Burgers, Brew, & Que

Burgers, Brew, & QueTop Chef and Food Network personality Michael Symon is hitting the road this summer to bring us some of the best burgers, ice-cold beers, and smoky-good BBQ from different restaurants in cities across the nation.  Concentrating on the metropolitan N.Y. area, Nashville, and areas of Ohio (including Cleveland where Symon grew up), Symon digs in deep to the local hometown joints where you can grab a beer and a burger and find pleasures in the simplicity of tradition. Over the course of six episodes, we get a glimpse of some spectacular food and have a ball with Symon and some of his Food Network friends.

The Burgers

• Sweet and unique dessert burgers in Ohio • Spicy pepper-laced burgers take the heat in Hell’s kitchen, N.Y • Create-you-own burger joint in Nashville • Brunch burgers topped with fried egg and onion rings in Cleveland

The Brews

• Ethnic food meets home brew in Ohio • Bottomless beer selections paired with the ultimate hot dog in Manhattan • House-made brews and pub food in Cleveland

The Que

• Pulled-pork Mac & Cheese in Tennessee • Carolina whole-hog smoked in Brooklyn • Barbeque Brontosaurus beef rib in N.Y. • Spicy-hot chicken in Nashville

The Friends

• Bobby Flay visits for crazy BBQ in N.Y. • Mario Batali shows up at a classic NYC burger joint • Alex Guarnaschelli throws one back with Symon at Manhattan beer spot Symon chats and eats with many chefs, restaurant owners, and friends along the way as he gets to know the story behind the creation.  His personality is big and welcoming and watching him on the road makes you want to hop in the car with him. Aside from owning 6 restaurants, Symon is also an Iron Chef, co-host of the talk show The Chew, and has authored several cookbooks.

You’ve Got the Meat, Now What Else to Eat?

You’ve Got the Meat, Now What Else to Eat?Planning a meal can be a bit daunting.  Everyone knows that a baked potato goes well with a streak, but what if you don’t have a baked potato?  Most places that serve chicken also serve coleslaw on the side, but what if you don’t like coleslaw?  Are there food pairing rules, or do people just make this stuff up?  Truth be told, when it comes to what you want to eat, there are no rules.  Eat what you like; that’s out motto.  But there are some dishes that traditionally go well with certain meats so if you like them go ahead and pair them up.  However, if you are looking to find meat-and-side-dish perfection, there are some menu items that go better together than others.  We’ve broken down the traditional pairings and added some additional options to give you a full range of barbeque heaven.

Barbeque Chicken

Traditional Side: Coleslaw Other good pairings: • Grilled Sweet Potatoes • Green Beans Grilled or Sautéed with Garlic • Deviled Eggs • Potato Salad

Steak or Roasts

Traditional Side: Baked Potato Other good pairings: • Classic Salt Potatoes • Broccoli Salad • Caprice Salad (Fresh tomato, mozzarella, basil) • Marinated Grape or Cherry Tomatoes

Barbeque Ribs or Pork

Traditional Side: Cornbread Other good pairings: • Grilled Sweet Corn • Barbequed Baked Beans • Grilled Apples • Cucumber-Dill Salad

Fish

Traditional Side: French Fries Other good pairings: • Grilled Squash or Zucchini • Pasta Salad • Grilled Potato Packets • Quinoa Salad By all means, feel free to switch things up and think outside of the box to accommodate your palate, you budget, or even your pantry.  Some of the greatest food creations have come from experimentation.  But don’t be afraid to stick with what works as long as it appeals to you.  Eat and enjoy!

Ribs 101: Baby Back Perfection

Ribs 101: Baby Back PerfectionWhen you fantasize about a good plate of BBQ, you’d have to imagine that a big portion of the plate would be filled with succulent baby back ribs. The tender meat, the smoky flavor, the sticky sauce…it’s enough to get your mouth watering just thinking about it!  Many people think that it takes a lot of preparation, a ton of hard work, and a little bit of magic to produce ribs that are worthy of praise.  True, it does take some time and some prep to make good ribs at home, but the magic part will take care of itself.  Take the leap and venture in to the world of making your own baby back ribs.

