Food, Wine & Just Good Living With SaucyJoe

It started with a love of food, wine & fun and blossomed into a maddening pursuit of the best recipes, techniques, grills, smokers, wines, crafted beers, rubs, marinades and sauces... We do more than play with our meat though -- we review and discuss all things cooking, drinking, reading, laughing and living at SaucyJoe's.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Sure-fire Way to Marinate Your Guests

A Sure-fire Way to Marinate Your Guests

Ever since I can remember, a major holiday tradition has been Grandpop's daiquiris. They livened up many an occasion and one time even got me out of hot water with Dad. I'd gotten my first speeding ticket and gave it to him just prior to his sampling of the first batch of GPop's daiquiris. Expecting the worst, imagine my surprise when he called me Mario Andretti and said I'd better pay for that ticket with my own money. Phew! Saved by the brew.

Here, for your holiday enjoyment, is what saved my life that night:

Grandpop's Daiquiri Recipe

2 C. Rum 151 proof
3/4 C. Lemon Juice
1/2 C. Sugar
1 1/2 C. Water

Fill a 3 pint shaker with ice. Pour in daiquiri mix and shake. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Truly Smoky Story

By Associated Press
Mon Dec 19, 4:59 PM

- Investigators described a marijuana-growing operation discovered inside a cave in Trousdale County as something out of a James Bond movie.

'It's pretty amazing what they had under there _ water for irrigation, special lighting, devices to keep the humidity just right. These guys were professionals. They knew what they were doing,' said District Attorney General Tommy Thompson of Hartsville.

The cave was beneath a stylish A-frame home where authorities say three men were able to grow as much as 100 pounds of marijuana every eight weeks.

'They could grow in 60 days what it would take four and a half months to grow outside,' Thompson said. 'It's just unbelievable what they've done. It's like something out of a James Bond movie.'
Arrested on Wednesday were Brian Gibson and Greg Compton, while a third man, Fred Strunk, was arrested near Gainesville, Fla.

All three are in jail, with Gibson and Compton being held in the Trousdale County Jail. Bail was set for Gibson and Compton at $5 million, while Strunk's was set at $15 million, Thompson said. Local authorities were in Florida on Saturday to return Strunk to Tennessee.

The investigation began about five years ago when a home was built above the cave, but it never appeared anyone lived there, Thompson said.

'The front of the cave used to be a hole that you'd crawl into, and it opened up into a pretty big room that was 20-feet high. They cut the side of the hill so you could just drive right into the cave,' he said.

The cave, reached from the house via secret entrances, is said to be about two miles long, but the mamarijuana operation was located about 100 yards inside. Thompson said the other end of the cave had been blocked to keep trespassers out.

According to the prosecutor, the men told locals they were going to be mining statuary rock.

To harvest the illegal crop, Thompson said the men would hire a half-dozen Hispanic workers in Arizona and drive them to Tennessee. For part of the journey the windows on the van would be covered so the workers did not know where they were.

"They would drive right into the cave and let them out to begin working," Thompson said.

Thompson also said that it was "pure dumb luck" that the operation was finally discovered following a massive fire inside a portion of the cave. Police reports show that upon arriving home, two of the men noticed a small leak of smoke from the garage door opening and proceeded inside, unleashing a massive plume of smoke that could be seen for miles.

"They flat out opened the door and sent a fog through town," said Thompson. "and as if that ain't bad enough -- we do have elderly folks and children -- now you can't find a moon pie or twinkie in stores for miles."

Seeing both opportunity and good will around the holiday season, Hostess bakeries of the Greater Tennessee Valley has arranged for an airlift commencing later today."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Saucy Joe's Yellow Snow

Life's challenges often yield interesting results...

I was doing the random blog visit thang I do each week, where I keep clicking on the "next blog" button at the top right of this page. After going through some life experiences with several blog hosts, and learning how much they loved/hated life, friends, Seattle and various films/artists/groups and politicians, I was ready to opt out of bloggerville and seek out something more sanguine.

Surprisingly enough though, I happened upon a blog where the host shared her grandfather's killer egg nog recipe. She explained that while raw eggs could be problematic, this particular recipe had enough alcohol to likely wipe out stray bacteria. And, encouraging enough was the note that she'd actually cut the recipe in half because she didn't know anyone with a bowl big enough to hold the entire batch. Grandpa was our kind of guy!

So... we set out to replicate the recipe this last Saturday afternoon, and found inspiration in Frank Zappa's Apostrophe Album.

