Wednesday, April 29, 2009

back home, with some tales to tell

Quel voyage. I am pleased to write that my wife, daughter, and I arrived safely home from France yesterday afternoon. After 10 days in a small village in Languedoc, and 7 days in Paris, it was an epic trip with an emphasis on exploring the local food culture, cooking, and eating. My jet-lagged daughter beckons at the moment, but I am planning to write a series of posts about the experience.

This is "Scuffy" the snail, saying hello to my daughter after visiting our kitchen window. Scuffy was not eaten.

Monday, April 6, 2009

slow and easy food: hot-smoked pork chops

In case you don't follow my dorky tweets about food, you should, because Saturday I posted my first ever live-tweeted recipe and cooking session (see chronology and photos): smoked pork chops! These are so easy, and the flavor will detonate your taste buds. Not surprisingly, it's quite difficult to capture ingredient lists and measurements in 140 characters, so I've posted the full recipe here.


  • 4 thick cut, free range, well marbled pork chops from a local farm (MN-folk should try Pastures a Plenty or Prairie Pride), about 8 oz per chop
  • 1/2 gallon cold tap water
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp pink curing salt (to buy)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly smashed
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • wood smoking chips (apple wood, hickory, etc.), soaked in warm water
to brine chops:
  1. In a large, non-reactive bowl, place water and pork chops
  2. Run about 1-2 cups of very hot tap water into a smaller bowl
  3. Add kosher salt, sugar, curing salt, and garlic to hot water in small bowl. Stir with a fork until salt and sugar is dissolved.
  4. Pour this mixture into the large bowl and refrigerate for 4-12 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, remove chops from brine and pat dry.
to smoke chops:
  1. Mix remaining spices in a small bowl and apply to all sides of pork chops. Let chops sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes to come to room temperature.
  2. Light about 1/3 of a chimney starter loaded with charcoal briquettes (wood/lump charcoal burns too hot/fast for smoking).
  3. Bank coals on one side of your grill, put the wood chips on top (ideally in a smoker box or wrapped in a foil packet), and place a small pan on the bottom of the grill opposite the coals.
  4. Place pork chops on the grate opposite the coals. Cover and begin smoking.
  5. After about 1 hour, add 10 unlit charcoal bricks to the top of the pile. Cover and continue smoking.
  6. Chops will be ready approximately 1-2 hours later, depending on the temperature inside and outside of the grill. They should be a dark red-orange w/ and be very tender (slight charring on the edges is ok, too).
  7. Rest chops for 5 minutes before serving.
*Serves 4 people

These go really well with a strong beer, some fried or roasted potatoes, and a green salad. Sauerkraut is also an excellent choice, especially in winter.

Friday, April 3, 2009

bulldog update: still no word from the owner!

Nearly one month has passed since I emailed the Bulldog's owner regarding my inquiry, mainly why they were serving lower-quality meats, and a generally less-appetizing menu, in St. Paul. I guess they really don't care about what their patrons think. In fact, someone recently commented on my post that "Bad food is one thing, but a server who asks, 'What do you want me to do with it?' when you tell her your food is bad-- while standing with her hand on her hip as your dreck sits in front of you-- is icing on the cake."

Also, shortly after writing that post I realized that I forgot to mention the Bulldog Uptown and its menu. Sadly, it appears they're serving a similar menu to the Lowertown location. Patrons revolt!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

a bit of self promotion

Well, this is a blog about my own gastronomic travails, so perhaps self promotion is a moot point. Today I launched a small website to promote "holterhaus," my marketing business. Read the about page for more info, but basically I provide integrated communications services for businesses and other organizations large and small. I especially like to work with companies of the progressive/sustainable/green kind, so please let me know if I can be of assistance. It's probably obvious, but I am particularly adept at interactive-related marketing endeavors, including social media.
P.S. This is not an April Fool's joke. Seriously.