Hog Wild BBQ. With Raisins.

First, a simple statement.  BBQ is an amazing thing.  It’s such a simple concept – heat, wood and meat – but it has different origins in different cultures and has a different process everywhere you go. Changing the smallest details result in different flavors and textures. My preference is keeping it basic – allow the wood to flavor a quality piece of meat and leave the sauce out of it. My choice of meat? Pork.  Enough so that I have a butcher map of a pig tattooed on my arm in an ode to whole hog BBQ.

With that being said, I’m not your typical BBQ snob. I think the basic cook should always remain the same, heat and wood, but after that as long as you’re not drowning the meat in sauce I’m always up for whatever. The first concept that comes to mind is Ricewood BBQ in Ann Arbor — where they wood smoke various meats, serve them over rice topped with scallion, tomato and a spicy-sour Chamorro sauce. It’s something so basic – again: heat, wood and meat, but shows how BBQ is done in the Western Pacific. It’s a reminder that BBQ is not just an American classic. Meat heated slowly over wood is the most basic form of cooking and is done differently in every state and country around the world.

I’ll admit that’s one of the deeper things I’ve written and is an odd opening to a “review” of a BBQ truck. I just love BBQ, that’s all. So when I found out that someone had a BBQ truck directly across the street from my job — no electric, no gas,.  Just wood and heat — I showed up with money. Two days in a row. Check this place out:

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Here’s where I love maintaining this site as less of a “food blog” and more of a “here’s some great food with an interesting story behind it” site. Hog Wild BBQ was opened by Dave Price, who was an air conditioning repair man as early as 2012. After doing some back yard pig roasts his friends encouraged him to open a commercial BBQ business. He now owns two BBQ trucks, a restaurant and a catering business.

Upon my first visit, I was told that the pork had been on the smoker since about 2AM and was just being taken off for pulling. Even better, they hadn’t made the cole slaw yet so it was made while I was waiting. They packed it up in a styrofoam container and sent me on me on my way

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The pork is served naked in sandwich form topped with your spice of regular or sweet/spicy and topped with slaw. Upon opening my styrofoam container, I found something that shocked me. Raisins. This was the first time I have ever seen raisins included as part of BBQ. I wasn’t sure what to think. It adds a little bit of sweetness to the sandwich and a random chewyness to each bite. The pork falls apart, like all good BBQ should and the raisin adds a little chew.  Past that, the spicy sauce tastes like it’s hoisin based — which is typically used as a glaze or stir fry sauce in Chinese cuisine.  #interesting.

Tying this in with my long intro aka John’s ode to BBQ, this is the beauty of BBQ. Someone obviously experimented with different flavors and ingredients and tied in the age old practice of smoked meat with different flavors — even adding dried grapes to the equation. I have to say it works. Adding a dried fruit and an ingredient from a country’s cuisine that is not typically associated with USA BBQ makes this place both delicious and interesting. It’s an ingredient combination you probably won’t find many other places.

Hog Wild BBQ sets up shop at the BP right off the Grand River exit on 96 in Brighton. Check it out.

IHOP Cheeseburger Omelette

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Add this to my brand new WTF category..

I’m a big fan of breakfast but in no way do I find it be the most important meal of the day. I classify breakfast as more of a prep meal for lunch.. Something to get me through the first few hours of the day until I can enjoy an actual meal. Anything larger than a bowl of cereal or a sandwich and my day starts in slow motion.

Apparently IHOP thinks it’s a good idea to absolutely destroy people’s stomach in the morning.  Their new cheeseburger omelette is filled with ground beef, hash browns, tomatoes, onions, and American cheese, and topped with ketchup, mustard, and pickles.

When I first read the description of this it wasn’t the eight different ingredients in an omelette that pushed it over the top. It wasn’t the decision to add hash browns to a cheeseburger omelette either. It was the decision to cover an omelette in ketchup and mustard that gave me a stomach ache just thinking about it.

It’s not that I expect better from IHOP. I really don’t. I have had many disgustingly delicious meals at IHOP that made it so I could accomplish absolutely nothing that day. What I do expect is for no one to think it’s a good idea to put ketchup and mustard on an omelette.

Unacceptable IHOP.  UNACCEPTABLE.

Taco Bell Chicken Chips

Just in case you were getting tired of tortilla chips…

In yet another effort to serve you chicken in the strangest form possible, Taco Bell will be releasing their Naked Chicken Chips nationwide starting on May 11th.  They’re pretty much just how they sound: chicken nugget triangles seasoned with Mexican spices and served with a cup of nacho cheese for dipping.

