Sunday, March 27, 2011

Allegro Barbecue Sauce - Rocking a Pork Loin with a Bacon Weave

Allegro Original Barbecue Sauce Review

Tonight I grilled a pork loin with a bacon weave and sauced it with Allegro Barbecue Sauce. I've not tried the Allegro BBQ sauces. In fact, I just learned about this company when I got a marinade they make with my birthday gift certificate from my son. The company saw my review and that I can't find the products here, so they sent me some samples to try out.

Pork Loin with a Bacon Weave for Grilling

IGA had a good sale on pork loins this week, and we do love those. I decided I'd get a small one and do a bacon weave and then sauce the pork loin with the Allegro Original barbecue sauce. They have a hot version too, but my younger son is not real big on hot foods. He did not get that from his Mom I can tell you for sure.

Pork Loin on an Infrared Grill

I put my pork loin on the preheated grill (heating it helps prevent sticking), but this is an infrared grill, so even though I heated and then left the lid open 5 minutes or so, this was one hot grill. For a pork loin, you want lower and slower, so a smoker or an offset would be a better idea. I can handle it. I did babysit the grill and went with the lid up and down to keep the temperatures down lower. Mostly I ended up sitting at 350 degrees F but with some spikes I had to watch. I would normally go lower, but I was asking a grill to do what a true grill is not designed to do.

In any case, the bacon quickly shrunk and stuck tight as it should which then makes it easier to work a bacon weaved anything on a grill or smoker. Once that bacon "sets," then you can turn the meat as you like, and it's easy to work with.

Time to Sauce Up the Pork Loin with Allegro BBQ Sauce

When the grilled pork loin hit 140 degrees (on my Taylor thermometer - low tech but I love it), I hit the pork loin with the Allegro Original BBQ sauce. I lathered it up good and flipped it and did the top as well. It was close done, and I just needed the sauce to heat and caramelize.

My Saucy Allegro Pork Loin

It was cold out tonight, but it took around 15 minutes for the sauce to set up right and for the pork loin temperature to hit 155 degrees F. I often pull pork loin at 150, but since it was a cold night, I went a little higher. The end temperature you want per government recommendations is 160. The meat cooks on a bit after you take it off, so you want to go a little lower when you pull the meat.

Yum! That Pork Loin Was Fabulous.

After letting the bacon wrapped pork loin with Allegro Barbecue sauce rest about 10 minutes, I sliced it. I had mine plain, but the guys had their sliced pork on buns as sandwiches.

The flavor was excellent. Next time, I might add some seasonings or marinade to the meat, but I wanted the full effect of the Allegro sauce tonight. It was very good. It is a barbecue sauce that you could serve to any family or friend group. It's not over the top on anything but has a really smooth flavor.

I'm looking forward to the spicey Allegro BBQ sauce. I love the heat. I can picture the extra heat in my mind on this one. Yum boy. I'd be more likely to use Allegro Original, because you never know about your guests, but I'm going to hit mine with some hot stuff soon, and I'll let you know how that goes. I'm guessing really great, since I've loved all the Alllegro products I've tried so far. I think Food Lion (our local grocery chain) needs to add these Allegro products to their barbecue section.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Make Cheap Steak Taste Great on the Grill

Allegro Teriyaki Marinade Review

Tonight we had that steak that I dread to grill (or even look at), because I bought it off this guy in a meat truck. Seemed like a good idea (and price) at the time, but this steak is just not all that prime. We're in a recession. I've always hated to waste food, but I do hate to spend time on the grill and have poor results. So, that steak has been going begging as we say in the South.

My college son gave me a gift certificate to a gourmet food store in Chapel Hill, and I bought Allegro Hot & Spicy marinade and fell in love with it. The company noticed that, and they sent me some samples of other products in their line as I really can't find them here. You can visit Allegro and find out where to buy near your home, and you can also buy these products online - thankfully.

Allegro Teriyaki Marinade

I had to give it some thought, but I decided that the Allegro Teriyaki Marinade would be a good pick. I was thinking to grill these thin steaks and serve them on sandwich buns. I didn't want anything too overpowering with the steaks cut too thin (in my estimation). Really, I was not wanting bologna.

The steaks went in the marinade about 45 minutes before I was ready to grill. They were thawed prior, and the extra time gave them a chance to get up closer to room temperature which works better on a grill (prevents sticking and makes for more even grilling). It also lets the flavors meld.

Grilling Steaks with Allegro on the Urban Char Broil

I watched these steaks close, because they were thin (and one was thicker - a T bone maybe?) plus it was cold outside. Brrr. I used the Char Broil Urban grill, because it is super easy, and the heat retention is super.

