Meaty Hoedown with Burgers’ Smokehouse

Burgers’ Smokehouse box o’ mystery meat


Last night was officially Round One of wedding dress shopping with bride-to-be Steffie. Have I told you that I am in two wedding parties next year? I love weddings, but the stress of getting to the wedding is not exactly a barrel full of monkey’s worth of fun. I thankfully only have to worry about assisting Steffie as Jen is across the country; I just have to show up in a pre-approved dress. For Steffie, I’m in charge of pulling off The Best Hen Weekend Ever. Not an easy feat, as we’ve decided on July – the height of tourist season – to do this. It’s become a battle between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, as well, so we’ll see how it goes.

bitch of honor
Steffie may not have found the perfect “10” of a dress last night, but I found my dress – sort of. The store did not have my size or the correct color, so I’ll double check at another store for at least my size before ordering it. The picture I nabbed from the website doesn’t do the dress justice, but you get the basic idea.

Are you guys into weddings? How many weddings, if any, have you been a party to? I used to be one of those lunatics who romanticized the “Big” Wedding with everyone they ever said hello to attending and lots of bells and whistles. Being older, wiser, and witness to the stress and money that goes into planning a wedding, I now find myself thinking, “Hm. A small wedding is a really good idea.”

I know what you’re thinking; enough wedding talk, Rachael, you’re becoming as obnoxious as That One Obnoxious Friend on Facebook! No, I refuse to turn into one of those people. The moment I turn into a play-by-play, soppy matrimonial mess, you all have my permission to publicly flog me.

So let’s get this hoedown a stompin’.

Firstly, Burgers’ Smokehouse in a nutshell: Established in 1952, Burgers’ Smokehouse provides meticulously prepared specialty foods with the convenience of door-to-door delivery.

Burgers’ Smokehouse pitched me to try a sample of their line of meat – and really, when am I ever one to turn down a big ass box of smoked meat? From a reputable source, I mean. Not just some bum off the street. Come on now, I have standards.

The picture at the top does not really do Burgers’ Smokehouse justice; that sucker was huge and heavy and chilly! The meat was packed in special freezer packs and styrofoam to ensure freshness. Quickly, I tore into box o’ mystery meat and this what was inside:



Five pounds of glorious Burgers’ Smokehouse MEAT!


Now, as this was only one week ago you bet your brown Betty I have not eaten even half of that meaty bounty. I did, however, have an opportunity to have a li’l mini BBQ hoedown on Saturday with my friend Manik. Deciding life is too short to not eat my favorite foods in life, I chose to serve the Applewood Smoked Bacon and the Signature Sauced Baby Pork Ribs.

Now, let me pull you aside and tell you something. Aside from bacon, I rarely work with pork. Why? Because I can’t get it right. EVER. Pork is the one meat which continues to elude my otherwise illustrious culinary skills. So when I discovered that Burgers’ Smokehouse pork ribs are not only pre-seasoned and pre-sauced, but already smoked and cooked, well, happy days, I poured myself a glass of win and kicked back. All that was required of me was a preheated oven, scraping excess sauce out of the vacuum sealed packaging and rigging up the ribs on a foil covered cookie sheet while covering it with more foil to vent. That’s it.
The ribs came out moist, juicy, saucy and fall off the bone supple. I have no shame admitting that the entire hoedown went back for thirds.




Burgers’ Smokehouse Sauced Baby Back Pork Ribs

Feeling a twinge of guilt for only serving pork ribs, my homemade cornbread and knowing I’d be incorporating bacon into the mix somehow, I decided to cut our arteries a wee bit of slack and go with a vegetable. Manik, of course, remained wary but I assured him that he would love whatever I came up with. Or else.