Buying and Prepping the Meat

When buying your ribs, look for a rack that is meaty and full, at least an inch thick. At home, trim any silvery skin from the meaty side of the rack.  Flip the rack over and remove the membrane that covers the bones by wedging a butter knife or other semi-blunt object between the membrane and the bone.  Once you loosen the membrane, grab the end with a paper towel and peel the whole thing off.  Next, get a good meat rub in the flavor of your choice and cover the ribs on the ends and both sides.  A good rub is imperative because it’s going to seal in the juices and flavor the meat at the same time. BBQ BROS has a good Kansas City style as well as a Memphis rub that would work well in this process.  Meat can rest in the rub for an hour up to overnight.

Cooking

The best way to cook ribs is low and slow.  This is where the magic happens!  For a charcoal grill, you want an indirect heat.  Place your coals over one half of the grill and leave the other half empty.  Your meat will be placed over the side without coals so that the smoke and heat can get to them, but the flame can’t.  Ideally, the temperature of your grill should remain at around 250 degrees for the time it takes to cook the ribs. Plan on a good 3 – 4 hours for cook time, depending on the number of racks you make and the size of the rack.  Two or more racks can take up to 6 hours, so plan accordingly.

Check and Mop

During the cooking process, you should mop your ribs every hour with a good BBQ mop to keep them moist.  A simple mop would be 1 cup apple juice, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons good BBQ sauce, 2 tablespoons butter.  You also want to check your temperature to make sure you are staying near 250 and you’ll want to keep adding a 3-5 coals every hour to keep the temperature consistent.

Finish it Up

In the last hour, swab your rack with a good BBQ sauce and let it finish up.  When your ribs are ready, your meat will have receded and you will see about a quarter-inch of bone sticking out at the ends of the rack.  Remove them from the grill and cover with foil for at least 15 minutes, up to a half-hour.  This lets the juices settle and keeps the meat moist.  Cut into slabs, pass out the wet wipes, and enjoy!

What’s so Tough About Brisket?

What’s so Tough About Brisket?The cut of beef referred to as the brisket comes from the front, lower part of the cow.  Since it comes from a muscular part of the bovine, it tends to be a very tough cut, but the flavor that it imparts is sublime as long as it is cooked correctly.  Cooking a brisket is quite a process and many people tend to roast it for a long period to achieve tenderness and flavor.  There is quite a bit of fat on the brisket and this keeps the meat moist during the cooking process while offering its own flavor to the meat. Brisket is one of the fine meats that are found in smokehouse BBQ joints and it has become very popular in grilling competitions.  In order to make a great BBQ brisket, there are some things that you must know in advance.

The Types

In the supermarket you will find 2 types of brisket. The Packer Trimmed brisket is commonly sold for barbeques and has very little fat trimmed off.  The Boneless Market Trimmed Whole Beef Brisket is a leaner whole brisket that is cut into 2 equal pieces.

The Cut

Brisket comes in 2 cuts.  Flat cut is the leanest and thinnest part of the brisket while the Point cut is thicker and fattier.  The Point cut will produce a more flavorful brisket overall due to its fat content, but the Flat cut is a better option if you are looking for a leaner piece of meat.

The Grade

Select grade is usually found in the grocery store and is has the lowest amount of fat.  Choice grade has more fat and can be found at the butcher counter or in big-box stores.  Choice grade is used mainly in BBQ competitions.  Prime grade is actually a Choice cut, but it ranks among the highest of the Choice cuts due to its softer texture and increased marbling.

Prep the Brisket

Though there are many recipes available on how to barbeque your brisket to attain perfection, one important factor in all of them is the use of a good rub.  Flavor is up to the barbeque master, and BBQ BROS offers a wide variety of rubs that can make your brisket a superstar.  When possible, let the meat marinate in the rub for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Cook the Brisket

Whether you use a smoker or a charcoal grill, wood chips and proper temperature are important.  The brisket must be kept at a constant temperature of 250 degrees for approximately 8 hours of cooking time. The internal temperature of the meat should reach 190 degrees to ensure tenderness and complete rendering of the fat and cartilage.

After The Cooking

Let the brisket rest, tightly wrapped in foil, so that the juices can redistribute and settle.  Slice and serve with your favorite BBQ BROS sauce on the side and enjoy this hard-earned delicacy.