With the lower quality steak, I wanted a pretty solid medium (to slightly on the done side of that). If you press the steak with the tongs, and it feels kind of like the skin between your thumb and forefinger, then that's about right there. Some people will tell you to go toward rare and cut on the grain with lower grade steak. That works, but the guys here will not eat steak that is bleeding. That is just not on the table.

I had been reading up on Allegro after I found that I so loved the Hot & Spicy they make, and they started out making marinades that would make lower priced cuts more tender and taste better. I felt better right then. I knew these were, for sure, not top quality cuts. But, who can afford the best stuff all the time now? I hoped the Allegro would fix them up and take them beyond . . . well yuck.

Cheap Steaks Off the Grill and Looking Good - Crossing My Fingers

I was shivering cold but thought I had nailed my Allegro steaks. I knew they looked great, but beauty is only bone deep when it comes to grilling (and two of these steaks did not even have ones - rib eyes I think they said - but I'd bet no money on that). The real test was around the table. Well, it was on the couch tonight, because the basketball games are on, and who is a Grill Girl to mess with that?

Allegro Heaven on a Bun Steak Sandwich

I almost swooned when I took a bite of this steak sandwich with Allegro marinade. I'm Southern, and I'm not totally sure about this swooning thing other than it means super extra good - yay. I guess I'm not really the full blown swooning type, but I do know what I like.

The Allegra Teriyaki Marinade did, in fact, make the meat extra tender. It was like fork tender, and this meat is tough as heck as we've noticed time and again hoping to finish it off in this lifetime or sooner.

In addition, the flavor was totally rocking with Allegro. Some Teriyaki is too salty for me. I am not the salt fan. A little is okay. Don't take it very far though, or I need water for the next week by IV is possible. I'm more into spice which is why I bought the Allego Hot & Spicy which is top of list in my book.

We got a three thumbs up tonight. My mild guy can't handle the Hot & Spicy, but he loved the Allegro Teriyaki. In fact, he had two sandwiches, and he might have had another if I'd cooked more steak.

This was a tough test for Allegro. If the marinade had made these thin and tough steaks even a little better, I would have been impressed. The marinade did take the tough out of this bad buy of steak I made.

I can't say I've had a better steak sandwich even when using good steak cuts. I really put Allegro to the test, and they came out with flying colors. I would not have dinged them for not fixing up my tough as shoe leather steaks, but I am really thrilled that the marinade took them from pretty awful to fabulous. Really, the difference was that much! I say: Go out and buy some Allegro marinade. It honestly is some prime stuff when it made my ick steak an extra special meal tonight.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Angry Angel Kolsch Beer Review - Decent Grill or Barbecue Beer

Angry Angel German Kolsch Style Beer - NC Micro Brew

The name and bottle sold me on this beer when I bought a mix-and-match six pack in Chapel Hill when I went to visit my son at UNC. I wanted to try some new beers with grilled foods and barbecue, and the options are limited here.

Angry Angel Beer is made by Big Boss Brewing Company out of Raleigh, North Carolina. The company started up in 2006 with the first beers sold in 2007. Ironically, one of the founders is a graduate of UNC even if they are bottling over in Wolfpack country (NC State - Raleigh - Go PACK).

Angry Angel is considered a Kolsch which means that it's a German style beer. They do know their beer over in Germany. I went to Octoberfest when I lived overseas. Now, that's a party for sure (even if they don't have barbecue).

Some of my random pick beers weren't so great, but I did like Angry Angel. It's stronger tasting than the typical American beers like Budweiser, but it's not gaggy like a couple I put in my sixer container.

You get a little citrus kick with the first taste and just a hint of yeast. It's not over layered with too much going on like some. Just smooth and easy to enjoy. You get that hoppy beer back bite but a pleasant one and not overpowering.

Angry Angel would be a good pick for a barbecue. It won't kill your taste buds which defeats the purpose of having beer with your barbecue. (Just have a stout old beer and let it go at that if you don't care about the food.) If you want to savor the grilled stuff, then you get a smooth flavor with Angry Angel and enough kick to add some balance to even spicy foods.

Enjoy some barbecue beer humor and a list of other beers I've reviewed here at Barbecue Master.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Think Inside the Bun - Everyday Gourmet Burgers by Ted Reader

Napoleon's Everyday Gourmet Burgers by Ted Reader - Book Review

I have been drooling the last few weeks. Why - you might ask? It's because I've been reading Ted Reader's hamburger book - Everyday Gourmet Burgers.