Thankfully no harm came to him as my Bacon and Apple Sautéed Brussels Sprouts were a huge hit and the first side dish to run out! Alas, due to the Zombie Apocalypse Weather, the lighting was too awful for pictures. However, here is the long and short of my recipe:

1 package of frozen brussels sprouts
6 slices of Burgers’ Smokehouse Applewood Smoked Bacon
1 apple, cored/stem removed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon butter

  • Fry the bacon slices, drain on paper towel
  • Reserve 1 teaspoon of bacon drippings
  • Thaw brussels sprouts (I use a steamer, but you can also soak the pouch in hot/very warm water until frost is off)
  • In a wide skillet, melt the butter and add the reserved bacon drippings
  • Add brussels sprouts, sauté until they begin to brown nicely
  • Add apple slices, sauté until just softened
  • Door #1: add bacon slices while the skillet is still hot to incorporate more of an apple flavor
  • Door #2: add bacon slices after brussels sprouts are just beginning to caramelize/char and removed from heat

  • Remove from heat, serve and go back for seconds.

    While I still have a whole other rack of pork ribs and another two packages of bacon to get through (don’t worry; I called for reinforcement eaters!), after my hoedown I can safely recommend Burgers’ Smokehouse for any of your hoedown, BBQ, party or holiday meal needs. Don’t just chock Burgers’ Smokehouse to be all about the pork, either. Seafood, cheese, fowl, beef and desserts are there for the discerning eye. Other Burgers’ Smokehouse products that have caught my eye include:

  • Hickory Smoked Tender Quail
  • Chunk Country Jowl
  • Westphalian Ham
  • Attic Aged Ham Steaks
  • The Wild Game Sausage Sampler
  • Buffalo steaks
  • Hm. Looks like my adventures with Burgers’ Smokehouse is just getting started.
    STAY TUNED!

    Burgers Smokehouse
    32819 Highway 87
    California, MO
    65018
    1-800-705-2323
    http://www.smokehouse.com



    FTC Disclosure: The vittles were on the house, but all wording & opinions remain my own!

    Recipe: Red Wine Braised Oxtails

    Wine Braised Oxtail over Pappardelle

    Red Wine Braised Oxtails



    Typically, when I master a dish, it’s because I got a sudden bee in my bonnet. When it comes to braised oxtails, however, I’ve had an entire hive swarming in my bonnet, declaring me its queen. This is a dish I’ve been crazy about mastering for some time now, ever since I first tasted the supple meat of oxtails at Kings Row Gastropub back in 2011, and never had all of the elements fall so neatly into place. In fact, I didn’t go at this right away when I purchased my oxtails, but waited until I I collected all of the precise components I wanted to include.

    Ideally, this would have gone over a batch of homemade pappardelle – which technically, I suppose it is. My first attempt at pasta making (sans machinery) did not go as smoothly as the braised oxtails. I’m so inept at making dough that when I poured the eggs into the well of flour I created – so lovingly Martha Stewart like – the first attempt at mixing the flour and eggs ended up with half of the runny gooey embryos overflowing like some golden lava volcano, me desperately trying to stop its escape with my bare hands, to no avail. I swear to god I saw a rerun of I Love Lucy just like this.

    I did not give up, much as I wanted to, and at least came away with enough pasta (albeit thicker than any noodle I’ve ever tasted) to have a decent meal with, plus a new found appreciation for the art of pasta making sans machinery. Next time, though, I think I’ll save myself the trouble and ask Santa Claus for a pasta machine.

    Thankfully, the braised oxtails were not even half as much trouble! You’ll find this recipe so shockingly easy that you may find yourself asking, as I did, why it took me so long to get around to it. Happy eating!

    Red Wine Braised Oxtails
    3 servings

    Ingredients

    1 lb oxtails
    Koser salt
    fresh ground black pepper
    6 garlic cloves, minced
    2 shallots, sliced
    1 small bunch fresh rosemary, minced
    2 TBSP olive oil or high quality butter
    1.5 cups red wine
    4 cup homemade stock (beef or chicken)
    2 bay leaves
    1 handful of pearl onions, skin on
    1/2 cup mushrooms (shitake or baby bella, sliced)

