Wednesday, 17 October 2007

RECIPE: Sweet & Spicy Ribs V1.0

I refuse to do it. I refuse to let the summer die. Ok maybe not summer, but the ability to wear shorts without scorn, to not do serious work, and most importantly, to BBQ. Since the last time I wrote about BBQ, I was in a rez room in a building in downtown Toronto. Since then I have been travelling around and have been enjoying real BBQ's. Using the BBQ every chance I've had, I decided to make a great alternative to a chicken wing, the rib.

I did a dry rub first, thinking that was going to be my end result. Many rib cooks debate whether a rib should be a dry rub or a sauced pork product. I love sauce, so I did both for extra flavour.
WING KING's Sweet & Spicy Ribs version 1.0

STEP 1 - DRY RUB RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 rack of ribs
  • kosher salt
  • garlic powder
  • hamburger seasoning
  • chili flakes
  • sweet smoked paprika
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat BBQ to Low-Low/Medium, only 1 side of grill
  2. Combine last 7 ingredients in a bowl
  3. Rub last 7 ingredients all over the first ingredient until well coated
  4. Place rubbed ribs on side of grill not turned on - your cooking indirectly
  5. BBQ them on the low heat for approx 45 minutes to an hour, turning part way
The ingredients - from right to left:
kosher salt, garlic powder, hamburger seasoning, chili flakes,
sweet smoked paprika, Cajun seasoning, Parmesan cheese



The ribs: found in the freezer - the Manager's Special apparently

The ribs rubbed


The rubbed ribs on the grill

Now that the ribs are on their way to being all BBQ, smokey and good, its time to work on the sauce.

STEP 2 - Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • garlic powder
  • honey
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Frank's Red Hot sauce
  • generic BBQ sauce
  • chili flakes


INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. heat honey (mine was solid, so I needed to liquify it)
  2. combine all ingredients
  3. when ribs are close to being done, move to direct heat to crispen up
  4. baste the ribs in the sauce just before ribs are done



Sauce ingredients: garlic powder, honey
Worcestershire sauce, Frank's Red Hot sauce,
generic BBQ sauce, chili flakes


The sauce mixed together - turned out so much better than I thought



The ribs cooking on indirect heat. The bones have blackened from
the little bit of blood and from the bones being laid down on a heated side by accident


Basting the ribs

The ribs cooked to near perfection

Normally, I would have cooked the ribs in a roasting pan with a bit of liquid to 'boil' the fat out and loosen the bones, but laziness kicked in and it worked out well without doing that, as long as I cooked it on indirect heat. If I was to do it with the 'roasted' ribs first, then I would have put them on the direct heat to finish the cooking. Also, if you want to be all fancy, put some wood chips inside and smoke the ribs for that real outdoor flavour.

My meal came complete with a blue cheese/ranch salad, stuffing (I love Stove Top!) and a glass with some grenadine with 7-Up poured over. The ribs turned out really good. Not quite fall off the bone, but they certainly were not tough and chewy. The sauce was great and just made the ribs. I miss that meal already!



Monday, 15 October 2007

Tillson Pizza - Tillsonburg

Today, there is a hefty list of pizza chains to choose from to get your easy and late night eating needs. Even in a small town, Pizza Hut, Pizza Pizza, Little Caesars and New Orleans try to dominate the delivery needs. But to move past cardboard cut outs, you have to look to the local joints.




About a month ago I had my first real introduction to Tillson Pizza (named after the street its on, which is named after the town, which in turn is named on the family that founded 'The Burg") and one word came to mind, deliciously greasy. They way pizza should be. But like many pizza places, wings are now a mainstay on the menu.


Most chains offer tiny, tiny wings. And while these places can also be reasonable, most have terrible wings. So I decided to order the #1 combo with pizza, wings, garlic bread and pop, and for the hell of it, a small order of spring rolls.

The SCORE

STYLE: pizza joint, battered then deep fried
SAUCES: mild/medium/hot/honey garlic
SIZE: 1.5 /2
HEAT: 5/10
CRISPINESS: 1 /3
WETNAP FACTOR: 4 /5
PRICE: $5.99 for 1lb, $7.99 for 16 wings, $10.99 for 2lb, $13.99 for 30
SIDES: 0/7
WETNAP/NAPKINS: 0 /8
WING NIGHT: none - its a pizza joint
OTHER/SPECIAL: great spring rolls with the pizza & wings!