Chef Ted Reader is a man after my own heart. He is the only guy that I know who owns more grills than I own. He has over 100. I'm just sitting around 20 grills and smokers now and will need a bigger house if I don't get a handle on my barbecue grill fascination.

I confess also to being a cookbook freak as well, and the bookshelves my brother put in the kitchen last Christmas are already full. But, that's okay. I can always make room for a great hamburger book by a master griller like Ted Reader.

What's Between the Covers of Everyday Gourmet Burgers?

I'd call Ted's book a guidebook more than a cookbook (but there are loads of recipes as well), and that's a good thing. He starts with the basics like types of meat and has an excellent chapter on seasonings. Even if you know a lot about making great burgers, you'll pick up some fabulous new tips and ideas.

You may wonder how the heck it would be possible to have an entire cookbook dedicated to burgers. You do get the traditional beef burgers but also burgers featuring more exotic meats and even seafood. In fact, I'd have to say that my favorite recipe in the cookbook is the crab burger.

Chef Ted Reader's Crab Burgers

You might be thinking that crab burgers are a bit gourmet and that they'd be too hard to make. But, as you can see in the photo, Ted is not the type of chef to leave you hanging.

I know my way around a grill, but I also know good directions when I see them. Ted does a great job in explaining how to make sure your burgers turn out right, and the photography in this book is excellent.

Yes. There are Traditional Burgers as Well!

Don't worry that you'll just get what my son would call "odd" burgers. That would be, in his estimation, anything that didn't start out saying "moo." He doesn't even like to talk about whole wheat buns.

There's a classic grilled hamburger recipe with butter called The Better Butter Burger. And, yes, it is better. If you watched the film Julie and Julia, then you'll know about that real butter. I never thought to put butter in my grilled burgers, but that idea is spot on. Give it a try. I think you'll be sold.

Ted also gives you the secrets for making the McDonald's Big Mac and the In and Out Burger. I confess that I have not had an In and Out Burger, because they do not have an In and Out here. If I see one while road tripping, I will definitely try one out. In any case, you get the low down on how to make the restaurant burgers kids go wild for (and adults too), so you will not end up serving up ghetto burgers that Eddie Murphy used to rag on.

If you are of a certain age, you will know the Eddie Murphy burger video. If not, then this one is timeless and priceless. Many of us can certainly relate and remember these burgers with the pink bread (-:

Ted has a sense of humor too. If you've heard him on the radio, seen him on TV, or met him in person, you will know this to be true. If not, then you know a chef who features a Spam burger has to have a funny bone.

Spam as a Burger Condiment? Sure. Why Not?

This one did make me laugh. I've not made it, but I may have to do that. Spam would not be on my list for my last meal on this earth, but I can handle it now and then especially fried crisp with yellow mustard on white bread.

The Next Ted Burger on My List - Well, It's Actually My Son Who Bookmarked This.

Was This What Jimmy Buffet Meant When He Sang Cheeseburger and Paradise?

My son doesn't pay much attention when I'm reading cookbooks (yes - I do actually read them). He did, however, notice the cheeseburger photo.

"Hey. Let's make those," he said.

I explained that I'm not tall enough to be making and eating burgers that size lathered up in cheese (though I dream about such).

After some thought, my son decided I could make my burger smaller and that he'd love me fatter if it came to that. Lord, bless boys. They are so practical and forgiving.

So - Is This Cookbook Worth the Money?

With a cookbook, the bottom line really is whether or not you get enough ideas and help to be worth the bucks. In this case, Napoleon's Everyday Gourmet Burgers by Ted Reader is rock solid with the information, and the ideas are creative and range from burgers made with veal to desserts like a cupcake burger.

This would be a good purchase for anyone who loves to fire up the grill and wants to make something other than flat patty burgers and hot dogs. It would also be a super gift for anyone on your list who likes to play with fire, meat, and buns.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to Grill Boneless Chicken Tenders - Fast, Easy, Inexpensive

Chicken Tenders in Marinade - Getting Ready to Grill Out

I decided to grill chicken tenders tonight, because my son and I have been working hard all day. We needed a hearty meal, but I didn't feel up to going gourmet on the grill this evening especially since I juggle both the outdoor and indoor cooking most of the time.

If they don't sell chicken tenders in your area (and I don't mean the frozen McNugget types), then they are just boneless, skinless chicken breast strips. You can get the full sized boneless chicken breasts and cut them in strips if those are on sale.

