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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Barbecue Worth Killen For

by Chuck P

Texas and BBQ are a classic duo like peanut butter and jelly or cereal and milk. No matter what city you're in, it won't be hard to find a tangy rack of ribs, smoked chicken or juicy brisket. Recently, the whole Bite & Booze team had the lucky opportunity to try some some legendary BBQ when we visited Killen’s BBQ in Pearland, Texas.




Established in 2013 by Ronnie Killen, a local pitmaster, Killen’s has made a name for itself as one the best BBQ spots in the Pearland/Houston area with lunch lines on the weekends stretching out as long as the lines you'd see at Austin’s famous Franklin Barbecue. On a recent trip to Franklin, I'd proclaimed their brisket to be the best ever (which it is), I found the rest of their choices to be just average; at Killen’s this is not the case.

All the meats at Killen's BBQ in Pearland, TX
All the meats at Killen's BBQ in Pearland, TX



After a few moments of trying to decide what to pick from the menu, Jay made the choice of just ordering everything: brisket, beef and pork ribs, and smoked turkey along with sides of mac n cheese, baked beans and what was definitely the best creamed corn I'd ever had.


The Pork Ribs
The Pork Ribs

Every piece of juicy meat on our tray was absolutely delicious. The pork ribs may go down as my favorite, but the brisket and turkey were seriously vying for second place. I don't remember ever having a full plate of such amazing BBQ selections and not really having a bad choice in the bunch. And I'm telling you that creamed corn…it changes a person.

We did our best to take down as much as we could and then made our way inside for some of their famous bread pudding.

Everyone knows I love burgers and beer, but the simple pleasure of bread pudding can tempt me like no other.

This was not just any regular ole bread pudding; this one was made with croissants. The airiness of the croissants was a nice change to the normal denseness of a classic bread pudding.

If you find yourself in the charming town of Pearland, Texas stop and visit Killen’s BBQ for a true Texas treat, order extra creamed corn and you can thank me later.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: St. Paddy's Irish Whiskey Battle - Jameson vs Tullamore DEW

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!  Or it could be St. Paddy's Day, but never Patty... never. Seriously, never.

Now, I'm not really going to #wakeywhiskey on a Friday morning (always #wakeywhiskey responsibly) before work, but here's a sneak preview of what tomorrow morning has in store for me. Tomorrow of course will be the 32nd annual Baton Rouge St. Patrick's Day parade, Wearin' of the Green, a great event for all of the city to enjoy.  In that honor, it's time for a good old-fashioned Irish whiskey showdown, Jameson vs. Tullamore DEW.

Jameson and Tullamore DEW tastings
Jameson and Tullamore DEW tastings


These are a couple of standard-bearers in the Irish Whiskey world, both triple distilled and bottled at 80 proof. Jameson has been in production since 1810 in a distillery that was established in Dublin 30 years earlier in 1780. Tullamore DEW originated in 1829, and after shifting production around a few other distilleries in the mid-to-late 1900s is now back in Tullamore, Ireland.

The first observance is that served neat the Jameson is a little darker than the Tulllamore DEW, which indicates to me that it's been aged slightly longer, but it's not a significant difference.  The Jameson, on first sip, is just so smooth, even smoother than I remember, with hints of honey and a floral sweetness. I'm really amazed as the finish as well, just as easy as the front end, which could make a dangerous Saturday morning if I'm not careful.  Overall, even better than I remember, and a worthy choice for any St. Patrick's Day... but... how about that Tullamore DEW?

The color of the Tullamore DEW is slightly lighter, and the aroma is a little more floral and less sweet than the Jameson, with a hint of minerals likely from the water used in the process.  The taste is more of the same, with a little more bite than the Jameson, but still less than most whiskeys out there, putting it on the smooth side of the spectrum. Now, mind you this is on my personal spectrum, so a novice whiskey drinker is probably going to get a good bite out of both of these Irish selections.

Overall, this is going to come down to personal preference... if you want velvety smooth, go for the Jameson, but if you like a little bite to your sip, opt for the Tullamore DEW.  Either way, as a St. Paddy's #wakeywhiskey both are sure to get you in the Irish spirit.

Sláinte!

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Spanish Sojourn

by Sarah Grimball, intern

Over the summer I had the pleasure to travel to Madrid and Barcelona for a study abroad program with LSU. We spent a week in Madrid and a week in Barcelona. Before taking this trip I was unfamiliar with the different types of Spanish delicacies, but this trip opened my eyes to a whole new world of culinary delights: paella, tapas, jamon iberco -- and who could forget the Sangria.

