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Southern Food in Birmingham, AL

Saw's Juke Joint is very credible and includes a variety of BBQ items should they wish to go that direction but the standards like loaded potatoes, Mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, collard greens etc are all very well conceived and executed.

Apr 12, 2014
ThanksVille in Central South

Going to be in Baltimore for two days.

Thames Street Oyster House is more than just a cold bar, but does offer impeccably fresh, reasonably priced seafood.

Apr 11, 2014
ThanksVille in Washington DC & Baltimore

brine & temp for smoked turkey breast

Try John Ash's turkey brine.....old standby allows for longer brine period due to lower salt concentration. Readily accessed on line. Smoking at 275 and pulling off at 155 followed by a 20 minute rest results in a memorable TB.

Apr 11, 2014
ThanksVille in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

brine & temp for smoked turkey breast

John Ash's brine recipe is our go to standard for whole turkeys and turkey breasts. Best results are to assemble the brine at least 24 hours in advance and brine for a full 12 hours for a whole breast or 24 hours for a whole turkey. Salt ratio is lower than Ruhlman's which allows you to go longer without salt overkill. Before smoking I rub the bird with a cut lemon and very light coat of olive oil

We smoke the whole breast on a large BGE at 275 to 300 using just a couple apple or cherry wood chunks, bird is inserted with a wired thermometer and target its removal at 155 degrees followed by a 20+ minutes rest while partially tented.

Apr 11, 2014
ThanksVille in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

One night for dinner in Birmingham

Sorry you missed the opportunity for some exceptional dining at H+H and Highlands as well as some outstanding BBQ and lowlands cuisine at Saw's venues. Nikki's is a meat plus 3 cafeteria at best by comparison.

Apr 11, 2014
ThanksVille in Central South

Proper grilling technique for steaks

In lieu of individual steaks I prefer a large 2" thick prime grade porterhouse that will feed 4adults and after spending a small fortune follow the reverse sear approach on our large BGE to respect the integrity of that beef.

Typically preseason generously with Montreal Steak seasoning about an hour before cooking with a light coat of EVOO.

Fire up the lump charcoal, set up for indirect cook with place setter deflector and throttle the dampers to a controlled 250 degrees burn. Toss on one or two chunks of dry smoking wood like hickory, oak or maple and place the porterhouse into the egg, close the lid and let it low roast with light smoke until the internal temp is just 120.....usually 40 to 50 minutes. BTW I turn and flip around half way. Also use a wired probe thermometer to ensure I don't miss that mark.

At 120 IT remove the beef while opening the dampers, remove the deflector and set up for direct grilling bringing the temperature to 650.....usually takes 5 minutes to build up the heat

With dome open the porterhouse goes on to sear and lightly char at 2 to 3 minutes per side as well as a minute standing upright to finish the ends. Rest the beef for 5 to 10 minutes uncovered, carve off the bone and slice. Results in a perfectly uniform 130 red-pink across the entire thickness with the seared/char outer surface.

Apr 10, 2014
ThanksVille in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Big Green Egg? Is it worth it?

IMHO absolutely but that is for our use 52 weeks out of the year as a grill, awesome smoker and great pizza oven. Lots of prior posts discussing / debating this topic. We upgraded from a variety of grilles and metal smokers that in hindsight were a waste in comparison to the BGE

Apr 06, 2014
ThanksVille in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Homemade gnocchi…egg or no egg?

Used to make gnocchi for a family restaurant, hundreds of them every week. Best results were getting the potatoes as dry as possible, baked not boiled. Handling them while hot to extract the flesh and rice them, allow them to cool slightly spread out on a baking sheet to release more steam and then to incorporate the flour using 2 egg yolks for richness along with a matching volume of good Parmesan grated to the fineness of the flour. Minimal quick handling and there was never a trace of sodden weight or toughness. BTW drier potatoes work best and require less flour.

Mar 06, 2014
ThanksVille in Home Cooking

Hill Country - Brooklyn

Just had a lunch at the Manhattan Hill Country BBQ and agree with your assessment that the moist brisket is something very special. Also did enjoy their jalapeño cheddar sausage which was equally moist and moderately smoked. Watching a neighboring customer he seemed to struggle with his ribs that were not quite yielding to his bite. We found the corn pudding side the best of the ones we sampled.