The advantage with the small pieces of chicken is that the grill up really fast. It depends on your grill heat, but I'd say the average time on grilling is 10 minutes.

The little chicken strips can be bland and turn out dry on the grill, but if you marinate them, then they have moisture and flavor. The marinade I used this evening is Allegro Hot & Spicy that I got with my birthday gift certificate from my son in college.

Chicken Tenders in Grill Basket or Grill Wok

After warming up the grill and grill basket or wok, I just pour the chicken and marinade in the wok. The chicken strips can go directly on the grates, but it's easier to work with them in the grill basket.

Do be careful when pouring the chicken and marinade in. The heat can cause steam which can burn your arm or hands. I'm big on using grill gloves, but I know a lot of people skip that part.

The chicken turns from a pink color to white. You can see the white moving up the sides. It's time to flip the chicken tenders when you see that. I use grill tongs to do that.

All this does take just a few minutes with a hot grill. If you have any doubts about the chicken being done, you can cut into the side of one. Some grill folks will tell you never to do that, but it's really not a big deal on chicken tenders. After a time or two, you will be able to eyeball them and tell they are done without having to double check.

Chicken Tenders Hot Off the Grill

Here are our grilled chicken tenders. The lighting makes them look much dryer than what they really were.

If you do get them a little dry though, you can add some marinade after they are grilled. Just don't use any marinade where you had raw chicken sitting. You may be sitting on the bathroom throne if you do stuff like that when you're grilling.

My Grilled Chicken Tenders Dinner

No. This is not a fancy grilled meal, but it sure tasted great. I put the rice on and then went out to grill the chicken. After I put the chicken in the grill wok, I stuck the canned biscuits in the oven (those can also be done on the grill grates too). So, it all timed out nice, and we had a solid meal. Sure beat a frozen dinner and really didn't take more time than sticking one of those in the microwave.

The highlight of the meal for me was the Allegro Hot & Spicy marinade on the chicken. I've not been big on checking out marinades (but will be all over that now). I usually make my own marinades - olive oil and seasonings (not hard). But, I sure fell in love with Allegro.

I will warn you that the Allegro Hot & Spicy is, indeed, hot and spicy. Eli is yelling uncle on that. Too hot for my mild son. So, I'll have to try some others in this line and find one with a little less heat. For those who love some heat (but not burning the hair out of your nose), Allegro Hot & Spicy is excellent. I just love this one but will keep in mind that some folks can't handle this much hot.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pee Dee River Swamp Sauce Grilled Baked Beans

Swamp Sauce - Barbecue Sauce

My Pee Dee River Swamp Sauce (barbecue sauce) came in the mail this week, and I was chomping at the bit to try it out.

Tim Pattan sent that free sample out to see what I thought, and he's from North Carolina. I love my North Carolina fellows, and I always hope they make good barbecue stuff, because I'm a tad picky. You can't very well review stuff if you think everything just totally rocks.

I did a little taste test, and this was good tasting barbecue sauce. It combines various North Carolina elements. There's that vinegar twang and the hot pepper kick. My eyes aren't what they used to be, but I think that label said anchovies. If not, someone can let me know. Sure looked like it to me.

This is more of a mop sauce - thinner and can be used more liberally than a Kansas based tomato sauce. But, it ran just a little thicker than many of the NC BBQ sauces.

I did grill up some country ribs with Pee Dee River Swamp Sauce, and they turned out great. Nice heat level and a nice heat - not that bitter hot that I don't like. Smooth. Robust. Really yummy. Complex mix of flavors. Really tasty.

For our side dish, I decided to make grilled baked beans with Swamp Sauce. I checked the cabinet and came up with the following ingredients:

Swamp Sauce Grilled Baked Beans Ingredients

Swamp Sauce Beans Recipe for the Barbecue Grill

1 can black beans (15 ounces) - drain that goopy stuff off
1 can Rotel tomatoes (10 ounces) - don't drain off the liquid here
1 small onion sliced or chopped
1/2 pound of cooked ground beef (fat drained off)
1/4 cup Pee Dee River Swamp Sauce

How to Make Swamp Sauce Beans

I just mixed everything together right in the "use it and toss it" aluminum pan and then put the beans on the grill until they were hot and bubbly.

Easy Grilled Beans with Some Kick

I loved these Swamp Sauce beans, but my mild son found them a little hot. Use the mild Rotel tomatoes (rather than regular which is what I used) and cut the Swamp Sauce down from 1/4 cut to 1/8 if you want to make these milder beans. They're hot enough to make you break a little sweat as I made them, but I like them that way. It would not be hard to cut the edge back, and the flavor really is great.

