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Archive for the ‘Barbecue’ Category

LA 23 BBQ Review, Belle Chase, LA


LA 23 BBQ ReviewSome poetic license shall be taken with the background of this establishment, as I didn’t ask, and picked up snippets during the experience.  Seems there are these two pals from Uptown New Orleans, making a living by taking tourists and assorted hangers-on deep into the Gulf on fishing expeditions.  Tiring a bit at the sight of fish and seafood, they tried trolling the warm waters off  Louisiana for bbq, but their nets came up empty. To add insult to injury, one of the jumping off spots to roll down the Mississippi to the Gulf, Belle Chase, Louisiana, was seemingly bereft of protein-laden meals that featured anything but fish, seafood, or the culinary heritages of Al Copeland and Ray Kroc.

Thus the boys, heretoafter known as Aaron and Bobby, created LA 23 BBQ, named after its highway location, and nothing more mysterious, feature a short menu, long on flavor, of ribs, brisket, pork, and chicken, accompanied by traditional sides. They begin selling Monday through Friday at 11 AM, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Period.

My pal Randy, acclaimed author of the just released  “A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation,” and  the best seller “The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak: A New Orleans Family Memoir,” knew enough to call Aaron and Bobby ahead of time to hold some food, lest we be shut out upon arrival.

We dined on brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, with slaw and pickles on the side.   The pit masters shop carefully for their meat on a weekly basis, and change it up with suppliers to make sure they get the best.

In the world of BBQ, it’s damned tough to keep a brisket moist and flavorful, and LA 23 succeeds.  The pulled pork was superb, as well, and I’m a pulled pork snob.

The key to fine BBQ, as with many things in life, is low and slow.  Ask any experienced woman, and she’ll tell you the best man is one who knows the difference between a “slow simmer” and a “rolling boil.”   BBQ is much the same.   Find a pit master who has the energy and passion to stand in front of a fire for 6-18 hours at a stretch, and you’ll find some mighty tasty ‘cue.  Just like the meats at LA 23. Worth a hike from New Orleans, go early, or call first.

Serious ‘cue has been a scarcity in New Orleans in the past; no more.

LA 23 BBQ’s menu is right here (and below)

LA 23 BBQ Review

Menu Board

LA 23 BBQ Review

Beef brisket sandwich

LA 23 BBQ Review

Get there early or be damned


Blues BBQ and Grill Review – East Dundee, IL

The Blues BBQ and Grill Review East Dundee

Table top BBQ sauces

So there were these guys, living in Maryland, disgusted with the state of ‘cue in the area, so they bought a truck and created their own.  From there, they have expanded to brick and mortars in  Virginia and East Dundee, IL.   The latter location seems like a stretch for managing, but hey, their working overtime leads to better meal opportunities for me.

I tried to get in here last time through town, but it was closed for a private party.  Not so tonight. “The Blues” peddles a variety of BBQ entrees and styles (KC, Memphis, Savannah).   I enjoy South Carolina / Georgia “yellow” BBQ, which was made famous, I suspect, by the late regional pitmaster Maurice Bessinger, and his regional chain of “Piggy Park” BBQs. In addition to the mustard based sauce, ‘cue in those parts are just as likely to use chopped ham as pulled pork.  It’s a tasty experience.

The full menu at Blues BBQ incorporates the ‘cue with a number of Southern staples and sides, like fried green tomatoes, collard greens and the like.

They make their sauces in-house, and the KC one leans toward the ‘sweet’ end of the taste spectrum, while the others are more the vinegar variety. They have a ‘secret’ kitchen seasoning they call “crack,” which they apply amply to many of the dishes.  If you’re sensitive to salt, as for your hand-cut, fresh fries unseasoned.

I’ve been blessed lately in the burger world, to have consumed some really outstanding beef patties, and tonight was no exception. Prepared as ordered to medium rare, the 8 oz slap o’ meat, dressed with lettuce and a crispy tomato was darned near burger perfection.  The toasted rolls are hearty, soft enough for your palate, but substantial enough to securely hold the patty.

As I previously opined, the menu is lengthy, and I’d stop again to try some of the other dishes – they also have a lot of appetizers that look interesting and some special craft cocktails if you’re into that.

