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.

Pickling Sauce:
1 part Red wine vinegar
3 parts Water
Coriander
Dijon mustard
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.

Frog Legs Appetiser with Pickling Sauce
Frog Legs Appetizer with Salad Bed in Pickling Sauce

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.

Chef Stephen Jones of Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails
Chef Stephen Jones of Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails
Chefs Famous Tator Tots
Chefs Famous Tater Tots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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.

 

 

 

We had eight of our closest friends at our home to celebrate and ring in the New Year.  Cocktail and appetizer hour started at 7pm and dinner was ready to serve an hour and half later.  The twice baked potatoes were prepared the day prior and were ready to place in the oven for the final baking one hour before dinner.  The tenderloin smoked for 1 hour, grill seared for 15 minutes and then slow cooked in the oven (on and off) for the balance of the day before carving to serve at a delicious medium-rare.

Oh how I wish I were better at remembering to take pictures.  The appetizer table was adorned with so many good foods brought by our friends to share while we enjoyed each others company.  There was a splendid crudités platter.  I just learned this phrase when my friend who just returned home from living in Italy asked if she should bring crudités or humus and chips.  I had to asked what crudités was and learned that it’s vegetable tray.  Another friend brought smoked salmon served with several very tasty spreads and toasted French baguette.   We provided a cheese platter, beef and salami slices and an assortment of crackers for additional noshing.

The table was preset so that it was easier for serving buffet style and so that I was not so rushed at last-minute.  I’ve found that this makes life much easier, less stressful and then I’m able to enjoy the company of my friends without looking frazzled when they arrive.

Again, I forgot to take pictures of the food as it was set out  but did remember to snap on quick photo of my own dinner plate with the perfectly cooked beef tenderloin and twice baked potato served along with sautéed green beans seasoned with chipotle pepper and praline pecans.  The green bean dish was a quick change-up from my standard sautéed green beans with mushrooms and slivered almonds.  I’m still not sure which I prefer to serve.  The chipotle dish was a hot and sweet dish while the other is savory.

Beef Tenderloin:

Let the tenderloin set out on the counter until it comes to room temperature.  Remove all fat and sinew from the outside of the beef with a sharp knife.  Turn the small end of the tenderloin under and then tie the meat so that it cooks evenly.  Season the tenderloin liberally with a robust rub like the A1-Bold or Barbarian’s Steak Rub.  Liberally add ground salt and ground pepper.  Make sure to cover all the surface of the beef (top, bottom, side and ends).  Place in smoker uncovered at 225 degrees for 1 hour.  Remove from smoker and place on hot BBQ grill at 500 degrees and sear top and bottom for around 7-8 minutes per side.

Next, remove from grill and place in a 175 degree pre-heated oven to slow cook for 3-4 hours uncovered.  This will ensure that the tenderloin cooks to a rare – medium rare inside temperature.  If you want the meat to be rare then remove from oven at 130 degrees and let it rest for 10 minutes or so before carving.  If you want it at medium rare then remove from oven at 140 degrees.  The tender loin will continue to cook while it rests and then be perfect when carving.

Cooking Tip:  I had to keep turning my oven on and off  to make sure it didn’t over cook.  This did lead to the crust of the beef becoming a little soft instead of the normal crusty.  If this occurs (check it before serving) then place your oven on high broil and crust up the outside again before removing from the oven.

Entertaining Tips: 

  1. Set the table the day before if you will be having a large number of people.  This can take more time than you think and will cut into your cooking time if saved to the day of the party.
  2. Set up your cocktail bar the day before.  Place a plastic table cloth under any fabric cloth to protect the furniture’s surface if it could be damaged by the drinks or ice.  Set out a few bottles of tonic water, tomato juice, fruit juice and club soda for mixers.
  3. Prepare a cooler filled with soda pop and plenty of water.  Add ice the day of the party around 3 hours before the begin time.
  4. If serving the food buffet style you can set up the buffet table and serving dishes.
  5. Do any decorating and set out centerpieces and/or candles.
  6. Prepare cheese platters, meat platters and condiments for the appetizer table in their serving dishes, cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  7. Set up your appetizer table with any table clothes and decorations.  Prepare cracker platters, cover and set on appetizer table.
  8. Make sure your champagne is in the refrigerator the day before so that it is chilled to perfection.  One bottle of champagne pours 5-6 glasses.
  9. Figuring out how much meat to buy; 1/2 pound per person to ensure there is plenty.  Allows for second servings and ample leftovers.
  10. Figuring out how many pounds of fresh vegetables; 1/4 – 1/3  pound per person.
  11. Use 1 extra-large baking potato for every two people.  Add 2 extra for those that like more or especially when making twice baked.  Often, many of your guests will share a baked potato or a large twice baked.  Bake in oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  If making twice baked allow to cool before handling.

