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.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Beef Shoulder Clod

The Iowa Sullivan clan had a fabulous Thanksgiving experience! Lovely Linda roasted her famous turkey with sausage, apple stuffing. We had family from the current generation down to the newest generation of grandsons and nephew. The dinner table was roisterous indeed!

Dr. Dave did his part with smoking big meat; a beef shoulder clod. This was a challenge because I'd never smoked this large a cut of beef. This was a 15 LB clod, and all I'd read said that this needed to be smoked long, low and slow. So, I set up to smoke this clod one hour per pound, or 15 hours. Since we decided to eat at 5PM Thanksgiving day, this meant starting to smoke at 2AM that day.

But preparation of a clod doesn't just start 15 hours early. I began by marinating one day early. After trimming the gray skin and excess fat, I tenderized the meat using a 48 blade Deni. This gadget is great for getting deep into the meat with many tiny cuts.

Be careful though those blades are sharp. I cut two fingers just showing how the Deni works!

I liberally sprinkled black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder and garlic powder over the clod.

I then slipped it into a marinade composed of 48 oz of Irish stout. Marinating lasted 18 hours.

I set the alarm for 1AM Thanksgiving day.

First I made a slather of Dijon mustard and Worchestershire sauce, a very aromatic blend. I applied this to all sides of the clod, then sprinkled on a rub of paprika, cuman, mild chili powder, black pepper and kosher salt. I used lots of rub because this was a big cut o' meat.

I fired up my Big Drum Smoker using 6LB of Kingsford charcoal and 9 LBs of hardwood charcoal. I normally don't like hardwood charcoal because it doesn't burn very evenly, but I wanted the nice smoke flavor and I thought the Kingsford briquettes would aid in making the fire even. To add the smoke, I put in a small oak log and an apple branch. The outside temperature was 29 degrees F.

The clod went on the smoker at 2:20AM. I took cat naps and turned the brisket every two hours. The smoker was able to keep the smoker temperature above 200 degrees while the outside temerature dropped, but when it dropped to 19 degrees, the smoker couldn't keep up very well. Fortunately, the sun came up at 7AM, and the smoker was getting up to 220 degrees. The best thing was that the smoke kept coming. This big meat was going to have a nice smoke ring!

I was anticipating the meat wouldn't get up to the targeted temperature of 195 degrees until late afternoon. So I didn't insert the digital thermometer until 11AM. Much to my surprise, this 15LB piece of meat was already up to 190 degrees internal temperature. This clod was done! And dinner wasn't scheduled for another 6 hours! Figuring that the smoke had penetrated as much as it was going to go in, I wrapped the clod in aluminum foil and put it back on the smoker. Soon, however, the fuel in the smoker was getting consumed to the rate where it was unable to keep up the heat, and the temperature in the smoker dropped below 100 degrees F. I became concerned because there was no oven space (a 24LB turkey takes up a whole overn, believe me!). Then, I slapped myself in the forehead (ouch!). I had a perfectly good outdoor gas oven, my water smoker! Quickly, I slipped the clod into the gas heated water smoker for another 4 hours Keeping the temperature at 200 degrees for the whole time.

Well, the guests arrived, and after some good football (the Cowboys won!) it came time to serve Thanksgiving dinner. I removed the clod from the smoker and unwrapped it. It came out falling apart!
I learned an important thing about the Big Drum Smoker. It doesn't just heat using the smoke, it has a nice direct heat element (no pun!). What happens is that the meat cooks faster than a full indirect smoker. So if you're setting up your recipes, think "direct heat" like they have in some of the central Texas meat markets. This is a good thing because it imposes a nice smoke flavor while the meat is opened up by the direct heating. I can tell you, the falling part clod was most flavorful. We have leftovers too!
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Dr. Dave

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shooting the Bird

ED NOTE: This is yet another impressive essay from SJ Member Curt Simmons.
You may also read more of his (and family's) musings at their blog here

Shooting the Bird

What a glorious fall we’ve had this year in Texas. Crisp mornings followed by sunny afternoons and just enough September rain to keep everything green until the leaves turned color a few weeks ago. Throw in one of the greatest college football seasons in recent memory, a few good backyard fires and it all adds up to perfect. But then, just as we were about to go full blown, Robert Frost on everybody’s ass, it all came to a crashing halt. The first icy blast of winter? Hardly. We only have winter for about two weeks and normally schedule it between the division championships and the Super Bowl. Post election blahs, recession, dim prospects for the Mavericks? Heck no, those things are just minor annoyances. It takes a full blown disaster to ruin a great fall and the perfect storm began brewing last week with just one phone call.