It was at that exact moment that he shared his sad tale of the "husky wee-wee had blinded me," that we saw the holes in the original recipe. We adjusted with the addition of tiny amounts of brown sugar, Ohio maple syrup and honey, and some serious hand mixer whipping, and delivered a superior mix. And, in honor of the inspirational role Frank played, we named the recipe accordingly.

Do not drink this in one sitting. Save some for your headache the next day -- nice creamy eggnog to settle your tummy AND your head. And cool enough, even though it's far from lo-cal, after two of these you don't feel fatter. You really don't feel your legs or much of anything except happy for the holidaze...

Here Goes:

Saucy Joes Yellow Snow
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 ½ quarts (5 pints) half-and-half
1 fifth brandy
1 cup dark rum
½ cup bourbon
½ cup dry sherry
½ tsp nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1 small dollop of honey
1 small gloop of Ohio Maple Syrup
3 teaspoons brown sugar.

In a very large mixing bowl, beat the eggs to break up the yolks. Add the sugar, and beat on medium speed until the mixture is foamy and lightens a bit in color. Add the half-and-half, whisking to combine. Add the brandy, rum, bourbon, and dry sherry, Add the brown sugar, honey and maple syrup and WHIP the Hell out of it using a hand mixer to mix and froth up thoroughly. Add the nutmeg, whisk to distribute it evenly, and chill until serving. Whip it once more before serving and sprinkle cinammon onto foam in each cup you serve.

Yield: A lot.
Photo Illustration owes credit to Anthony Hare for the FZ illustration.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Smoke Them Chops!

Smoke Them Chops!

As I am sitting here waiting to chuck aerodynamic pointy objects at segregated bristle targets (i.e. our Sat. darts game), I just had to blog about smokin' them chops. I picked up some thick Iowa pork chops today (1 1/2") and rubbed them with Saucy Joe's Ultimate Rub. I then fired up the smoker, using apple wood chips and lots of water in the hydration pan.

After 1/2 hour of rub absorption, I placed the chops on a rib rack at the top of the smoker. Smokin' duration was 2 hours, and the smoker temperature was held at 220 degrees F (as opposed to the outdoor temperature of 19 degrees F). I then sat down to devour these tasty gems of Iowa porkdom (State Motto: Hogs don't vote. People Do!).

Man-O-Man! I have grilled pork chops most of my adult life, and I think I do a pretty good job of grillin'. However, these were the most moist and flavorful chops I have EVER had! The SJ Ultimate Rub brought out the meat's flavor, and the added smoke taste bordered on the sublime.

So Dr. Dave (the arctic smoker) says: "If ya got 'em, SMOKE 'EM!"

Thursday, December 15, 2005

More Goodies for Saucy Shoppers

Well, we couldn't resist bringing in a few more gift goodies we found while doing some of our own shopping. After we orderd a couple gross of Saucy Joes aprons from our Cafe Press shop (see blatant plug) we looked around for truly unique and off-the-beaten-path stuff.

Lo and behold, we found several really cool items at a store called Uncommon Goods. And not only did we browse, we bought, and then called to chat them up. Customer service was heavenly, and while items do go in and out of stock frequently, they make certain you get a heads-up when inventory is running on the slim side. To give you a quick overview of some of our favorites while saving time, we took the liberty of lifting their ad copy for this review -- pretty well written and helpful to boot.

Here are our latest finds:

In The Hot Seat

One day, Mark and Elan Falvai were going through the nightly routine of washing iconiconpots and pans when they put one down to dry and instantly saw in their heads what you see before you now - the perfect kitchen stool. It took them over a year to find the perfect pot for their creation, with just the right dimensions for a comfortable and stylish seat. Now that they have, though, this "in the hot seat" stool is ready for your kitchen - and ready to act as the perfect seat.

Like Meet Me at My Locker, K?
As far as organization is concerned, public schools are onto something. The same utilitarian metal lockers you remember iconiconfrom 2nd period gym class have been transformed into colorful storage for your home. Four refurbished vintage locker baskets - in red, orange, sky blue and green - fit into a steel frame, making this piece an A+ spot for tucking away books, toys or bad report cards. Complete with metal number labels, this basket locker will bring back visions of kids yelling and locker doors slamming - all without the dirty sock smell.

Olives Not Included
Few drinks have as much style as a dry martini, and now your martini glasses iconiconcan have some style of their own. Whether you like yours shaken or stirred, you'll love the colors and contours of this stately, sturdy barware made exclusively for UG in Mexico.

iconWhere Do You Want Me to Put This, Ma'am?
For a skinny guy, this svelte sommelier can sure schlep, can't he? And best of all, he holds your wine majestically and conveniently for a quick pour and an eye-catching accent on your tabletop. Designed by Nerio Festa and Heidi Hummler, this holder is handmade with steel and hand-picked stone in California’s Sonoma Valley wine country. It looks fun on your bar or kitchen counter.

