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.

Monday, January 30, 2006

BBQ, Wine & The Good Life With SaucyJoe

BBQ, Wine & The Good Life With SaucyJoe

Salmonchanted Evening

It was a smokin’ weekend in the Iowa Sullivan household. Dr. Dave’s wife, the lovely Linda Sullivan, returned from a 2 week journey to Dayton, Ohio where she spent some quality time with possibly the finest grandson in these here contingent United States (Am I prejudiced, or what?). In the interest of allowing her to unwind for her trip, the Dr. fired up the smoker (not that it takes much of an excuse!).

Saturday, the smokin’ fare was the Tennessee Pork Loin with Whiskey, Brown Sugar, and Mustard featured on the Saucy Joe’s website in October, 2005. This one is a real winner at our place. I do not experiment. I just follow the recipe, and the family is happy.

With that success under my belt, I decided to adventure into the seafood arena and smoke some salmon. Now let me tell you, the Sullivans cannot say “no” to their Schwan’s salesman. When I went in search of some frozen salmon, I found four boxes of Schwan’s Alaskan Salmon Filets! Setting a box aside to defrost, I went in search of a nice simple salmon smokin’ recipe. I found one in Smoke and Spice, Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue, by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. It was called “Simply Superb Salmon”, and the results were sumptuous! This is a great way to delight your family with very little preparation and work. The recipe is outlined below:


1 box of Schwan’s Alaskan Salmon Filets (9 filets, ½ inch thick)
Coarse Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Lemon Splash:
¾ cup chicken stock
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup unsalted butter (though I don’t know why ‘unsalted’ with as much salt as is added to this splash)
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoons yellow mustard
½ teaspoon Coarse Kosher Salt

Lemon wedges

The Work:

Preparing the Salmon:
· Lay the salmon filets out in a non-reactive shallow dish.
· Sprinkle them rather boldly (whatever that means!) with salt and pepper on both sides.
· Cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes

Preparing the Smoker:
· Chose your chips wisely. I used chips called Charcoal Companion Smoking Wood Chip Blend – Seafood. This is a blend of Mesquite, Chardonnay and Alder chips designed for a nice mild, tasty smoke.
· Fire up the smoker and get it to a temperature of 175-200°F. I kept mine at the lower end of this range.
· Place the chips in the smoke box and set in the smoker.
· Fill the water pan half full of liquid. I used a 50-50 blend of cheap (yes, cheap!) white wine and water.

Preparing the Splash:

· Combine the Lemon Splash mop ingredients in a sauce pan and warm over low heat for 15 minutes stirring continually.

Smoking the Salmon:
· Drizzle (appropriate for yesterday’s weather) the splash over the salmon and place them on wire grills which have been coated with a non-stick spray.
· Smoke for 35-45 minutes to cook the salmon through so it is flaky.
· Mop the Lemon Splash on once at the 20 minute mark and once again just before removing the salmon from the smoker.
· Have a large spatula and a platter ready to remove the, now fragile, salmon from the smoker.

Serve the salmon warm or chilled, garnished with lemon, all the while singing that great South Pacific song…

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Burn Ban Bypass

Up until today's rain we've been terribly dry in our chunk of Texas. Burn bans are statewide and grilling has been narrowed down to BBQ pits with their own firebox and non tabletop gas grills. With my grilling options narrowed, I went indoors to focus on my interior sauciness. Christmas provided me with a couple of wonderful presents that are perfect for each other. Flat Iron Steaks from the Omaha Steaks Co. and the Fine Wine in Food cookbook by Patricia Ballard at the Bonny Doon vineyards.

I traded out the Flat Iron Steaks for the Filet Mignon in the recipe with wonderful results. The Flat Iron Steaks are thinner (flatter?) and contain a small amount of marbling that adds to the recipe. Pick a yummy Cabernet Sauvignon from our recent postings to add a wonderful layer of flavor to the meal and to drink while cooking and eating!!

Patti's Filet Mignon
4-4 oz. mignons (We used the Flat Iron Steaks)
2 Tbs. Peppercorns, crushed
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Butter
2 Cloves Garlic - Slightly crushed
1 Cup Beef Stock
1 Cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbs. Dijon Style Mustard
2 Tbs. VERY COLD butter - cut into 4 pieces
10 Large Mushrooms - Thickly sliced

Press crushed peppercorns into both sides of steaks and refrigerate for one hour. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet until a
haze forms. Stir in the butter, add garlic and stir until browned. Remove and discard garlic. Add filets, being careful not to crowd. Cook until crisp on outside, about 1 minute on each side, but still pink inside. Remove to platter and keep warm. Add beef stock to pan drippings and reduce to half. Add Cabernet Sauvignon and continue to reduce until about 1 cup liquid remains. Blend in cream and mustard. Whisk in one piece of butter at a time, being careful each piece of butter is completely incorporated before adding additional butter. Add mushrooms and cook an additional minute. Pour over steaks and serve at once. Serves 4.