 

If you like this recipe and entertaining ideas from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀  I’ll try to give you more fun recipes for entertainment.

If I only had one cookbook in my library it would be “Timing is Everything by Jack Piccolo”.  There are no pictures and it doesn’t really have any recipes but it’s the best cookbook around for reference.  Want to know how long to cook the tuna in my “Drunkin Yellow Fin Tuna” or the Beef Tenderloin in  “Beef Tenderloin, Port Mushroom Gravy and Red Potatoes –  Date Night Dinner”.

Just turn to the appropriate meat section in the cookbook and look it up.  Tuna is considered a meaty fish found in the, of course, Fish Section.  Then it breaks down in the cooking methods of braise, broil, grill, pan fry, poach, sauté and steam.  For grilling it recommends a 6-8 ounce fillet or steak, then cook 3-5 minutes per side.  I’ll have to recheck my recipe to see if I followed their instructions.  You’ll even find a section on how to cook an egg, vegetables and rice along with storage time for vegetables, fruit and meats.

You won’t find it at the local book store unless it’s a used book store.  I found my second copy to take up to my cabin on Amazon.com and I costs around $4 for a used book and all the way up to $50 or $60 for a new un-used one.  The original price of the book was $16.95 so you can see how rare the new books are.  It’s no longer in print but worth the find.

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Why is it that I love to cook with spirits.  I haven’t figured it out but I do on a regular basis.  Crown Royal Whiskey is one of my favorite cooking ingredients for reducing mushrooms or making a sauce similar to a Marsala Wine sauce.  A few weeks ago, I wanted to do something different with Yellow Fin Tuna.  So, here was invented Drunken Yellow Fin.  From now on anything I make with spirits as an ingredient will probably be called “Drunkin Something”.  What is really funny is that I do not even like the taste of most alcohol unless it’s in food.  Now, wine is a different story.  Maybe that’s why the booze is in the food and the wine is in my glass.

To start, we create a marinate for the Tuna.  It’s composed of:

2- 8 ounce Yellow Fin Tuna Steaks
1/2 cup Royal Crown Whiskey
1/2 tablespoon Old Bay Lemon & Herb Spice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place these ingredients in a shallow bowl and then add the yellow fin tuna.  Turn tuna a couple of times in the marinate, then refrigerate for around 30-60 minutes.  Turn the tuna every 10-15 minutes depending on how long you want to leave in the fridge.

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Place the lovely tuna on a thoroughly heated medium-high grill.  You could also use a grilling pan if you do not have a gas grill readily available.  Add the following two ingredients after placing the fish on the grill.

1/2 teaspoon chopped basil
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

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Cook the tuna for 5-7 minutes on each side.  Halfway through the first 5-7 minutes turn the tuna clockwise on the grill so that it scores both directions, horizontally and vertically.

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If the fish appears to be getting dry, spray with a little olive oil to keep it moist as it cooks to a light pink center.  You may want to turn down the heat to medium if it’s cooking to hot.   It’s a  fine balance.  If you take it off too soon then the fish will be undercooked.  Well, some of you may like sushi so this would be okay for you.  We like it cooked medium so that the tuna is still pink in the center but not dry on the outside.  I can highly recommend a great cookbook; “Timing is Everything” by Jack Piccolo to help with determining cooking times.

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I place the finished tuna in a foil wrap and then added a little more Crown Royal.  While the rest of the meal finished up the tuna rested for around 5 minutes in the foil.  Turned out quite well for another new drunkin experiment.

If you like this recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀 I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.

Get ready for Memorial Day Weekend with these spice rubbed BBQ Baby Backs with homemade barbecue sauce.  This is one of our favorites for a summer barbecue just like Memorial Weekend.   Many BigOven reviewers have raved about how good they are.  One of my personal favorite reviews was from the crew of a fire station where they said, “THE FELLAS AT THE FIRE HOUSE COULD NOT GET ENOUGH.  THE BBQ SAUCE WITH THIS RECIPE IS A MUST.  I HAVE TRIED SOME BOTTLED SAUCES AND THE RIBS WERE JUST OK  INSTEAD OF BEING ‘GREAT’! tonyparT.”

These ribs are sure to please your family and friends this holiday weekend.   If you don’t want to make the sauce, just substitute one of your personal favorites instead.  However, the sauce is superb and simple to make.  Click Here for the full recipe.

