Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cowboy Burgers, Shiner Onion Rings and the Great Hot Sauce Taste Test of '14

There's one food that unites both young and old, rich and poor- the almighty burger. Following the amazingness that was last week's Super Sushi Saturday, Kevin and I decided we needed to honor the world's most perfect meat based dish and our Texas sensibilities.

Burgers, extravagant amounts of fried food, mouth numbing hot sauce and the comedic genius of Stripes meant we were in for one hell of a Saturday night (I may have typed Friday accidentally because I was that tired from the week itself).

Cowboy Burgers
Servings: 3-4 burgers
Time: 20 mintutes

1 lb ground beef (we went 80/20 Angus)
3-4 slices cheddar, cut up additional
1/4 onion, diced
2-3 jalapenos, diced
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Bacon, pan-fried
Toasted buns
Shiner Onion rings (see below)
BBQ sauce

Orderly chaos in one magnificent burger patty. 
  1. Mix the ground beef, cut up cheddar, diced onion, jalapeno, garlic powder, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Form into 3-4 patties (we're making cowboy burgers so go big!).
  2. Grill the burgers to a nice medium rare (3-4 minutes per side, flipping only once).
  3. Top with bacon, more cheddar, onion rings (and potentially fried jalapenos) and BBQ sauce.
Drool. Drool. Drool. Drool. Drool. Drool  (Hey why doesn't my keyboard work anycocdodkdodk?) 
The Cowboy Burger is the ultimate burger. During my brief tenure as a sad, homesick grad student at UCLA, the Bomb Shelter's Cowboy Burgers kept me going (well that and the amazingly beautiful campus). It harkens back to our childhood tastes which tell us that putting crispy things on top of food (a la potato chips or French fries) is the ultimate in culinary achievement. Add in the tangy BBQ sauce, Kevin's masterfully, always medium rare perfection burgers, crispy juicy bacon, and (un)healthy doses of cheddar, jalapeno and onion, and you just might have the single best thing you can fit in your hand.
While crazy stuffed, I still think we need to make it a two-hander for proper Cowboyness.
Shiner Onion Rings (and other fried goodness)
Servings: A surprising amount
Time: 20 minutes

1 cup flour
10 oz Shiner (drink the final two ounces because Cowboys are not wasteful)
Black Pepper
1 yellow onion, cut into rings and separated
Jalapenos cut into strips
Potatoes rinsed, dried and cut into strips
Tony Chachere's Seasoning
Peanut oil (or other if, you know, allergies)

We bought 3 onions. This is what you get after just one. Excess achieved!
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 F.
  2. Whisk the flour, Shiner, sriracha, black pepper, cayenne and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Fill a large pot 1/3 full with the oil and heat to 370 F.
  4. Lightly batter your onion rings, jalapenos and/or French fries (because just frying them without batter would be far too carb-conscious for a cowboy).
  5. Drop whatever your heart desires into the super hot oil. Fry for 3-4 minutes, flipping once.
  6. Remove with a slotted spatula or spoon, and place on a plate covered in paper towels to remove excess oil.
  7. Sprinkle with Tony Chachere's seasoning.
  8. Transfer to the oven to stay warm in between batches. 
There was a mountain of fried options. We regret nothing!
On this most glorious of food nights, I was the fry master. For the past several years, I have watched Kevin have total command of grease cooking from his wings to our recent Sapporo Tempura. At last, it was my time to shine! Since Kevin was busy manning the grill (a skill my brain needs to absorb from him soon, so I can achieve maximum manliness levels), I was working the frier to make the side dish of destiny for our burgers of transcendence (Kevin suggested this because he "works with words"). Everything from the onion rings to the jalapenos and fries were crispy and nicely seasoned, providing the ultimate sidekick to our night of being 'Murrican. Texas Forever, Street. Texas Forever.

Onion rings aren't your only frying options. Jalapenos and the burger staple, French fries, are also ripe for the beer battering and frying.

The Great Hot Sauce Taste Test of '14

My new Rogue's Gallery of hot sauces.
Recently, I decided I needed to start collecting something. Since stamps seemed too boring and American Girl dolls just seemed a little weird, I decided hot sauce should be my thing. Thanks to the beauty of online shopping, I had some of the most popular sauces from and Houston's own Big Daddy Hot Sauce on the way to remind me that I make stupid decisions. Given that the packages arrived yesterday, this night of burgery goodness was perfect for our testing grounds.

The hottest of the hot.
It turns out, I made surprisingly good choices when picking my conveniently bottled peppery doom. From a pure taste perspective, Bee Sting Honey Mustard and Pickapeppa Gingery Mango provided the best deliciousness additives that were light on spice for enjoyment by anyone. Big Daddy's Amplified Heat Mean Smokin Green combined a beautiful smokiness with medium heat to really up our burgers, while CaJohn's El Chupacabra Hot Sauce, A Little Nukey and Big Daddy's Ass Burn were by far the spiciest. A Little Nukey had some nice but not overpowering heat from the get-go. Ass Burn had a fantastic spicy back end (see what I did there), but El Chupacabra made us hallucinate weird goat sucking monsters and sweat like crazy with its unrelenting assault on our mouths. Overall, the best combo of taste and heat goes to Big Daddy's High on Fire, which I love so much I'd drink it if not for my concern for my taste buds.

This was definitely a far better decision than stamps. Stay tuned for the rest of my weekend honoring Harold Ramis and the best collector of spores, molds and fungus the world has ever known with Ghostbusters and the Sunday of appreciation for the  most distinguished straight-man ever.  May he have received total consciousness.

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