Modern Vintage
This contemporary design stores your vino with flair. iconiconCradle up to seven regular sized bottles and one oversized magnum or champagne bottle in the intersecting loops of this sleek wine rack. Molded birch and walnut intertwine, creating an organic form that will feel at home wherever you display it.

A Flute of Noteiconicon
Start the champagne flowing at a sizzling soiree. Or just start sipping your favorite bubbly from these joyous colorful champagne flutes and turn any occasion into a celebration. Even a gathering of a few friends will be more fun with these translucent variations on a rainbow. Let your fingers curl around a smooth, shiny glass with its graceful long stem, then sit back and enjoy the company.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

At Last, Saucy Joe's Dr. Dave's Tonic Brisket!!!

While many of you have heard tidbits of the infamous Dr. Dave's BM Tonic, (Dr. Dave may illuminate you in a subsequent comment or post) and it's curative effects, no one to-date has been adventuresome enough to take this illbegotten elixar and use it for cooking purposes. Well, one poor lad tried and was killed in the resulting explosion -- there's a reason they serve it in red metal containers...

Soooooo, SJ took on the task after investing in one of those cool hazmat suits, and the rest is history. He stirred, he sipped, he stirred, he siphhedd, he schtirreddd, he schippped, and when he awoke, there was tonic suitable for a wonderful brisket mop and bbq sauce. These clever variations took a good brisket to greatness, and we had plenty of bbq sauce and sauced cooks and guests for days.

Rather than bring the entire recipe to you here, we refer you instead to the main site's smoking section (no jacket required) where you'll find the entire process spelled out. Cathy will have to come up and sit and drink for this one as it's a more complicated process. Fortunately, it's a track lubricated with a fine tonic for what ails ya.

Try this one for the holidays -- we think sitting down to a Dr. Dave's infused brisket would've certainly fixed that wimp Timmy's legs! And maybe, Scrooge was tipping the Dr. Dave's jug prior to those visions... Dave?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Some Great Gifts For Winers

We've been surfing and shopping again and found some truly fun items for the wine or cooking enthusiast in your life -- perhaps you?

The Deluxe Wine Backpack
Designed to cart enough for serving four people, the Deluxe Picnic Backpack is a hot item at Amazon and in wine specialty shops. You can order it in two colors and look smart schlepping food and drink around the trails for your favorite folks...
Contents: *4 Melamine Plates *4 Acrylic Wine Glasses *4 each Stainless Steel Knives, Forks & Spoons *Corkscrew/Bottle Opener *Cutting Board *Cheese Knife *Salt & Pepper Shakers *4 Cloth Napkins (in Plaid, Wine bottles or Gingham) *Thermal Shield *Insulated Food Compartment *Detachable Insulated Wine Pouch Dimensions: 16'' x 15'' x 7 1/2''. Napkins: , Bag Colors: Navy Blue or Forest Green . For a two-person version click here

Weber Poultry Roaster The surest sign that a backyard cooking fad has gained legitimacy is when a major manufacturer makes the original fad seem woefully inconvenient. The cooking craze is beer can chicken, in which a backyard barbecuer roasts a chicken perched atop a beer can, resulting in a crackly, crisp, succulent-flavored bird. Weber's poultry roaster does the process one-step better (and easier) by offering an aluminum tray with a cone-shaped infuser in the middle. Place the bird on the cone (rather than the can), fill the tray with beer, wine, fruit juice, or another flavoring agent, and place it on the grill.

The bird will fill with aromatic steam as it cooks to juicy perfection in less time than ordinary roasting. Plus, the bird removes easily when you're finished. For additional flavor, add a variety of spices to the reservoir. Now you no longer have to fret over balancing the bird-covered beer on the grill, nor figure out how to remove the beer can afterward. Who knew it could be so easy?

Wine Spectator's Ultimate Wine Tasting Kit
The editors at Wine Spectator reveal the secrets to tasting wine like the experts do, utilizing the magazine's well-established 100-point system. This ULTIMATE WINE TASTING KIT contains everything necessary to conduct more than 25 different tastings, in addition to fundamental information about buying, storing, and serving wine.

The comprehensive book-plus kit, designed for holding at-home blind tastings of wine for up to six participants, contains Harvey Steiman's Essentials of Wine, Wine Spectator's Pocket Guide to Wine and Quick Guide to Wine Tasting, bottle bags, tasting checklists, stemware tags, and bottle tags.

