I don't write much about home-cooked meals here on the blog, but I wanted to report back on the lunch we had on Monday. You may recall from last week that a group of us recently went to Fresh @ Elwood for the birthday of Jess, a passionate aficionado of all things Texan. For the reasons she articulated in her guest post, we were terribly disappointed by what we felt was a poor example of Texas-style BBQ.
So imagine our excitement when the lovely Kate from the blog Eating Melbourne sent us an email with the subject line "Bigger than Texas" and the opening "Hey y'all,
Texas BBQ potluck. My place. Monday 26th April. HIGH NOON.
If you ain't yeller, bring some fixins."
Yee haw! If you want good Texas BBQ in Melbourne, you've just gotta do it yourselves. We were all inspired to go the extra mile to make it special. We dressed for the occasion in boots, jeans, plaid shirts, big earrings, etc. Kate even tuned the stereo to an internet radio station coming to y'all direct from Texas.
On Saturday morning I drove waaaay out to greyest, grimmest Moorabbin with my travel companion Captain America to visit USA Foods in order to stock up on Tex-Mex provisions and candy bars and stars-n-stripes-bedecked serviettes. I was extra happy to get some more chipotle tabasco - I'm currently obsessed with the smokey taste of it.
I was assigned a pretty easy dish, the Texas caviar (please note that the name is ironic: it does not contain caviar). The recipe calls for char-grilled corn, so I opted for the cheat's method: microwave the corn for a minute or two, then scorch it using the miniature blowtorch I was given for my birthday last year (supposedly so that I can make crème brulée). Yes I know it's not the authentic method, but it's quick and easy and FUN!
Recipe for Texas Caviar (thanks Jess):
1 can tinned seasoned black beans (available only at USA Foods)
2-4 ears of corn, roasted then sliced
2-4 tomatoes, diced
1 large green capsicum, diced
1 avocado, preferably firm so it doesn't mush into everything else, diced
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
1 bunch coriander, chopped
1 chilli (not the Thai hot one... either a single jalapeño, seeds removed, or one of those mildly hot finger length chillies, also no seeds), finely diced
Throw everything into a bowl, chuck on a couple dashes chipotle tabasco, a smattering of oil to coat and a splash of fresh lime juice.
If you want to go into awesome overkill, you can also crunch some tortilla chips over the salad top.
And yes, I did go into awesome overkill by crunching some tortilla chips over the top just prior to serving. At USA Foods I'd picked up some white and blue corn tortilla chips: we served them with Kate's pico de gallo salsa and guacamole.
American beers are not normally my beers of choice... but it was a Texas BBQ. Don't mess with Texas.
Kate's partner J was in charge of the meats (brisket and pork ribs) and was very anxious to do them justice after the disappointment we'd all experienced last week at Fresh @ Elwood. He did a test run of the meats the night before, that's how much he cared. Adorably, he actually joined an online Texas BBQ forum ("Aussie needs a hand!"), and got fantastically detailed advice on how to prepare, smoke and cook the meat from a bunch of friendly Texans. Click on the link and have a read of the comments!
I asked J to divulge his secrets and he wrote back: "No big secrets. The idea was to use the 3-2-1 method – 3 hrs smoking, 2 covered in foil and 1 browning in very low heat. That WAS the idea but things went a bit haywire as I couldn’t keep the temp low enough for long enough. The rub was a South Western rub with lots of chilli and cayenne pepper. Oh, and it was smoked with Mesquite wood."
Bless your cotton socks, J. Both the brisket and the ribs were *awesome*.
Jess made the fiery BBQ sauce according to her secret recipe, 24 hours in advance so the flavour had time to develop. I WANT THE RECIPE, IT'S ADDICTIVE and it has a kick like an angry mule.
And then of course there were all the sides. Jess made biscuits, of the traditional baking powder buttermilk variety this time. They tasted a bit like scones, and were great for mopping up BBQ sauce.
Other sides included potato salad, SENSATIONAL mac n cheese made by M&M, slaw and the Texas caviar. Bravo, everybody!
Just as we were falling into a post-BBQ stupor akin to the one you get after Christmas dinner, Kate announced that we still had dessert. In keeping with the American theme, she'd made blueberry pie and Jess whipped up a quick and tasty peach cobbler. We served them à la mode.
I asked Kate for details of the blueberry pie: "I used the “pâte brisée” (sweet shortcrust) recipe from Bourke St Bakery, except I cheated and made the whole thing in the processor (skipped the kneading by hand), and skipped the multiple chilling times that BSB suggests. (They always overcomplicate their recipes... I suspect it is to make it all seem too hard so that you just go to the bakery and buy it instead.)
The filling is my grandmother’s recipe."
Grandmother's blueberry pie filling is a family secret, and with good reason. It's PERFECT. A huge thank you to Kate, J and all the other Texas potluck contributors for a smashing afternoon - I was unable to eat for 24 hours afterwards, but it was totally worth it.