You Don’t Need to be a Pit Master to Host a BBQ

You Don’t Need to be a Pit Master to Host a BBQ Barbeque season is in full swing and the easiest way to host a party is to invite a bunch of friends over and fire up the grill. Everyone loves the tastes and smells of outdoor cooking and your friends will love you when you invite them over for a barbecued adventure.  Even if the thought of cooking over an open flame fills you with fear, a few simple tips and recipes can make you the belle, or the beau, of the BBQ.  The first rule of thumb is to keep it simple.  Good barbeque does not have to be time consuming or expensive.  We’ve all seen shows on the food channel that have people spending hours upon hours smoking a beef brisket; often even forsaking sleep to achieve perfection!  Marinating a less-costly piece of meat for a few hours with a one of BBQ BROS award-winning rubs will produce a meat that is as tender as an expensive cut and tastes like you grilled it all night. Whether you use a propane grill or charcoal, you’ll get delicious flavor.  Keep these few things in mind when grilling your meat: • Cook low and slow to get the best flavor and the moistest meat  • Turn often to avoid excess charring • Use a meat thermometer to prevent a food-borne illness • Have a fire extinguisher close by for any mishaps  • Stay hydrated as the heat from the fire can deplete you quickly Side dishes are a snap when you grill them alongside your meat.  For a classic potato packet, cube up a few of your favorite potatoes (red or all-purpose white work well), toss with olive oil to coat and add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread out on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and grill 20 to 30 minutes until tender.  Or, slice up some garden fresh zucchini or yellow squash and toss with olive oil to coat, salt and pepper to taste, and add a splash of balsamic vinegar for flavor. Spread on a sheet of heavy-duty foil and grill until tender, about 20 minutes. Side dishes that don’t require the grill can be easy, too.  Peel and cube cucumbers and tomatoes, seeds removed, and toss with bottled Italian dressing to coat.  Refrigerate for at least an hour and serve.  And don’t forget dessert.  Slice up some pineapple rings and some halved peaches or plums with the stone removed.  Brush lightly with olive oil and grill, flesh side down, until lightly charred and softened.  Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Keep these few things in mind and you’ll have a grill-fest that everyone will appreciate.  So take a deep breath, light the fire, and get grilling!

Grilling Like a Pro: Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

Grilling Like a Pro: Hamburgers and Hot DogsDo your hot dogs look more like rock dogs after you cook them on the grill? Hamburgers look and taste like hockey pucks? Are you fed up with feeding your family hams and hots that would make Fred Flintstone cringe? Of all the things that you can choose to throw on the grill, hamburgers and hot dogs have the aura of being the easiest and most traditional meats to cook. By following some simple techniques, you can achieve your dream of having your kids’ thank you and call you the grill master (or the grill goddess) that you always wanted to be.

Start With the Fire

Cooking over a fire requires a little bit of knowledge. You must understand that meat cooked over a direct flame will cook faster than meat cooked over an indirect flame. Also, the hotter the fire, the quicker the meat will cook; on the outside, at least. With a hot dog, the worst that can happen is a black dog that is cold in the middle. While gross, it won’t really hurt you if you eat it. But in the case of a hamburger, you’ll end up with a blackened burger that still registers below the safe-cooking temperature if you aren’t careful. That can make you sick! So your fire must be hot enough to cook your meat, but low enough to keep it from charring. On a gas grill, you can simply regulate the temperature gage and keep it medium or low, depending on your grill. For a charcoal grill, spread your coals over half of the grill, leaving the other half empty. Place you meat over the empty side of the grill and you’ll get an indirect heat that will cook your food without burning it to a crisp.

Good Meat

There are many brands of hot dogs out there and you may have a family favorite already. From all-beef to turkey, cheese-filled to jalapeño, the flavor possibilities are endless. As long as you pick the brand and flavor that your family likes best and follow our expert grilling tips, you can’t go wrong. As for hamburgers, there are frozen patties and there are fresh patties. Some are actually pre-cooked, but most are raw. There are turkey burgers and veggie burgers and even salmon burgers. Again, pick the type of meat that your family likes the best and go from there. Thaw it out if frozen, form it into patties if bought in bulk. But before you throw it on the grill; you have to season your meat so be sure to give it a sprinkle of flavor such as one of our BBQ BROS rubs. From the south to the west, there is a flavor that is just right for your barbeque burger. Once you have the burger formed and rubbed, follow the low heat, or indirect heat, instructions and grill away.