  • As your pan heats up, season the oxtails with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Heat oil or butter in a large, deep skillet and brown the oxtails in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan.
  • Once all the oxtails have been browned, remove them temporarily from the pan.
  • Sauté the shallot (about 1 minute), until softened before adding the garlic and rosemary, sauté for another 1 minute.
  • Gently pour in red wine to deglaze the skillet. Scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pan while wine reduces by half, stirring constantly.
  • Return oxtails to pan, add stock and bay leaves. Add more or less of the stock as needed, as it ought to just cover the oxtails. Bring mixture to a boil before reducing to a simmer, and cover.
  • Now is a good time to go relax and veg out, or get some housework done depending on your priorities. I’m in the former camp myself as I believe I was catching up on some missed Masterchef reruns. Anywho, take a peek at the skillet every now and again just to make sure everything is Kosher, but there’s no worrying until you need to turn over the oxtails ~ about 90 minutes in.
    This would also be a good time to dump in the mushrooms and pearl onions, give ‘em a good swish swish with a wooden spoon to make sure they’re well incorporated in the mix, cover and go back to indulging in some Gordon Ramsay love.
  • After another 90 minutes and another dream crushed for the home chef, the oxtails ought to be about fall-off-the-bone supple. Remove the meat from the skillet, careful not to lose any of the meat. Check out your sauce and see if you like it as is, or if it needs a bit more, or less, or thickened or thinned. I ended up adding a bit more wine and stock (which factored in to my final recipe), letting it get a bit thicker as I played with the seasonings. Add some garlic or onion powder if you like, more salt and pepper as I did. Whatever you like, baby. It’s all to taste. Be sure to pop the pearl onions out of their skins before eating.
  • Serve over wide pasta (as I did with my comical first go at homemade pappardelle!), homemade polenta or potatoes. Don’t forget to save some leftovers – this dish only gets tastier the next day! Enjoy!~


    Wine Braised Oxtail over Pappardelle
    Have you ever cooked/eaten braised oxtails?


    Recipe Box: Lamb Loin Chop with Butter Herb Sauce

    While out grocery shopping at Trader Joes one day I spotted some mighty fine looking lamb loin chops. Despite having a deep love for lamb, my mom never really learned how to master the art of cooking red meat – usually just broiling it to a charred crisp as she was taught to via outdated cookbooks – which put me off to red meat when I was younger. Until I learned to cook for myself, of course, and realized how red meat was meant to be enjoyed. Now I’m the chef of the red meat in our house and though my mom cannot enjoy lamb at the moment I was determined to brush up my skills. I’m proud to say that my first go around was a major success and I duplicated it for sharing purposes.

    Cooking up lamb!

    Lamb Loin Chops with Butter Herb Sauce

    You’ll Need
    Loin lamb chops (no more than 2 chops to the skillet), fat trimmed and set aside
    1 generous tablespoon of butter
    3 gloves of garlic, sliced thinly
    1/2 shallot, sliced thinly
    2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
    2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped

    In a large skillet (cast iron preferably) place the trimmed fat and scoot around until melted.
    Add your lamb chops and cook undisturbed for roughly 3 minutes, when a brown crust ought to have formed.
    Flip and allow your chops to brown the other side
    Drop the heat to medium-low and add the butter in the center of the skillet
    As the butter is just about melted, add the garlic, herbs and shallots. Stir the sauce up and swish & flip your chops around, making sure every inch of them gets coated.
    Cook to your desired likeness before plating up your chops and pouring the sauce on top.
    Serve immediately and enjoy!

    Notes:
    Other great herbs to use are fresh tarragon, oregano and sage.
    You can determine how “done” your meat is by the “spring back” method. The springier the meat, the more undercooked it is. A perfectly cooked medium rare will have lots of give, and well done (which I don’t recommend) will have very little resistance to pressure.

    Lamb with butter herb sauce

    Recipe Box: Herb & Mushroom Meatloaf

    Meatloaf is one of those staples that has a pretty bad rap because it’s easy to be careless and do a half-ass job. It’s the butt of every cafeteria/canteen joke and is often overlooked as a dinner option for budding chefs.
    Shame on you.
    I’m here to say that meatloaf can be a delicious meal if properly prepared.