These are not real thick beans like many baked in the oven with pork and beans mixed in. You could surely add pork and beans and also a can of tomato paste if you like them thicker. I prefer mine thinner, but tastes do vary.

I know what I'm eating for lunch tomorrow - the rest of these Swamp Sauce Grilled Beans. Heck, I may get a wild hair and go finish them off before bed, but it's getting too close swimming suit season to be doing stuff like that very often.

Thumbs up on Pee Dee River Swamp Sauce. It was terrific on the pork, and it rocked my grilled beans too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Best Beers and Other Beverages to Drink with Barbecue and Grilled Foods

Future Frat Guy I'm Thinking

We'll have to wait a few years, but this little fellow looks like he could help me knock back and rank beverages that go down well with barbecue or food off the grill.

In the meantime, I'm taking a look at some of our micro beers here in North Carolina and imported from around the United States. Some of the spirits are supposed to be from overseas, but I'm not convinced that is the case, since I lived overseas. Beer does not taste the same in other countries regardless of what the label may say. Get an Amstel in Greece, and you will know what I'm talking about.

First, let me say that barbecue and grilled foods don't tend to be fancy. Now, you can go gourmet, but most people don't. So, I am tell you that Busch, Budweiser, and Miller are just dandy at your barbecue bash.

There is one rule though. Or, this is the rule in Virginia anyways:

Don't Even Think About It - Braking is Just Wrong

Around here, we have a few other little tips that should be kept in mind especially if you want to get invited back to a barbecue shindig.

Some Things Go In the Toilet. Other Things Do Not. Take Note.

If You Can't Play Nice, Please Gather Your Toys and Go Home!

Now that we have all that straight, I'll share some of my thoughts on the micro brews I've been checking out. I'll keep adding to the list, but don't expect it to grow very fast. Corona is as exotic as it gets here in town, so I have to road trip to find anything a little different.

Cyndi's Beer List for Barbecues and Other Throw Downs (alphabetical order)

Angry Angel German Style - This Kolsch inspired German type beer has a little citrus kick and is smooth and easy to drink. Nice compliment to food off the grill. 4 stars

Duck-Rabbit Dark Ale Beer
This is one of our local North Carolina made beers, and WHEW BOY, it's a beer. Very strong taste. I'd not serve this one with barbecue, unless you make super hot barbecue. 1 star

Seven Sisters Abbey Style Ale - Out of the ballpark. This is a smooth ale that does not overpower the barbecue. Next time I'm in Chapel Hill I'll get a 6 pack of this one. I just got one bottle before and shared it. This is a winner. 5 stars

Terrapin Rye Pale Ale - Good golly Miss Molly. This was really bad. I think it might perhaps best be used to blast away the hard water ring stain in the toilet. 0 stars

Wildflower Witbier - You'll have to look down at the bottom of the Emma Key's restaurant review to get the scoop on this one. It was interesting and did taste like flowers or perhaps perfume. I don't see serving this one up to the barbecue boys though. Just not very manly to say the least. 3 stars

Bless Our Local Boys. They are Angels as you Can Clearly See.

Certainly don't feel duty bound to serve beer or any spirits at your barbecue party or grill out. You do not want to corrupt our local sweethearts. Most of the North Carolina barbecue joints don't even have beer on the menu. You typically have to hit a home pig pickin' out in the country for beer with barbecue. Then, it may be in a cooler hidden away from Grandma and other teetotalers.

Sweet tea goes down great with barbecue or at a grill party, but my number one pick for a barbecue beverage would be Cheerwine which is a soft drink made right here in Salisbury, North Carolina. That's a rocking great soda pop and goes down perfect with pork barbecue.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vegetables in a Grill Wok - Healthy and Yummy

Potatoes and Carrots Marinading to Go in a Barbecue Grill Wok

Tonight I decided to grill wok red skinned potatoes and carrots to go with some rib eye steaks that are always a favorite around here.

The potatoes were kind of big, so I quartered them so they would not take FOREVER to grill. The carrots were the lazy girl's baby carrots in the bag and ready to serve. I really should have gone to the IGA to get full sized carrots, but it's raining out and cold, so I decided to use what I had on hand.

While you don't have to marinate vegetables before grilling, that does give them a nice flavor and helps prevent sticking. You want an oil based marinade, and I used one of my favorites - Garlic Gold (organic infused products that have a really lovely flavor). You can also use Kraft Zesty Italian dressing (oily - not creamy).