SaucyJoe's notes.
The 1 minute per side didn't work for me. Just make sure you have the crisp outside of the steak and this will ensure that you have cooked them long enough. You may want to check and see what one cup of liquid looks like in your skillet before starting the recipe. That way you know when you've reduced the beef stock/Cabernet mixture to the proper amount. I was just guessing. Good guess though!!

The rain continues, but I'm sure the burn ban will also continue. We'll have some indoor grilling/smoking recipes in the near future and I'll be back outdoors very soon for some gas grilling adventure.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Will Compose for BBQ?

We found this online after an "Esquire Minute" on XM caught our attention. Seems a few months back contempo-crooner John Mayer issued a challenge: to take song lyrics he had in a half-baked state and convert them to a song worthy of inclusion on his next cd and for an Esquire "ta-da."

The results are in, and over 2200 song writers responded and blew back Mayer's hair with their creative abilities and fervent response. Pretty cool stuff. Here's an excerpt from the article, and links to the winning songs are below. AND, just a reminder to support your local music education programs -- good info can be found at Support Music, Music Education Madness, and American Music Conference.

Tim Fagan Is A Winner
By John Mayer

And so are the other 2,212 aspiring musicians who gave my orphaned lyrics a home.

When I offered up some lyrics in this magazine a few months ago, I knew that for every submission Esquire would receive, there would be a story. Sure enough, when the entries started flowing in, they all sounded unique, yet they all shared a common inspiration. Every single person decided upon reading or hearing about the contest that this was something he or she was capable of doing. And 2,213 people proved themselves right.

For those of you who don't sleep next to songwriters, music is an all-consuming project, I promise you. The heart I heard in these songs made me feel instantly silly for having thought to place myself as any authority on songwriting. Then it occurred to me that I could help the winner of this contest get a leg up in his or her music career. And so I didn't feel so ashamed.

When I heard Tim Fagan's song, I yelled out loud at the speakers, pleading with him not to drop the ball on his way to a touchdown. He didn't. His song has a spare piano intro that's amazing in its economy. Tim's vocal performance is delivered with heart but not hurt. His composition is a string of events laid out so that there's always something else to look forward to, namely a nice blues-guitar solo at the end. It's a tight little number that took him two weeks to finish.

So Tim Fagan's my pick as the winner. He's just recently moved out to Los Angeles and rented a room, and he plays the area clubs when he's not working his part-time job. But there are 2,212 other winners as well, each of whom felt called to contribute in a personal way. They all hit that same "record" button and sang that same first lyric. And each of them conquered one of the most daunting places a songwriter can visit—the long line at the post office. Thank you all.

Q+A: Tim Fagan, Winner
When John Mayer called you, you told him you were going to soil yourself.
TF: My head is still kind of spinning. I was sitting in my car on a lunch break eating Chinese takeout. I answered with a mouthful of rice and it's John Mayer on the phone. He started singing my song. It was bizarre. I sang along with my best moo-goo-gai-pan voice.
ESQ: On paper, those lyrics look tough to work into a song, don't they?
TF: Masochistically isn't a word that gets a lot of credit in songwriting. But its time is now.
ESQ: You have to choose one: "Daughters" or "Your Body Is a Wonderland"?
TF: I play a mean version of "Your Body Is a Wonderland." The funky part in the middle gets going nice and low.
ESQ: How long before we see the Fender guitar you won on eBay?
TF: EBay isn't in the picture on this one. This guitar's getting played the minute I get it.
ESQ: Unfortunately, winning the contest doesn't lift you out of poverty.
TF: One day it's Chinese and John Mayer. Today it's tacos and Esquire. If I stick to my fast-food regimen, I can stay afloat. I'm getting closer every day to an actual meal.
—Andy Langer

The Songs:
Put Those Hands Together

Here, Tim Fagan's winning recording and those of the five runners-up

The Grand Prize: Tim Fagan, Los Angeles

The Frank Zappa Award: Keith Rubin, Fort Lauderdale

Best Dorm-Room Duo: Brandon Paddock/Greg Perrine, Chicago

The Emmylou Harris Award: Liz Thurman, Nashville

The Smell the Glove Award: Chris Feener, Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland

Sexiest Import: Sonal D'Silva: Mumbai, India

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Top Ten Cabernets of 2005

Ed note: Steve Pitcher is a regular contributor online, and can often be found at The Wine News. Here he reveals his favorite Cabernet Sauvignons of 2005. Also note that we will update this article with pertinent links (as always visit our friends at where you can find many of these gems online.

