short ribs

Been a minute since I’ve done a cooking update, and we ate some tasty foodstuffs the past couple of weekends which I must discuss with you. I always like cooking with my brother because we have similar tastes in many ways, and he’s open to just about any gut-busting project the internet can dream up. He also enjoys putting his Alton Brown flower pot smoker to use, and I enjoy the meats of its labor.

This time he threw on some beef short ribs at my request, and they were excellent. While he manned the smoker, I took helm at the fryer.

Anyone who tells you that oven fried Buffalo wings can generally be as good as deep fried are kidding themselves.  The same goes for potato skins. People shy away from deep frying, but I’ve done skins in the oven, and I think it’s more labor intensive to do them that way, which involves a fair amount of oil basting, broiling, and flipping. And they still won’t be as crunchy and perfect as they will be after a few minute hot oil bath. I like lots of bacon and chives or scallions to finish mine off. I forgot sour cream so we used a sriracha mayo.

skin

As we had the fryer going, I satiated a sudden urge for a bloomin’ onion. Who knows where that urge came from? I’ve not been to an Outback in weeks. I mean years. Yeah, years…

The Food Network recipe worked really well actually. You just need to keep the oil below 350F. The 325F range is probably best. The batter was spot on. The remoulade sauce was close to expectation, but too heavy on horseradish.

bloomin'

After heavy bbq and fried foods, the next weekend my menu shifted to take advantage of the farmers markets and my weekend plans of basically hanging at home and doing nothing.

IT IS RAMP SEASON!11!!!111!!

I picked some up, along with spring garlic and onion, mixed vegetable sprouts, cabbage flowers, H&F breads, Many Folds Farm eggs and cheese, sunchokes, and a few other things. There was a good spread out there at the PRFM and I look forward to the fun of picking a bunch of stuff up and seeing what I can do with it in the kitchen. To cook without a menu gets the creative juices flowing. Oh and check the size of those morels! I just paid a big tax bill so I restrained myself.

morels ramps!

Breakfast has involved a lot of eggs and sauteed ramps/onions/garlic, but this one was the most “assembled” dish I made. I whipped butter with a mixture of sauteed and uncooked ramps, with S+P and these pickled chiles (think whole sambal oelek chiles) which I’m using constantly these days. Then I blanched and ice-bathed the mixed baby sprouts (kale, broccolini, etc) and assembled everything, along with some thick bacon, on top of good H&F pain au levain.

spring farmer's market smug

Another pickup was pepperoni and nduja from The Spotted Trotter. Nduja is intriguing to me, being a spicy spreadable Calabrian (Italian) salumi, and is a relatively rare to find. It’s great to spread on toasts, but a friend recommended I use it in pastas, and I love it that way –  it melts in the pan and binds to the noodles and creates a spicy ad hoc pan sauce. I enjoyed the Spotted Trotter version. It was nice and creamy (not grainy) with some good funk on it, likely the pork liver I’m tasting. A single four inch salumi may seem pricey at $9, but bear in mind a little goes a long way.

nduja  nduja

I grilled up some bread along with ramps and those same sprouts and onions, swiped a touch of the nduja on on it and assembled with salt and olive oil. Excellent.

Spring time foods and grilling season have arrived. Hell yeah.

nduja toasts

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taqueria la oaxaquena

Taqueria La Oaxaquena in Jonesboro. Worth the drive. I want to go back with a few people and try a bunch of things, including another tlayuda, for which they are known. Yes, it’s even better than a Taco Bell Mexican Pizza. And the white corn tortillas used for the tacos are some of the smoothest, best I’ve ever tried. No wonder this place has been a Mexican food destination before blogs were even a thing.

The day before I also visited El Norteno on Buford Highway. They specialize in slow cooked and grilled chicken. Tacos are serviceable, but I’d prefer the chicken. It’s fall apart tender and a little smokey and it’s super affordable – a quarter chicken with rice and beans is $5.99. A half chicken is a couple bucks more. The chips were actually nice.

Do you see how vivid I made the colors with Instagram? That’s true social media talent.

El Norteno

And here it is in boring old actual colors.

The slice of tomato really put this dish over the top.

El Norteno

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The General Muir Fried Chicken

Before I finally tasted the fried chicken at The General Muir, I sampled it at home. You see, Todd Ginsberg’s Friday-night-only special was featured in Garden & Gun, and I was intrigued by the process they had conceived. The article, penned by Atlanta’s Kim Severson, may be a bit hyperbolic when claiming that this recipe “reinvents” fried chicken, but it is certainly a unique collection of steps, and I’ve tried many.

Not that each step is a break-through – I’ve utilized just about every part of the recipe in some form, but never altogether like this. The cooked brine, letting the chicken rest in the dry batter, the steaming/twice-cook method, the choice of corn starch instead of flour (there is a touch of regular flour), cooling after the initial steam – it’s a lot of steps, but if you break down each idea there’s a functional intent, and each part contributes to the final result, which is a very interesting  and craveable fried chicken.

The best fried chicken? I don’t know. I’ve learned with certain foods, there are always people who have a notion of what’s right and wrong, which tends to be biased by tradition and personal history. This chicken, juicy and brine flavored, with a lacquered shell of a skin, as crunchy as I’ve ever tried, is not one I’ve had before, evokes no memory of an imaginary grandmother’s version, but it tastes damn good and I’ve been plotting my return.

Be sure to get their early on Friday evening, this bird regularly sells out by 7PM.

half eaten chicken, served with a kick-ass gravy

The General Muir Fried Chicken

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My Favorite Yelper

April 1, 2014

This is not an April Fool’s joke. I actually do use Yelp with some frequency, though I rarely read reviews. To me, Yelp’s best use is as a directory service. They’ve built the most comprehensive index of restaurants out there, at least for now, as Google is coming on strong – hours and full restaurant […]

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Cassoulet in 3 Easy Days

March 27, 2014

The never ending Winter weather has provided one nice side benefit – I’ve not yet tired of comforting meaty stews and braises and casseroles. I’ve made Beef Bourguignon and Indian beef stews and lasagnas and hearty curries, all soul warming dishes meant for chilly nights. But my favorite dish made this season was cassoulet. I’ve […]

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My Pizzas

March 21, 2014

Eater’s Pizza Week has reminded me it’s been a while since I’ve made pizza at home, one of my favorite kitchen past times. Part of the reason for the lack of sweet pie making came when I moved and lost access to our hacked pizza oven – Varasano style, I removed the safety latch which […]

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Don Antonio by Starita

March 17, 2014

It would be fair to call me more than a little skeptical when I heard of the opening of Don Antonio by Starita in the former STG space in Buckhead. It’s not that the original Don Antonio in New York didn’t have pedigree – it does, and I was quite familiar with them as they […]

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More Wings For Your Face

March 14, 2014

There’s a lot of eating and gym time involved in the hot wing guidance I provide to my readers. I’m probably the worst performer at my Crossfit gym, but I bet I could kill a burpee, hot wing, handstand push-up, single-malt Scotch workout. The wings above are from the last TON TON Ramen pop-up at […]

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