Erin called and said they weren’t quite up to hosting Thanksgiving this year as they had only been back in their apartment for three days since being washed away by Ike back in September… As she rattled on we felt the winds begin to form a small tropical depression in the Caribbean… They would go to his parents which meant we were free to host everyone else here. We began making obscene gestures at the phone before we hung up. Thanksgiving at our house. Again. Awesome! The next afternoon Lori’s mother and sister just happened by and were overjoyed by the good news. Within five minutes the guest list had grown to 20, and the storm had been upgraded to a category 2 hurricane.

To say that my mother-in-law overdoes Thanksgiving is like saying that Bill Clinton had roaming eyes. She lives for it, and truth be told, she does an unbelievable job. Now the game was on. She came back later that evening to go over the menu and assignments. This is one of my favorite parts because in the 30 years I've known her, the menu has never changed. We actually have to speak aloud all of the names of all the dishes and write them down. How about turkey? Ooh, there’s a new one. Dressing? Yeah, I think I heard about that on E’meril. BAM! I usually throw her a silly curve, and she always takes the bait, “Instead of sweet potatoes, why don’t we try marinated artichokes with currants?” She’ll smile/frown and say something like,” Oh I don’t know. I’m afraid the kids would be disappointed.” So sweet potatoes it is. We then start assignments, which is an even bigger joke since she likes making everything herself and doesn’t trust anyone else other than us and only us when she can supervise. Lori always suggests that Shari or Christina brings this or that and she usually says, “Oh, they can bring rolls or maybe the appetizer plate. That’s really a lot of work and they have their hands full.” We finally agree to do everything and she is happy. This year as we concluded the planning session she dropped the hammer and informed us that Aunt Gail and Uncle Lloyd were coming from South Dakota. We were now officially at category 5.

The holiday attendance record for our modest, 1968, ranch house currently stands at 27, and in all fairness, some of them weren’t disasters. Several were though. Like the time I ran over Randy and Jane’s Golden Retriever on the way to the football game. Or when my niece slipped in the kitchen and broke her arm. Or the year we had to rush Jack to the emergency room with an asthma attack. Or the year I had surgery on Tuesday. Each a treasure in the memory chest, but what unites them all is the fact that all of the guests still expect to be fed their full blown, traditional, Norman Rockwell feast on time despite these little inconveniences, always in our house. It’s sort of like a bad government program, at first a good idea but now just another entitlement. But as I said earlier, it’s Carol’s favorite darned day of the whole year and we love her, so we’ll love Thanksgiving too. She will start cooking on Sunday and won't stop till we clean up the leftovers after the 10:00pm supplemental feeding Thursday night. Our pattern is pretty predictable as well. We will get up early Thursday morning and play the full version of Alice’s Restaurant while we drink Kahlua laced coffee and then cook like galley slaves. Hopefully our 2nd grade nephew, Sam will bring a homemade centerpiece. Once the table is set and Carol does her Betty Crocker curtsey, we will all begin passing and sighing and conversing and passing some more. During the course of the meal and day, Lori and I will occasionally slip out of the room towards the kitchen carrying a decoy platter or pitcher. We’ll end up in Erin’s old bedroom where in the closet our friends from the Sauza family, the Tres Generaciones, reside. I’ve glued some turkey feathers from my fly-tying kit to a couple of shot glasses and we’ll give thanks each time we feel the warm, agave nectar slide down our throats. Who knows, after the 3rd or 4th trip, we might even hug Aunt Gail.

Au Revoir lovely fall. You were too beautiful for this world.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Don't Know!

SO...I'm not the guy who sits down on Sunday morning and plans every breakfast, lunch and dinner (not to mention snacks!). Still, I enjoy cooking for my family, so when I come home from work, I ask "What do you want for dinner?". Three out of five times, the answer is "I don't know".

Most times, I just choose. But...How I wish I just had a dish named "I Don't Know" that was easy, tasty and encompassed all of the indecision wrapped up in "I Don't Know".

I went out to Google and found two recipes for "I Don't Know". Both were basically casseroles of meat, veggies, potatoes and cheese. I think this is a good start, but I don't think it captures the spirit of "I Don't Know".

We're talking of satisfying medium hunger, not great hunger. When you have great hunger, you know what you want! But when you say "I Don't Know", you're not that hungry. You want something tasty, something spicy, anything! And, usually, you're disappointed with the preferred fare.