Last year I made the audacious pronouncement that, based on the performance of Cabernet Sauvignon, California's 2001 vintage had eclipsed the spectacular vintages of 1994, 1997 and 1999 in terms of quality, and was clearly the greatest vintage in the state's history.
Fortunately, in the interim, I haven't been forced to eat those words, which gives me the courage to state unequivocally that vintage 2002 is on a par with 2001 - maybe even a bit better. The wines pretty much speak for themselves, and the proof is in the glass. Two truly great years back to back. It doesn't get much better for lovers of California wine.

If there is a drawback, it's that prices edged up for some of the so-called "trophy" wines of vintage 2002. That's a small consideration for collectors, however, inasmuch as prices remained rather steady for most of the state's wines, and bargains are still to be found.

Cabernet of the Year

Shafer, 2001 Hillside Select, Stags Leap District - $175: The most magnificent Hillside Select ever, perfect in every respect. Intensely aromatic scents of concentrated cassis-black cherry fruit, mild peppery herbaceousness and notes of vanilla and roasted coffee bean. Big, lush and velvety in the mouth with medium-full yet supple tannins. Complex, layered flavors resonate from a deep core of ripe, succulent black fruit enhanced by dark chocolate, dried herbs, vanilla and a certain hillside minerality that extends into the long finish. Powerful, yet exquisitely balanced with fresh acidity. Exciting and appealing to drink now with the stuffing to age gracefully over the next 10 to 15 years. (2,500 cases)

Top Ten Cabernets of the Year

Andrew Geoffrey Vineyards, 2002 Diamond Mountain District - $75: Distinctive nose of briary brambleberry accented with bright blueberry and loamy earthiness. Deeply flavored and viscous with ripe, medium-full tannins, this muscular Cab brims with concentrated dark berry-cassis fruit and finishes with subtle notes of white chocolate and white pepper. (1,660 cases)

Caymus, 2002 Special Selection, Napa Valley - $136: Expressive aromas of sweet, ripe black currant and black cherry laced with mocha, violets, dried herbs and warm spice. Velvety in texture and deeply extracted, offering layers of cassis and blackberry, spice and mocha flavors, along with nicely integrated French oak. Wonderfully proportioned showing firm, fine-grain tannins and an exotic note of freshly crushed sage in the aftertaste. (8,800 cases)

Caymus, 2002 Napa Valley - $70: Attractive, complex nose of cassis, black cherry and freshly crushed berries with notes of nutmeg, cocoa and cedar. Nearly as extracted as the Special Selection, with medium-full tannins and similar flavors of ripe black fruit, spice and creamy oak. An extremely complex wine that unfolds sip after sip, and shows a hint of blueberry in the extended finish. (29,980 cases)

Constant, 2001 Diamond Mountain Vineyard, Diamond Mountain District - $85: Enticing, complex aromas of ripe cassis, black cherry, dark plum and mocha, plus a subtle note of fresh tarragon. Generous and richly textured with bold, extracted flavors of cassis and black cherry tinged by blueberry, oak spice and minerals with medium-full tannins that are ripe and supple. (970 cases)

Dalla Valle, 2002 Napa Valley - $100: Cabernet franc (10%) works its magic in this voluptuous wine. Fragrant and appealing aromas of dark raspberry, cassis, plum and bittersweet chocolate are replicated on the palate, accented by notes of peppery spice and anise. Sweet, rich and chewy in the mouth with supple tannins and refreshing acidity; finishes with a hint of smoke and mint. (900 cases)

Diamond Creek, 2002 Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley - $175: Deep, wonderfully fragrant aromas of cassis, violets and mocha accented with notes of cigar box, vanilla and toasty oak. Rich, luscious and concentrated with medium-full, ripe, velvety tannins and copious black fruit flavors that are amazingly deep and lingering; warm spice and a hint of mint enhance the finish. Built for the long term. (573 cases)

Etude, 2002 Napa Valley - $90: Always exhibiting exquisitely opulent texture, the 2002 is even more impressive on that score than past efforts, and is absolutely irresistible at this early stage of development. Complex, enticing, wildly aromatic nose of mocha, dried lavender, sour cherry and blackberry with a subtle dusting of white pepper. A lush entry engages the palate with delectable flavors suggested by the nose, accented by roasted coffee bean and brown spice; the flavors reach nearly kirsch-like concentration and the ripe, medium-full tannins never intrude. Mocha notes emerge in the extended close. A superbly seamless Cab. (4,500 cases)

