Thursday, August 17, 2017

Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q Chicken with White Sauce

As a recreational (and novice) chef and pitmaster, I have spent a lot of time trying to learn all about the different styles of barbecue.  Much of the barbecue literature is fixated on the well known styles of barbecue, such as Texas brisket or eastern Carolina whole hog.  There are many other styles of barbecue, some of which you have to discover by either going to the locale or trying to bring that style to your kitchen.

One such example of a barbecue style is that found in the State of Alabama.  Pitmasters in Alabama smoke pork, ham and chicken, using sauces that are reminiscent of other southern styles, such as the Carolina vinegar sauce.  However, Alabama has a barbecue sauce that is unique to that State's barbecue.  It is a white sauce, used to dip smoked chickens right before serving.  That sauce originated with Big Bob Gibson, who opened a barbecue joint in Decatur, Alabama back in 1925. 

As the story goes,  Big Bob Gibson served pork and chicken at his restaurant.  Gibson used an Eastern Carolina vinegar sauce for his pork, but he needed something for his chicken.  The sauce had to help keep the moisture in his chickens, which were smoked for about 3 hours.  Big Bob Gibson developed a white sauce using mayonnaise.  The sauce gave the chicken a "peppery, vinegary" flavor that helped to keep the chicken moist.  Gibson served this white sauce alongside the Carolina vinegar sauce when he opened his store in 1925.

More than 80 years later, my beautiful Angel's parents took me to Big Bob Gibson's to experience barbecue in Alabama.  I ordered a sampler, which did not include the chicken with white sauce.  I have to admit that, at the time, I was a little skeptical of the white sauce.  Added to that skepticism was my general distaste for mayonnaise.  Consequently, I never tried it at Big Bob Gibson's restaurant.

But, as I noted above, there is the option of bringing the style to your kitchen.  Recently, I decided to  set aside my general distaste for mayonnaise and try the Big Bob Gibson's recipe.  I spatchcocked a couple of whole chickens and put them in the smoker.  I followed the "simple technique" used by the pitmasters at Big Bob Gibson's, namely smoking the chickens over hickory wood, basting the chickens with oil, and then dipping the smoked chickens in that white sauce.   The flavor of the hickory smoke was present in the chicken, especially in the dark meat.  The skin did crisp up, but not to what I would have liked.  (I always need some room for improvement; and, in this case, it is working on how to crisp the skin better.)  

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The white sauce combines mayonnaise with vinegar, prepared horseradish, apple juice and lemon juice.  The vinegar and horseradish give the sauce the kick that one would expect (in my humble opinion) from a barbecue sauce.   That kick gets a little boost from cayenne pepper, but the horseradish is what does the trick for me.  While I followed the recipe in this case, I think that I would add a little more horseradish the next time.    

One final note, the consistency of the white sauce was a little more like a mop sauce than what I would consider to be a barbecue sauce.  That probably explains why the chicken is submerged in the white sauce.   When the chicken was served, I included some of the white sauce in a ramekin or bowl for dipping.


BIG BOB GIBSON BAR-B-Q CHICKEN
WITH WHITE SAUCE
Recipe from Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book, page 119
Serves 4 to 8

Ingredients (for the chicken):
2 whole butterflied chickens
1 tablespoon of salt
1 cup oil (vegetable, olive, lard)
2 tablespoons black pepper

Ingredients (for the white sauce):
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:
1.  Prepare the fire.  Build a fire (wood or a combination of charcoal and wood) for indirect cooking by situating the coals on only one side of the cooker, leaving the other side void.  Preheat the cooker to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Smoke the chickens.   Dust each whole chicken evenly with salt.  Place the chickens over the void side of the cooker, with the skin side  up.  When the skin on the chicken is golden brown, about 1 1/2 hours, turn the chickens skin side down, basting both sides with the oil.  Sprinkle the cavities of each chicken with pepper.  Cook the chicken for an additional 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add more wood to the fire as needed to replenish the supply of coals and maintain a temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

3.  Prepare the white sauce.  While the chicken is being smoked, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and blend well.  

4.  Finish the dish.  Pour the white sauce into a narrow deep container and position it next to the cooker.  Remove each chicken from the cooking grate and submerge it into the pot of white sauce.  Remove the chicken from the sauce, cut each chicken in half between the breasts and then quarter by cutting between each breast and thigh.

ENJOY!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Market Garden Brewery's Citramax IPA

When it comes to the craft beer scene in Cleveland, as one person it, "the word is out." There has been a remarkable growth in craft brewers.  At one time, there was only Great Lakes Brewing Company.  Now, there are breweries like Fat Head's Brewing, Platform Beer Company, Butcher & Brewer, and Market Garden.

The latter brewery, Market Garden, is located next to my favorite spot in Cleveland ... the West Side Market.  THe past couple of times that I have been in Cleveland and I have made a trip to the market, it has always included a side trip to Market Garden.  That side trip was a necessity, because it offered me a chance to try some very good beer.  Beers like the Cluster Fuggle, an IPA, or the Illuminator, a Doppelbock.

The great thing about Cleveland craft beer is that there are so many choices, even within one brewery.  The bad thing about Cleveland beer is that I can only get it when I am in Cleveland.  However, there has been a recent push for many of these breweries to bottle or can their beer.  And, during a recent visit to Cleveland, I was able to find Market Garden's Citramax in a local grocery store.  Needless to say, I bought a six pack and took it back home with me.  

The Citramax is described as a West-Coast style IPA.  The feature of this beer is in the name - Citra.  The brewers dry hopped this West Coast IPA with organic Citra hops.  The goal was to impart intense tropical and citrus fruit aromas in a beer with an aggressive-boldly bright American Hop character that will leave you craving another.

