Friday, August 29, 2014

Salt lick BBQ Review

Salt Lick BBQ Restaurant - Review

This is a review of my experience at The Salt Lick BBQ Restaurant in Driftwood Texas.  I am not in any way affiliated with the Salt Lick or anyone that works there.
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On my recent trip to Austin Texas to visit my Brother In Law (Todd Howard - Guitar player for Granger Smith Band) I posted something on Facebook to the effect of me going to some vineyards in Driftwood, just outside of Austin and a friend of mine suggested that since I was going to be in the area that I should try The Salt Lick BBQ restaurant.  Since they also have a vineyard I said, duh!  No brainer!

To me, BBQ is fantastic and I love it (I'm from Texas so it's in my blood) but can you honestly say that one BBQ place stands out over another? I mean isn't it like Tex Mex? Other than subtle differences aren't they all the same?  Well, Salt Lick is truly fantastic BBQ.  No complaints at all. And it does stand above many, if not most others.  From the ranch atmosphere to the wonderful hospitality, The Salt Lick delivered!

It's about 10 miles off of any main highway but not difficult to find.  When you drive up you are instantly greeted by the beautiful vineyards cascading along the rolling hills of the Big Hill Country. It's 10:45 in the morning and you get the since that this huge operation has been busy since the wee hours of the morning!  They must cater or deliver off site, because there were large trucks leaving the place with what I assume is tons of wonderful BBQ.

I like to arrive early and thankfully this day was no exception.  We were greeted outside and seated immediately.  Within 10 minutes after we sat, there was a line forming outside.  As we walked in we are instantly greeted by a large open pit with mouth watering sausage hanging by hooks with the hard wood fire nurturing the flavor in front of my very eyes.  Wow!  

We were seated in an open area with a great view of the outside, in fact it was like sitting outside. Windows all around us! We sat at long picnic tables that encourage community type seating.  Kirby, our waiter greeted us quickly.  He was very friendly and knowledgeable.  We inquired about the vineyard and the wine tasting and he gave us some helpful tips.  

My wife and I split a combo plate of sausage and brisket because we simply can't eat that much food and that's kind of our routine.  Before our plates arrived, Kirby delivered some wonderful bread and it was devoured immediately (my 12 year old loves bread!).  Kirby also tabled our BBQ sauce and explained the difference of the two.  Well this was the difference maker.  Their BBQ sauce has a heavy mustard base or at least it looks like it does.  It had a creamy golden look and texture that beckoned the old anticipation commercials (Insert Carly Simon song here) as it slowly poured from the container and lathered its way onto the meat.  Its not over-powering like mustard can be, not at all.  It was truly fantastic.  It was different than the obligatory ketchup based sauce you get most other places.  I couldn't get enough.  OK, I'm getting a little worked up, let's move along!

Our combo plate arrived and it didn't disappoint either.  Both the sausage and the brisket were terrific!  I wish I could say that it was very different than most really good BBQ places but I can't.  It was fantastic, but there was nothing there that said OMG, this is the most unique BBQ I've ever had.   Let's face it, that place may not exist.  The Brisket was tender and and very flavorful and you could taste the smoke and the wonderful seasoning of aging cook boxes.  The sausage was tender as well and had the perfect amount of heat.  It wasn't over-powering.  I'm a sausage freak and this was good stuff man!

The accompaniments were awesome as well.  I typically don't like to eat potato salad at BBQ places because many times it's over the top in my opinion with pickles and mustard.  This was much more mild and I enjoyed it.  The beans were very tasty as well.  As usual I ate most of the plate and Michele ate her small portions and we were happy.  Admittedly I ate a great deal of my sons sausage as well and swore I wouldn't eat for the rest of the week....but I did.  I mean come on, it's Austin right!

By the time we left, it was close to noon and the place was packed.  They must be proud at the Salt Lick because its so far off the beaten path and miles away from a major town and they still pack'em in!  So cool!

I strongly recommend The Salt Lick if you are ever in the area.  I purchased some of their seasonings and will be using them soon and most likely posting what I cook.  Look them up on the world wide web if you're interested and see what their all about.  Tell them that Scotty B sent ya!

Y'all come back now, ya here!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Honey Blackened Chicken with Cajun Roux Rice

Honey Blackened Chicken with Cajun Roux Rice

Honey Blackened Chicken

I'm channeling my Southeast Texas, Southwest Louisiana, Coon-Ass roots on this one.  When the summer starts to come to a close and Autumn is near, I start getting in the mood for Cajun food.  So with the first week of school, and homework and all it's glory....I'm officially in the mood.

I have many fetishes (food of course) and rice is one of them.  I like it plain and I also like to create other rice recipes to liven things up.  I've been thinking about this recipe all day and I can't wait to put it together and see how it comes out.  If this blog makes it to "publish", well then I must have liked it.

The Honey Blackened Chicken is a little something different that was really inspired by my brother in law Aaron.  I was looking at a Honey jar from his personal collection and it came to me.   Of course the recipe is below and if you are interested in fresh locally farmed honey, let me know and Ill put you in touch with Aaron.

