Lets talk Chili, shall we?

Now before we start let me say that there is more ways to make Chili than there are fleas on an ole hound dog! What? I shouldn’t talk about dogs in a Chili blog? Ok, than there is stars in the heavens. How’s that? I will, I will take the dog sentence out when I get through. Now where was I. Oh, but there is only one true way to make Chili and that is the TEXAS Way! Which means No Beans! My gosh up north they even pour it over macaroni! Now I know that this blog will start fights in Bars and make mothers bring their kids inside the house. Even in Texas there are many ways to make Chili but there is NEVER no beans in the pot. I have seen some of our more genteel Texas hosts have a pot of beans that their guests from the north can put some in their bowl. I would make them eat at another table though. In Texas we eat Chili 12 months out of the year. Why? Because we like it and you never know what type of weather there is goin be. As I said there is many ways to make Chili but originally, that means from the start, Chili was made with the worst cuts of beef on the cattle drives. They didn’t have a grinder to make the beef into hamburger so they just threw those cuts into a pot with some spices, onion, water and a little flour to thicken it and cooked it all day. Now days we put everything we have in the kitchen. I have even heard of people not using any meat at all and calling it Chili, I swear!!! I think that came out of California, but then what do you expect. When I say beef I mean any meat. Venison, that’s deer meat, Raccoon, Possum, squirrel, rabbit, and hog, I put some of hog in mine all the time. I have even had duck, goose, quail and it was good! But there was no Beans! At the end of this blog is my recipe for Big Al’s Award-Winning Chili, impressive huh? Yes I use tomatoes and I put a beer in mine and not just any beer, I use Shiner Bock, it’s made in Texas so why not. If you ever invited to someone place for Chili make sure they have a dog, so if there is beans in it, you can slip those to the dog under the table!
Here endth the lesson March, 2016.

Big Al
Big Al’s Award Winning Chili

2 lbs Hamburger Meat
1 lb Breakfast Sausage
6 Tbsp Big Al’s Chili Mix
1 cup Chopped Onion
1 bottle Shiner Bock Beer
1 15 oz can chili ready tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown meats and drain excess grease. Add onion and cook til soft. Add beer, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer 30 minutes, then add chili mix, salt and pepper. Simmer until desired consistency.
When you add the chili mix, add whatever heat you are wanting in the chili. This can be jalapenos, Big Al’s Hot Sauce for “One Alarm,” Big Al’s Smoke-n-Fire for “Second Alarm,” or Big Al’s South of Hell Hot Sauce for “Third Alarm!”

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Come see me at Main Street Days in Grapevine, TX!

Find our delicious rubs, gourmet hot sauces and even some gift baskets at The Texas General Store located at 406 S. Main Street. Look for the old City Drug sign in this historic area of Grapevine, and you’ll find me inside with samples of some of my rubs and hot sauce.

If you like venison, why make it a taste like a candy bar?