I know that we're all focused on Thanksgiving preparations. When we come up from that triptophan fog, let's take it on. Give me a recipe for "I Don't Know"!

By the way, I'm still searching for that recipe myself. Dr. Dave will submit his best effort.

Enjoy your holiday. Come back with an answer to "I Don't Know"!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beaujolais in Plastique? No No Nouveau!

So just go ahead and try to find one or more varieties of the Beaujolais Nouveau outside the confines of your wine merchant's locale.

It brings about conversations akin to asking for a Venti latte w/ a double shot (Starbuck's novice speaking here) at the feed store in Sarah Palin's home town. The people you're speaking to don't doubt what you seek exists, they just don't see a need for it, or really want to do more than ask around the store for opinions as to how to bag your quarry.

I spoke M-O-R-E S-L-O-W-L-Y and louder and still the natives of two urban food islands didn't speaka my language.
So, forgiving the Krogerundi and the Albertsonistas, I moved on to Whole Foods. NOTE: This IS Texas and although wine has become more readily available, liquor stores still rule the roost, and they're clustered on the edges of town where they were once the only place to get a bottle of anything. I wasn't inclined to drive that far.

And after enduring numerous displays playing up Wine Spectator's Top Ten, I finally found a young clerk (who was a dead ringer for the Mac Guy minus 4-5 years) as he wheeled in the cart of -- no surprise here -- Georges Dubeouf's 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau.

Okay, a trip to the real stores over the weekend will bring us a much better set of choices, but at this point I'm thirsty and ready to fill this square. Only, there's a hook: GD has decided to go GREEN and package their BN in plastique. Granted it's environmentally friendly, really much better in the carbon footprint-landfilling-bulkage department, but I can't help balk at a wine bottle I can squeeze.

Kinda takes the whole nouveau wine-snob argument down a few notches. This is Fox News-level discussion I suspect. Debate w/ decibels you can really sink your chops into because we have wine you can't possibly be serious about, delivered in ketchup bottles. Ooof.

In fairness, we'll taste and then report in w/ brevity (right). But this year's review will happen after we find the other choices ... in glass.

Great American Smoke Out

Ski sent me an email today saying that today was the Great American Smoke Out. I was excited thinking that there was a new BBQ contest! Ski left me a link to the GASO website, and I eagerly clicked to find out the details.

Much to my chagrin, the Great American Smoke Out is about quitting smoking...cigarettes. So, as an ex-secondhand smoker, I have something to say about that. I encourage those firsthand smokers (of anything besides meat , or the occasional vegetable) to get help quitting. I tell you, it's 27 degrees here today in Iowa, and the wind is at 20 mph. I looked outside at lunch, and there had to be 25 smokers huddled together for warmth, smoking away. It must be a comforting feeling.

Here in Iowa, there is an ordinance banning smoking inside of all public places including restaurants and bars (but not casinos!). When this was first proposed a few years ago, I was against it being a kind of live and let live guy. Now that the ordinance has been in place, I am all for it! I used to have to leave bars because there was too much smoke (a personal tragedy!). That's not the case nowadays. It is nice staying in a bar for a comfortable number of beers.

So here's to the Great American Smoke Out.

Now, I'm going to get off my soap box, go home and smoke something...maybe some chicken.

Dr. Dave

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cabs for the Birds?

John and Dorothy picked out several Cabernet Sauvignons from biggest wine retailers, buyers' clubs Costco and Sams, and did find a couple of bargains. However, their ongoing disappointment w/ the wine's current overdone, over-tweaked status is readily apparent in the review.

We would suggest steering clear of the ones they didn't place highest in this review if you're buying from the clubs, and/or working with a cab you trust and love. And as always, when you're preparing for a party (i.e. bulk purchase) get a couple of tester taster bottles first and taste them in the calm before the storm. When happy, buy bulk with confidence.

Here's their video:
And, here's the article:

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The Full Monty -- Taking YouTube by the Ears

It was about time, the Pythons have decided to post their own clips and harness the power of YouTube.

Free? Free!

You may always buy their goodies here as well.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who is the 'Mystery Wine Expert?'

So were shooting through the blogs in our faithful Google Reader, and we see that GuruTrack is profiling three of our wine experts, with a mystery fourth expert to be named later.

This is all too self-serving, but we wonder, who is #4? Who can complement this vaunted troika of winedom?

Guess we'll tune in in December to find out. Yum.

Monday, November 17, 2008

From Beaujolais to Brigitta!

