Y’all come get some grub: the story of American food night

So a coupla friends, a boyfriend and I are heading over to the good old US of A in a handful of months time to get some snow action on. I take this as a 6 month training opportunity. In food, that is. Epic.

And what better way to spend a Saturday night than having a bunch of friends ’round, tucking in to great food, great drinks and fun times.

For our “taste of America” (yes, I realise this is about as cliche as it gets!) we went for a one-two beef / pork ribs combo, beef brisket sliders (on home made buttermilk rolls), hot wings with blue cheese sauce, a rocket pear blue cheese and balsamic salad (you need to eat your greens!) and the tried and true mac’n’cheese.

I have to admit – it did take a good whole day worth of food shopping and cooking. Though I have to say, with a glass of wine, it was strangely therapeutic. Thanks Sara! Here are some pictures of the feast:

1) Ribs: before and after

Marinated over night in a mixture of a dry rub (sugar, smoky paprika, sweet paprika, garlic, pepper, a little rosemary) and, wait for it, a bottle of coke. Seriously. It works. Roast low and slow and finish off under the grill, baste regularly with epic home made BBQ sauce.

Humungous beef ribs

Humungous beef ribs

Ready for demolishing - thanks Dave and Linda!

Ready for demolishing – thanks Dave and Linda!

2) Beef brisket sliders with home made buttermilk sliders and my ad hoc rendition of chunky bbq sauce

Brisket turns out to be one of the easiest meats to cook. Whack in an oven bag (if you don’t already use them, get on that) – again, low and slow, for about 4 hours. We deiced to mix our brisket in with a chunky BBQ sauce to serve with the sliders. Chop roughly, mix and serve.

The sliders are equally simple, with the lengthy prep time really only attributable to rising time. For these great rolls, you need:
– 5gm instant yeast
– 290gm baker’s flour (I use Laucke; it comes with a sachet of yeast)
– 190mL buttermilk, warmed slightly
– 1.5 tbsp caster sugar
– 1/4 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 cup canola oil
– egg wash / sesame seeds for baking

In a bowl, whack in everything but the egg wash and sesame seeds. Mix and then knead for a few minutes or until the dough is nice and elastic. In a bowl, in a warm and non-draughty area for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in size. Knock back. Form into little balls (say, 2 inches across) and lay on a tray lined with baking paper, about an inch or so apart. Let rise for another hour or until doubled. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle a few sesame seeds – more to convince everyone it’s an actual hamburger than anything else – and bake at 205 degrees C for about 15 mins (or til nice and golden!)

BBQ sauce is basically just a mix of an onion, a teaspoon of smoky paprika, 2 cloves of garlic and a chilli, fried in a few tablespoons of butter – then pureed in a blender til nice and smooth. Return to the saucepan, add 1 tbsp each of dark brown sugar and treacle, then a can of diced tomatoes and a few tablespoons of tomato puree. Along with this, add 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, a good few swigs of worcestershire and a little hot sauce. Turn the heat looowwwww and stir regularly (I learned this the hard way when the bottom burned)

Buttermilk sliders

Buttermilk sliders

Holy slider!

Holy slider!

3) Mac n cheese (complete with weirdly foggy camera lense)

Made by boiling macaroni to just before al dente. Make a roux by melting 6 tbsp unsalted butter until bubbling and adding to that 1/2 a cup of plain flour, stirring for a minute or so. Add 3 or so cups of milk gradually until the whole lot thickens. To that, add a good few cups of cheese – I used a mix of mostly cheddar and a bit of parmesan. Whack in a couple of pinches of nutmeg, pepper, salt and cayenne as well. I also added an optional extra few rashers of bacon fried with a couple of cloves of garlic. Mix the roux and the bacon with the macaroni and top with a little more grated cheese. Bake til browned at about 190 degrees C.

It's a macaromance

It’s a macaromance

4) Hot wiiiingsss and blue cheese sauce (just in case you thought your heart was going to get off lightly)

For the wings, make a mixture to suit your taste of melted butter, salt, garlic and hot sauce. We ended up adding some random ingredients including hot paprika, balsamic, honey…whatever. The point is, make it nice and hot with those core ingredients to suit your taste. Marinate for as long as you’ve got, and grill a good 5 inches from the grill til done!

The blue cheese sauce is made by combining 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1/4 cup mayo, 1/2 a lemon juiced, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp shallots, 1 clove of garlic and a good few tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese. Stir vigorously.

Fly me away

Fly me away

And there you have it. Our “American feast”. Great food, great company, great times.