The Honey Blackened Chicken takes a little planning, not much but a little.  I use thin chicken breasts or you can use thighs if you wish.  If you have the time to let it soak in the marinade for at least an hour, it's a difference maker.  See ingredients below.

I use my All Purpose Seasoning on this and it's perfect!  You can order it here or get the recipe on my Rubs and Seasonings page.  

 OK here we go..........
Here's what you need:
Honey Blackened Chicken:

1 pound chicken breast flattened or thin - Cut into strips
1/2 cup cooking Sherry
1/2 cup Olive Oil
2 heaping Tbl Spn Bee Sweet Honey - Or your favorite available Honey
1 Tbl Spn Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbl Spoon Chili Poweder
1 Tsp Salt

1 Cup or so of Cajun Seasoning
Or you can use my All Purpose Seasoning on the Rubs and Seasoning Menu or purchase it here!

Put everything in a bowl except the chicken and Cajun Seasoning and stir well.  Place the chicken in the marinade and dunk all of the pieces and let sit for at least an hour.

Put the Cajun seasoning in a plate and prepare a frying pan on a medium high stove.  Add about a table spoon of Vegetable Oil in the pan and coat the entire pan.  Coat each piece of chicken with the Cajun seasoning like you would a frying batter and cook until chicken is cooked all the way through.  Set aside and prepare your rice.

Cajun Roux Rice:

1 Cup Cooked Rice (Try this: 3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup chicken stock to 1 cup rice)

Celery Stalk chopped
1/4 white onion chopped
1/2 green onion chopped
1 Roma Tomato cut into small pieces
1 Tbl Spn Cajun Seasoning or to Taste
Salt to taste
1 red bell pepper
1 Tbl Spn Butter
1 Tbl Spn Flour
1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Water
1 Tbl Spn Cajun Seasoning (Purchase My All Purpose Seasoning here!)

In a medium skillet on medium high heat, saute the white onion, celery and bell pepper and set aside.  In the same skillet melt the butter.  Add the flour and stir simi-continuously.  The flour will thicken.  Continue this for about 15 minutes.  The flour should start turning a medium dark brown.  The longer you cook it the darker and richer it is.  I like it medium brown for this recipe.  Add the chicken stock and stir for 1 minute.  Add the water.  Stir continuously for about 5 minutes.  It will thicken and once again turn a medium brown.  Add the celery, white onion, bell pepper and stir well.  Let this cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the rice to the roux and incorporate well.  Add the tomato, green onion, Cajun Seasoning and salt to taste.  Mix well.  Let this cook for about 3 minutes to let all of the ingredients get to know each other.

Serve and enjoy!  Perhaps consider some swamp music, or maybe some Led Zeppelin to enhance the mood.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Raspberry Chipotle Blue Cheese Steak with Baked Mac n Cheese with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Ribeye Steak with Raspberry Chipotle Blue Cheese Sauce
with Baked Three Cheese ALFREDO Mac N Cheese with Sun Dried Tomatoes


Prepare your favorite cut of steak.  I like to punch holes all through it with a fork to help tenderize it.  Rub it with one of my steak rubs. and set aside.  I like to leave it room temp for at least an hour before cooking.  3 hours is perfect in my opinion.

Raspberry Chipotle Blue Cheese Steak Sauce and Topping

1 Cup Raspberry Chipotle Sauce from a jar
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Tbl Spn Honey
1 Tbl Minced Garlic
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 Cup Blue Cheese clumps

If you can't get Raspberry Chipotle get it in my spice store and Ill send it to you.

Put all ingredients in a medium pot and stir well.  Bring to a slow boil then let simmer for about 20 minutes or so or until it reduces by 1/3 or so.

Baked 3 Cheese Alfredo Mac N Cheese 
Cooked Macaroni Noodles 1.5 Cups or so.
2 Tbl Spn Butter
1/2 Cup Ricotta
1/2 Asagio
1/2 Mozzarella
1/2 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes from a Jar
1/4 Cup Pesto from a Jar
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Fresh Basil Chopped
1/4 Cup Chives

Homemade Alfredo:
2 Tbl Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 tbl spn nutmed
1/2 tble spoon each garlic powder, dried Italian seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions for Alfredo Sauce:
In a medium skillet, melt butter, then add heavy cream.  Whisk frequently until it comes to a slow boil.  Add all of the seasonings.  Simmer for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Keep the pot warm from cooking the noodles and put all of the above ingredients in there except the Alfredo Sauce, and let it melt.  As it melts, stir from time to time.  When it's about half melted, stir in the Alfredo and mix well.   Timing is not very important here so don't stress of when you add everything.  Just get it in there and melted.  You can put the pot on a low heat if you wish.

Preheat oven to 350.  Pour the melted Mac N Cheese in an oven proof skillet.

Bake for 10 minutes!

Prepare you charcoal or gas grill for the steaks.
Place the steaks on the direct heat, season side down first.  Cook for about 4 minutes. Flip the steak and spoon a small amount of the Raspberry Chipotle Blue Cheese Sauce over it.  

Cook for about 4 minutes.  Flip and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes or until it's the desired doneness.
Spoon more of the sauce over the cooked steak and enjoy!