Cellar ! Software for Managing Your Wine Cellar
Since 1995, Cellar! has been used by thousands of wine lovers worldwide to capture their wine experiences. With Cellar! you can keep tasting notes about the wines you enjoy or manage a cellar of unlimited size. Take a moment to read the detailed description section to see why users have chosen Cellar! to track over three quarters of a million bottles of wine. Anthony Dias Blue, the Wine writer and contributor to Wine and Food Magazine, wrote in the Robb Report that "One of the most sophisticated [wine software programs] is Cellar!, which as been continually updated since 1995." Whether you wish to keep a lifetime's worth of tasting notes or manage a cellar of unlimited size, Cellar!'s features truly make it the leading wine enthusiast software.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Holiday Wine Picks from the Gonz

Holiday Wine Selection
December 2005

It's the Holiday Season - for Wine Lovers too you know, and it's like Christmas every day with all the great choices out there. Unfortunately, being only human, (some say not) I am unable to taste ALL of the fantastic wines that are available out there. But I have done my homework and tasted several dozen great offerings in the last few weeks of tastings around the city. Here are a few really stellar selections, based on quality and relative price and availability. Serve some of these wines at your holiday gatherings this year, and you won't be getting coal in your stocking again this year!

Jingle Bells Reds

Great find of the season: Infinitus, 2003. A blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. This full bodied wine from Central Spain provides a very appealing blend of Cherry, Vanilla and Blackberry, finishing tight with a spice that lingers well on the palette. Very tasty, and very drinkable now with its soft tannins, this exceptional wine really is a steal at around $10 a bottle. I wouldn’t hold this wine long, it’s so “ready” to drink now, that I would not be surprised to find it in decline in less than 2 years. I bought a case, but not to worry, it won’t last through 2006. Now that I think of it, I need to pick up another case before they (or I) run out.

Stalwart Player: Hess Collectionicon, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignonicon 2002. Hess is a well respected Outfit that makes some higher end blends as well as excellent everyday drinking wines. Their Napa Cab falls right in the middle with a $20 price tag, but well worth it. Lots of big fruit, solid tannins suggesting good age ability, and a long finish. Very pleasing, and this was the star of at least one tasting that I have attended – very well received.

Plan Ahead for Christmas 2006; Cline 2003 Los Carneros Syrah For a BIG, tight, mouth-puckering assault of ripe fruit and tangy tannins, try this Cline Syrah
icon. With an explosion of bold fruit and spice, this wine shows excellent aging potential, before it settles into a great fully realized syrah. But if you like your syrah big and jammy, with enough backbone to hold up to Chocolate Trufflesicon or Roast Duck do try it now. It’s worth the experience, and at around $17 a bottle, it’s a good value.

Winter Wonderland Whites

Always works for me:
Chateau St. Jeanicon, Alexander Valley Robert Young Chardonnay. This is an excellent Wine, and with wide release and reasonably priced around $21, you can’t go wrong with a quality Chard. Ripe Apple and Pear, and enough oak to give it a nice depth, not over power it. Don’t over-oak my Chardonnay! This is a wine that will work for a tangy salad and hold up beautifully with the main Chicken or fish entrée.

icon: Let’s get right to it:
tis’ the season for planning for that special holiday dinner and celebrating the New Year and Champagne is the wine that makes it all work. Let’s talk about it – Champagne always seems to fit the bill, and you know there are a lot of good Champagnes out there, and a wide range of quality and price. BUT…here’s my dirty little secret – please don’t tell anyone - I have always found that with Champagne, you get what you pay for. That’s it - sorry, but I have just suffered through enough $9.99 and $12.99 bottles of Champagne
icon or Sparkling Wine

We all know that you can find a great bottle of red wine for under $10, and even have it rival the quality of much more expensive and well regarded bottles, but I have not had that pleasure with Champagne. Of course there are exceptions, but pay for the quality, and you will generally get it. SO if you are looking for a good Non-Vintage bottle (NV) - and are willing to pay in the $33 to $39icon range, there are a number of NV options that are always available, and are of high quality and consistency year after year – here are three favorites -
Moet & Chandon White Star
Mumm Cordon Rougeicon
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Labelicon, (The number one imported Champaign for the American Market)

But here we are - I have a great option for you for another $8 or $10 a bottle (depending where you buy it) - Check out my favorite NV Champagne – it’s Charles Heidsieck NV Brut. An exceptional wine that is well worth the $45 price tag, Charles Heidsieck NV is always bursting with berry and hazelnut, and provides a long, long, lonnnnng finish. It is far superior to the typical and more readily available imports, and it certainly supports my contention about getting what you pay for. This wine rivals many Vintage offerings from the great houses of Champagne. But remember, at less than 5,000 cases a year on average, (As compared to over 100,000 cases for the other listed Champagnes), you need to seek out Charles Heidsieckicon, and grab it when you can.

