The ODB – The Ol’ Dirty Burger

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One of my all-time favorite restaurants is a breakfast and BBQ place in Charlottesville, VA where I lived for 10+ years or so. It’s called Ace Biscuit & BBQ. It’s a little bit of a tucked-away, hole-in-the-wall kind of place… with some of the best breakfast biscuits I’ve ever had. It used to be the best kept secret in C-ville, but the word has gotten out. If you ever find yourself in Charlottesville, I cannot recommend it more highly. Now maybe you’re asking yourself, why is this crazy woman talking about a BBQ joint in Charlottesville, when she should be telling me all about the burger she made for dinner? There is a connection, I promise. Plus, I like to send business towards my favorite places. (I act like this blog is so well-read that an established restaurant is going to benefit from my recommendation… 🙄🙄)

Anyway. Moving further into my tangent… In case you have forgotten, back in the 90s there was a rapper who called himself Ol’ Dirty Bastard, or ODB. He was one of the original members of the Wu-Tang Clan. The owners of Ace’s must share my love of popular 90s hip-hop, because two of their dishes pay homage to the era. There’s the Ace Doggy Dogg (their hot dog) and, you guessed it, the ODB! In this case, the ODB stands for Ol’ Dirty Biscuit. Y’all. You haven’t lived until you’ve clogged your arteries with this guy. Ace’s ODB consists of a homemade biscuit, topped with fried chicken, sausage gravy, pimento cheese, and pickles, all house-made. It is amazing! (And super low-cal, obviously.)

What does all of this have to do with the burger I made tonight? Really nothing honestly. For whatever reason, all afternoon as I’ve been mentally planning my decadent burger, the real ODB’s shout-out to himself in Mariah Carey’s Fantasy Remix, “Ladies and Gentlemen… Introducing the Old, Dirty, Doggy… Here we go now…” kept playing over and over in my head. I guess my subconscious was trying to tell me that tonight’s burger is to a standard boring burger what the Ol’ Dirty Biscuit is to a cheap fast food breakfast biscuit. The secret to making this burger over the top as compared to other burgers? Mixing sausage and ground beef! Ups the flavor and deliciousness! It’s still a simple burger, but the taste is 👌🏼👌🏼

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Humor me and pretend my ramblings were linear and logical. And enjoy an ODB – of any variety.

The Ol’ Dirty Burger

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb ground beef (85%-15%)
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion*
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.**
  2. Mix together all ingredients except for the salt.
  3. Form the meat into patties.
  4. Sprinkle salt and a little extra pepper on top of each burger.
  5. Place patties on a rack over a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. [Since the patties are on a rack, they don’t need to be flipped. We made six 1/3lb burgers and cooked them for about 12 minutes – yielding medium burgers. I was going for medium-rare and overshot, ho hum.]
  6. Top with your favorite burger garnishes!
*Do yourself a favor and pick up some granulated onion instead of onion powder – it’s so much better than that clumpy, powdery stuff.
**You can also grill these like a normal person would, if you don’t live in an apartment complex that doesn’t let you have them like we do…
Makes 6-8 burgers.

Hearty Hoppin’ John

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Technically this is our second New Year’s Eve living in South Carolina, but the first one barely counts. We had just moved here, in a whirlwind month that not only included moving to a new state, but also getting married, honeymooning in Puerto Rico, and spending Christmas with Ally’s family. I’m pretty sure there were boxes strewn about, half unpacked, while we watched the ball drop to close out 2015.

This year we decided to put a little bit of effort in and make a New Year’s Eve dinner. I strongly considered going Asian and honoring their traditional New Year’s noodle dishes, representing longevity for the next year. But instead, I decided to pay homage to our not-so-new-anymore home with southern Hoppin’ John.