Trying Fideuà for my first bite in Spain.
Trying Fideuà for my first bite in Spain.


The first dish that I ate in Madrid was called Fideuà. My friend and I stumbled upon this place as we were exploring the streets of Barcelona. We couldn’t speak any Spanish, so we went with the first restaurant that had a picture on the menu.

I can’t speak to how authentic this first dish I enjoyed was, but I can say that it was delicious and a wonderful welcome into the great country of Spain. Fideuà is a type of paella that uses noodles instead of rice as the base ingredient and is served with mussels, fish and prawns. The flavors all blended together to create a beautiful, garlicky pasta that probably has the ability to change lives.

In a country where the wine is cheaper than the water, it’s not hard to find good sangria. The best sangria that I had in Spain was at this little restaurant that my friend and I stumbled upon randomly. They served each pitcher of sangria with some kind of small dish of food called a tapa. This is traditionally done because the idea in Spain is to drink to have a good time – not to get drunk. We had a tapa of olives, but these weren’t just plain old olives. These olives were flavored with smoked paprika and garlic. The salty, savory flavors of the olives combined with the sweet, bubbly burst of sangria is the stuff dreams are made of.

Sangria and marinated olives.
Sangria and marinated olives.


Another beautiful, uncommon occurrence is seeing ham legs in the windows of restaurants waiting to be shaved into Spain’s famous jamón ibérico. This delicious ham comes from the black Iberian pig, and up until 2007 it was illegal in the United States.

Jamón Ibérico
Jamón Ibérico


Leave it to the American to find a delicious burger in Barcelona! Though there were many delicious foods to choose from in Barcelona, sometimes you just have to have a burger...with sangria...on the beach--it’s Spain. This burger was served with thick cut fries and a sauce similar to a patatas bravas sauce (a robust tomato sauce). It was the best of both worlds.



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Finally, you can take the girl out of Louisiana, but you can’t take the Louisiana out of the girl. Even in Barcelona I sought out a delicious Strawberry Daiquiri and enjoyed it overlooking the sunset of the beach. It really doesn’t get much better than this.



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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recipe: Rösch Bakehaus Pretzel Bread Pudding with Rougaroux 13 Pennies Praline Sauce

by Chef Aimee Tortorich

One of the best desserts that you will find in the Deep South is bread pudding. In Louisiana, we take our bread pudding seriously, and rightly so. So simple to make, but celebrated by all, it is no mistake that this dessert canvases menus across the state.

We like sticking to the basics: bread, custard, and rum sauce. No crazy fillings, just bread pudding done right. For our version, we decided to use pretzel bread from our friend Jim Osborne at Rösch Bakehaus. After having a surplus of pretzel buns left over from Brats & Brews at Great Raft Brewing last fall, we decided to give it a shot. The finished product was stunning. A little salt, a bit of sweet and a lot of love made it a perfect bread pudding. Check out Rösch Bakehaus for pretzel bread that is sure to make a difference in your next bread pudding!
Rosch Bakehaus Pretzel Bread Pudding with Rougaroux 13 Pennies Pecan Praline Sauce
Rösch Bakehaus Pretzel Bread Pudding with Rougaroux 13 Pennies Pecan Praline Sauce

Pretzel Bread Pudding
Yields 30 servings

20 bratwurst or hamburger sized pretzel buns from Rösch Bakehaus
1 ½ quarts heavy cream
20 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
1 tablespoons of cinnamon

Praline Rum Sauce

2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup (2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup Rougaroux 13 Pennies Praline Rum from Donner Peltier Distillers
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups pecan pieces

Praline Pretzel Bread Pudding served at a holiday party
Praline Pretzel Bread Pudding served at a holiday party

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350F.

Crumble pretzel buns with hands into small pieces and set aside. Mix together egg yolks, whole eggs, and sugar until smooth. Add heavy cream, vanilla extract, and cinnamon to egg and sugar mixture. With your hands, mix custard with pretzel crumbled until it resembles oatmeal consistency. Bake uncovered until middle is set and top is golden brown, about 45 minutes.

For rum sauce, heat brown sugar and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add rum, cream, cinnamon and pecan pieces and simmer until thickened. Serve over bread pudding.



Praline Pretzel Bread Pudding served at a luncheon in New Orleans
Praline Pretzel Bread Pudding served at a luncheon in New Orleans

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Franklin Barbecue: The House That Brisket Built

by Chuck P

The city of Austin, Texas is known for many things. It’s eclectic music scene, the University of Texas, Austin City Limits, Matthew McConaughey, bats and SXSW name a few, but the one thing that Austin is definitely known for is BBQ.