Mar 04, 2014
ThanksVille in Outer Boroughs

Best BBQ in NYC

GREAT moist brisket at Hill Country BBQ in Manhattan. While we've only been to Virgil's, Blue Smoke and Dinosaur for comparison, the HC product stands out as the exceptionally prepared, well cooked, tender but not disintegrating, moist, beef flavor with smoke balance product. Expensive for what it is but close to a transcendental experience. We visited at off peak hour so no lines at their " market counters" and tolerable noise level, plenty of aisle space, overall an excellent experience. Corn pudding was the side of the day.

Mar 02, 2014
ThanksVille in Manhattan

Do I HAVE to can my homemade BBQ sauce?

Why not just refrigerate it like you would any opened jar of a commercial BBQ sauce?

Mar 02, 2014
ThanksVille in Home Cooking

potluck ettiquette

Potluck should be allowed to mean just that.

My wife lived below the poverty level when she was a VISTA volunteer in an impoverished urban center. Food stamps, public receptions, open houses and church one pot dinners were her year's life and social connections. She could afford to make, over and over again, potatoe salad, macaroni salad and flavored rices. That fit her means and in the process really perfected a killer potato salad but she was very self conscious that she couldn't afford proteins or more variety. Potluck implies not just casual but within one's own means.

Mar 02, 2014
ThanksVille in Not About Food

James Beard Semi-Finalists 2014 - Outstanding Restaurant

Having dined recently at Fore Street in Portland and Highlands Bar/Grille in. Birmingham, with multiple return trips to each over the past half decade I can readily understand why both warrant continued recognition. Superb regional foods, perfectly executed and flawlessly served. Are they the best in the universe? Not sure that is relevant while they continue to create such memorable cuisine.

Feb 25, 2014
ThanksVille in Food Media & News

The Melting Pot

Desperately overpriced, too precious other than as novelty dinner theater and much too slow to be enjoyable. Did I mention severely overpriced.

Feb 23, 2014
ThanksVille in Chains

Cleaning gas range grates

We inherited a well used restaurant range that was covered with years of cooked on grease. Before we moved it into the house we applied multiplel applications of a heavy duty degreaser (Johnson Brand I think). Coupled with nylon scrubbing pads and hours of rubbing we got the stainless steel portions back to something that shined again. The cast iron grates took three or four times as long with even more applications of the degreaser using metal scrubby pads (not fine Brillo pads but much much coarser ones). Wear HD gloves and goggles as the degreaser can dissolve away skin. In the end it was worth a weekend for an 8 burner with 2 ovens that looked well seasoned but clean.

Jan 21, 2014
ThanksVille in Cookware

decanting? (wine newbie)

Decanting can serve a couple purposes. First is the ability to separate out physical sediment from the wine itself. If you are a fan of vintage ports, you know how much sediment can be encountered which would detract from enjoyment of that wine. In general bigger style reds have the ability to generate sediment as they age.

Second benefits involve the 'breathing' aspect where the aromatic qualities bloom with exposure to air. This benefit seems most apparent in larger style reds and whites simply by allowing aromatic compounds to be released into the air.....this can happen both by decanting and pouring/swirling into a glass.

A third benefit of decanting affects the flavors of a wine to 'open' and become more pronounced. This may prove the most difficult to discern since the flavors of a wine from the point of opening to drinking does not always change noticeably.

Some bottles, perhaps younger ones, seem to have a set of fresh flavors that are consistent for a couple hours before they begin to degrade.

Other wines, often with grape blends, benefit from aeration by enhancing a bloom of flavor components allowing different nuances (real and imagined) to be discerned.

Finally there are wines that when first opened are simply 'dumb' or 'closed' upon opening and which benefit from aeration (and often a bit of time) to 'open' and reveal its aromatics and flavors. Rarely would this transition be apparent in thin or simple wines but I've experienced it numerous times with big complex wines like a Chateauneuf or Barolo when the evolution flavor intensity at opening/decanting to what it is a few hours later is a night and day contrast. One memory was opening an 89 Chave Hermitage that started out so close to flavorless that it was scary (hoping to serve for a special dinner) but tasting it hourly revealed a wine that substantially benefited from a lot of air and time to reveal itself.

Not all wines benefit noticeably from decanting and aeration and some wines, particularly very aged ones, may suffer by allowing their reduced aromatics to dissipate in a matter of minutes and shorten your enjoyment of the wine. Decanting and aeration is not a 'one size fits all' process and its timing is also a variable that warrants consideration, particularly with cellared wines.

Jan 16, 2014
ThanksVille in Wine

Cool stock before covering ... why?