I was watching a hunting show the other day and normally I enjoy the hunting they do; but, (there always is a but with me.) What? I am the butt; I just love my wife when she reads over my shoulder!
They had a segment where this self- professed gourmet chef was showing the audience how to take a mature (as in over five years of age) deer back strap and make it just as tasty and tender as a young doe’s back strap. People, people, people…gather round and let me lay a little factual knowledge on you. The back strap of a deer is just like the tenderloin on a cow or hog. It sits on the back of the deer or cow or hog and does nothing!!! That means it will not be tough whether the animal is a year old or five years old or a member of the fairer sex! Remember, the further away from the hoof the tenderer the meat. You can’t get much farther than the top line of the animal. What now? She said I should stop patting myself on the back and tell the rest of the story. Well where was I, oh yes. This gourmet fellow tells us of the brine that he uses to make the old deer tender. He puts the usual stuff in the brine and that’s okay, but, you ready? He then adds Honey! No wait it gets better! Well sir, he boils the brine then lets it cool. Puts the back strap in the brine and lets it sit in the Fridge for 5 hours. Then mister gourmet takes it out and sautés it, right? Ha! Gotcha! That’s what you get for getting ahead of me. This ole boy then puts it in a marinade that had soy sauce and Molasses!! If I’m lying hit me with an possum. What now woman! I know there is suppose to be an O in front of possum, but that is not how I says it. He puts the medallions of deer meat in the mixture and coats em real good, takes em out, sprinkles salt, and some other seasonings, AND THEN FRIES EM.
Well I am now off the chair yelling at the guy like I was watching a Texas A&M football game, and yes I got sent to my room until I cooled down. Now here is the moral of this story. WHY, OH WHY even cook venison or any other wild game and brine, marinade, or coat it with anything until it does not taste like venison or anything else at all! That includes beef, pork, chicken, snake, or zebra; (I put that in for my buddies at the Dallas Safari Club). In this day and time when we all want to eat natural I think the same applies to beef, venison, etc. The taste of these animals is what you buy or hunt em for. Why would you cover up that flavor? There are a lot of spice mixes that enhance the flavor, NOT cover it up. I can think of a great one just off the top of my head, it is Big… What! Why can’t I tell them about my products? Oh yeah, they would charge me an advertising fee.
Anyway try understanding the anatomy of the animal that’s meat you are buying or harvesting. There are some great cuts on any animal, some tender, some not so tender. Now if he had put a leg or hind quarter or even a brisket in the brine, I would not have had a problem. Hell, I use brine for many cuts and even whole birds to make sure they do not dry out. But the biggest problem I have with his so-called brine is all that sugar. Write this down, go on I’ll wait while you get a pencil. Ok ready? Sugar is not a tenderizer. All sugar is a sweetener! Sugar to me is the way people that do not know how to cook cover up their mistakes. You look on just about every rub, marinade, and yes, BBQ sauce and the major ingredient is some form of sugar…brown sugar, fructose, corn syrup, and even some names that I cannot read nor spell! Listen Buckaroos; if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, or tastes like a duck, it’s a duck! I will admit that I like sweet BBQ sauce but I am not going to cook with it, and I will not cover meat, chicken, hippo, or crocodile, (those last two were for the Dallas Safari Club, I am a life member and the organization does great work). Any way back to my soapbox… remember where we came from in regards to BBQ and cooking wild game in this great state of Texas. Do you think that our ancestors had all this stuff to put on that deer, buffalo, or Longhorn steer? They learned real fast, “the law of the hoof”. You know, closer to the hoof, that law? They seasoned their meat with salt, pepper, if they had it, and wild peppers and maybe some sage or other wild herb. Sugar was for sweets and to put in coffee and darned expensive. Last time I checked, our forefathers didn’t do too bad building the great state we live in today, but I really believe we have forgotten the roots of Texas cooking. Do I suggest we go back to those times? Well no, but we should honor what brung us here. With the influx of people from all over the world our tastes have changed. Is that bad? My Lord, no! That influx of different cultures in the early days is what made Texas culinary, Texas culinary. What I am trying to say is that we try so hard to change the taste of what we are eating that we have forgotten what the taste of something really is. Revel in the taste of that Deer that you worked so hard for, or that steak that you bought, savor the flavor of what nature has made.
Here endeth the lesson:

Whatever happen to Steak and Taters?