Okay, so I am not the wine expert here. That title would go to either Jim Doutre, or David Borzo.

I do have some recommendations to make however for this week's tastings and they're more on the pedestrian side of wine enjoyment, i.e. the daily sippers that don't require much thought, and don't trigger tryer's remorse* on opening.

Number one is a delightful Italian red wine from Zaccagnini called Cantina Zaccagnini (2004 Reserva, from Sam's Club $13.00)
made from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes. It's a truly great dry red table wine, not overly robust, but with touches of licorice, vanilla and berries mixed together to make your mouth happy alone and with foods.

I thought of lamb as a good complement, but I think it would be equally at home with all manner of country foods. I've never woasted a wabbit for stew, but I can imagine such a dish on a heavy wooden table next to my full glass and Gina Lola Brigitta's heaving bosom.

The distributor's web site goes into far more detail (like those experts will) and suggests more food pairings and taste comparisons (leather, plums, blackberry, black pepper, oregano, assorted herbs and a violet robe, which I assume is for Gina after dinner.) and the winery's tasting info is more complete in it's description. They make a lot of the stuff (+/- 95,000 bottles) so it's in ready supply near you.

I'm just saying that for $13 it's a no brainer that gets better as it breathes. After finishing a deep and mystical Syrah last week, I opened this one for guests and was pleased w/ the vanilla opening tastes and subsequent berries and dusty finishes. It was

Wine #2
Tis the season for Beajolais Nouveau and as any SERIOUS wine person will tell you, it's young, it's grape juice w/ a kick and it is not a SERIOUS wine. Some would say it shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as the word wine while others revel each year at its release. In fact , the region as a whole is seen as a bargain for buyers looking to purchase land, vineyards etc.

So, like who cares?

Beaujolais Nouveau is FUN for all those reasons. It is young and fruity and way too easy to quaff, gulp, spill and giggle over.
Qualities that make it um, FUN.

If you want the history of the stuff, suffice it to say there are billions and billions (Carl Sagan couldn't be reached for comment) of articles on the proud history, how the young, fruity beacon of 1st harvest is not available prior to the 3rd Thursday of each November, how the Brits used to send their envoys across the channel to grab their stash from the French and even how the Japanese tried to use international time zones to cheat on the opening dates. This made SERIOUS FUN people mad.

All that aside, it is great w/ Brie and a warm baguette, and people you like to be around while the warm fuzzy buzz of a silky smooth red makes its way across your sensory landscape.

In the past, we have enjoyed many varieties, and used to buy the Georges Duboeuf by the case. Pretty label, but honestly rarely the best of the bunch. Many alternatives are springing up to the true version, including early releases of Gamay grape juices from California.

BUYING ADVICE -- We say, rush to your wine shop on Thursday this week and buy no more than enough for a bottle or two between you and your friends (imaginary and otherwise) so you can get some fast and celebrate the nou nou nouveoh like a true Francophile. Then go back later in the weekend, or early next week and sample the other choices that showed up on your merchant's shelves. The big boys get their's in the stores first because they have the distribution muscle. The other, lesser knowns are often worth the wait.

For 10 fun facts about Beaujolais Nouveau see our friends at Into WIne.

We always love this wine as a fun addition to Thanksgiving holiday parties, and it's still good through Xmas. After that, you're drinking wine that was fresh and nouveauity but isn't so much anymore, and you should be moving on to the more SERIOUS winter wines, or champagne for the New Year.

So, get busy and get to your local Sam's Club for some of the Zaccagnini and/or to your wine shop for ze Beaujolais Nouveau and relax with your wines. Gosh.


*Tryer's Remorse, not unlike it's younger sibling, Buyer's Remorse, this is the guilty feeling you get when you open a bottle that was:
1. Expensive
2. A gift
3. An expensive gift
4. The last of a vintage or varietal in your collection
5. Your last bottle, period

So you wart over whether it or the occasion (or your guests) will be good enough to merit setting the cork free.
BAH. If it is too precious, sell it to someone for a large sum and buy cases of guilt-free offerings.

No one goes to their grave wishing they'd enjoyed less great wine -- they go the their grave thinking things like "oh shit!"