I too have read references to potential "souring" of stock due to covering (and slowing down the cooling process) and wondered if it was a literal flavor transition or a reference to undesirable microbes and accelerated contamination.

Having suffered once from a violent bout of food poisoning due to sloppy stock into soup handling I aggressively cool stocks, soups, stews in a deep sink ice bath dropping their temperature from 200 down to 45 degrees in less than 20 minutes. From that point, covered, refrigerated or freezer free from triggering a microbe laden soup.

Jan 09, 2014
ThanksVille in Home Cooking

what to serve with chicken cacciatore?

Yes, yes, yes. Soft creamy polenta, never instant, mixed with grated pecorino, marscapone and butter along side barely sautéed spinach with a few slivers of garlic. This was a favorite family dinner on Sunday afternoons.

Jan 09, 2014
ThanksVille in Home Cooking

Lefty needs a knife!

At the risk of treading way outside my personal experiences Asa right-ie there is a wide range of options for someone looking for a 'flat' blade profile knife; however, they might be more readily described as santuko or natiri type blades rather than a traditional Chef's knife only because most examples of the latter tend to have a curved blade profile, sometimes with a pronounced belly and other times with a curve up to the tip that enables 'rocking' cut movements. Flat blades enable precise push/pull cutting or chopping motions. It seems cutlery designed with 50/50 symmetrical blade profiles and symmetrical handles should prove usable for righties and lefties. When you begin to consider asymmetrical that favor a right hand or a lefty hand, then it's likely the handle may favor the specific orientation as well. Most asymmetrical blades beyond 5" likely exceed your $100 target. Shun may provide a dedicated leftie handle with their symmetrical blade line

Jan 04, 2014
ThanksVille in Cookware

Lefty needs a knife!

Southpaw daughter has been working her way up the culinary ladder and over Christmas holidays we visited Korin in lower Manhattan to look at some serious steel that is designed for a enormous range of hand tasks much of which is either fabricated for OR can be converted for lefties. Impressive collections that range from the affordable ($100 or less) to the insane $11 k knives that belong in the hands of Jiro and his descendants. Website is almost as helpful but no substitute for their sales reps or their in store sharpening craftsmen working in full view.

Jan 04, 2014
ThanksVille in Cookware

What is the worst wedding reception dinner you've ever had?

Attended a summer wedding and picnic reception of my GF's coworker....did not know the groom or either family but was happy to attend what promised to be a relaxed pig roast at a local county park. Not surprisingly family members responsible for the fire pit underestimated size and time to roast a 200 lb pig so by the time hungry guests arrived, we heard the roast had just reached 100 degrees and needed another 3 to 6 hours. Fortunately they had overestimated their need for kegs of beer, well iced and it flowed for the first couple hours. At some point the best man decided he could speed up the pig roast by grabbing a couple cans of Kingsford's best lighter fluid and proceeded to spray not just the burning coals but the entire pig itself which lit up and charred big time leading to the pit crew throwing pitchers of beer into the fire A few of the bystanders including the groom and his family took great offense at that and fueled by the 2 hours of nonstop drinking an argument developed which escalated to the groom opening the hood off his best man's car, doused the engine compartment with more lighter fluid and lit it up.

As fantastic as this spectacle was, GF and I decided to leave as the police and fire trucks arrived figuring the pig was tainted and that the reception was for the most part over. I think we stopped for some hot dogs at a Stewarts on the way home. Later learned the Groom was arrested and honeymoon plans aborted.

Dec 29, 2013
ThanksVille in Not About Food

looking for a great burger near somerville?

Not sure there is anywhere within 15 miles of Somerville that produces a 'great' burger with any regularity. Five Guys in Hillsborough and 25 Burgers in Bound Brook are OK but hardly special and barely destinations my wife would be excited to visit. Smokehouse BBQ in downtown Somerville has a respectable version that you might enjoy but hardly 'great'.

If you are willing to travel a bit further, Stage Left in New Brunswick makes an excellent upscale bar burger while Krug's Tavern in Newark makes an exceptional bar smash burger.

If willing to make your own great burger, grill or griddled go to Hind and Fore meat market in Bridgewater and spring for a pound of their 'special' burger blend ground beef made from an assortment of prime beef trimmings that has the flavor that supermarket beef lacks and enough fat to stand up to the heat of your grill.

Dec 22, 2013
ThanksVille in New Jersey

Chowfind: An authentic tasting 'Instant' Singapore Laksa Noodle La Mien good enough for Chowhounders!