I watch the Cooking Channel and the Food Channel all the time. I am saying that first before I rip them a new south bound part of a north bound horse. I am writing this at my home alone. I say that because normally when I write one of my blogs my wife is leaning over my shoulder telling me “you can’t say that”. Well she ain’t here so I am going to say what I feel. So get the kids in the house and pull down the shades this is not going to be for the fate of heart.
Those 2 channels are a Yankee conspiracy to change the eating habits of good, gentle, decent folk in the Southern and the Western parts of these here United States of America. Oh sure they trot out Paula Dean and even Bobbie Flay, and tell us that they represent a cross section of America. Well that is just a bunch of Toro Po Po. For you that do not speak Tex-Mex that means… well figure it out yourselves. A big ole Slab of beef sizzling over a mesquite fire, or any other wood you want to cook on, requires potatoes for a side dish. Now I know the Irish are on my side, and the Germans, and any nationality that loves potatoes. All this crud about mushy spinach and all the other fancy vegetables that those sissy chefs in Yankee land put with steak, as the Italians say an Infamia. Boy, I am using more languages in this blog than Carter has Little Liver Pills! It just goes to show how much of an International flare I have acquired. Steak, my friends, should be the center piece of the plate and when you put a simple baked potato beside it what in the wide world of sports else could you want?
Please continue our sacred heritage of Steak with potatoes, plain and simple.
Here endeth the lesson,
Big Al
March, 2012

Super-Market Rotisserie Chicken, the 8th Wonder of the World?

Ok, how many of ya’ll get one of those chickens at the super-market, all ready cooked and ready to eat? Come-on raise your hands, I know you do, well I do too. Now I hear you say, with a shocked look on your face, not you Big Al! You being the Great and all knowing King, no Emperor of the cooking world, you that, what? Yes maam, hey I am just saying what my fans call me. NO I am not putting in here what you call me, this is a family Blog. My little Buckaroo’s do not use them words. But I digress; let’s see, where was I, oh yes. There is nothing wrong using those Chickens; in fact I think they are the greatest thing since Mrs. Baird started selling sliced bread. You can take one of them chickens and depending on how many yard apes you have WHAT Now? Do you want to write this? Ok depending on how many little buckaroo’s you have, you can make anywhere from 3 to 5 meals on that one chicken. I’m not kidding! Just put your little brain cells to thinking and I bet you could come up with more than that. There is just me, Mrs. Big Al, mama shay to her friends, and Sharon’s mother here at the ole Casa de Grande Alfonzo, how you like that, put in a little Spanish flair, and we eat on that yard bird at least 3 times. I wrote the blog because I wanted to share with you a recipe that I just put together – Chicken Salad a la Big Al. Pretty impressive huh? Ok here it is:

1 cup- chopped Chicken, I use both white and dark meat but ya’ll that got more money than I do and can afford 2 chickens use just white meat.
2 T- sweet pickle relish (or chopped Bread and Butter pickles)
½ t- Big Al’s Original Rub
2T –Mayo or for you health nuts, use yogurt, ugh, what? Ok I am sure it will taste good with yogurt.
1T- chopped pecans, you can use other nuts but if you are from Texas then you should use pecans.
1t- Big Al’s Texas Hot Sauce, if you want to make it more spicy use Big Al’s Smoke n Fire Hot Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. If it’s too dry, add more Mayo. If it is too wet or soupy then add more chicken. Mama Shay says I have to say that because some people don’t understand the difference. You know if they don’t understand the difference then don’t let them chop the chicken either!
Now slather on bread, toast, Ritz crackers, saltines, Tomatoes or just put a big dollop in your hand and enjoy!
Here endeth the lesson