    As most of you are aware, I hardly ever measure. It’s all to taste.

    Ingredients:
    Mushrooms (whole package, stems removed, reserve about 3-4)
    2 shallots
    Garlic cloves (I used about 6)
    Fresh basil
    Fresh rosemary – leaves plucked from stem
    Fresh sage
    Small carrot (sliced)

    Pulse the above items in a food processor – make sure to PULSE into finely minced pieces and not processes into liquidy pulp!

    Scrape contents into a large mixing bowl and add:
    – Pepper
    – Sea salt
    – Fennel seed
    – Ground allspice
    – Ground mustard
    – Herbs de Provence
    – Oregano

    Add your ground meat (I used ground sirloin, but you can use turkey, lamb, veal, pork or any combo of these)

    Add breadcrumbs (homemade is best but I had a canister of them lying around so I just added about 3/4th cup)
    1 egg

    Mix ingredients together
    Add:
    – Worcestershire sauce
    – Red wine
    – Drop of liquid hot sauce if you like it spicy

    Incorporate ingredients well

    Stuff your mixture in a loaf pan sprayed well with cooking spray.

    OPTIONAL: Line the bottom of your loaf pan with parchment paper
    OPTIONAL: Top your loaf with a sauce of your choice (BBQ or whatever)

    Slice the mushrooms your reserved and place them atop your loaf before covering with aluminum foil
    Stick loaf pan on a cookie sheet and place in oven
    Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes

    Enjoy with veggies! This makes GREAT leftovers – especially for sandwiches!

    Recipe Box: Flank Steak

    Yesterday was a vortex of bad food decisions. Ugh. Hand me some tea and raw veggies, because I never want to look at another piece of fried food again. Delicious…delectable…French fries…garlic aoili…onion rings…ACK! No, no, focus time.
    So we all know that I am the worst vegetarian ever and luckily never labeled myself a vegetarian because I knew, ultimately, I couldn’t strictly give up all meat (unless instructed to do so by a doctor). Even when I was being very firm with myself about not consuming red meat, I knew I’d cave the second my mother made her famous – and easy to prepare! – flank steak. Hot damn is it a delicious hunk of meat. (that’s what she said).


    FLANK STEAK

    Marinate a flank steak overnight in a gallon size ziplock bag with the following mixture:
    1/2 c. sherry OR vermouth
    1/3 c. soy sauce
    If you like more soy than sweet, add 1/2 c. soy and 1/4 c. vermouth.
    LOTS OF FRESHLY MINCED GARLIC! (I’m a garlic fiend; just use your own garlicky judgment here)

    When you’re ready to cook it, either stick it on a foil-lined pan OR, if you want to make gravy/reserve the juices, stick it in a Pyrex or some sort of pan and broil on high 7 minutes on each side for rare (which tastes the best, by the way) or 9 minutes on each side if you need to eat medium to sleep well at night. Any longer than that and you’d be wasting a perfect cut of meat.



    Flank steak with red skin mashed potatoes, au jus gravy & peas


    Recipe Box: Stromboli

    It never ceases to amaze me the differences in common foods between here on the west coast versus the east coast, where I spent a good portion of my childhood. I say “Stromboli” as I’m sitting in a deli in a Philadelphia suburb and everyone knows what the hell I’m talking about. I say “Stromboli” here in Los Angeles and I get blank stares, with maybe a more cleverer response of, “Isn’t that the nutjob puppetmaster from Pinocchio?”

    The most accurate, recognizable description I can give to Stromboli-newbs is something akin to a Hot Pocket – though it pains me to compare such a delicious treat to something so foul. Essentially, it is whatever-you-wish in the way of meats and/or veggies and/or cheese and/or sauce wrapped up in a delicious dough pastry (savory, not sweet). It was the only meal that could get me through a Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations marathon without being inspired to inhale the entire contents of my kitchen.

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