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In researching Hoppin’ John recipes, I learned that like pimento cheese (see similar ravings in that post), everyone’s own grandma prepares it the correct way, while everyone else’s grandma is doing it incorrectly. Here are the facts regarding Hoppin’ John as best I can tell: It contains black eyed peas, although certain specific areas substitute field peas or red cowpeas. The peas are what makes Hoppin’ John one of the lucky New Years dishes of the American South – the peas represent coins and thus, wealth in the new year to come. The dish also must contain rice and some form of pork product. The dish almost certainly originated with slaves brought to the US from Western Africa. And most agree that the dish’s American origins began in the Carolinas, more specifically in the South Carolina Low Country. Now for the controversies: Which pork product to use – bacon, ham, pork sausage? Which spices, if any, to use? Where did the name originate? Does the rice have to be cooked in the same dish?

Therefore, I make absolutely zero claims to the authenticity of this Hoppin’ John. In fact, I guarantee you that it is not authentic. I skimmed probably 20-25 different recipes for inspiration, but did not follow any one in particular. With the base of the aforementioned black eyed peas + rice + pork, people toss in all sorts of different additions. I certainly did. This is quite a stretch from the plain, historic version that only contained the three base ingredients. But to be honest with you, I doubt I’d really enjoy plain rice, peas, and bacon.

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Happy New Year! We’re looking forward to 2017 and hope everyone else is too!

Hearty Hoppin’ John

Ingredients: 
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepped, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of dry rice
  • 6 cups of stock (chicken, turkey, vegetable)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15 turns fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 large spicy sausages, sliced
  • 4 cups of cooked black eyed peas*
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (we like Frank’s)
Instructions: 
  1. Slice bacon into lardons. Toss into a large pan with tall edges. Cover and cook over medium heat until the bacon begins to release its fat, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and stir to coat in the bacon fat. Re-cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Now add the garlic. Cook uncovered for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the next 10 ingredients to the pan (peppers through sausages). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover the pan. You want the liquid to be just slightly simmering while the lid is on.
  5. Uncover and stir briefly every 15 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, add the black eyed peas.
  6. The dish is done when the rice is fully cooked. This took us ~45 minutes. You may require slightly more or less time, and/or slightly more or less liquid.
  7. Before serving, stir in the hot sauce.

*You may choose whether or not to use canned black eyed peas or soak/prepare dried peas yourself.

Serves ~10 people.

Post dinner notes: We soaked our own beans, instead of using canned ones. We overdid it in the preparation phase, and the beans were fairly mushy. Next time, we need to be a little more attentive when preparing dried beans.

Cleveland Polish Boy

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For those of you who are living under a baseball-free rock, Game 6 of the World Series is tonight! The Cleveland Indians are currently beating the Chicago Cubs 3-2 in the series. The series has shifted back to Cleveland for the last two games, and Cleveland fans everywhere are on edge, hoping that the Indians will clinch it at home! Selim is from Cleveland and is a die-hard loyal Cleveland sports fanatic. Ally has adopted Cleveland sports teams as her own, with the highs & lows that come with being a Cleveland fan. We’re all crossing our fingers for potentially the second high of 2016 with the Indians winning the World Series for the first time since 1948. (The first high of 2016, for those who also live under a basketball-free rock, was when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship this summer. The Cavs’ win marked the first championship for a Cleveland-area professional sports since the Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship [the “Super Bowl” didn’t exist then…], ending 52 years and 147 seasons without a championship.) Let’s just say Clevelanders are pretty happy about the year 2016.

In order to help our team win tonight, all the way from South Carolina, we decided to be as “Cleveland” as possible. We’re both rockin’ Cleveland t-shirts today and cranked up some Machine Gun Kelly Cleveland hype music in the car. And we decided to make the most Cleveland dinner possible to eat while watching the game!

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Enter the Polish Boy. The epitome of Cleveland, right there on a bun. This traditional Cleveland food embraces the city’s melting pot, working class heritage. Several articles tentatively attribute the first Polish Boy to Virgil Whitmore, who operated Whitmore’s BBQ in the 1940s. His grandson acknowledges he’s not sure exactly where the idea originated, but that, “It wasn’t Poland, that’s for sure.” Maybe we should rename it the Cleveland Boy.

So what is a Polish Boy? It’s a bun with kielbasa on it, topped with coleslaw, French fries, and BBQ sauce +/- a little hot sauce. If that doesn’t sound indulgently amazing to you, we can no longer be friends. To make the best Polish Boy possible, you want your bun to be toasty, your kielbasa to be hot, your slaw to be creamy, and your fries to be crispy! Bon appetit baby!

