Last week Gus and I went to the Arizona BBQ Festival and enjoyed some great tastings. There were BBQ tents and portable kitchens set up throughout the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. One of the best features of the event were the chef demos held throughout the day. I attended two demos; the first being Chef Stephen Jones of Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails. Each chef was to demonstrate how to make some type of “road kill”. Chef Stephen chose an appetizer of Frog Legs and it was delicious. Since meeting him and a short conversation, I decided to also check out the restaurants website and Facebook page. This restaurant looks like well worth a visit.
Frog Legs Appetizer:
I don’t actually have the recipe for the Frog Legs Appetizer but it begins with a 3-1 pickling sauce with these following ingredients. There is probably more to the pickling sauce but this is all I could get down before we moved on to the next step.
1 part Red wine vinegar
3 parts Water
Salt and Pepper to taste
Vegetable Bed for the Legs:
Take 1/2 of a butter lettuce leaves, cleaned and then quartered. Drop them into the warming pickling sauce and allow to braise. Thinly slice 1/4 red onion and add to pickling sauce. Let braise for around 10 minutes.
Chef Stephen talked about how to skin and prepare the frog legs for cooking. It is the back legs only. I’m not sure if I could do it but buying fresh has to be a tastier dish than if you bought frozen. There is not a lot of meat on the legs so plan on quite a few for even this appetizer. Pre-smoke for 5 minutes the full piece legs with a probably the pecan wood since it’s also used for the almonds. Let the meat cool then cut the meat into small bite size pieces. Toss the bits in Wonderflour and drop them into hot clarified butter. The chef recommended this over regular flour as it is not as heavy. Cook legs in clarified butter instead of whole butter. This browns at slower pace and not burn.
To plate, remove the greens from the pickling sauce and arrange on the plate. Drain the meat bits of excess butter and place on the plate. Garnish with sliced radishes and pecan smoked almonds. Chef added a few drops of a balsamic vinaigrette glaze to the plate for an added touch.
Chef Stephen has a charming and charismatic persona to match his talent for cooking. Even at his young age he has a substantial background in culinary expertise. His ideas for cooking are new and refreshing. Some even very fattening! Once of his specialties at the restaurant is his signature Tater Tots which are made from scratch. They begin with shredded potatoes and bacon. I don’t recall the balance of the ingredients so you’ll just have to visit to get a better idea and a personal tasting. Anyway, he said that he mixes up the tots, places them in a large (probably very large) decorating tube and squeezes the mixture out on the sparkling clean prep table in the form of a long tube. Then they are cut into around 1 inch pieces rolled in probably Wonderflour. They are then placed in the freezer until ready to fry. Letting them rest in the freezer will also allow them to set up for frying.
“A little more about the festival. The Arizona BBQ Festival is the largest Honky Tonk in the state of Arizona! There’s live bands, hilarious “redneck themed” games, more beer and booze than you can handle, and (literally) tons of smoked meat like brisket, chicken, pulled pork, ribs, and all the fixin’s.”
The day we attended there were over 20 pit-masters in attendance cooking right on the spot. They were serving up a variety of “brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, shanks of all kinds, and all the sides like grilled corn, baked beans, cornbread, and more”. We had several favorites; one was a Smokey Mac and Cheese that we tasted from the Memphis Best BBQ (I think) and the best smoked meat and longest line was at Montana BBQ hidden away at the back of the field.