Mission achieved.  The Citramax pours a golden color with a thick foam.  That foam recedes quickly to the edges of the beer, opening the way for an aroma full of tangy citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and tangerine.  As one sips the Citramax, there is a moderate level of bitterness, encasing elements of those citrus fruits with some pine notes on the edges.  This IPA differs a little from most other IPAs that I have had in that the moderate bitterness is also followed by a little sweetness on the palate.  The sweetness helps to balance the beer, making it more palatable for people like my beautiful Angel who are not big hop heads.

As with most Cleveland beers, the Citramax is available in the Cleveland area. If I recall correctly, that six-pack cost about $9.99 or $10.99.  If you see a six pack sitting on the shelf, it is definitely worth trying.

ENJOY!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fire Roasted Gazpacho with Maryland Lump Crab

My beautiful Angel, Clare, loves gazpacho.   Previously, I made a gazpacho with shrimp based upon a recipe from Patricia Fernandez de la Cruz, who is the wife to Jose Andres. That particular chilled soup was so delicious that it has become one of our favorites.  It was a traditional gazpacho, with raw tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers being blended into a liquid (with other ingredients, such as stale bread) and served with a garnish.

Indeed, a traditional gazpacho is made with raw tomatoes and vegetables.   The raw nature of the tomatoes and vegetables is what, in my humble opinion, gives this soup its fresh character.   And, it is a very delicious character.  However, I did not want to make just another gazpacho.  I wanted to experiment with this dish.  The only question is what tweeks or twists could I do to make something that is just as delicious as the traditional soup.

As it turns out, I was planning to smoke a pork shoulder when I was thinking about this issue.  The thought of lighting the chimneys for the smoker got me to think about grilling the tomatoes and vegetables.  I then did some research and came across a recipe for a Fire Roasted Gazpacho.  The recipe comes from Steven Raichlen, the professor at Barbecue University.  The recipe calls for grilling the traditional ingredients to a gazpacho -- tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers -- along with onions.  It also calls for roasted garlic (which is not an ingredient in the traditional soup).  After all of the grilled vegetables are cool, then you remove the skins and blend them just as you would if they were raw vegetables.  The end result is just as delicious as the traditional recipe.

But, I wanted to experiment a little further.  Rather than using traditional gazpacho garnish, such as diced tomatoes, peppers and stale bread cubes, I decided to garnish this dish with some jumbo lump blue crab.  A nod to Steven Raichlen's roots of growing up in the State of Maryland, where the blue crab is king. It was definitely a great final touch to this recipe.  (It was a bit of a splurge, so you can use lump crab or even claw meat, but don't use special or backfin because the pieces will be too small for the soup).  


RAICHLEN'S GAZPACHO ON FIRE
WITH MARYLAND LUMP CRAB
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
1 medium cucumber
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 medium sweet onion, unpeeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, unpeeled
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs, plus more for garnish
1 cup cold water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Directions:
1.  Grill the vegetables.  Light a grill.  Wrap the garlic cloves in a sheet of foil.  Grill the tomatoes, cucumber, green and red peppers, onion and garlic until the vegetables are charred all over and almost softened, about 8 minutes for the tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers, about 10 minutes for the garlic and 15 minutes for the onion.  When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, remove the charred skins as well as any stems and seeds and chop them coarsely.

2.  Prepare the gazpacho.  Transfer all of the vegetables, including the peeled garlic to a food processor and puree.  With the machine on, gradually add the 1/4 cup of olive oil, then blend in the vinegar.  Add the 1/4 cup of the herbs, then transfer the mixture to a bowl.    Stir in the water and season with the salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Ladle the gazpacho into bowls, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and serve.

ENJOY!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Head Trip

It is the beer with the "kaleidoscope eyes."  That fat-headed man, wearing a monk's robe, who adorns a label that asks you to "[p]icture yourself in a worn tie-died t-shirt" and "your head in the clouds."  All you see is "Belgian malt in the sky." You hear "somebody tells you to sip it quite slowly."  You oblige, and you experience, "spicy phenolics with yeast, fruit and clove.  Showering over your head."  The experience is such that, "you can't help but smile when it drifts past your nose."  You take another sip.  "The aroma so incredibly fine.  Complex fruit, hops, yeast and more clove.  A rich mouthfeel and a slightly sweet finish."

That is quite the description for a Belgian Tripel.  I could just see a bunch of Trappist Monks at Westmalle (where the style is said to have gained its popularity), strolling around the brewery wearing their tie-died Rassaphones, Stavrophores, and even Great Schemas.  All looking up in the Belgian sky while those spicy aromatic compounds rain down on their hooded heads.   

The Belgian Tripel style has its traditional characteristics. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, a tripel should be deep yellow or deep gold, with aromatic fruity esters of pepper, cloves, and citrus or banana.  Those phenols find themselves in the taste of the tripel beer.  a combination of spicy, fruity, and alcohol notes.  The spice comes from pepper notes, the fruit comes from the banana or citrus elements, and the alcohol comes from, well the ABV, which can fall within the range of 7.5% to 9.5%.

The brewers at Fat Head's have created a Belgian-style Tripel that fits neatly within the BJCP guidelines and worthy of an award.  The Head Trip pours a mellow golden color, with a thin foam that sits like lazy clouds on a warm summer day.   The aroma of this beer speaks of malt, with some banana, clove and yeast.  As for the taste,  with a thin level of foam. Aromas of malt, some banana and clove, yeast.  Those phenols find themselves in the taste of the Head Trip. Clove, banana gum, allspice.

This beer is not available where I live, because Fat Head's does not distribute in my area.  However, if you happen to be in the Cleveland, Ohio area, or in another area where you see it sitting on the shelves, this beer is definitely worth a try.

ENJOY!
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