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Taco Bell continues to use stunt menu items to generate buzz and judging by the fact that I continue to write about them, I would say it is working.  These will be available at a surprisingly low price of $1.99 for a six piece and a $3.99 for a twelve piece. If you’re really feeling unhealthy you can get a six piece, a burrito supreme, a crunchy taco and a drink for five bucks.

While the thought of chicken chips alone don’t get me too excited, I will visit and use this as an ingredient to create something else.  A Nacho Supreme with regular chips replaced with chicken chips comes to mind.

The biggest potential of this though: Fire Sauce as a dipping sauce.  Bring it back please.

Grindstone Smokehouse Burned Down

I woke up up this morning to a message from the Filipino Pounder saying that Grindstone Smokehouse caught fire last night an hour after they closed. Either this was the worst pun ever, or we had ourselves a fire in Westland last night.

A little background first — Grindstone Smokehouse was opened in late 2015 and replaced Beaver Creek Saloon. It quickly became one of the most inconsistent dining experiences in the area. One day you would go and everything would be fantastic, the next you would be served what tasted like cold steak bites pretending they were burnt ends. It was almost depressing that I had a smokehouse down the street that I couldn’t depend on.

I immediately ran out the door to collect evidence (actually I needed catfood) and get the people some kind of update, as no one else seems to know what’s going on.  Since there were police on the scene, I didn’t feel like it would be a good look for me to get out of the car so I literally just drove by about four times and kept hitting the camera button.  IT’S SOMETHING, OK?

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It looks like they’re boarding the place up but the structure of the building is still intact.  I haven’t seen anyone else report anything on what’s going on so it’s hard to say how bad the damage internally is.  There are police in the parking lot which can only mean that they’re still investigating the cause. I’ll keep updating you as I hear things.

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Update: Got a video posted on Facebook by a Vic Barra last night of them trying to put it out:

Deep Fried Cheesesteak Roll

I visited a joint called Mocha Bistro in Dearborn, MI after seeing their stuff on Instagram for some time. They advertise themselves as Yemeni-American fusion and have a pretty solid social media game. As you go through their shares, they definitely focus on the sweet stuff – cheesesteak rolls, milkshakes, fruit cocktails and smoothies. The pictures make this side of the menu look delicious but I’m not interested in that kind of thing. If you scroll through you will eventually come to the Mocha Steak Roll.  The Mocha Steak Roll is a deep fried cheesesteak roll.  Here, let me write that in bigger letters to get your attention.

DEEP FRIED.  CHEESESTEAK.  ROLL.

Now that description alone is enough to get my attention.  It’s amazing to me that someone thought to themselves “You know, a cheesesteak is a pretty good sandwich — But what if we deep fry it?”.  Whoever that was, THANK YOU.

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The Mocha Steak Roll is sliced ribeye, grilled onions and peppers with Swiss and American cheeses all wrapped in a tortilla. It’s like a wonderful cheesesteak chimichanga hybrid. It also comes with “Mocha Sauce”, which appears to be a spicy mayo, and a green salsa. Both are delicious and give a different flavor friend to each bite. The textures are soft in the middle with a slightly crunchy, chewy tortilla exterior. It’s as close to perfect as a deep fried sandwich can get.

If you’re not a steak person, they offer a similar sandwich in a chicken roll and also a chicken shawarma. So far I have been there twice and haven’t been able to eat anything else other than the steak roll. Eleanor, on the other hand, had the genius idea to dip chicken nuggets in hummus.

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Mocha Bistro has TWO locations – 14456 Michigan Ave in Dearborn and 9335 Constant Ave in Hamtramck.

YouTube Food

Before I start this, I must admit that I have a very small attention span.  YouTube has probably overtaken normal television for me simply because I don’t have to commit to thirty minutes to an hour of viewing the same show.  It’s sad, I know. I can skip around and watch clips of different things and a different video is automatically selected for you after your chosen video finishes. It not careful, you can enter a wormhole and before you know it hours have gone by. One thing YouTube is especially great for is food programming. Anything you could want — techniques, recipes, visits to restaurants – they’re all on YouTube.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite current programming. I’ll make this a regular thing where I share what I’m currently watching in a given week. If you have one that I haven’t listed, give me a shout. I’ll check it out.