Don’t Leave Them!

By all means, keep an eye on your meat. While there are some meats that can be cooked for a long time on low heat, hamburgers and hot dogs demand your attention. They can char quickly, even if you are careful about your heat, and you must be there to save them if they catch on fire. Be ever watchful to avoid a burned mess.

BBQ and Football: No Greater Pair

BBQ and Football: No Greater PairBelieve it or not, preseason football games have already begun. Eager fans of the NFL can tune in and see how their favorite teams are doing in the earliest of preseason games. College football is gearing up as well, so for those who are looking forward to some great football-tailgate parties; this is your time to shine.

What is Tailgating?

Traditional tailgating involves grilling food in the parking lot of a sporting event or concert. Football seems to be the most popular event for tailgating, and some people have made an art out of doing it. Fans are loyal to their teams and to their BBQ. Most times, the tailgaters stay in the parking lot, eating and partying while listening to the event on the radio. Some parties begin long before the event does and continue even after the event ends. Tailgaters bring their grills, chairs, copious amounts of food and drink, and an excited attitude to the party. You can find them cheering as loud as those inside the stadium, and often having just as much, or more, fun. The most important component is good BBQ; many love to compete against each other to determine who the tailgating grill master in the lot is.

Tailgating at Home

For those who do not live close to a stadium or for those who just prefer to enjoy the comforts of home and watch the game on television, tailgating can be done inside. Many people host football tailgate parties every week, inviting all of their sports-loving friends to enjoy the game at their home. Though the venue may change, one important factor stays the same; it’s all about the BBQ and BBQ rub. Chicken wings are considered a staple in football BBQ, and grilling them over the open fire gives them a warm, smoky flavor that deep-frying just can’t beat. Marinate them in some New Orleans-style rub from BBQ BROS and you can forget the sauce. Pizza, the original party food, gets a complete makeover when you throw it on the grill. Sauce, cheese and whatever toppings you like get enhanced by sprinkling on a bit of BBQ rub inspired by the tastes of Texas. Throw in some apps and drinks and you’ve got a great party to cheer on your favorite teams! Even if your team loses, you’ll always be a winner when you throw a great barbeque tailgate party in the lot, or at home.

Labor Day BBQ: Grilling for a Great Goodbye to Summer

Labor Day BBQ: Grilling for a Great Goodbye to SummerMemorial Day saw the coming of the new season and we tried out our best grilled chicken recipes; people couldn’t get enough of the Carolina-rubbed bird! The Fourth of July brought classic burger-and-dog fare with Memphis-rubbed burgers that delighted all. Now, the last summer holiday is upon us; Labor Day! Many may cringe when we say “last summer holiday,” because the kids are going back-to-school, college sessions are resuming, and most vacations have come and gone. But it doesn’t have to be a sad time! If your summer was one to remember, or even one to forget, why not see it out in a big way by throwing a farewell-summer BBQ this Labor Day weekend?

One Last Party

Having an end-of-summer BBQ is a great way to get friends and family together for one last hurrah. Bring out the pictures of all the fun things you did over the summer, from past BBQ’s to beach vacations. Reminisce about the trips to the lake, or the festivals that you attended. Bring out your summer souvenirs to use as table settings and conversation pieces. Ask everyone to talk about one great thing that happened over the summer and have some laughs. Make it a theme party. Bring in some blow-up palm trees, coconut-shell drink servers, and some dollar-store leis for a Hawaiian luau. Or have a welcome-to-fall festival complete with autumn colors in orange and red, football-themed centerpieces, and a scattering of fallen leaves. Whatever theme you decide on, when you pair great times, great memories, and great food, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable event.