This ain’t Rocket Science ya know

Lately I have been on a lot of forums reading what people go through to cook a Brisket or Pork Butt. OMG, I learned that from my daughter and that texting crud all of them do! If some of these old ranch cooks, old time cookers and God rest his soul, my Dad, ever read some of this stuff on how to cook these pieces of meat, they would not just roll over in their graves. They would come out of them and throttle these people! I will tell you the only 2 things you have to remember about cooking these 2 pieces of meat. Low and slow and, what no baby girl, that means low temperature, not a cooker that’s low to the ground. Ain’t daughters cute! I cook both Brisket and Pork Butt at 225F and use the 1 pound per hour rule. That means a 10lb piece of meat will take 10hrs. I will even leave it on another thirty minutes at end for good measure. The other is keep the lid shut! Are you afraid somebody is going to steal it? Listen, anybody that will sneak up and grab a chunk of meat of a hot grill, with their bare hands, and run away with it, then you better let them have it – they are way to tough for me to fool with! I have read in these forums and such, of people that say cook it for 4 hrs, then take it off, wrap in foil, stick it in an Ice chest for 2 hrs, take it and put it back on for 4 hrs, then take it off again and stick in the oven! Geez I am tired just talking about it. Sure, wrap it in foil when you take it off and leave it for 30 minutes to an hour but don’t treat it like some kind Football or basketball that needs to be thrown around. Many cooks use foil at the end in competition — that is called using a Texas crutch. Most old timers will say if you use the crutch you don’t know how to cook. I will wrap it up at the end just so it retains its moisture. I always buy Pork Butt with the bone in. I believe it gives better flavor to the meat. In Brisket I look for the brisket with a good fat layer on it, I know I am paying for the fat but I don’t mind because it is the fat that helps it be tender. Oh, cook with the fat cap up. I want that fat to moisten the meat not the grill grates. I ain’t never had a grill grate that was tender. Just cook it low and slow and leave it alone. Hey that rhymes, I am a poet and don’t know it. I just crack myself up
Here endeth the lesson

Old Time Butcher Shop

Ok, this is gonna be a long blog so sit back and be patient, there’s good stuff in here so please read it all. I received an order from a lady in New Jersey. Yes, New Jersey! What? It’s a state up in Yankee country, you know, they say “youse guys” and the Soprano’s live there. Yes, that New Jersey. Anyway, that is great state, why? Because I got an order from there! But I digress…I had the pleasure of talking to this lady by phone, and she was delightful. But get this, she is a former Washington Redskin Cheerleader! No I am not giving out her name because first, she is married, and second, I don’t want you Redskin haters sending her bad mail. As I have matured, I have found that I have become tolerant about people that do not like the Dallas Cowboys and that are Yankees. Quit laughing Sharon, it’s true!

Now here is the reason for the blog… I told you it was long. When I was talking to this lovely lady, she said that she would get her butcher to cut this and do that. Wow, what a concept! We in the Great South have lost that personal contact with someone that knows the art of butchering meat. Now you Vegans just quit reading now, if you were ever reading this. Butchering meat properly, knowing what cuts are best for what type of cooking and knowing their customers wants and needs is a lost art in most of the country. Please do not write and tell me that this grocery store and that chain does that, I am sure your husbands are good people. They may have someone wrapping meat and putting it in the displays but when you ask them a question they look like a tree full of hoot owls, think about it.

I have said all this for two reasons. First, the lady in New Jersey actually reads my blogs. Sharon, I don’t think the Lady would lie, even if she is a Yankee. She even quoted some of my pearls of wisdom. What! Who you calling a swine? No you have it wrong it’s casting pearls before swine, not the other way. Apology accepted. Geez, anyway I digress, where was I? Oh, yes, thankfully there are a few butcher shops still in business. “Local Yocal Farm to Market” in McKinney, Texas, is one of these places that still provides that old Butcher shop type service. Matthew and Heather Hamilton are the owners and operators of this Market and are providing grass fed beef, local produce and local products from small businesses that produce the jams, honey, and pickles that we all love. They are at 213 N. Tennessee St. in Downtown McKinney. Their number is 469-952-3838, website is http://www.localyocalfarmtomarket.com . This couple is good country people, and you can tell that the first time you talk to them. You can also tell by the great service they provide to their customers. Their team, led by Sarah the store manager, is always eager to help and explain. Sharon and I were there last Saturday and the shop was packed with people. We bought a couple of Beef Shanks and a few other things. The pricing was very reasonable for Grass fed beef with no hormones or antibiotics. The recipe for the Beef Shanks will be on the website this week. Go see Matt and Heather. You will have that old time experience that we miss so much.

Here endeth the lesson,

January, 2012