When I read that 15 wings came in an order, I thought for sure I was getting pigeon wings. Boy, was I wrong. These large, bordering on jumbo wings were a wonderful surprise. Not only are they big and juicy, but they are breaded, which gave for a bulkier wing.



One downside to this, was adding the sauce to these breaded wings made them a bit soggy after a while. The flavour was a nice spicy with a hint of sweet. Certainly not hot, and it won't offend any one's taste buds.



I refused to write a score for these wings - my scoring method gave Tillson Pizza an 11 out of 35, and these were NOT by any means the worst wings I've eaten since implementing the scoring. Because they are a pizza place, there are some sections where there just no points to be had. These were an excellent pizza place wing and better than some 'wing joints'. So the next time your thinking about getting pizza, look past your chain options and look to the local - it just might surprise you. Oh, and the spring rolls were an excellent addition to the pizza and wing combo - who would have thunk it?

Tillson Pizza
102 Tillson Ave, Tillsonburg

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

RECIPE: Tyler Florences' Crisp Chicken Wings with Thai Chili-Lime Butter

Watching the Food Network with the 'Family Parental Units' at dinner, Tyler's Ultimate came on. Tyler Florence's latest show featured his "ultimate tailgate" food. Chili cheese dogs, potato salad and wings. All looked pretty good, but a few things were noticed. First, Tyler's wings were huge. Now they were not cut into drummette, wing and tip, but even so they were larger than the average wing, average jumbo wing in fact. Secondly, he dumped the wings into a bowl, splashed on oil/seasonings, then into a pan. If you look at instruction # 2, it is to rinse the wings! Then he put the sauce in the same bowl without washing it out. Other than that, he made a tasty looking wing.



Crisp Chicken Wings with Chili-Lime Butter


  • 4 pounds chicken wings
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 big, fat rounded tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 lime, halved
  • Chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

Instructions


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the wings under cool water and pat dry.
  3. Put them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss to coat with the seasoning.
  4. Spread the wings out on a baking sheet and roast about 25 minutes until the skin gets crisp and brown, and the meat is tender.
  5. While you wait, throw the butter, red curry paste honey and soy sauce into a blender. Season with salt and puree. Scrape into a big bowl.
  6. When the wings come out of the oven put add to the bowl with the curry butter.
  7. Squeeze the juice of the lime over the wings. Give it a toss and you're done.
  8. Garnish with cilantro. [note from Wing King, do NOT add cilantro. Not even as garnish. This is a vile weed and it will ruin the flavour of anything it comes in touch with]

I wish I could have wings more than 3 times a week so I could try out so many different recipes. I always go back to Buffalo style because it is always so good. Maybe this will be the recipe that breaks my streak.




OA 2007- The Honest Lawyer

RIP - The Honest Lawyer is now Closed


Well, while in Ottawa, my Birthday came up. LJ wanted to take me out for dinner where ever I wanted. Well, she and I both were pretty sure wings were going to be involved. I searched the Internet, newspapers and other information to find the one thing I wanted: all-you-can-eat wings. Having discovered that Ottawa, like Windsor, has an Honest Lawyer which has AYCE made it the definite choice.

Located in the East end of the Byward Market area, we popped into this relatively empty pub. They were so empty, they had a guy dressed up like a chicken canvass the market with balloons to attract business on wing night. Like the Windsor location, this one was full of sports games like electronic basketball. What this place didn't have was low tables. All of the chairs were high, which I do not really find comfortable. We sat in the middle of a strange bench-like seating area.


Unfortunately, the Honest Lawyer no longer does AYCE wings. What they have now is 24 wings for $10. That's still a good deal, but its just not the same thrill. We asked how we could choose our wing sauces to sample. She told us they do them in batches of 6, so if you want 6 at a time, 12, or all 24 at once you could.

Now I know I have already done a wing review on the Windsor location, but we took the opportunity to try some new flavours and the prices are different now and it wasn't done under the New Score.


The NEW SCORE

STYLE: breaded, fried
SAUCES: Caesar/dill/Texas gold/1st,2nd & 3rd Degree/Frank's Red Hot
honey garlic/Cajun/Caribbean Jerk/Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ/
Parmesan/ pineapple curry/salt & vinegar/plain
SIZE: large 1/2
HEAT: 3rd degree 6/10
CRISPINESS: 3 /3
WETNAP FACTOR: 3-4/5
PRICE: $7.90 for 6, $13.82 for 12,
$19.29 for 24 (split 2 flavours), $33.11 for 36 (2 flavours)
SIDES: veggies and ranch/dill dip on some orders 2 /7
WETNAP/NAPKINS: 8/8
WING NIGHT: Monday nights 24 wings for $10 with drink purchase ****
OTHER/SPECIAL: games I guess.
TOTAL: 24/35


Let break these down by sauces:

LJ ORDER #1

Cajun: crispy, Cajun seasoned wings. A few wings were tasty, but a whole order would dry the mouth right out. Hint of seasoned spice, but nothing a real Cajun would guar-on-tee.

