Saturday, May 24, 2014

Red, White, & Buffalo

“I don't have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.” 
– President Ronald Reagan

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a three day weekend and forget why Monday is a federal holiday. It's our chance to slow down and take one day to honor our fallen veterans, the true American heroes.  We all find our own ways to honor these heroes; I'll be starting the day off at Bucato - Chef Evan Funke is making his famous burger (the one he served only on Mondays when he was running the kitchen at Rustic Canyon) from noon-8pm and 20% of all proceeds go directly to the Wounded Warrior Project. Great food for an even greater cause.

At home, we will hang an American flag high and remember the men and women that died fighting for our country. We will bow our heads before dinner to give thanks for their sacrifice and and then we will toast the brave and true one last time before digging into our BBQ dinner.

My husband is a big fan of buffalo sauce which is basically a blend of vinegar based hot sauce  and good ol' butter. Traditionally we use it on chicken wings but it's time to look outside the buffalo box. Here are two delicious ways to incorporate buffalo sauce into two summer classics.

First, a spin on an All-American burger. Swap ground beef for lean ground chicken and then collect the usual suspects, good buns (I used pretzel), beefsteak tomato, lettuce (or celery leaves), red onion, and blue cheese. Place your ground chicken meat in a bowl and season with your favorite burger spices - salt and pepper, a dash of worcestershire, dijon, etc. Form patties and chill until ready to grill. Take your red onion, dice it, and place in a saucepan with a dash of butter or oil and slowly caramelize on low heat - this will take 45 minutes or so if you want to do it properly. When the onion is caramelized, crumble the blue cheese (use your favorite - Maytag, Rogue Creamery, or Point Reyes are all great domestic options) into the pan and keep the heat low, letting the blue cheese melt into the onions until you have a sort of "sauce".  During the last couple of minutes that the chicken burgers are cooking, brush them on both sides with buffalo sauce. When you are building the finish burgers, top with melty blue cheese and onion sauce, sliced tomato, and celery leaves (or lettuce of choice).

Next, a super fun take on baby back ribs. The spin is that you are going to take your favorite BBQ sauce and mix it with equal parts buffalo sauce (trust me on this one) and that is what you will brush your ribs with when you are finishing them on the grill. Here are my tips for cooking baby back ribs. When you get the ribs home, flip them over and use a paper towel to help you pull the thin layer of silver skin off of the back of the bones. Then season them well with your favorite rub or at the very least - just some good kosher salt and pepper. Grab a navel orange and an onion and slice into wheels. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil and then place wheels of oranges and onions on the foil. Lay seasoned rib racks over them and then cover entire thing with another piece of foil. Roast in oven for 3-4 hours until the ribs are literally falling off the bone. Chill them down completely before trying to cut or grill them as they will fall apart on you otherwise. Finish on the grill and brush with Buffalo BBQ sauce.

Wishing you all a safe Memorial Day weekend!

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