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Archive for July, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve used one of these. But I’m on an extended road trip, and what? I’m supposed to use an oven? Broil? No, no I will not.

In my day, we used old tin cans and fish hooks, and WE LIKED IT. Kids these days….

I picked this little beauty up at the local Ralph’s for just over $14, it took about 15 minutes to assemble, and about 15 minutes to light. Last time I used anything like this, I was probably skipping class, drinking a warm can of Wisconsin beer, and over-cooking a boneless chicken breast I peeled off some slimy Styro-foam tray from the local grocery store. 

I seem to recall using a lot of Open Pit barbecue sauce, too.  Oy. 

I have to say, mini grills have come a long way since my college days. It had two lower air vents, an upper vent, a hinge, and charcoal grate. I was really impressed.

Anyway, we grilled Kalbi over hot lump charcoal, and it was excellent.

Here’s the marinade, in which we soaked flattened flank overnight. You’re supposed to use short ribs, but the flank costs less than half as much, and I was feeling thrifty, given the piece-of-crap grill I just purchased.

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 small Asian pear, peeled and finely grated
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)

Fresh off the tiny little grill.

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Odds would dictate that a city as large and food-obsessed as New York City would have to have some great barbecue in it somewhere, right? (If you’re from Texas, don’t answer that question.)

Click for a closer look at the “Tres Hombres” sampler. Ribs, pork, brisket and sides (including a bowl of watermelon!)

And yet, the last time I was here, I ate some pretty mediocre barbecue. It was my own fault, New York. I don’t blame you. This time though, thanks to Ms. Blue State BBQ and her vast New York based support group, I was steered toward the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, a place that looked very promising online:  http://dinosaurbbq.com/ 

Dinosaur is a big, brick barbecue restaurant on a Harlem side street, with a family restaurant vibe on one side and a roomy saloon on the other. Definitely a warm and friendly atmosphere, in spite of their tough guy mission statement:

Their Web site reads, “the idea was hatched at the Harley Rendezvous, a massive motorcycle gathering near Albany, NY because they believed that bikers deserve a good plate of food.” 

I agree. But I didn’t see any bikers, unless you count a few kids I saw who may have ridden their bicycles there.

After agonizing about what to order, the waitress suggested ribs, ribs or more ribs. Smart! But then, suggested a sampler.  Aha! Smarter!

The results: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que serves truly excellent pork ribs. I mean, “wow, that’s ridiculously good” excellent.  Smoky, tender, meaty, fantastic flavor.  They were pretty much incredible for restaurant ribs, especially in such a big, busy establishment.

I haven’t sampled enough NYC barbecue to stack rank them against other establishments, but I think you’d be pretty hard pressed to find much better pork ribs … anywhere really.  They were awesome.

That said…

I had good pulled pork (not mushy!), but nothing I haven’t had a places like RoRo in Seattle, and definitely not better than the pulled pork Boneyard Bistro in L.A..  And I had ok, but not great beef brisket. For some reason, the brisket was served with sauce already on it and a garnish of jalepenos, and I didn’t care for either. The one bite of brisket I enjoyed was a slice I found tucked away at the bottom of the pile, and therefore didn’t have any sauce on it.  And finally, all of the side dishes were pretty bland.

If I were to go again, I would order nothing but the ribs. They could hold the side orders, too.  Just ribs with a side of ribs, please.  (Wait, isn’t that what the waitress said in the first place? I really need to listen to good advice when I hear it.)

Anyway, thanks New York.

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Cold Turkey

In my last post, I described my smoked turkey as good, but nothing special. But two things compelled me to write this additional note. 

First, that I ate all the turkey. Seriously, all of it. I had sandwiches, ate it plain, made chili, and still had a couple of legs left over to munch on, which I did. So, perhaps I was a bit too harsh in my earlier criticism.

The thing is, the turkey was a lot better cold than hot. The smoke flavor was much more intense when cold. Maybe there’s some science to that, I don’t know.

Second, because I did get some tips post-turkey devouring that I thought I’d share. Apparently, one only wants to smoke the turkey directly half the time. I learned that some folks will then put the bird in a foil pan with butter, and tent the thing for the last few hours, so it doesn’t dry out quite as much. Makes sense, and when is butter ever a bad thing?

All this means … alas … there’s yet another turkey in my future.

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