Shameless Plug:
Save $10 off + $0 shipping on our All Red Tasting Pack at MyWinesDirect. Use code ALLREDSAVE at checkout. Offer valid 11-1 to 11-30-08.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Following that Texas Smoke

Having spent my young adult life in Texas (and still living Texas at heart), I couldn't resist the title of this book! John DeMers is a big time foody from Houston having been food editor of the Houston Chronicle and current host of Delicious Mischief a food and wine talk show on the Houston CNN affiliate. The title shows how much effort (and eating (and drinking)) went into this book. 14,783 miles of driving, eating, talking and drinking.
The book starts out with the County Line BBQ in Austin and ends with another member of that fine BBQ group, the State Line BBQ in El Paso. The diverse smoking methods of BBQ joints across Texas, and the diverse characters who stick their heads and hands into a variety of pits, boxes and high tech rotisseries make this an entertaining read. It's a people story and a smokin' story. There are a few tantalizing recipes at the end of the book. Plus, you get some basic education on how to smoke brisket, pork ribs and chicken throughout the book. Not a one of the 'smokys' gives away a secret, but all share their methods.
The king of Texas BBQ is the beef brisket. Every one of these places centers their smokin' around brisket. It is obvious from the first that beef is the reason to BBQ in Texas. Other states like Tennessee, Kansas and the Carolinas center around pork, butt in Texas, beef is IT! Low and Slow is the theme. Woods vary from Oak, to Post Oak, to Hickory to Mesquite (Don't forget Pecan!) based on the regions desires, yet there are many tales of a pit boss importing woods from WAY outside their BBQ region to get the flavor with which they cut their smokin' teeth.
One fun way to read this book is to sit in front of your computer, call up Google Maps and locate the BBQ restaurant described in the book. For those of you who are fortunate enough to live in Texas, find that joint right next door. For those of you 'smokys' who live out of state, set yourself up a travelogue for your next visit to the Lone Star State.
NOTE: This book goes quite well with a ZZ Top CD playing in the background, though AC/DC works well too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Leading w/ Compassion

Saw this today, published it on GuruTrack, and felt it merited sharing here.

AND, Let's get those preparing for Thanksgiving posts stirring.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

A Case for Beaujolais

Dorothy and John at WSJ (one of the few good things remaining since Rupert Murdoch's makeover) are eschewing their former mantra of "buy one expensive bottle" to treat a good friend, and going the route of grabbing a mixed case of something far more enjoyable on a day-to-day basis. Get them a mixed case of a simpler wine, Beaujolais, to be more specific.

This isn't the novelty of the Nouveau variety. That yearly tradition is upcoming soon, but an entirely different premise as it's the very youngest wine, and meant for the instant gratification of a quick drink around the holidays.

No, this idea centers on finding a batch of the regular Beaujolais and letting someone you like explore mutliple bottles of a wine equally at home w/ a cheese plate as macaroni and cheese. We'd opt for a nice white cheddar, and yes, GOOD crackers.

Here's their review of some of the tastier bottles they found in their quest.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mark Patrick on XM -- a great listen going away?

Holy Crap.

I just learned that one of our great on-air buddies is getting pushed out at XM Radio.

Seems that Sirius is SERIOUS about axing some of the great voices on the satellite, including those found on the XM Cafe, Deep Tracks (a definite Radio Paradise competitor) and now the MLB Homeplate (XM 175) morning treat.

Mark Patrick, the morning co-host (along w/ Buck Martinez) will not see his contract renewed.

It really shows us how radio -- satellite or not -- continues to shoot itself in the foot. And they wonder why people are forgoing it all and opting for iPods or ripping tunes from the web.

Patrick is the glue that holds the morning offerings together with his quick wit, salient observations and knowledge of the game from youth baseball to the bigs. He's got an outsized ego, but it's not propped up w/ the loud noise, abrasive commentary or puffery you hear on sports talk. It's kinda like he's your really smart friend that you give a hall pass to because he's your really smart friend -- and he always buys his round and his sister's cute. I made that last part up, but in all honesty, he's actually been a friend to my son Avery and me, even sending Ave some cool stuff to help him celebrate a baseball anniversary.

So who's wielding this unwieldy axe?

All informed sources are pointing to XM/Sirius corporate assassins Scott Greenstein, Steve Cohen and Chuck Dickemann. I think the last guy's name is apropos.

We can watch for Mark to land somewhere in the sports broadcast universe (he's done all manner of radio thru the years) but he will be sorely missed on the channel in the morning.You can also find his son, Drew Storen, in the headlines as he's a big up-and-comer pitching prospect currently playing at Stanford.

I'm emailing the boneheads and making some noise on this one, and would encourage you to do the same.
They're screwing w/ the start of my day, making the good life a little less saucy.