Brats In Secret Stadium Sauce

Bottle of Secret Stadium Sauce

I was gifted a bottle of Secret Stadium Sauce by my discussion forum friend Jim Lampe when we met up for a Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training game in Arizona in March 2020…right before all hell broke loose with the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re a Brewers fan and have attended games at Miller Park or the old Milwaukee County Stadium, you know all about Secret Stadium Sauce. You may even have a bottle of it lurking somewhere in your refrigerator. The story goes that one day back in the early 1970s, the ballpark food vendor was running out of ketchup and mustard, so they took what little they had left and mixed it into barbecue sauce, added a few spices and other ingredients, and Secret Stadium Sauce was born and has been a fan favorite ever since.

I’d never heard of this sauce, but had a chance to try it on a grilled hot dog at the spring training ballpark in Arizona. It tastes like a tomato-based barbecue sauce but with unique spices. Jim uses Secret Stadium Sauce plus beer as a bath for grilled bratwurst and shared his method in a post on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board. I decided to follow his lead with my bottle of sauce. Continue reading Brats In Secret Stadium Sauce

Review: SLOTDOG Hot Dog Slicing Tool

A grilled SLOTDOG hot dog

I got hooked on spiral-sliced hot dogs a couple of years ago after serving them to guests at a July 4 party. You can learn more about spiral-sliced hot dogs here.

So when I saw this gadget called SLOTDOG on Amazon.com, I thought I’d give it a try. SLOTDOG cuts a crosshatched pattern into both sides of a hot dog, creating little squares that open up and char during grilling.

Is a SLOTDOG hot dog more fun than a regular hot dog? Does it taste better? How does it compare to a spiral-sliced hot dog?

Watch my video review to find out. Continue reading Review: SLOTDOG Hot Dog Slicing Tool

Ground Beef Is Brown Inside. Is It Safe?

Pink-brownish ground beef

Red = Good. Brown = Bad. Right?

You associate bright cherry red color with the freshness of ground beef, right? That’s what we all look for when shopping at the supermarket. Faced with a choice between a package of bright red meat and a package of brownish meat, you go for the red meat every time.

But when you get home and crack open the package only to find brown meat under that bright red layer of exterior meat, what’s up with that? Has the supermarket wrapped fresh meat around old meat? Has the meat spoiled?

Short Answer: Do not fear. The meat is fine.

Long Answer: Continue reading to find out what’s going on.

Continue reading Ground Beef Is Brown Inside. Is It Safe?

Original Joe’s 3/4 Pound Hamburger Sandwich

Original Joe's San Jose

Original Joe’s San Jose. Photo Credit: Victor H. via Yelp. Used with permission.

Introducing Original Joe’s

Original Joe’s is a beloved Italian restaurant, an institution located in the heart of downtown San Jose. It’s a holdover from a simpler time, a Bay Area tradition that dates back to 1937 when the first Original Joe’s opened in San Francisco. More locations and perhaps a few copycats opened over the years. They all followed the same successful model: Waiters wore tuxedos, kitchen staff wore “chef’s whites” and “toque blanche” (white hat). They served old-fashioned Italian-American dishes prepared in an open kitchen, the menu consisting of steaks and seafood cooked on a charcoal grill, Italian pasta specialties,  soups, salads, side dishes, and desserts. And they had a piano bar where, back in the day, men wore suits and ladies wore dresses and you’d stop by for a cocktail and listen to someone tickle the ivories or play the organ. Real classy!

Original Joe’s in San Jose opened in 1956. It was a partnership of four men, at least two of which had a family connection to Original Joe’s in San Francisco. Surviving all these years through good times and bad,  even through the exodus of downtown retailers to spacious air-conditioned malls in the 1960s and 1970s, Original Joe’s continues to serve favorite foods with a “traditional San Francisco flair” to locals as well as to visitors from all over the world.

The Famous Hamburger Sandwich

One of the signature dishes at Original Joe’s is the “Hamburger Sandwich”. Today they call it the “Original Joe’s Famous Hamburger”, but to those of us in the know, it’s still the hamburger sandwich.

The hamburger sandwich is simplicity at its best. The menu describes it as, “3/4 pound ground chuck tumbled in chopped yellow onion, Swiss cheese, grilled or broiled and served on our signature French bread.” You can add bacon or fried egg, if you like.

Famous Hamburger Sandwich

Original Joe’s hamburger sandwich. Photo Credit: John D. @forksandtrails via Yelp. Used with permission.

The chopped yellow onion is pressed into the raw ground chuck and formed into an oblong-shaped patty. I don’t care for the strong onion flavor, so I order mine without onions. You’ve got to have it grilled on the mesquite-fired charbroiler. It takes a long time to cook a burger this thick, but your patience is rewarded when it finally arrives at your seat at the counter. (You are sitting at the counter, aren’t you? Where you can watch the open kitchen in action?)