Happy Holidays to Saucy Joe, and all you wine lovers out there!
David Borzo

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Saucy Joes Winter Warmup

Ed Note: We have been asked by some of our northern neighbors for some recipes that can be accomplished indoors. While we acknowledge that weather can be a barrier (except for the arctic smoker, Dr. Dave), the best we could do was deliver a hybrid in our Smoked Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup. This is a dandy and would sit well with a nice Pinot Noiricon or Riojaicon. Photos coming today... AND we'll be adding our smoked onion soup this week too.

Smoked Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup
Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hrs 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

This Tyler Florence recipe cried out for one more layer of flavor: Smoke! I smoked the whole chicken and tomatoes to add a wonderful aroma and flavor you weren't getting from the original recipe. The lime soaked avocados really pop in your mouth. Thanks to the fresh jalapenos and tobasco you'll get a warm feeling after a few spoonfuls. Great for the cooler evenings!!

Chicken Stock
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)rinseded, giblets discarded
2 carrots, cut in large chunks
3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
2 large white onionsquartered
1 head of garlic, halved
1 turnip, halved
1/4 bunch fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
The Soup:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium red onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
3 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
2 quarts chicken stock, recipe included below
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil, for pan frying
8 corn tortillas, cut into 1/8 inch thick strips
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (from the smoked chicken)
2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
1/2 ccoarselyley chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
1 lime juiced for avocado

Pre Game:
There's always some great coals left over after grilling or smoking and this is a perfect time to add the chicken and tomatoes. Set your grill up for indirect grilling and add some water soaked wood chips or chunks to the coals. Add the chicken and tomatoes to the unheated side of the grill and place the cover on the grill. You can keep the chicken and tomatoes on the grill until the coals go out. We're just adding some smoke flavor to the chicken and tomatoes. Cut up your vegetables for the chicken stock while the chicken is smoking. Place the tomatoes in a plastic bag when you pull them out of the grill and let them rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the skins will easily rub off with a paper towel.
The Work
Chicken Stock:

Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover the chicken (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering. Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand shred the meat into a storage container. Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Covrefrigerateegerate for up to one week or freeze. Yields 2 quarts.

The Soup:
Place a stockpot over medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, jalapenos and tomatoes; cook, stirring for 15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked down and pulpy. Pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Place the cubed avocado into a small bowl and pour the lime juice over the cubes. Meanwhile, heat 1-inch of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. When the oil begins to smoke, add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until they are crisp on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and sprinkle with salt while they are still hot. Ladle the hot soup into 6 soup bowls and put a pile of shredded chicken on top of each. Top with the diced avocado, fried tortilla strips and cheese. Garnish with cilantro.
This soup can be cooked in stages. The chicken and tomatoes can be smoked one evening, refrigerated and added to the chicken stock the next day. The chicken stock can be placed in the fridge until you're ready to make the soup. Even the soup (sans avocado and tortilla strips) can be made and refrigerated. Sometimes an extra day will allow the ingredients to mingle and give you some well blended flavors that may not be as apparent the first day.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pork Makes for the Best Smokin'

I've come to the conclusion that pork makes the best smokin' meat. The Dr. Dave household has put up with my experimentation with slamon, pot roast, corned beef smokin' as well as the Tennessee Pork Loin with Whiskey, Brown Surgar and Mustard recipe courtesy of Saucy Joe. The family has been kind at times and enthusiastic at times. However, they have been most enthusiastic over the pork recipes. I think smoking opens up the pores of the meat and pork absorbs the smoke better than the other meats. Or maybe pork just tastes better with smoke.

For Thanksgiving, I smoked a 7.5 lb ham using a Honey Glazed Ham recipe from Derrick Riches on which turned out fabulously despite the 19 degreee temperatures and wind out of the north at 30 mph (yes, you can smoke during a 'Blue Norther'!). Again, the smoked flavor permeated the ham nicely. I used apple wood chips which I had heard went well with ham. The smokin' took 7.5 hours and coincided with the completion of the turkey roasting in the oven. The only regret I had about the ham was that I had to give up the leftovers to the in-laws in order to retain enough turkey for sandwiches the next day (and day after, and day after...).

Any comments? Am I full of it (on this topic at least)?

Is it a fat thing? Does fat absorb the smoke better?