Lokoya, 2002 Diamond Mountain District - $120: Intriguing nose of tobacco leaf and subtle green olive, raspberry-cassis fruit, moderately toasty oak, red meat and lead pencil. Complex, ultraplush and concentrated with deep, vibrant flavors that replicate the nose and firm, velvety tannins. An elegant, focused, 100 percent Cab with excellent aging potential over the next 10 to 12 years. (440 cases)

Marston, 2002 Spring Mountain District - $80: The panel awarded the 2001 95 points, yet the '02 is even better. Bursts of mint and blueberry aromas followed by plum, coconut and olive. A prototypical mountain Cab with layers of cherry, plum and mineral flavors that kept improving with air. Polished tannins and crisp acids elevate the hillside fruit. (500 cases) Publisher's Pick - BL

Von Strasser, 2002 Post Vineyard, Diamond Mountain District - $60: Forward, enticing aromas of toasty oak, red meat, cassis-black cherry fruit and dried lavender. Very complex and concentrated with luscious blackberry-cassis fruit tinged with dried herbs, subtle mocha and ripe, supple tannins. (1,900 cases)

Other Outstanding Cabernets

Cakebread, 2002 Dancing Bear Ranch, Howell Mountain - $75 (700 cases)

Chappellet, 2002 Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard,Napa Valley - $120 (1,300 cases) - BL

Chateau St. Jean 2000 Reserve, Sonoma County- $90 (334 cases) - BL

Robert Craig, 2002 Howell Mountain- $50 (1,200 cases)

DiGiulio, 2002 Diamond Mountain District - $85 (220 cases)

Duckhorn, 2002 Napa Valley - $60 (7,653 cases)

Far Niente, 2002 Oakville - $110 (8,100 cases)

Hanna, 2001 Bismark Mountain Vineyard,Sonoma Valley - $61 (635 cases) - BL

Hartwell, 2002 Stags Leap District - $115 (740 cases)

Ladera, 2002 Howell Mountain - $65 (710 cases)

La Jota, 2002 Anniversary Release Howell Mountain- $90 (1,000 cases)

Cliff Lede, 2002 Stags Leap District- $50 (1,622 cases) - BL

Monticello, 2002 Tietjen Vineyard, Rutherford- $50 (500 cases)

Nickel & Nickel, 2002 Vogt Vineyard,Howell Mountain - $75 (1,112 cases)

Peacock Family, 2002 Spring Mountain District- $60 (596 cases)

Joseph Phelps, 2002 Backus Vineyard, Oakville- $175 (800 cases)

Piña Cellars, 2001 Howell Mountain- $54 (530 cases)

Provenance, 2002 Rutherford - $35 (16,636 cases)

Quixote, 2001 Stags' Leap Ranch, Napa Valley- $60 (480 cases/screwcap)

Shafer, 2002 Napa Valley - $54 (7,000 cases)

Signorello, 2002 Padrone, Napa Valley- $95 (270 cases) - BL

White Cottage Ranch, 2002 Howell Mountain- $60 (476 cases)

Note: For the first time, wines rated and described by The Wine News' BuyLine panel were considered for inclusion, but only those also tasted separately by me became candidates for the final list. Wines that carry the initials "BL" indicate a BuyLine selection, and include the panel's notes. All other wines are my selections alone, painstakingly culled from hundreds of tasting notes recorded throughout the year. While some of the wines were tasted blind, the majority were not. Publication deadlines precluded consideration of any wines released after October 28.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I'd cry in my beer, but I'm all out.

I knew I should have bought more than two bottles, but there wasn't enough room in my suitcase. I can't imagine how many times I've repeated that over the past month. The two bottles in question were part of a 400 bottle experiment from the Great Lakes Brewing Company that were being sold through their gift shop. I called the gift shop while visiting the area recently to find that my two bottle purchase was one of the last.

I remember discussing at length how I would share the bottles for maximum enjoyment and was pleased how long each bottle lasted. Stout aged in whiskey barrels we found must be sipped, not glugged. What a sweet aroma and taste with a great stout flavored finish. A fortified beer you could say, especially with the 9% alcohol level. Barrel Aged Blackout Stout ... what a great treat. Hope they make more!!!

Anyone out there had an experience with whiskey barrel aged beer??