Hot Ones is a very simple idea — Interviews with different celebrities and personalities while eating really hot wings. The host will typically ask questions right after they have eaten the wing.  In this episode, Eddie Huang attempts to eat the hottest wings first and almost dies.

Matty Matheson is a large tatted chef from Canada who has several shows on YouTube. His best is called Dead Set on Life and airs on Viceland.  Basically the premise of this is he visits different areas of the world, usually in North America, and goes through different food related experiences while yelling and swearing.  The intros are the best.  He also has his own channel where he does different food instructional which are surprisingly educational.

Aaron Franklin has his own channel where he teaches you literally everything about wood smoked Texas BBQ. Franklin BBQ is considered the mecca of BBQ and there are hours of content here going through everything from how to build your own smoker, to how to smoke any cut of pork you could think of. If you’re interested in getting into the smoking game, this is where you should start.

You Suck at Cooking – I don’t really know how to explain this one. You’re just going to have to trust me and watch it.

Binging with Babish is of my favorite new channels. Andrew Rea recreates recipes and dishes from pop culture, movies and TV shows and walks you through how to make them. It’s not always what you think and actually provides some really good information on technique and ingredients in a humorous way.

Hot Sauce

I love me some hot sauce.  Not that kind that gives you second-degree mouth burns and prevents you from tasting anything else.  I love the kind of hot sauce that acts as more of a buddy to the food you’re pouring it on — An enhancement, if you will.  I belong to a monthly hot sauce club that sends me a different bottle of hot sauce each month.  Again, I would like to re-iterate that I enjoy hot sauce very much.

The only problem with hot sauce is you never know what you’re going to get until you dump some on your food.  Yes, it’s a fun adventure to try different varieties and flavors but if you don’t like a bottle it will typically sit in your refrigerator for the next year until it goes bad.  Also, hot sauce isn’t cheap.  Good bottles can cost upwards of $10-$15 these days.  THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER SOLUTION!

Oh yeah, make your own hot sauce.  If you have a pan and a blender/immersion blender/food processor you can make hot sauce.  Don’t know how to cook?  Doesn’t really matter. Follow a basic recipe, make some changes based on how you like your flavor and throw it in the blender.  You have got yourself some hot sauce.

Now here is the part where I go completely off on a tangent and tell you a story about my life that you probably don’t care about that relates to the topic of the post.  It has always been my dream to open a food truck or small restaurant that marries BBQ and Mexican food.  For example, the carnitas would be smoked pork shoulder and could either be served as a BBQ plate or on tacos or a burrito.  Same with the chicken, beef and other meats.  Everything would be smoked and available in a variety of different options. Taking it a step further, there would be ten different sauces to add to your food.  Five would be BBQ and five would be Mexican.  This adventure of making hot sauce recently re-ignited that dream.  If you’re actually reading this and support this dream I would like your input.  I may or may not be doing this in my backyard all Summer.  OK, moving on.

I would like to share with you the easiest hot sauce recipe you will ever make.  This is a clone of the big bottle of green sauce you will find at any taco truck or taqueria. Remember last week I said that La Torre Taqueria motivated me to make my own sauce? This entire bottle costs about $1.50 to make and tastes good on pretty much anything.

  • 6 Jalapeños
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (if you like garlic, use 3.  I use 3.)
  • 1/2 cup Canola Oil
  • Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Directions:

  1. Boil jalapeños and onion for 15-20 minutes, or until you can stick a fork easily through one of the jalapeños.
  2. Remove and cut stems off.  Save the seeds, unless you don’t like heat.  If you’re a sissy like that, remove the seeds.
  3. Combine jalapeños, onion, garlic, oil and vinegar into whatever blending device you’re using.  Puree until smooth.

That’s it.  You have hot sauce.  This mixture will be very spicy until it cools and the flavors settle down.  Always use either canola oil or grapeseed oil in this recipe which will give you creamier texture.

The beauty of this recipe is you can do whatever you want to modify it.  Want it spicier? Use different peppers.  Want it a little smoky?  Roast your jalapenos.  Like garlic? Add more garlic.  Like your sauce a little tangy?  Add more vinegar.  You can add whatever you want to this to modify the flavor to the way you like it, which is the beauty of cooking things for yourself.  As always, I encourage you to change up the recipes I post on here to make something that you like.

On a side note and to close out this post, I made this late at night after work and didn’t feel like taking the step-by-step pictures that most people expect with recipes.  I did, however, capture a picture of my hot sauce smiling.  Hopefully that’s enough for you.

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