Whether you find yourself in suburban Chicago, Roanoke, VA, or Frederick, MD, look up the Blues BBQ guys for some good grub.

Blues BBQ and Grill Review

Bacon Cheeseburger

Blues BBQ and Grill on Urbanspoon


Blues BBQ and Grill Review


Trader Joes Mahi Mahi Burger


220px-Coryphaena_hippurusMahi Mahi?  Isn’t that dolphin?  No, but you sure hear that from a lot of people.  The common name (Mahi Mahi is Hawaiian) is dolphinfish (one word), and like so many things in the English language, similar words cause confusion.  This fish is no relation to Flipper.  It is also known widely as Dorado.

The fish are found in warm off-shore waters, can live to be five years old, grow to twenty pound and can be very colorful. (Picture left).

Trader Joes sells a pack of four Mahi Mahi burgers in their frozen aisle, and they can be done on the grill, pan fried, or baked.  I opted for the skillet, 4-5 minutes each side say the instructions.

The ingredients are very straightforward, mostly the fish, with a little oil, spices, canola oil.

It’s attractive in appearance for a ‘fish-burger’, tho not right out of the box.

I dressed mine with White Castle tartar sauce and Vlasic Dill Pickle Chips, with a pinch of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (I put it on most things, in fact).  Delicious.

These are easy to fix, low in cals, fats, and carbs.  A good alternative to beef patties for your kids, let them decorate it the way they want.

Trader Joes Mahi Mahi Burger Review


Trader Joes Mahi Mahi Burger Review

Uncooked, from box

Trader Joes Mahi Mahi Burger Review

Cooked in a skillet


Trader Joes Mahi Mahi Burger





Texan BBQ Algonquin Reviews


Texan BBQ Algonquin ReviewI was in this place once 25 years or so ago;  they’ve been around for about 30+ years in this distant Chicago suburb.   It’s fairly standard barbecue fare (for the midwest) offering a full menu, including pork and beef ribs, turkey, sausage, chicken, brisket and additional, non-smoked fare like burgers, chicken fried steak and the like.  Standard sides are beans, slaw, and a choice of potato.  Food is available on plates, with one, two, or three meats, or as sandwiches.

Meats are cooked in house on a hickory fire.

Order and pay for your food at the counter when you walk in, have a seat and your meals will be brought to you.

The have a ‘sauce bar’, where you can fill ramekins of “mild,” “hot,” or “spicy” sauce, but they all tasted exactly the same to me.   We had the ribs/chicken combo, the chicken fried steak, and an order of rings.

The chicken fried steak was  a large serving, two pieces, with gravy and biscuits and the aforementioned sides.   The menu had stated each entree came with Texas toast and pickles, but no such luck today. Biscuits were the order of the day, instead.   If you’re a regular reader, you know how much I go for Texas toast!

Was it great?  Not really?  Worth a drive?  Not really.  A good value?  Not really.   It’s one of those times where as cliched as it sounds, “it was what it was.”  But to last over 30 years, he must be doing something right.  The Texan BBQ also caters.

Texan BBQ Algonquin Review

Chicken Fried Steak


Texan BBQ Algonquin Review

Ribs & Chicken Plate


Texan BBQ Algonquin Review

O Rings


Two entrees, plus tip, $35.

Texan Barbeque on Urbanspoon


Texan BBQ Algonquin Reviews


How Is McDonalds Food Made?


Some people are concerned about the ingredients in McDonalds food. So McDonalds Canada started doing videos ‘behind the scenes’ and this marketing effort has now come to the U.S. If you haven’t seen the videos, they are pretty interesting. Here are a few of them.





mcdonalds food made


mcdonalds food made


Duluth East High School Student Cafe Venture


When I was a sprout growing up in Sinclair Lewis’  Zenith City,  I went to junior high (7-9) at Ordean Junior High School, where nobody complained  about us having “Warriors”for a team name with a silhouette of an Indian for a logo.   Then it was on to Duluth East for (most of) grades 10-12.  Well, due to some weird population shift in the cosmos now Ordean is East (after a gajillion dollar remodeling job) and East is Ordean East Junior….er Middle…..  Or something.  Don’t even think about getting me started on my grade school.

