Category Archives: thoughts on food

Pecan Lodge PR Party

Dude.

That shit is great.  I’m not kidding.  The best smoked meat I’ve ever had.  Anywhere.  Any time.

Last night, Hubbard and I were fortunate enough to be invited the Pecan Lodge’s PR party for their new location in Deep Ellum on Main.  You won’t believe it.  It’s a great space.  Lot’s of room, comfortable environment.  Everything is amazing.

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They have a new line waiting for you.  More smokers this time.  Faster line with more meat.  So, you probably won’t have to get there before dawn to queue up.

Let me just say this…

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Hubbard looked at me, “This is the best BBQ I’ve ever had.”  I said, “Yes, it is.  I told you.”  He agreed again that it was the absolute best in all eternity.  Look at that smoke ring.  Damn.

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If it looks good to you at all, it’s ten times better than you’re thinking.  AND they have a big patio space with live music (check their website), a bar, their own brew, serving dinner on Friday and Saturday.  We’ve landed in Pecan Lodge heaven, kids.  I want to take a sleeping bag and spend the night there until they open on May 23.

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Local notables.

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Are you happy yet?  You wait.  You just wait until you go.

 

Goodbye to Club Schmitz

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Last Friday Hubbard, myself and few friends made our way to Club Schmitz to pay our final respects.  It’s not gone yet, but May 31 will be it’s final day since it opened in 1946.  Hubbard and I attended the University of Dallas and this was one of the closest spots to get a cheap beer and decent burger, play a little shuffleboard and shoot some pool.  The place was packed.

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I suspect it will remain packed until it’s final day.  So, if you want to pay your final respects and gobble up one more patty melt with tater tots, you might want to try and get there early on a week day.  Our friend Bo here prefers the “double double”.  You can just guess what that is.  Strangely enough, I didn’t take any pictures of the food.

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It’s the feel of Club Schmitz that we’re going to miss.  The well worn table and time-warp restrooms.  The ripped seats and plastic pitchers of beer.  It’s remembering what it was like to be young and new to beer joints and finding one that you could call your own.  Goodbye Club Schmitz.  We’re going to miss you.

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The sign still says open, but not for long.  Don’t forget to grab a T-shirt.

 

Central Market Purchase of the Week

Besides the $9 a pound fresh Gulf shrimp I grabbed up, I like this living basil.  Questions:  Will it last long?  Will I be able to plant it outside when it’s for sure warm enough?  Will I just eat it all instead?!

Let’s See that House-Cured Bacon One More Time

Makin’ Bacon

Yes, Hubbard and I are the proud parents of a home-cured and apple wood smoked 3 lb slab of bacon.

Our pork belly spent it’s first 7 days covered in a dry cure made of Kosher salt, pink salt (nitrite) and dextrose (sugar).  Rubbed the bacon with the dry ingredients and then poured about half a cup of pure maple syrup over it.  Sealed it up, stuck it in the fridge and turned the meat every day or so.

Rinsed and ready to go.

Light a fire in the Big Green Egg.

Add some soaked apple wood chips to the fire.

Set up an indirect smoking rack.  We put down the pizza stone.  Shallow pan on the stone to catch juice.  Roasting rack with bacon.  Use your incredible Big Green Egg skills to get the unit to sit on 200 degrees for the next two hours.

There’s our toasty, roasty baby.  Nothing left to do now but…

Fry it up in pan!

So, what do we do with this 3 lbs of heaven?  Any ideas?

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Cream

What is in a name?  A lot, when it comes to this soup.  In fact, the name sounded better than the soup tasted.  But, what was I expecting?  It’s squash soup.  Squash isn’t just bursting with flavor to begin with, right?

I cracked open the squash.  Since I’d never cooked a butternut squash before, more less a six dollar organic butternut squash, I took a little nibble of it raw.  Nothing.  I tossed a piece to the floor to see if the dog would eat it.  No dice.  It tasted like nice, fresh, organic nothing.  Maybe the roasting would help.

I will say that it smelled considerably better after the roasting.  I had rubbed the cut side of each half with olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted it for 45 mintues at 400.  Still didn’t taste like a whole lot.

I medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped

Saute in a soup pot with olive oil and a little salt until tender.  Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for a minute or two more.  Scoop the squash flesh into the pot.  Add four cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so.

From here you take it off the heat.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, thinning it with up to 2 cups more chicken broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Taste.  That’s kind of the problem here.  The most potent flavor in almost six cups of soup was 2 cloves of garlic.  That’s not a lot of flavor.

All of this is supposed to be pumped up by two teaspoons of chipotle chopped.  I used chipotle puree and put a lot more than two teaspoons.  It didn’t taste like much.  I added a Mexican spice blend that’s heavy on the cumin.  A little more garlic.  Salt.

It was OK.   The addition of the blob of sour cream with chipotle mixed in was nice.  It was still and exercise in blandness.  If you like bland or if you feel that you can jazz this up sufficiently to make it really good, then do make this soup.  It’s got to be pretty good for you, right?  It’s basically nothing but vegetables.  But, frankly, V8 has more flavor.

Chicken Fried Steak

Hubbard, my husband, is the maker of great chicken fried steaks.  I never order chicken fried steak when I dine out.  I’m afraid.  Afraid I’ll get some grade-school cafeteria meat patty.  Afraid of huge fluffly crusts that have only the vaguest attachment to the meat.  I want no gristle.  Hub likes to make chicken fried steak.  In fact, he likes to make it for other people so much he’s made it for Bill Addison, the former food critic for Dallas Morning News.  Last Saturday night, Steven Doyle of CraveDFW.com.

Yes, I’m bragging on my husband.  And the fun of having a good stand-by meal that you can feed your friends.  Strangers love chicken fried steak, too.  We make ours with a Paul Prudhomme gravy.  In his book, “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seasoned America”, Chef does his take on traditional American food.  You know, Cuban Stew and Oklahoma Honey Wings?  That kind of American food.  We fell in love with the spicy gravy from that book’s Chicken Fried Steak recipe.

Think about it.  When was the last you time you had a homemade chicken fried steak?  With charro beans and mashed potatoes and gravy?  Homemade bread on the side.  Butter.  Tell me that’s not good.