Grill Wok on the Char Broil Urban Grill with Vegetables

I sprayed the grill wok with non-stick spray. Just the inside. Then I put it on the grill to heat for around 10 minutes. The non stick spray and the pre-heating again prevent problems with foods sticking.

When I poured the vegetables in the grill wok, I cut the heat down to medium or around 350 to 375 degrees F. You don't want the grill too hot for hard vegetables, or the outside will burn, and the inside will still be hard and crunchy.

I also sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese. Yeah. The cheap sprinkle kind. My son loves that stuff and it holds up to the heat just fine. If you use the expensive cheese shredded by hand, then add that right before the grilled vegetables are done, or you will have a heap big burned mess.

Once I had everything ready, I put the lid down on the grill. It would take a really long time to do vegetables with the lid open on the grill, because the heat would be low.

Grilled Potatoes and Carrots - Good Grilled Side Dish

I grilled my veggies for around a half hour. Since I had company drop by, I'm not totally sure on the time, but that would be ballpark. It does depend on the size of the vegetables, type of vegetables (root veggies take longer to grill), the heat of the grill, and the outside temperature. So, be sure to check now and then. You can use a fork to check done-ness. The fork will slide in easily when the vegetables are ready.

Those baby carrots did come back and bite me. I should have added those about 15 minutes in, since they were cut much smaller than the potatoes. Most of them were okay, and I hid the icky looking ones in the bottom of the bowl. I don't touch up my photos, but I'm not sticking burned carrots on top either. A grill girl has to have some pride (-:

The vegetables did taste great. That Garlic Gold gave them a really nice flavor. The cheese was nice on there too even though I'm not a huge sprinkle cheese fan. The cheese did, however, add some nice crusting which gave some crunch to the potatoes which I did like a lot.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Terrapin Rye Pale Ale - Don't Judge a Beer by the Label

Terrapin Rye Pale Ale

I picked up a six pack of mix-and-match beers/ales at Whole Foods. We don't have a great selection around here, so I thought it would be fun to see what I've been missing.

Caleb got the first draw, and he went with the Terrapin Rye Pale Ale. I would say that he picked based on the label. I must confess that the Georgia Terrapin Beer Company does have an eye for a catchy look on the bottle. Really now . . . this label is just saying: Buy me and drink me.

Thumbs way up to the designer at the Terrapin company.

Caleb took a sip, and he looked a little pale but said it was pretty good. I grabbed the bottle and had a swig and said: "UGH." This beer is hoppy as heck. They might have added some floral notes (which I could not taste) and some rye malt to take off the edge, but once you take a sip, your taste buds are shot for life or until the next day at least.

Once I weighed in, Caleb (who is just now old enough to drink) did confess that he did not think much of this pale ale either. I guess when you're young, it's hard to call a spade a spade. Well, I'm of a certain age and have lived overseas and tried all kinds of spirits. If it tastes bad, I'm just going to say it.

Do NOT serve Terrapin Rye Pale Ale at your barbecue bash. No one will be able to taste your grilled food or barbecue if they take a swig on this. I think it burned the hair out of my nose and probably killed some brain cells to boot.

If you take a few shots of Everclear (not that I suggest that), then you might be able to drink Terrapin.

This ale does rate high online, but take that with a grain of salt or rye. Most online rates are way overrated. Feel free to give Terrapin Ale a try. Double dog dare ya. It might do it for you, but I'm not killing my taste buds especially when I'm grilling out and making great food. I want to taste my grilled food. After a sip of this, all I could taste was swamp water funk. Brushing my teeth and gargling did not help one bit. This stuff has to wear off - and very slowly.

Buy a Pepper Grinder - Fresh Ground Pepper Really Jazzes Up Grilled Foods

Arta Mezzo Pepper Grinder - Great Size for Grillers

My son got me a birthday gift certificate for Southern Season in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He got me candy too, but he said he REALLY wanted me to get to see this fabulous high end gourmet and kitchen store. It's not like we have places like that around here. We can, however, get fishing worms or crickets at the community store for fish bait. Perhaps I should not brag about that (-:

A Southern Season - Gourmet Kitchen Store in Chapel Hill

Southern Season is a foodie and kitchen gadget heaven for sure. I could have spent all day, but guys don't like to shop all that much (or my guys don't). So, I went straight for the barbecue section where they had a whole isle of barbecue marinades and sauces and on the other side - hot sauces of all types.

Note also that Southern Season has a North Carolina section (pretty close the barbecue isle), and they have more barbecue items there that are made in North Carolina. Don't want anyone to miss anything.