A colleague and I have been splitting instant ramen packs for lunch every Friday at work sampling different products that we find in local supermarkets. Neither of us have any knowledge or expertise concerning instant ramen products and our "search" is nothing more than pursuit of interesting flavors in a warm meal for less than $2.00 per person. We found the RamenRater's review/blog a few weeks ago and appreciated his efforts to list his personal preferences. Finding two of the Prima Taste products at the top of his list, including the Laksa LaMian Singapour and their Curry products validated some of our own experiences. While many of the instant ramens we've tried are pleasant vehicles to deliver enjoyable noodles plus salt plus a simple processed flavor element, the ones we've tried from Prima Taste actually offer a complex range of flavors that puts them apart from many of the other products we've tried. The Laksa LaMian version has tremendous depth that balances coconut, shrimp, and chili flavors in a very pleasant manner. From our perspective it offers a ton of flavor per serving.

Dec 21, 2013
ThanksVille in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Horrible freezer odor problem

Emptied the entire unit but kept it running the whole time we underwent the purge cleaning effort. While I suspect the cleaning efforts had a steadily improving cumulative effect I sense the trays/baking sheets of ground coffee (I think we went through a 5lb container) that was the most effective. BTW this odor was due to a leaked container of spoiled shrimp that had been abandoned for a few weeks in the freezer. A year later and all is fine

Dec 14, 2013
ThanksVille in Cookware

Grill cooking gift for my Dude - help!

Grilled and smoked for decades and have tried dozens of grill-special grids, baskets, etc. finding most a bit too prissy and waste of money, cleaning effort or both. Have come to embrace grill / smoker simplicity using a couple (now well seasoned) Lodge cast iron vessels; skillets, griddle and Dutch oven that we use for most frying, roasting of things we don't want to grill on the cooking grid. Also have a ceramic baking stone and a slab of 3/8" stainless steel we use for very hi temp pizzas. All are dedicated for use on our BGE, easy to maintain and handle a broad repertoire at least a couple times a week

Dec 14, 2013
ThanksVille in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Horrible freezer odor problem

We battled a putrid rotted fish odor in the freezer of our new office refrigerator that took a combination of dozens of pieces of lump charcoal, untold boxes of baking soda, scrubbing out the interior with white distilled vinegar then baking soda and trays of ground coffee replaced every other day. Not sure which was the most effective but ultimately the odor dissipated saving us from having to replace a $1500 unit. It took at least 2 weeks effort

Dec 08, 2013
ThanksVille in Cookware

Dry brining, turkey breast plate or flip the turkey?

I have long been a fan of starting the breast side down for at least the first 90 minutes of roasting but also chill the breasts down for perhaps an hour prior to roasting by placing the bird in the V-rack with the breasts down and resting upon two flexible freezer packs, the reusable kind intended for small coolers. I have also used zip lock baggies of frozen water that I form against a glass jar to create a curved shape that will cradle the breast meat. The results are fabulous by starting the breast meat some 20 degrees colder than the rest of the bird and starting the breasts facing downward

Nov 25, 2013
ThanksVille in Home Cooking

What type of sauce to put on pumpkin ravioli ????

Classic walnut sauce in reduction of chicken stock and cream

Nov 10, 2013
ThanksVille in Home Cooking

wooden salad bowl

Just wondering what is the advantage of trying to speed up the drying process? Will that somehow enhance the dimensional stability of the wood?

I have the distinct joy of sorting through batches of kiln dried dimensional lumber for straight and true framing studs and find the success rate is about 1 per 10 so while the drying process is critical just wondering how heat helps dimensional stability if that is the goal here?

Sep 29, 2013
ThanksVille in Cookware

Big Green Egg accessories

The secondary market of BGE accessories can be daunting and expensive. After 4 years of ownership and weekly use throughout each year the items we've found essential for the grilling and smoking we do include the following:

BGE cookbook
Thick pizza stone
Long leather thermal glove(s)
Ash removal tool
Metal garden pail to catch pulled ashes
Aluminum foil pans of varying sizes
Assorted wood chunks and small fruitwood logs for long smokes
Alder and maple planks
Metal drip / water pan
Long handle grill brush
Pizza peel
Long tongs

Admittedly I have also picked up a sectional cast iron grill with griddle section as well as a second tier cook surface but for us hey are lower priority items. Good quality lump charcoal goes without saying. Enjoy your egging.

Sep 20, 2013
ThanksVille in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling