Hell is other people in the kitchen

A Food Blog By: Spencer Tubbs

My First Wurst

Let’s be real. You’ve wanted this as long as I have. So turn down the lights and put on the Barry White because tonight we’re making sausage. October may have passed, but the fest still goes on. That’s right we’re making the king of all German sausage: the bratwurst. Feast your eyes on these beauties:

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I know it’s a little intimidating, but don’t be nervous. It’s my first wurst too. Now before we get down and dirty, let’s talk about the equipment. Take a look at this baby:

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I won’t lie. I considered getting a hand crank model for a more intimate feel. But with a 575 Watt motor this baby can grind meat all night long. And since you don’t have to crank it, it leaves your other hand free for a beer…or cranking it…because look at all this sexy meat!

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I ground a combination of pork and veal for this bratwurst, and seasoned it with a mixture of celery seed, sage, mace, as well as white, green, and black pepper. I also added a little bit of a smokey German bock both for flavor and to even out the texture. The best way to do this (or at least the sexiest) is to put the meat in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment (Please sir, may I have another?) I worked in two batches because as it turns out 10lbs is a lot of fucking meat. (That’s what she said…)

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Before stuffing the casings, it was necessary to rinse them, since the ones I bought were packed in salt. It’s a good idea to run water through the length of them as well.

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(Here I am making water balloons out of pig intestines. Just kidding…but kind of)

From here the meat mixture goes back through the grinder. This time fitted with the sausage stuffing attachment.

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This is where sausage making truly becomes an art. You have to master filling the casing properly as incorrect filling will result either in air bubbles or a rupture of the casing. So take your time and go nice and slow. After a few tries I ended up with the iconic sausage swirl (style points for the Golden Ratio):

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Now you simply twist the casing to form links of your desired size. And there you have it. Look at that majestic mountain of meat!

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These bratwurst are ready for the grill as is. (And if your grill isn’t hot as fuck right now it should be) However, I recommend poaching them in a hot water bath for about 15 minutes prior to grilling to prevent your nubile sausages from prematurely bursting open on your grill. Once they’re poached just throw them on the grill and wait for them to take on some mouth watering color…or until you can’t stand to wait any longer. (I waited this long)

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You can serve with them whatever you wish, be it mustard, sauerkraut or spaetzle. But in my experience, you won’t need anything at all – because all you’re going to want is some unadulterated sausage. I know I do.

This has been a friendly reminder that Hell is Other People in the Kitchen.

Summer is Coming

Summer is coming, and for some it means beaches and bikinis, but for me it means and grilling and smoking delicious meats. This summer I’m working with a brand new offset smoker. Admittedly this is no $3,000 piece of mechanized smoking precision. It leaks smoke, it’s got a thermometer that doesn’t even have numbers on it, and just two vents. In short, this machine is far from scientific, but it’s also a big step up from smoking salmon in a cardboard box (something which I’ve done at least five times in my life). In any case, this is what I’m working with, and if these results in anyway prefigure the rest of the summer, then I’d say I’m in for a lot of choice smoked meats.

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The whole process starts with brining the pork. I’ve deboned a 6.16lb pork shoulder leaving us with 4.71lbs of meat (plus skin and fat). Speaking of which, there’s a whole lot of debate about how to handle the skin and fat. I personally simply like to score the skin with a bread knife. That way you there’s more surface area when comes time for the rub.

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The brine consists of molasses, pickling salt, and water. Leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Ours is brined a full 12 hours. And when it comes out it looks like this (it’s taken on a lot of color from the molasses).

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I did mention the rub right? This one’s from ol’ Johnny T (The Big Tubbs, my father) who has given me the go ahead to reproduce it here:

Big Tubbs Rub: (makes 2 cups)

• 1/2 cup smoked paprika

• 1/4 cup fine sea salt

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 2 tablespoons mustard powder

• 1/4 cup chile powder

• 1/4 cup ground cumin

• 2 tablespoons ground black pepper

• 1/4 cup granulated garlic

Trust me it tastes great (and it looks pretty goddamn sexy on that meat too).

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To the smoker! I’ve already done a dry run just to season the smoker. (You’re ABSOLUTELY going to want to do this. The purpose is to coat the inside with smoke so that there’s a nice barrier between your food and the assembly line this thing came off of. The smoke during the seasoning process smelt decidedly of metal). That being done, we’re ready to smoke. I’ve outfitted the smoker with a probe thermometer to check the air temp.

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Next comes the pork, just put it in right about in the middle. Temperature (particularly in a smoker like this) has a tendency to vary quite a bit from one side to the other. Since we’ve only got one piece of meat today (sigh…) it’s going right in the center with the thicker part towards the heat source. We’ll check the temperature of the pork halfway through the smoking process, and turn it if we need to.

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Now just get your chimney going with your favorite charcoal (I like all natural chuck charcoal, I find that the Cowboy brand usually has several very large chunks in the bag that are ideal for smoking) and ready yourself some wood chips of your choosing (this is largely a matter of preference, today I’ve chosen pecan because I’ve never used it before, and ’cause fuck it that’s why). Dump those coals right into the offset coal box, wait for them to calm down for about 10 minutes and then dump your wood chips right on the coals. Replace the grate and put a pan of water on the grate. This will help regulate temperature (believe me it really does, at one point during this process when the water was low the temperature to rise nearly 20F in two minutes). Now sit back and watch that sexy smoke roll out of your smoker.

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Three hours later we come back and check the meat. It’s gotten a lovely crust and the internal temperature is remarkably even (123F-125F). I’ve been keeping the smoker somewhere between 190 and 225 and took temperature readings from four different spots just to make sure.

