Barbecue bliss Bistro-style!

Hi, Tenant here, to tell you about Wednesday’s barbecue dinner. Let me warn you: if you weren’t here and you read this, you’re going to be sorry you missed out. The good news is, it’s still possible to enjoy many of the components; it’s just that this was such a fantastic opportunity to enjoy all of them at once, at a great price!

Some previews first, from back in the kitchen:

These were the shortcakes lined up on pans, ready for bathing in strawberries.

Rows of jalapeno corn muffins awaited serving.

Pans of coleslaw were at the ready…

…as was the potato salad.

The meat was just about finished. Pans of chicken were all prepared and just needed a final finish on the grill…

…while the ribs were getting a nice brushing.

All this looked fantastic, but of course the final proof would be in the eating. I had no partner for this meal and it was being served family-style “for two,” but the way I saw it, that just meant I’d have plenty of leftovers of whatever I couldn’t eat the first time around.

So at the appointed time, I sat down. And here’s what was placed before me…

The half-chicken sat to the left, the slab of ribs to the right, and in between, slices and slices of amazing beef brisket.

On a separate plate appeared a trio of ramekins filled with creamy goodness both hot and cold:

At the front, the coleslaw; at left, the redskin potato salad; at the rear, rich and thick macaroni and cheese, topped generously with browned bread crumbs.

And, last but not least, the jalapeno corn muffins:

It was an incredible repast, and there was just no way that even I with my hearty appetite was going to finish all this. After a few ribs, a slice of brisket and a generous stripping of the chicken, combined with making a serious dent in all the sides, I had eaten all I could hold and still find room for dessert. The ribs and brisket were just as I’ve come to love them from past experience: meaty and redolent of that amazing house-smoked flavor, coated with just enough sauce (although, as you can see, an extra container of the sauce arrived alongside, just in case). The chicken? Amazing. You know how chicken can very easily turn dried-out and stringy on the barbecue grill? Not this chicken. The recipe for barbecued chicken Bistro-style is to cook the chicken sous vide first, so it’s thoroughly cooked all the way through without being overcooked — then finished on the grill so the skin gets that perfect crispy char and the sauce melds into the flesh just so. It was a magnificent trio of barbecued meats all around, and the accompaniments were just as delicious. The coleslaw was a refreshing contrast to all the spice, and the potato salad was full of chunks of potato, chopped boiled egg, onion, celery and mayo. The macaroni and cheese? If you’ve ever come by at lunch for the fish fry, you know what I’m talking about. Rich, cheesy, just plain magic. The jalapeno corn muffins had just a slight hint of peppery heat and were just right.

After I had made my best dent in all this fantastic food, I asked for the rest to be boxed up and was served my strawberry shortcake:

Wow. This was good, old-fashioned, classic strawberry shortcake, saucy berries served on two halves of a neat white shortcake biscuit with plenty of fresh whipped cream. The perfect ending to the perfect dinner. My dining companions seemed to agree, as they enjoyed their dinner with a bottle of wine:

When I finally left, I had about three or four boxes of leftovers, and I knew I was going to enjoy eating them as leftovers as much as I had enjoyed my dinner. Part of the fun has been seeing how many meals I can get out of them. Yesterday, I finished off the chicken, the macaroni and cheese, and half the potato salad and coleslaw at lunch (the cats got tiny pieces of chicken as treats) and finished off the rest of the potato salad and coleslaw with the ribs and remaining corn muffin at dinnertime. Today, I made a delicious sandwich out of part of my leftover brisket. Now, the only question left is what to do with the rest of the brisket. Another sandwich, or do I cut it up and put it in a stir-fry?…Oh heck. Why not another sandwich. It’ll make it easier to taste the real flavor coming through. And it will definitely be tasty.

Only one way to end this. And that’s to say: Barbecue at the Bistro is the essence of summer! If you’ve never tried a platter featuring these amazing specialties, you should do it soon. If you have — especially if you did this past Wednesday — you may not be hungry again yet!

Mind if we smoke?

We don’t think you will. In fact, we think you’ll thank us for smoking.

You’ll thank Marc for smoking, anyway. Since he got his big opportunity to smoke as much as he wanted at our house, he’s become quite the heavy smoker. Lately, he just can’t seem to quit smoking. Yeah, go figure, it’s a new year and everyone else is making resolutions to quit smoking — and this guy resolves to smoke more. In the past week, especially, Marc has been smoking like crazy.

Meat, that is. (What, you thought we were talking about smoking something else?)

He’s been smoking beef brisket (and if you’ve ever had our brisket, you’ll be delighted to hear that), he’s been smoking ribs, he’s been smoking pork chops, he’s been smoking sausage and he’s been smoking turkey. Now, you can benefit from all his smoking, in the form of this wonderful Choucroûte: an Alsatian smoked meat platter.

Meat platters like this are the quintessential bistro dish in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, so influenced in the kitchen by Germany: great quantities of smoked meat, roasted to a turn, served with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut and flavorful mustards. This is our version. You get a plateful of smoked ribs, sausage, turkey and a pork chop. On the side, boiled baby potatoes and plenty of sauerkraut, made with Ruth’s special recipe that combines a touch of sugar and bacon to render the shredded cabbage sweet-tart-savory, not sour. The whole thing comes accompanied by two mustards — a hearty grainy mustard and a mellow honey mustard — and we suggest you ask for some bread as well, because you’re going to want some to soak up the sauce and juices. Order up a beer with this, and — ach du Lieber! — you can’t get a more heartwarming or satisfying winter’s meal. It’s on our specials menu this week; you need to get in here and taste it!

If for some reason that doesn’t ring your bell, though, we still have plenty of other delights with which to tempt you. Such as veal osso bucco; roasted half duck with cherry port sauce; long bone double cut pork chops wrapped in bacon and stuffed with prosciutto, Gruyère and apple with port and dried plum ginger sauce; slow braised lamb shank with rosemary-mint demiglace; a spicy jambalaya; four-cheese mac and cheese with smoked chicken and black truffle; Portuguese fisherman’s stew; mahi mahi with raspberry-chipotle glaze…

Come on by and fill your stomach and your soul with a lovingly prepared dish this week. Because at Bistro 185, we smoke ’em if we got ’em.

Behind the Dish: Pork Tenderloin with “Hot Fanny Sauce”

So…we all know what pork tenderloin is (ours will either be grilled or cooked in a cast-iron grill pan), but what exactly is “Hot Fanny Sauce”? Chef Todd, who once cooked at the restaurant of its inventor George Germon, describes it as “a fresh-pepper barbecue sauce,” made with onions, jalapeño peppers, chicken stock, sherry, red-wine vinegar, salt, and ground red and poblano peppers. Todd tells us he doesn’t really recall preparing this sauce back when he worked at Al Forno (he worked at the pasta station, preparing all the pasta entrees and sides, and the starch sides such as potatoes), but is enjoying the opportunity to whip it up here as part of the Julia Project.

How did “Hot Fanny Sauce” get its name? According to Julia’s cookbook from which we derived the basic recipe, Cooking with Master Chefs, there’s no big story behind it. George Germon just liked the name! (To see him whipping it up, look for the video at this link.)

There’s another project going on today that you might enjoy knowing about. Ruth just gave Marc a rather special gift…the gift of a full kitchen inside our garage at home, complete with a smoker. And since that time, Marc has been busy smoking beef brisket like you wouldn’t believe. The end result? Bistro 185 is going to have yet another notable special on tonight’s menu: Smoked Beef Brisket with Ruth’s corn pudding. Now, how are you supposed to decide what to have tonight? Good luck deciding!