisons and predators. When we taste a food, the brain searches its memory to find a pattern from past experience that the flavor belongs to. Then it uses that pattern to create a perception of flavor, including an evaluation of its desirability.

If the flavor doesn’t fit a familiar food experience, and instead fits into a pattern that involves chemical cleaning agents and dirt, or crawly insects, then the brain highlights the mismatch and the potential threat to our safety. We react strongly and throw the offending ingredient on the floor where it belongs.

“When your brain detects a potential threat, it narrows your attention,” Dr. Gottfried told me in a telephone conversation. “You don’t need to know that a dangerous food has a hint of asparagus and sorrel to it. You just get it away from your mouth.”

}

So it seems as though some people are genetically predisposed to not liking it, and a Pavlov's Dog-type effect in others. Myself? I'll just keep loving it!

-Brian

Sep 29, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Is creamed chipped beef only liked by the people who were or are currently in the military?

That's probably what that was. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one on this board that wouldn't mind eating it again. So many people here seemed to like it. And I always thought that the military was where SOS won hearts and minds!

Dee, you've been to Paris Island and eaten the chow? Were you 4th battalion or were you there for a relative that graduated? (I think they let family eat in the chow halls now)

Sep 29, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Foods that unreasonably gross you out...

Really? I'll have to check this out for myself!

Sep 29, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Foods that unreasonably gross you out...

Wow cleo! I thought I was the only one! I absolutely can't stand Jello, it's the consistency, it's too unnatural. Any gelatin for that matter makes me gag. Thank God, I'm not the only one. I'm going to take a screenshot of this so I can show it to people when they say "Really??? You don't like JELLO?????" like I'm some kind of pedophile lol.

Sep 29, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Is creamed chipped beef only liked by the people who were or are currently in the military?

So Ok, maybe it's a southern thing. I grew up in Albany, NY, so we didn't get the southern comfort foods up here.

I think that the reason why I liked it too was because your body is pretty adept at recognizing calorie-laden food (survivial instinct), and when you're in bootcamp you need all the calories you can get. Just a thought of mine anyway. But I wouldn't mind going back to Paris Island (not for bootcamp, fuck, that was enough the first time around) and seeing if it is still as good as I remember it.

Sep 28, 2011
bwinter714 in General Topics

Never tasted lamb, which cut?

Escondido,

I was on the same boat. My grandmother used to cook it back when it was cheap, and a leg would feed the entire family (I have 7 uncles and 2 aunts and obviously my mother, hey, Irish-Catholic, thats what they did back in the day!) and my mother always said that my grandmother would take the leg, rub it with salt and pepper and throw it in the oven. To this day, that smell to her makes her gag, and I don't blame her because I'm sure the leg was like mutton.

To the OP, I finally broke my mother of her adversion to lamb by smoking it. Now, if you smoke a rib rack, you might not be able to taste the lamb at all, and I think that you should be able to taste it to decide if you like it. I got a leg of lamb, which will have a stronger flavor than a rib rack, and made a marinade of chopped rosemary (to release more of the oils), olive oil, black pepper and kosher salt. I then rubbed it onto the lamb, and smoked it over charcoal with mesquite and hickory wood chips (about a 1:3 ratio of mesquite to hickory) for about 4 1/2 hours, at approx 220 degrees. When she tried it, she loved it. No every time I have her over to my house for dinner, she asks if I'm going to make it again. But, I'm not sure this is the way to go for your first time, as there are a lot of complex flavors going on with the way I prepare it. I think that if you can at least somewhat like a plain rib, then you can start to experiment with all the different ways that you can cook it!

Sep 28, 2011
bwinter714 in Home Cooking