Then - The Lavender Pepper Mill Caught My Eye - Ut Oh

I thought I was ready to check out when I saw the pepper mill. It was not just any old pepper mill. I have those - annoying ones that don't have work I might add. This pepper grinder was little (about 5 inches tall), and the accents were lavender. So cute. I am a sucker for lavender. And, this Mezzo pepper grinder was just calling my name. You can also get it at Amazon (I looked it up). Amazon doesn't much like North Carolina, because we tax the heck out of them (or tried to) and everyone else.

I tried to walk on by, but I was thinking it would be nice to have a small pepper grinder, since I don't have loads of grill working space. A small pepper grinder would be just the ticket when grilling. I quickly talked myself into it. After all, fresh ground pepper is so much better on grilled food than the pepper dust in a can.

I'm glad I got the lavender pepper mill, and I am now thinking I really should paint my kitchen lavender to match. That won't go too well with my yellow and green theme, but oh well. I can't very well go painting the brick porch. Well, I could. But, I'm too lazy to get stuck having to paint bricks. No. Bricks should be left alone.

The Mezzo pepper mill works great. The grind is medium which is what I like. It really adds some flavor pop to my grilled foods, and it's small enough to carry out an keep next to the grill. Yes. I'll have to fill it up more often, but I'm fine with that.

Will Check Back in Once I Give This Pepper Grinder a Good Work Out

My experience is that the grinding mechanisms on pepper mills don't hold up real well. I had one with a lifetime guarantee that worked for about six months. So, I honestly can't tell you how the grinder parts will hold up on this pepper mill. It only ran $13 (very nice at a high end store), so I'll check back in later. I'm big on pepper and especially fresh ground, so this pepper mill will definitely get a work out around here.

Thanks for the gift certificate to Southern Season Caleb. I had a fabulous time, and I love my little lavender pepper mill and the new barbecue marinades and sauces. The best part was getting to hang out with my kid-o.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Seven Sisters Abbey Style Ale by Highland - Excellent Barbecue Beer

Highland Beer - Seven Sisters Abbey Style Ale

You perhaps have noticed that I've not named any barbecue beers or ales. This is not an oversight. I've just not found one worth a special mention. This is likely due to living in the land of Bud, Busch, and Miller Light. Yeah. We can get a Corona, but that's about the extent of it.

North Carolina is a micro brew state, but you have to be in the right area to check those out. Then, it's so hit and miss. Bummer when you pay $5 for a beer that is hard to even swallow.

I visited Whole Foods store in Chapel Hill and got a random six pack of beers. Just select any six and pay something like $9.99. Beats the heck out of going to a restaurant and paying way more for a stinker of a beer. Better to check them out ahead and know what you might be able to handle.

By far the best in our sample pack of beer was Seven Sisters Abbey Style Ale which I split with my son. He drew a gross one (some Turtle beer), so I figured I'd share my luck of the draw. We both found Seven Sisters to be really good.

Seven Sisters goes well with barbecue. It's mild enough not to overpower the pork, and it just has a smooth mellow flavor. You don't get a head rush like you're burning out some brain cells with this ale.

I could go on and on about what's in this beer and how it's brewed. Frankly, this is like candy. I really do not need to know the details. I know what I like. I like what I like. Do feel free to visit Highland Brewing if you'll feel better knowing all the details. I'm just not that into the details though did read the materials.

Seven Sisters was released as a seasonal ale, but I see it is clearly on the market. Of else Whole Foods dusted off some really old bottles which I frankly doubt. I'd guess other folks liked Seven Sisters as well, and I do hope they keep it on the shelves.

Least you think that I know nothing at all about spirits, rest assured that I did have premium beers when I lived in Greece and Japan. I've been hard pressed to find any beer made and bottled in the United States that do much for me. Yes. I did get spoiled with real top quality spirits.

I do, however, consider Seven Sisters an ale that has a great flavor but not so strong as to make all the guests forget about the barbecue or grilled foods. Beer should compliment - not distract. Seven Sisters does just that.

Smoked Pork Shoulder on the Weber Bullet with Bandiola Barbecue Rub

Smoked Pork Shoulder with Bandiola Rub

Eli won a pork shoulder at the local Legion turkey shoot. Not to worry. They do not chase after and shoot turkies. They just shoot at little blue bulls eye papers. The person who gets closest to the center gets meat bought at the store. Eli has a good eye, and he comes home with lots of good grilling meat ranging from whole turkeys to thick slab bacon. Be sure to try grilling bacon. That's fabulous.

