Sunday, May 1, 2011

Let's Go All The Way

Nah I'm not talking about this wretched song from the '80s....

Do you remember the very first time you ever thought to yourself, "Wow, that was the best thing I've ever eaten!"?

For me, the first two times both involved being at my grandparents farm near Elizabethtown, NC.  Once was the first time I ever had bbq.  The second time was when I had my first "all the way" burger from Melvin's (aka The Pool Hall).  The wonderfully greasy burger with it's slaw and chili dripping down my 7 year old hands stamped a memory in my head that has lasted a lifetime.

While "all the way" implies putting everything and the kitchen sink on it, in the Carolinas, it means only four items:  chili, slaw, onions, and yellow mustard.

Yesterday I spent the day recovering the yard and deck from the storm.  The siding of our house is totaled, we have gutters damaged, and our roof has to be replaced.  But I'm happy to have those problems because it means that I still have a house standing.  
Made with pieces of broken siding and glass in my yard.

It's weird seeing my grilling area and Big Green Eggs without a canopy but I was glad to finally be able to cook outdoors again last night.  I quickly decided to cook "all the way" burgers and dogs.  

FWOOMP - SPLAT.  That's the noise made by cleaning wet debris and muck out of a gutter and letting it fall 12 feet to the ground.  FWOOMP - SPLAT is also the sound that canned chili makes as it escapes the vacuum of the can after months of captivity and falls into the pot.  Appetizing thought, right?  That is why I don't use canned chili.

To make good "all the way" burgers, you need to make a great chili. In the past I have used this  A & W clone but I wanted to try a new one this time so I consulted one of my favorite barbecue resources -  Meathead produces an excellent website, it's truly a "resource" with it's helpful  information packed articles.  It's what NibbleMeThis wants to be when it grows up.  If you don't already use, go check it out.

After an email exchange with Meathead, I ended up picking his All-Purpose Chili Sauce recipe.  I made it as written and let it simmer for 2 hours while I finished up on the roof.  

I fired up my Big Green Egg for the first time since Thursday and grilled a few Lay's beef hot dogs.

I dressed them up "all the way" but something didn't seem right....

I know what it is!  It was too neat, you never get an "all the way" dog like this.  They wrap them up, smashing everything together in the paper.

Ahhhh perfect!  
If you don't get chili and slaw on you, you didn't use enough!

Then I grilled burgers.  Normally, I make 1/3rd pound burgers that leave me stuffed.  But Melvin's Burgers are smaller guys, that's why I can always eat two.  So I carefully weighed out the burgers in 4 ounce patties and they turned out to be the right size.  I used 1.5 lbs of 80/20 ground chuck, 1 egg, salt & pepper, and 1 piece of toast ground up.  I use toast to make bread crumbs instead of canned ones because it's more moist and I think it gives a better burger texture.  

The dogs and burgers were exceptionally good.  Everyone loved the chili sauce so I think it will be my new favorite.  The cinnamon was a unique addition and it brings a fantastic note to the chili, I wouldn't have thought of adding it to chili. 

It feels good to be grilling again!