The students at East have always been an enterprising lot, but now they’ve amped it up by starting a restaurant within the school that is open to the public.  It’s called “Food for Thought” and it not only helps train students interested in the culinary arts, but also in general business.   The menu is varied,  very ambitious, and everything served is made from scratch in house.

Specials change by the week and month, and compliment the regular menu items.  The Duluth Lunch Bunch hit the cafe today and reported an  excellent experience.  Every dish consumed was superb in preparation and presentation, and the enthusiasm of the student employees was reported to be  far and above the service received in most Duluth restaurants. The operation is overseen by Glenn D’Amour, Culinary Arts Instructor for the Duluth public school system and former corporate chef  at several highly regarded local eateries.

We have a gaggle of pix, so let’s get right to them.  The current offerings are in our menu section.  And p.s. Don’t tell anybody the prices are too cheap!!!!  (Cash only, BTW).

Cafe and food photos by and Copyright Duluth photographer 

Food for Thought Cafe Review

Duluth East, Now Ordean – East


Food for Thought Cafe Review

Remodeled Ordean, Which is Now Duluth East


Food for Thought Cafe Review

Cafe Entrance. Which Apparently Can Get Slippery


Food for Thought Cafe Review

The Uber Chef


Food for Thought Cafe Review

Students Getting Ready to Dish Up the Goods


Food for Thought Cafe Review

BBQ Rib Plate


Food for Thought Cafe Review

Beautiful Plating for Local Favorite Walleye


Diners Dig Dining

Denture Set Takes Corn on the Cob Challenge


Food for Thought Cafe Review

Time for Dessert!


Duluth East High School


Butterball Turkey Reviews


A registered trademark since 1940, “Butterball”  came into wide use in the 60s by Swift & Company and the brand was eventually spun to ConAgra.  Today the line of fresh and frozen turkeys and a host of turkey derived products is owned by Kansas based Seaboard Corporation, a diversified multinational, that also operates other food companies like Prairie Fresh pork products, heat and eat pork products featuring Sweet Baby Ray’s sauces, and Daily’s processed pork products, like bacon, hams, and sausage.  Vertically integrated in the pork business, Seaboard owns their own kill plants, processing 19,000 hogs daily at their Guymon, OK location.

Today Butterball, based in North Carolina, sells over a billion pounds of turkey annually, which includes the processed products, like hot dogs, sausage, cold cuts, bacon, and ground turkey.  (Do you realize that a billion pounds translates roughly into 66 million turkey legs?  Who knew there was enough Renaissance Fairs to handle all that product?)

One such product is a heat and eat meal, “Everyday Chef Selects” Turkey Breast and Gravy.  This 15 ounce package can be heated as a boiling bag or 5-6 minutes in the microwave, and seems pretty straightforward on the ingredient side.  According to the package, this product is put together at Smithfield’s  RMH Foods plant in Morton, IL, USDA establishment 17789B (pictured below).

The most important thing about the ingredient list is that it does NOT include the phrase “may contain a solution of XX %……To me, brine injected beef, pork, and poultry has the most horrible texture.  I just can’t stomach (or chew) it.

So I went with the boiling bag heating option, simmered for about seven minutes (after bringing the water to a boil).  I was pleased to open the bag and find actual ‘chunks’ of turkey muscle meat, and not “chopped, pressed, and formed” slices.  Whew.  This product is good, surprisingly good.  And for the single person or couple that can’t or doesn’t want to shell out $25  – $30 for a whole turkey,and go to the hassle of fixing a huge holiday meal, this is a good solution.   Product plated, pictured below (mashed potatoes not included in package).  I generally don’t enjoy reheated poultry of any kind, but this product doesn’t give you that tactile/taste sensation. I’d buy it again.  I might stock up if they can be frozen.  Time to make a call!

The only exception I take with the packaging is that it suggests it serves “three.”  Doubtful.

There’s probably not a person in the country that doesn’t know you can contact the Butterball Hotline (1-800-BUTTERBALL) (800-288-8372) during holiday periods, or check their website for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cooking a turkey.