Jimmy offered to smoke the shoulder. Since barbecue shoulder smoking is an overnight deal when planning on a lunch meal, I was down with that. I will babysit smoked meat, but I don't get to turning cartwheels about setting the alarm clock at ungodly hours and checking.

Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker Holds Temperatures Well

Actaully the Weber Smokey Mountain Bullet (which is a bullet shaped water smoker) is really good about holding temperatures, so once the fire is banked up right, I usually check around midnight and then get up at 6 a.m. to double check. All in all, this is easier than tending to a brand new baby, so I will count that blessing. Caleb got up about every 20 minutes all night for about the first year. I've glad I didn't give him back though, because he's turned out great even if he was the colic king when little.

Jimmy used Kingsford Charcoal in the Weber, but he also added some Baxter's wood chips for more flavor. You really can't beat Baxter's wood. Plus, he packs it in mini burlap sacks, so you can give his wood as gifts too.

Bandiola Spice Company Barbecue Rub

I tossed open the spice cabinet and had Jimmy pick what he wanted as far as a rub, and he opted for Bandiola Spice Company Barbecue. It's got sugar, salt, paprika, garlic, orange peel, hickory smoke, red bell pepper, and soy sauce. All in all, it's a pretty traditional shoulder or butt rub with a few nice little extra touches. Smells rvery nice when it's being rubbed on. If you need a solid barbecue rub, you can't go wrong with this one.

Bear Paws (often called also Bear Claws) Make Pulling Pork Super Easy

After smoking all night, the shoulder was ready to chop. North Carolina is chopping country. We, however, have found that Bear Claws are so much quicker and easier that we've been using them lately.

Barbecue Shoulder Pulled with Bear Paws

As you can see, we got a fine pull on the shoulder. If you prefer it chunkier, then just pull it less time. Or do a combination, since some like coarse and some like fine when it comes to pulled pork.

North Carolina Pork Sandwich with Grilled Hash Browned Potatoes

We were keeping things simple again today, so paper plates it was. The pork sandwiches were fabulous, and we all selected out own sauces. I went with Big Butz Cranberry B-B-Q Sauce. It's thicker and richer - more like a Kansas City style but withat delicious cranberry kick. The guys all went with a traditional vinegar based sauce, since that is more common in North Carolina.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fajitas in the Grill Wok - Easy Grilled Dinnner on the Barbecue Grill with Allegro Marinade

Allegro Hot & Spicy Grilling Marinade

My son took me to Southern Season (an upscale food and kitchen supply store) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I had a blast on the barbecue and hot sauce isle. One of the products I picked up was Allegro Hot & Spicy Marinade.

When I got home I decided to make fajitas with the spicy marinade, since I still had some boneless, skinless chicken from earlier in the week. Plus, I love Tex-Mex food.
First I cut the chicken into strips. You can buy tenders which would already be cut in strips, but I had full sized chicken pieces which were easier cut up for this grilled fajita recipe.

While the chicken was marinating in the spicy Allego sauce, I cut up my green peppers and onions.

Once I had all the food ready for the grill, I heated up my grill wok. This is my larger grill wok, and it has small sides on three sides but no side on the fourth side. I won't try to explain that as I don't know why they don't have sides all round. Perhaps it's easier to pour the food out at the end.

I put the chicken on and the green peppers but waited on the onions. I find that onions cook faster, and they get kind of limp and dark if they go on at the same time as the meat and peppers.

After the chicken was done on one side, I flipped all the pieces over with grill tongs. Plus, I stirred the green peppers around. The grilling time was around 5 or 6 minutes. I could see the sides of the chicken starting to turn a clear and true white which is how I know when to flip the grilled chicken strips.

After flipping the chicken, I added the onions. Then, I stirred now and then over the next few minutes until everything was hot and grilled.

I can't begin to tell you how great the fajitas were smelling. I could pick up the scent of the Allegro marinade, and it smelled fabulous. My mouth was watering. I was glad when the meal was ready to pull off the Char Broil Urban grill.

We went quite informal tonight (not unusual). The boys heated up the burrito wraps (larger than fajita wraps) in the microwave, and they made a rice side dish. We dug in when I came in with the grilled fajita fixings.

I must say that these were some of the best fajitas I've had. The Allegro Hot & Spicy marinade was terrific on the chicken. It was a nice smooth hot taste. I also use olive oil and taco seasoning and other marinades and sauces on chicken for wraps, but I'd say this was the best flavor so far. Allegro is just an all round delicious zippy marinade. I'll have to get my son to pick up some more when we run out.