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I recharged our supply of charcoal, wood chips, and water and smoked it for another 3 hours. (I hope you’re seeing what I’m seeing, because it’s fucking beautiful)

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After that, take the meat and wrap it in aluminum foil, and braise it in the oven (along with your favorite porter) at 325F for another 3 hours. (If you know anything about me by now, then you know I’m all about that #LowAndSlow). Then, take it out and shred the hell out of it. (Look at that fucking pink! No shit that isn’t raw, it’s that sexy pink smoke ring you get when you’ve done it right. And by god have we done it right!)

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The time has come to think about service. Now I make best Kansas City BBQ sauce that I’ve ever tasted, complete with bacon, chipotles, porter and golden raisins, but today I decided to try a North Carolina style sauce. Unfortunately, now is not the time to go into all of the specific regional differences in the style of BBQ but, suffice it to say that you either make an intensely vinegary sauce (NC style) or a very tomatoey and sweeter sauce (KC style, ever heard of KC masterpiece? Yeah it actually means something, it stands for Kansas City). I’ve loosely followed the recipe for NC style from the Professional Chef textbook (if you are in anyway serious about food, this book is a must. It’s the textbook to the culinary arts program at The Culinary Institute of America and it’s pretty goddamn badass). The recipe is simple, just equal parts white and cider vinegar, sugar, some hot sauce, and red pepper flake.

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Once the sauce is done, just serve the shredded pork on your favorite bun (I like to make my own, though admittedly I have not done so here. Stay tuned for that post!) squirt some of the NC sauce on the pork, top with a touch of coleslaw, and enjoy that delicious smoky goodness. (Hope you saved some porter for this, I know I did)

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Cheers friends! And always remember: hell is other people in the kitchen.

Cinco de Mayo

Truth be told, Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite holidays. I never celebrated it growing up but just about 2 years ago I suddenly fell in love with this holiday. Sure, it’s a fabulous excuse to drink as much tequila and beer as your liver can handle. But it is also an excuse to explore the rich culinary heritage just south of the border. In years passed I have done straight up rice and beans. It’s cheap, easy, and there’s always plenty to go around. But this year I decided to get a little more involved with the culinary side of things and do some tostadas. (Hell, who doesn’t love a plate you can eat right?) Look at these beautifully fried corn tortillas topped with shredded chicken or pork, slathered with salsa verde, topped with queso blanco pickled red onion, and thinly sliced radishes. (If you don’t eat at least 3 of these in a single sitting, you’re doing it wrong)

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For the chicken, I do it really simple. Salt, pepper, and just enough oil to keep them from sticking (I like to use avocado oil because of its high smoke point and neutral flavor). Throw those babies right on the grill, and make sure it’s hot, put them on right after you dump the coals so you can ensure to get a nice sear.

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Now listen carefully, because I am going to tell you the trick to the perfect chicken breast: once you have gotten a sear on both sides remove them from the grill and place them on sheet pan and finish them in the oven at 300F. (Did I mention #LowAndSlow?) Use your probe thermometer on the smallest piece first and then cycle through all of the pieces removing them as they come to 163F or 164F (you’re looking for 165 but they’ll coast the rest of the way). If you do this I guarantee you will never have had a juicer chicken breast. (I have grilled over 115 times since last Cinco de Mayo trust me, I know my shit) Once they’ve come to room temperature, let them rest for 20 minutes or so, then shred the chicken with two forks. This must be done while the chicken is still warm, and if you do, you’ll get this:

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Let’s move on to the salsa verde. With a sauce like this you have to keep it simple just tomatillos, serranos, cilantro, lime, a single clove of grated garlic, salt and pepper. But that doesn’t mean we can have a little fun right. I decided to blowtorch the tomatillos (’cause fuck it that’s why).

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Take some paper towels and rub the char off, and when you do you’re left with these beautiful little green gems. (Seriously their color while they’re still warm is probably the most beautiful green you’ll ever see)

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Throw those in the food processor along with the rest of the ingredients and you’re left with this luscious green mixture:

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When you’re ready to eat just set it all out and let the fiesta begin.

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

And don’t forget: hell is other people in the kitchen.

Lamb of God

Easter is a time for new beginnings, and this Easter was no exception. I have long dreamt about roasting a leg of lamb, and, after coming across a remarkable deal at my local grocer ($2.99/lb WTF!?!) I determined that this was my time. (Nothing really says “I’m not fucking around” like roasting a whole goddamn leg of an animal) My wallet a mere $17.68 lighter, and my basket nearly 6lbs of lamb heavier, I began to wonder how I was going to go about making the Lamb of God that I have always dreamt of. After consulting with the infamous Silver Spoon cookbook I decided I’d try my hand at a version of their Herb Crusted Leg of Lamb. I wanted something simple and traditional, and that’s exactly what this recipe is. Chopped parsley, thyme, rosemary, and oregano with olive oil, salt and pepper rubbed all over that sexy leg:

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To get that crust you have to start out high and drop it down low. (Drop it like its hot bitches #LowAndSlow)
Here’s the lamb roasted at 475F for 20 minutes: (Two probes ’cause that’s how I roll)

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Nearly two hours later at 325F the lamb is reborn into this sexy beast: (Like, fuck. Look at that fucking bone.)

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Rested for 10 minutes and served with white beans in a tomato sauce, and a lovely Mediterranean style orzo salad complete with feta, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes and fresh chopped parsley dressed with a lemon vinaigrette; you’re eating well. Pairs well with a nice Bordeaux. Cheers Jesus! (Our savior never tasted better.)

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And always remember:

Hell is other people in the kitchen.