RMH Foods Butterball Plant

RMH Foods, Morton, IL


Butterball Heat and Eat  Review

Consumer Packaging

Butterball Heat and Eat Review

Cooking Bag


Butterball Turkey Review







Butterball Turkey Reviews



Cuban Pork Roast Recipe


I had this girlfriend from Barcelona  who had many charms and talents, not the least of which was in the kitchen.  On occasion, she would make me a traditional dish, which I have long forgotten the name of –  it was cubed chunks of porks heavily encrusted with herbs.   It was delicious, especially served with her family’s version of patatas bravas.

(Funny, I’ve traveled all over the world, and nearly the best Spanish food / tapas I have ever had was at a joint in Amsterdam.  At least I think so.  Too much “coffee” prior to dinner may have influenced my opinion.)  (Warning:  do not attempt to negotiate the stairs to the bathroom in that place if you aren’t 100% “right.”)

Now that you know all that, this recipe is nothing like hers, but it’s good, nonetheless, and turns a quite ordinary event into a culinary masterpieces.  Spoiler alert?  It does take some advance planning.

Cuban Braised Pork Shoulder

Total preparation time 42 hours!!!!!


Crock pot


3 pound pork shoulder or butt


  • 1/2 C fresh oregano
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 ½ T sea salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T white vinegar
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste, is an option


Using a mortar and pestle (or mini Cuisineart), grind the ingredients above together into a thick paste:

Make a series of deep crosshatch -cuts into a 3 pound  pork roast (shoulder best, butt second choice) , and rub the paste well into the meat, covering as much of the surface as you can.

Cover, refrigerate for 24 hours.

Place in a crock pot with 2 more T of vinegar and cup of water.

Cook on low, for 18 hours. Turn ONE time during cooking, otherwise leave that F&*((&&  lid on!

Remove from pot, let rest on cutting board for 20 minutes. The roast will fall apart easily, into larger pieces or shredded, as you desire to serve.

Serve with roasted potatoes or black beans and rice.

Leftovers? “Cuban” pulled pork sandwiches!

What I thought was ultra-cool about this method, tho I was hesitant to leave anything in a crock pot for 18 hours, was that the liquid eventually evaporates and some of the bits of pork get crusty edges and tips (second photo below), much like if it had been done on a smoker or grill.   Come to think of it, if one desired, they might add a dash of liquid smoke.


Crock pot pork roast

Herb paste rub into roast


Crock pot pork roast

18 hour pork result





pork roast recipe slow cooker


Elgin, IL – Elgin Pit BBQ Review


Elgin Pit BBQ ReviewBarbecue isn’t at the top of my list of cravings, but once and awhile, I appreciate some good ‘cue, especially whole hog pulled pork. Mrs. BurgerDogBoy loves it, so we do seek it out from time to time.

Probably the best we’ve ever had was in the ‘barbecue capital’ of Texas, a town called Lockhart, between Houston and Austin. If you enjoy Texas style barbecue, and haven’t been there, go! A close second or tie for first was navigating our way down the North Carolina barbecue trail last year. Many think that our modern style of barbecue was first introduced in North Carolina, and there are a good couple dozen places dating back a hundred years that will try and convince you of that fact.

I’ve had ‘passable’ barbecue here in Portland, at a place that was owned by “Snoop Dog’s” uncle.

“Experts” believe that barbecue is an art, and I have to say I might agree.  The US is home to many different styles of preparation, including Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis, Texas and more.  Some are sauced, some are dry rubbed.  Some in North Carolina have a mustard-based sauce, instead of a tomato one.  I do like that.

I admire anybody that starts a restaurant.  Hard, thankless work, for little chance of success.  Especially when they start a place in a geographical area not particularly known to be a hot bed of that genre, like the Elgin Pit BBQ in Elgin, IL.

They have all the usual offerings and sides, and it can all be ordered ala carte, as a plate dinner, or in combinations.  The “two meat combo,” comes with your choice of two meats (ribs, pork, brisket, sausage, chicken) and two sides.  I opted for take out, and went with chicken and pulled pork, fries and collard greens.   Collard greens ARE one of my top cravings.