Plan the Menu

Menu items can be simple or extravagant, the choice is yours. As long as the food reflects the adventurous spirit of the day and is cooked over an open flame, your guests will be happy. Be sure to have plenty of drinks, from water to iced tea and everything in between. If you plan on serving alcohol, make sure that everyone drinks responsibly; consider a large batch of sangria punch for all to share. Appetizers can range from simple chips and salsa, to fancier bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp. If anyone asks what they can bring, ask them to bring their favorite side-dish to pass. Dessert can be anything from a fresh fruit basket to an assortment of cookies or cupcakes. For your main dish, why not consider grilling up a few racks of baby back ribs? By marinating them in BBQ BROS Kansas-style rub, your guests will think that you spent the entire morning smoking them slowly over a wood-fire pit! If you are looking for lighter fare, why not consider grilling up some salmon filets paired with BBQ BROS California rub? Meat, fish, or poultry cooked over the open fire will signal the end of summer and give your guests one last taste of the best that summer has to offer. They’ll be talking about your party long into the winter months and before you know it, you’ll be planning your menu for Memorial Day once again.

Baby Blues BBQ: Venice CA

Baby Blues BBQ: Venice CABaby Blues does what no one in Southern California (otherwise known as “So Cal”) would think of: Amazing BBQ. Most think of avocado, health plates, and big salads when we think of California, as healthy eating seems to be how the stars keep their svelte figures. However, there is more to life in So Cal than leafy greens, and Baby Blues knows how to barbeque like the best of them.

The Meats

Baby Blues serves an array of meats of the highest quality. The chicken is free-range, the brisket is choice Black Angus, the pork is prime shoulder, and even the shrimp are Indonesian Tiger. The meat is smoked with apple wood, hickory, and white oak and the pulled pork takes a 16 – 18 hour nap in the smokehouse. Ribs are pork or Texas-style beef. They have lots of sandwich choices on soft roll or ciabatta and topped with coleslaw. Burger fans can try the blue cheese stuffed bacon burger, while fans of the sea can choose from grilled catfish or shrimp.

The Sauces

All of the rubs and sauces are house-made. Sauces include Sweet, a tangy BBQ-molasses flavor; BBQ, a GF mild vinegar base; Hot, a Buffalo style with a bit of ginger; and what they call XXX, which is made with a variety of peppers and fruits purees. When Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives visited Baby Blues, he declared that the XXX knocked his socks off!

Sides

The side dishes are regionally inspired, coming from the south to the west, much like the rubs at BBQ BROS. Chefs have taken the time to discover regional flavors and you’ll find everything from sautéed okra, creamed spinach, mashed sweet potatoes, and baked beans, just to name a few. Desserts include classic southern banana pudding and key lime pie, as well as a rotating dessert of the day. They also offer beer and wine selections and you can dine in or take out.

Steaks 101: The Art of the Beef

Steaks 101: The Art of the BeefHave you ever gone out to one of the big-chain steakhouses and ordered a steak? And did it come to your table with a perfectly seared and crusted outside and a perfectly cooked melt-in-your mouth, inside? And did you savor it while secretly wishing that you could sneak into the kitchen and beg the chef to come to your house and teach you how to grill this perfection of meat?  Well, we’d rather you not beg, but you really can achieve that stupendous steakhouse sear at home if you just take a little bit of time to do it right.  Steak perfection relies on a few simple things: • The Cut • The Rest • The Rub • The Flame • The Second Rest Begin by going to your local meat market, butcher, or even grocery store and purchasing your meat.  An excellent choice for at-home grilling is boneless rib-eye or New York strip steak.  Look for steaks that are 1 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches thick, about 12 ounces each.  Fat is a good thing when it comes to steaks, so skip the lean meats with too little marbling. Before you grill, be sure to let the steaks rest on a platter on your counter for 20 to 30 minutes.  Once well rested, coat the steaks on both sides with a little oil and season well with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper; you want to create a good crust for your meat.  If you like a little bit more flavor, consider using a dry rub instead of the salt & pepper combination.  BBQ BROS makes several good rubs that can be used to create that good crust. If using a gas grill, heat the grill to high.  If using charcoal, let your coals just ash over, place them to one side of the grill, and set the steak over the indirect, but very hot, side.  You want to sear the meat immediately to get the desired flavor and texture.  Grill until your steak reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees for medium-rare, 140 for medium, 150 for medium-well.  Limit the number of times you flip the steak, as you really only need to flip it about 3 times.  Remove from the grill and onto a clean platter.  Tent loosely with foil and let your steaks sit for 4-5 minutes before slicing to ensure that the juices settle.  Slice and enjoy the fruits of your labor without ever having to beg.

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