Caesar: wet and gross. These were just breaded wings tossed in Caesar salad dressing. Only the dressing didn't take. The flavour was pretty gross too.





WK Order #1

3rd Degree: Good old 3rd degree. Wasn't really that hot, but damn tasty. These were the way to go.

Dill: I thought this was very exciting. Then, I was just as disappointed as the time I tried to make dill wings. Like the Caesar wings, they were just breaded wings tossed in dill dip. It was gross because they got soggy and I forced myself to eat them fast, just to get through them.



WK Order #2

3rd Degree: I decided to just get 2 more orders of the good stuff. The experimenting was just not working out.



LJ's Order #2
1st Degree: this was like ketchup and hot sauce mixed, or something very close. Did not taste like 3rd Degree sauce at all. LJ barely ate one.
Salt and Vinegar: Literally just vinegar poured over top and salt sprinkled on. But here's the thing, don't let it have any real flavour, like it almost evaporated. Oh, and make it taste like fish the next day when you have the leftovers. Gross.

LJ has pretty common track record of getting hosed with dinners. Its nearly guaranteed that if you order something good, her meal tastes like crap. Unfortunately, her wings were no different. She did not enjoy her wings at all and had some extremely negative thoughts she wanted in this review.

I expected wings like Caesar, Dill and Salt and Vinegar to be dry seasonings, not goupy messes. The first two would have been somewhat better if the dips were just on the side. As for on the side, LJ didn't get veggies and dip, and I did. My 3rd degree was good and in the future, that is all I would try. It may not have been AYCE, but I definitely filled up on over 20 wings, most eating LJ's terribly tragic experiments.



FINAL SCORE: So, I got a fill of wings, and LJ at least got something to eat from our order of fries and garlic bread (2-4-1 appetizers Mon-Fri 4pm-7pm). After a walk though the market and a trip home where a homemade creamcicle cake awaited, I reveled in having such a good birthday thanks to LJ. Too bad the Honest Lawyer couldn't have been brought to trial for some terrible wings. But when they do them right, they are good. 23/35 for the good ones, and pretty low for the terrible ones




The Honest Lawyer
141 George St, Ottawa
honestlawyer.com




***** !!!! UPDATE!!!! *****
We have since been back to the Honest Lawyer 3 times where:
A) they have AYCE eat wing buffet, with an actual buffet where a server gives you 6 wings at a time. There wasn't the whole wing flavour menu available, but it was a fun option
B) they didn't have the buffet but our waitress brought each order for the AYCE. All flavours available, but service was really slow. Also, we had a few wings left and they would not let us take them home, even after I offered to pay for them.
C) walked in, made contact with a waitress upon entering. Sat down and waited for over 10 mins without menus or wait staff attending us. We decide to leave and as we are getting up, a waiter starts to come over, but then decides to not try and intercept us. Also, did not see the buffet set up so it must have been delivered by staff. We were pissed off - it takes a lot for me to leave a restaurant.

OA 2007- Highlander Pub

A big day of adventuring around Ottawa took me to a tour of Parliament, the Bytown Musuem, the old Normal School, and some historic plaques. It also brought me into the Byward Market where, after struggling to find a decent wing place that wasn't a) overcrowded b) look like it cost a fortune c) would have air conditioning in this summer like weather, I walked passed the patio extravaganza that was Highlander Pub.



I have to admit, I was suckered in. I stopped beside a couple of guys who were looking at the posted menu, when two girls in kilts and knee-high socks called over to us and beckoned me in. For shame, I know. I asked to be seated inside, where there was little a/c to my surprise. But it was pretty empty and I could do a wing review in relative privacy.