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Polish Boy

Ingredients: 
  • 1 large link of kielbasa
  • 1 hoagie roll
  • 1/4 cup of coleslaw (Try our homemade version!)
  • A big handful of French fries
  • A healthy drizzle of BBQ sauce
  • A dash of hot sauce, if desired
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare your French fries as your prefer (bake, deep-fry…)
  2. Grill or pan-fry your kielbasa. Slice it in half length-wise.
  3. Toast your bun.
  4. Put the kielbasa on the bun. Top with coleslaw, sauces, and fries. Fries go on top!
  5. Try to close the bun around all this deliciousness. Fail miserably. Eat anyway. Get really messy. Love it.
Obviously this only makes one sandwich. You’ll want to make more to share.

 

Slow Cooker Cider Brats

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Fall leaves, looking towards the Blue Ridge Mountains ❤ ❤ ❤

Not going to lie. I’m mildly obsessed with fall. It’s my favorite season. I may or may not have mentioned this in pretty much all of our posts since the beginning of October. Since this is our first fall in South Carolina, I’m learning that fall comes slowly down here. It’s halfway through the month; the majority of the leaves are still green and we’ve hit the upper 80s several days this week! Ho hum. But fall peeks through now and then. We’ve carved some pumpkins. We’ve made and eaten chili. I’ve worn jeans a few times (albeit with short sleeve tops and sandals…) There are decorative gourds topping every surface in our house. Our neighbors are rockin’ some Halloween window decorations and fake spiderwebs. And best of all, we’ve turned off the A/C and had the windows open for several days!!

So when thinking about making some brats for dinner tonight, I logically wondered how I could make them “fall brats.” Because the traditional and perennially delicious, grilled, topped with mustard, peppers, and onions, tailgate brats apparently don’t scream fall loudly enough for me? (Could have something to do with the fact that we don’t have a grill…)

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Peeking in the fridge/brainstorming, I noticed a bottle of my favorite cider.

[Side note: if you have access to Bold Rock cider, you should check it out. They distribute pretty much only in the Mid-Atlantic. As of today, you can find Bold Rock ciders in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. They have a variety of ciders for your tasting pleasure. My personal favorites are the Virginia Apple, which is a bit more tart, thanks to its origins as a Granny Smith apple, and their drier, champange-style ciders. And if you want to make an amazing and low-key road trip out of it, you should check out their Cider Barn in Nelson County, Virginia. It’s a gorgeous (especially in the fall!) and fun place to visit. Even better, you can combine your visit there with a trip to one of the many wineries and breweries in the area! (In all seriousness, if you want some suggestions of places to check out in the area, we love pointing people in the direction of our favorites!) End side note.]

Deciding to combine my favorite, quintessentially fall cider with these brats was an interesting experiment. I wanted the sweetness of the cider, but didn’t want to ruin the brats with a cloying sweetness. Hence the other ingredients. I think it worked out pretty well. For me, it definitely was a new, sweeter flavor profile. It’s interesting that there is still a strong “meaty” taste and smell, that is countered with the sweetness of apple cider. I think the other new and interesting part of the dish for me was the texture of the brats themselves. I’ve never had brats any way other than fresh off a grill or sauteed in a pan. They’re essentially braised in the crockpot, which gives them a softer texture, without that tautness you would normally feel biting through the sausage.

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Slow Cooker Cider Brats

Ingredients: 
  • 5 large bratwursts
  • 1/2 of a large onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 12oz bottle of hard apple cider
  • 12oz bottle of ginger beer
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 turns of black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Place your vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with the bratwursts.
  2. In a bowl, combine the ingredients from cider through black pepper. Whisk a few times to combine.
  3. Pour liquid over top of brats & veggies in the slow cooker.
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Serve however you’d like! Throw the brats and veggies on a bun like a traditional brat or serve them with a little bit of the liquid over top rice or lentils like we did. (I wasn’t really intending the liquid to be a “sauce,” which it’s not, but I enjoyed topping my bowl off with a bit of it.)