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BigOven Reviews:

New Review just receive Memorial Day Weekend 2013:  Thanks for the recipe. First time making ribs and they were a hit!!! the whole family asked when we were having them again as they were eating them and licking their fingers! The sauce is WELL worth the time to make.  lisatracy

Without question the best ribs that I’ve ever had. Worth making the sauce. Wow..my wife and I were sucking the bones cause it was so good lol. Thx for sharing this recipe. My now staple rib recipe for sure. Patg73

These were a hit at the annual 4th of July BBQ. I had four different families tell me they were the best they’ve ever had. I’m definitely making these again!! Ncrisp24

Watch out Famous Daves. This recipe is awesome. Maderacopy

This is a GREAT recipe, everyone in the house loves it!  Very tender and a fabulous sauce.  I’ve made it again and again by request. NR

THE FELLAS AT THE FIRE HOUSE COULD NOT GET ENOUGH.  THE BBQ SAUCE WITH THIS RECIPE IS A MUST.  I HAVE TRIED SOME BOTTLED SAUCES AND THE RIBS WERE JUST OK  INSTEAD OF BEING ‘GREAT’! tonyparT

We loved these ribs!  We might reduce the chili powder a bit next time.  They certainly have a robust flavor.  I didn’t have the tomato sauce so pureed a tomato instead. You’ll notice our sauce looks a little chunky in the picture..but ohh soooo good!  cbigovenp

It’s late September and I just had to make this rib recipe again for Sunday dinner with friends. I still had sauce in the fridge from the last venture so didn’t need to make it up. That’s a time saver.

While the ribs are cooking, I’m doing a little house sprucing and now updating the recipe. Our friends will be here in a few hours and are bringing a side of macaroni and cheese. What’s great, too, about cooking ribs this way is that you can bake them the full 3 hours, turn the oven off and then finish them on the grill after your guest arrive. No stress about planning the cooking right to the second!!

The recipe appears to take a long time, but most of the time is in the oven baking time or stirring the sauce occassionally.  It’s worth the time.

Ingredients

2 large pork baby back or back ribs; full racks
=== RUB ===
2 tablespoons Carrol Shelby’s Chili blend; 2 T Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic; cloves, minced
2 tablespoons black pepper; freshly cracked
Salt to Taste
=== BASTE SAUCE ===
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh onion; minced
1/2 cup Water
1 can Tomato sauce
1/2 cup White vinegar
1/2 cup Light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Light corn syrup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 3/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon liquid Barbecue Smoke
1 teaspoon Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
1/4 teaspoon Cracked black pepper
1/4 cup Catsup

Preparation

To make the ribs, cut each large rack of ribs in half so that you have 4 half-racks.  Trim away any excess fat from ribs and remove membrane from under-side of the ribs.  Mix the dry spices together in a small bowl, except for the pepper and salt.  Then sprinkle a light even coating spice rub over ribs and press into meat.  If your spices are all in shaker bottles, the just sprinkle the desired amount of each spice.  Scatter the minced garlic over the top of the ribs.  Then press spice and garlic against the meat.  Add the amount of spice according to your desired level of hot and flavorful spice desired.  Top with fresh ground pepper and salt.   Wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 275 degree oven for 3 hours.  I line the baking dish with a large sheet of foil that can then be folded over with the meat sealed inside. This makes for easy clean up.

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As the ribs cook, make the sauce by heating the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Saute the onions for 5 minutes or until they start to brown.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients, bring mixture to a boil; then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, uncovered, or until sauce thickens.  Check sauce every 15-30 minutes to stir and make sure not boiling.  Remove from heat and set aside until the ribs are ready.  Preheat your barbecue grill.

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When ribs are finished in the oven, the meat should have pulled back about 1/2-inch from the cut-ends of the bones.  Remove the ribs from the oven, let them sit for 10 minutes or so, then remove the racks from the foil and put them on the grill.  Grill the ribs for 3 to 4 minutes per side.  They should be slightly charred in a few spots when they’re finished.  Brush barbecue sauce on the ribs while they’re grilling, just before you serve them.  Don’t add the sauce too early or it will burn.

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This recipe yields 2 (full-rack) to 4 (half-rack) servings.

 

BigOven Reviews:

Without question the best ribs that I’ve ever had. Worth making the sauce. Wow..my wife and I were sucking the bones cause it was so good lol. Thx for sharing this recipe. My now staple rib recipe for sure. Patg73

These were a hit at the annual 4th of July BBQ. I had four different families tell me they were the best they’ve ever had. I’m definitely making these again!! Ncrisp24

Watch out Famous Daves. This recipe is awesome. Maderacopy

This is a GREAT recipe, everyone in the house loves it!  Very tender and a fabulous sauce.  I’ve made it again and again by request. NR

THE FELLAS AT THE FIRE HOUSE COULD NOT GET ENOUGH.  THE BBQ SAUCE WITH THIS RECIPE IS A MUST.  I HAVE TRIED SOME BOTTLED SAUCES AND THE RIBS WERE JUST OK  INSTEAD OF BEING ‘GREAT’! tonyparT

We loved these ribs!  We might reduce the chili powder a bit next time.  They certainly have a robust flavor.  I didn’t have the tomato sauce so pureed a tomato instead. You’ll notice our sauce looks a little chunky in the picture..but ohh soooo good!  cbigovenp

Click here to veiw this recipe on BigOven. 

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