The NEW SCORE

STYLE: deep fried
SAUCES: bbq/honey garlic/Jerk hot/hot/suicide (Frank's & chipotle pepper)
SIZE: medium 0.5/2
HEAT: suicide = 5 /10
CRISPINESS: 2 /3
WETNAP FACTOR: 4/5
PRICE: $8.95 for 1lb (approx 9 wings)
SIDES: I'm going to say no /7
WETNAP/NAPKINS: 8 /8
WING NIGHT: Sunday 5pm, 1lb $6.95, and happy hours 4-6/9-12
OTHER/SPECIAL: haggis, no free refill!, patio
TOTAL: 19.5 /35






What can I say about these wings? Well first, I really need to tweak the score scale - these wings were not that great. The chicken was not really crisp. It was a decent medium size and they looked good on the plate. But the sauce was a little disappointing.


Hot had a strong tomato flavour, and no heat at all. It was a thick sauce, and it was ok but I would never eat 'all-you-can-eat' if I was given the choice. I wasn't. The Suicide is described right on the menu as Frank's Red Hot mixed with pureed chipotle. I tasted the wing, and waited for the heat. And waited, and waited. When I continually ate the wings the heat picked up, but it really was not that hot. But I gave up on the tomato hot and ate all my wings 'suicide'.






FINAL SCORE: The pub had honourable mentions for wings here, but I don't think they are that highly rated at all. I saw some wonderful looking other dishes, and I have to say that this is one of the few 'Scottish' pubs that actually serves Haggis. 19.5/35


The Highlander Pub
115 Rideau St, Ottawa


OA 2007: James Street Pub & Local Heroes

(UPDATE 2009: Return to the James Street Pub)

Two mentions out there for 2 places that didn't live up to standards.

JAMES STREET PUB



This is not an official review exactly, because I didn't take photos. Normally, I would just move on and wait till I went back to do an 'official' review, but I was so turned off by this place that I have to just get it out there.



First, all the Internet literature I found on this place said it was called the "James Street Feed Company". I was confused when I reached the address and found the "James Street Pub". Feed Company sounded appealing to me, suggesting hearty portions and family friendly environment. Ha ha was I wrong. I arrived on what I had read was 'wing night', only to not get wings at any discount. The wings were TINY, some of the smallest I have ever seen. The flavour, poor hot sauce at best.



What topped this off was the service. Not only did I wait for 10 minutes for someone to even come to my seat, the waitress came and just looked at me. Confused whether perhaps English was not her first language (as I encountered many Francaphones in the city). Nope. So I asked for a coke and a menu. "Yes, sir" she said. I waited 5 minutes - she brought me a menu and no drink "Here you go, sir". I looked at the drink list on the menu; Pepsi. [I'm sure I've ranted about this before, but a message to servers out there: if someone asks for a Coke, and you don't serve Coke, always ask "is Pepsi (or other cola beverage) ok?" Coke and Pepsi are not the same thing. Although I will drink Pepsi, many others do not] After another 5 minutes, she brought me my Pepsi. "Here is your drink, sir." Then she was off again - not taking my order.

I feigned interest in the menu for something to do. She came back. "Can I take your order, sir?" So I order the wings, hot with a side of suicide, and without even giving me the option of a side dish, she was off. I waited more than half an hour for the wings to come out. They did, "here you go, sir" they were terrible and she was gone. Oh and no side suicide, and no drink refill. When she finally came back, "Just the bill, sir?" "Yes please" "Thank you, sir". Now you may be away of what is seemingly a respectful sir after everything she said to me. But this was not some young lady being polite, it was with a pungent air of rudeness. Especially when she went to the one other table occupied near me and spoke to them with such friendliness and joviality that one would have thought them to be friends.


So, terrible service, expensive/tiny wings, I would NOT recommend this place to anyone when there are much nicer pubs and tastier wings to be had.



The James Street Pub
390 Bank Street
Ottawa



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

LOCAL HEROES


LJ and I were dying to get back to Local Heroes after having been here about a year ago. Accidentally went to the exact same one after wanting to change locations to see if there was any difference. They even sat us in the exact same booth we had the first time.


This time, I ordered half jumbo and half traditional. The waitress suggested just going with the jumbo, being the same price and all, but I said I wanted to try both. I figured I would get more wings because they were smaller. Nope, they were just small, and the same number as the jumbo. I should have gone with the jumbo. AND they removed the tips on the jumbo, even though I asked for them not to. And although it was wing night with 25% off, the wings had gone up $2 in a year. Our waitress was just like the one we had last time, fake friendly and not very service oriented. LJ's nachos' were not very good this time - skimping on cheese and guacamole.

So, Local Heroes was not as good as the first time, but still a decent wing place.





Local Heroes Bar and Grill
1400 Clyde Street Napean [Ottawa] (and other locations)