You could probably stand on any corner in Austin, throw a rock and hit a BBQ shack or food truck. Out of the many local spots you could go to for some finger-lickin’ goodness, there’s one place that’s considered the Mecca for BBQ in all of Texas: Franklin Barbecue.

Our tray at Franklin Barbecue: Turkey, Sausage, Ribs and Brisket
Our tray at Franklin Barbecue: Turkey, Sausage, Ribs and Brisket


Aaron Franklin has created a cult following for his delicious meats and it all started out of a trailer in 2009. Franklin is probably the only place in the country that consistently has over a 2 hour wait for their food. Outside, in the elements, year-round, people get in line as early as 5am. As the line begins to spread out from the front door down the block and into neighborhoods you can see people setting up folding chairs and grabbing beers out of their tag-along ice chests.

People come from literally all around the world just to get a taste. When (not if) they run out of food,that’s it! There’s no dinner service so if you were one of the unlucky ones who stood in line all morning and braved the elements only to miss out, then it’s a return trip tomorrow to get back in line once again.

When Jay told the Bite & Booze team about our stops in Texas during our Gov’t Taco research trip, I was extremely excited to see Austin on the itinerary. I knew that we were going to be trying out tacos at all of our stops, but I made a vow to stand in line for some of that famous Franklin brisket.

When we arrived in Austin, Jay told us that Wednesday was our only day with nothing on the calendar. In that moment, the BBQ stars aligned. Although Jay had been to Franklin twice before, he agreed to come hang with me in line. We set our alarms that night to be there no later than 8:30am as I drifted off to sleep dreaming of the BBQ deliciousness that was to come.

After hitting snooze on my alarm about 4 times I woke up and realized it was now 9am! Jay mentioned that if the line was too long, he knew of some other great places we could go, but my heart was slowly breaking just thinking about missing the opportunity while we were in town. 

I had never felt so betrayed by a snooze button. 

To my suprise, as we made the turn off of East 11th St. onto Branch St. we saw there only about 30 people in line. The BBQ Gods do exist.

We decided to grab some coffee and made our way around the corner to get in line. We mingled with other customers there who were from out of town and who were also shocked by the short line. 

Pro Tip: We went on a Wednesday if you want to try your luck next time you’re in Austin 

After about 20 minutes one of the employes started making their way through the line taking orders from everyone. The minimum order is 5 pounds so we went with smoked turkey, ribs, sausage and of course, their world famous brisket.

Around 11am the doors opened and the line began to filter inside. Close to noon, we finally made our way through the doors and into Franklin. The aroma of smoked meats inside overwhelmed me. Tables began filling up with eager, hungry guests. I eyed each tray of food that passed making myself hungrier by the minute.

As we made our way closer to the counter I noticed the man himself, Aaron Franklin, was hanging out by the register just chatting with everyone and taking pictures with enamored guests.

Aaron Franklin, Jay and myself posing after a behind the scenes tour of Franklin Barbecue
Aaron Franklin, Jay and myself posing after a behind the scenes tour of Franklin Barbecue


That’s cool. Here’s a guy that could be at home, on a golf course or anywhere just letting the place run itself and not even worrying about showing up and yet there he was! To see him chilling in a t-shirt, shorts and Chuck Taylor’s just mingling with his clientele was very humbling.

After grabbing our order and some drinks we hit up the patio and got our grub on. I’m not gonna lie to you folks -- the turkey, ribs and sausage were nothing to write home about. They were straight up just ok BBQ. I enjoyed them, but I would not order those again if I went back. However, I would happily pay $100 for a whole brisket.

Brisket at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX
Brisket at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX


THIS IS THE BEST BRISKET I’VE EVER HAD! I don’t even know where to start... The perfect smoke ring, the juiciness of the meat, the incredible flavor of it all was too much to comprehend. It was like the best chocolate or the best steak or the best whatever is your favorite thing in the world times 100. I couldn’t get enough of it and was felt stupid for not ordering more. I ate until I was miserable.

After our meal we were able to go into the back of the restaurant and talk with Aaron Franklin. This guy was so down to earth and eager to talk with us and answer any questions we had for him. I also discovered that he was also a fellow drummer (!) and that we had similar taste in music. 

Killer brisket and he was a drummer?! Our wedding date is set and we’re registered on Amazon.

We said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel and I realized 2 things: I need more than a couple of days to fully experience Austin and when I do get back most of that time will be spent eating brisket at Franklin.