The hamburger sandwich comes with Swiss cheese; I add bacon. It’s served with steak fries and a little cup of ketchup on the side. I always wish they’d bring more fries and ketchup to begin with, but you can ask for more.

My Attempt To Make A Hamburger Sandwich

I decided to make a version of the Original Joe’s hamburger sandwich using my Weber gas grill. No mesquite charbroiler, to be sure, but quicker and easier.

I formed 1.5 pounds of good quality 80/20 ground chuck into two thick, 3/4 pound oblong-shaped patties, applied kosher salt and pepper, and let sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, giving the salt a chance to penetrate the meat. Continue reading Original Joe’s 3/4 Pound Hamburger Sandwich

Reverse Searing NY Strip Steaks From Creekstone Farms

In a post from earlier this year, I mentioned visiting Lakewood Meats in Lodi, CA where I purchased some quality Creekstone Farms steaks. In that post, I reverse seared ribeye steaks in a cast iron skillet and concluded by saying, “It’s easier getting steaks on and off a cast iron griddle vs. a cast iron skillet, so next time I’ll use my griddle instead.”

Creekstone Farms NY strip steaks grilling indirect before the reverse sear

Well, last weekend I found two Creekstone Farms NY strip steaks from Lakewood Meats at the back of the freezer and did the reverse sear on them, too, but this time finishing on the griddle.

This video summarizes the process: Continue reading Reverse Searing NY Strip Steaks From Creekstone Farms

Picanha from Porter Road Butcher

Picanha (pronounced “pee-KAHN-ya), also known as top sirloin cap or coulotte, is a cut of beef that most Americans know little about. Those that do probably associate it with expensive Brazilian steakhouses (churrascarias) where it’s skewered in half-moon shapes, grilled to perfection, and carved to order at the table.

Skewered picanha with other meats
Skewered picanha (second from left)

A company named Porter Road Butcher gave me a 4.24 pound package of their dry-aged picanha to try, and it’s the basis of this article. You’ll find picanha at better supermarkets, butcher shops, or online meat retailers.

Picanha Defined

Picanha is a triangular roast with a lean side and a fat side covered with thick, white hard fat.

Picanha in packaging

Lean side of picanha

Fat side of picanha

Picanha has great beefy flavor and good moisture due to abundant intramuscular fat. It should not be confused with tri-tip. Both come from the sirloin primal, but picanha is cut from the top sirloin butt while the tri-tip is cut from the bottom sirloin butt. Continue reading Picanha from Porter Road Butcher

Grilling Cheeses

Close-up of marinated grilling cheese on a sourdough crisp

My first encounter with grilling cheeses was at the 2019 San Francisco Fancy Food Show. You can watch my video to learn more about my experience at that amazing specialty food show.

After trying some of those cheeses at the show, I decided to buy a few and grill them at home on my Weber Summit 450. I bought the following:

Selection of grilling cheeses

The first two were ones I saw and tried at the Fancy Food Show. The third one was something I picked up at Whole Foods. Continue reading Grilling Cheeses

Beef Vs. Bacon Burgers From Porter Road Butcher

I’ve cooked beef/bacon burgers once before, back in May 2016. On that occasion, I smoked them at 300-325°F using the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. Delicious and smoky, to be sure. But on this occasion in August 2019, I grilled beef/bacon burgers using my Weber Summit 450 gas grill.

A company named Porter Road Butcher gave me a two-pound package of their Beef Vs. Bacon mix to try. It’s a 50/50 blend of smoked pork belly bacon and dry-aged beef trimmings. Porter Road doesn’t specify the percentage of lean-to-fat in the ground beef, only that it’s “lean ground beef”. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s 90/10 ground beef or something close to that.

Beef Vs. Bacon in the package

If you’ve never tried a beef/bacon mix for burgers, you should, especially if you’re a bacon lover. It’s amazing how much flavor bacon adds to otherwise delicious ground beef. But these Bacon Vs. Bacon burgers had it all—the fat and smokiness from the bacon plus the hearty beef flavor that only comes from dry-aged beef. Continue reading Beef Vs. Bacon Burgers From Porter Road Butcher

Grilled Peaches Redux

Finished grilled peach with ice cream and granola crumble

I last wrote about grilled peaches in August 2014 when two members of The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board shared their approach to grilling this wonderful summer fruit.

It’s almost the end of peach season here in Northern California, and before summer is over and we rush headlong back into our fall routines, I wanted to share some grilled peaches that I made just for you, and they could not be simpler to make.

Start with perfectly ripe, juicy peaches. Freestone peaches works best. The ones shown here are from Andy’s Orchard in nearby Morgan Hill, CA…probably the best stone fruit you’ll find still grown here in “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”.

Fresh peaches

Gently rinse and dry the peaches. Use a sharp knife to cut in half from pole to pole, twist to open, and remove the pit. Continue reading Grilled Peaches Redux