Elgin’s are slightly sweet, which is a surprise, as I am used to a thick smoke flavor seasoned with garlic, processed pork, and onion.  Elgin’s are a-ok, not just my preparation preference.

The pulled pork and chicken were excellent.  Chicken was sauced, pork was not.  Both had benefited from hours in the in-house smoker.

Give them a try if you’re passing through the area, or take a drive and pick some up.   In a world of suburbs chock a block full of hot dog and pizza joints, Elgin BBQ Pit is an island of unique flavors.

Here’s their menu.

Elgin Pit Barbecue




Elgin BBQ Pit on Urbanspoon

Elgin Pit BBQ


Reos Ribs Review – Portland, OR



Reo's Ribs - Portland

This could be subtitled “Uncle Dogg’s Eatery”, because apparently, this master chef is kin folk to the Snoop, and you might guess there is some connection by the 10′ portrait of Mr. Dogg when you walk in the front door.

Makes no never mind to me, I could never figure out why the guy is a celebrity, but I can say that about most “celebrities” these days.

I’m not a rib guy, but if you are a regular reader, you know that. You also know Mrs. BDB loves ribs, but she wasn’t along for the ride. There will probably be less and less about her in these posts, she’s going all organic vegan, maybe she’ll start her own blog!

I ended up at Reo’s because watching an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives the previous day, I had developed a craving for a pulled pork sandwich, watching head clown  Fieri gobble one down somewhere in the Southeast. I love pulled pork, and actually had developed a pretty-fair one made at home on a smoker, prior to leaving Louisiana for the glorious Northwest. They key to great BBQ is low and slow, and there were many nites in swamp land where I would tend the back yard smoker for 12 hours, next to the pool,  under the starry skies, accompanied only by the croaking bullfrogs.

Reo makes a fine mess o’ smoked pulled pork, and the sandwich comes in three different sizes, regular, medium, or large. The waitress explained menu questions in detail, including that the different sizes don’t mean a change in bun-size, but rather, quantity of meat, with the bun-filled for the regular, slightly overflowing for the medium, and gianormously overflowing for the large. We opted for mediums, and all sandwiches (beef, pork, chicken, sausage), come with one of a dozen choices of traditional Southern sides, either hot or cold. These run the gamut from collard greens, to gumbo, mac n cheese, fries, hush puppies, and so on.

One of my fellow diners went with the mac n cheese, the waitress spoke of it so highly. I opted for the fries, tho normally I would choose greens, we’ve cooked up a pile of greens at home from the garden this summer, and I know Dogg’s uncle couldn’t beat Mrs. BDB’s prep of that dish!

The food came quickly, and the servings were ample, as promised. The meat was overflowing the buns, and the smoke odor was thick and pleasant. Caramelized bits of sauce could be seen ringing the meat, but the sandwich was served ‘dry’, not bathed in sauce like some proprietors have a tendency to do.

The meat was tender and smokealicious. The bun bakery fresh and soft, but ample enough to keep the meat in its place. The fries were hot, crispy, salty, and also overflowing the plate.

Reo's Outdoor Smokers

Reo’s offers a full range of typical southern cuisine, with ribs as the highlight, brisket, chicken, and of course the sandwiches and sides. No beer or wine on site, that might be a drawback for some diners. I will definitely be back.

There is a kind of funny sidebar to the story. Reo’s moved to its present John’s landing location from a different area neighborhood, and a great many locals complained about the smoke generated from Reo’s outdoor smokers (photo left). They complained to the city, state, neighbors, media, any one who would listen. Portland is funny about stuff like that. Citizens and governments alike are good at making large issues out of nothing, instead of constructively working towards making the city a better place in areas that matter.

The end result was the agencies couldn’t find any law that had been violated, but in a neighborly fashion, Reo installed giant stacks on his cookers so the smoke would drift away from local homes and commerce. Funny, I’d PAY to have someone pump that delicious smoke in to my house!

Update, 11/2016. They relocated to the other side of the river sometime back: 4211-4225 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97213

View  Map


Reo's Pulled Pork Sandwich

Reo’s Ribs Pulled Pork Sandwich

Reo's Ribs

Reo’s Ribs

Reos Ribs Review

Reo's Ribs on Urbanspoon,, bu

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