Monday, January 30, 2012

Xmas Dinner Results

Okay, these are the visual results of the annual Xmas dinner held at the Winslow manse out SW of Manchaca. In attendance, HRH Princess Di and HRM CBoy, Dame Jules, Gary "Uninuunuu" Noonan, Robert "Empty Leg" Abraham, royal daughters Havalah (with attached brood), and Sarah, Royal Advisers Nancy and Avelyn, ProSaxBro Jeffrey Barnes and HLW (His Lovely Wife) Gina, and Special Lady Friend Guest, Rhonda.

The menu focused around an 18 pound, USDA Prime, center-cut rib roast, that had been slathered with butter and olive oil, lotsa garlic, and a multitude of herbs. It rested overnight in that seasoning cloak and then came to room temp before jumping in the oven. was patiently basted repeatedly by Jules, wearing the fuzzy frog PJ's (all of those slug-a-beds were determined to stay in their PJ's all day long).

....this is how the PR looked after roasting, while it was undergoing the mandatory rest period.

....of course, there were other courses involved. We started with a pear, walnut, raisin, and garden spinach salad:

...gorgeous little brussels sprouts that had been steamed, and then tossed in the skillet with copious amounts of butter and garlic.

...snappy green beans and mushrooms all sauteed together with some garlic, butter, and olive oil.

...there were massive baked spuds with all the fixins:

...atop the slab o'rib was a sauce of my construct. My buddy Art and I took 20 pounds of veal shank bones, roasted them off, flambéd them in Cognac, cooked them with some mirepoix overnight, and came up with about a pint each of amazingly concentrated glace de viande. To that rich base was added some shallots, red wine, chicken stock, and a HUGE mess of re-hydrated porcini mushrooms. Here is the sauce while being mounted with some butter for that final sinful touch.

Jules had made Nancy's famous chocolate-black cherry cake, Havie had made a cheese cake (raspberry if memory serves), there were sinfully rich pineapple bars I think as well....sorry, no pics of the desserts, and the memory was a little fuzzy by that point.

Robert even got full..... did Jeffrey and Gina: did special lady friend Rhonda and the ever-irascible Nuunuu:

...and P Di and Sarah too:

...all in all, a real gut-buster of a repast, and a meal to remember.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Virgie's BBQ in HTX

Virgie’s BBQ
5535 Gessner Drive, btw Porto Rico Rd. and Bamboo Rd.
(713) 466-6525

Virgie Handsborough and her hubby Jessie opened Virgie's Place in 1965 as a neighborhood burger joint.From '75 to '98 it was Handsborough's grocery, a neighbrhood store. Cut to 2005 when Virgie's son Adrian reopened it as a barbecue spot. We had heard good things about Virgie's so felt compelled to stop in and check it out. We had the brisket, sausage, and the pork ribs three-meat sampler. I GOT to tell you, the ribs were some of the best ribs I have eaten: juicy and moist, porky, with a nice and spicy bark on the outside, a flavorful smoke ring, tender and succulent but with the perfect amount of body to avoid any hint of mushiness. The sausage (not made in-house) has a nice snappy casing, and a medium-coarse grind, with a smoky-spicy-beefy taste. Pretty good sausage. The brisket was very good: dry, almost crispy bark with a nice spicy bite, good smoke ring, tender and moist meat, overall great flavor. The sauce, not that we used any, was dark and sweetish, with just a hint of a sour balance. Thankfully, it had none of that artificial smoke added...HATE the fake smoke. All in all, Virgie's is worthy of many happy returns.

Adrian hisownself

The three meats

Rib closeup....mmmmmmmmmmm

Virgie's patron, possibly even Virgie herownself, she of the leopard pillbox hat.

Loves me some Virgie's pork ribs!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Year's Day Feast

On this past new year's day, at the expansive countryside manse of Chris Winslow and his lovely Princess Di, our traditional good luck brunch was intensively planned and executed. All of the dishes are designed to provide fortune and luck in the coming year, based on Southern tradition, which was based on European traditions. Good luck foods are ubiquitous worldwide (see my 2008 Austin Chronicle article on the same here:, and our thought has always been, "It can't hurt!...and what if it really works!".

We started with a big platter of massive jalapeño chiles that Di stuffed with a pork and monty jack cheese mixture, wrapped in bacon, and then grilled outside. Green chiles for money, pork and bacon for abundance, yellow cheese for gold.

On the main stage was black eyed peas, in this case, cooked in a crock pot, using a leftover ham bone, seasoned with onion, lots of garlic, and a touch of celery and carrot. Fantastic BEP's and the luckiest of Southern dishes.

Next came the collard greens, minutes from the Winslow garden, cooked with onion, garlic, bacon, chicken stock, Balsamic vinegar, and a touch of sugar and crushed red pepper.Nothing is better than that potlikker slathered all over a chunk of cornbread.Greens for money.

Speaking of cornbread, I made a couple of pans of my famous mile-high cornbread,amended with onion, garlic, corn, roasted poblano chiles, and some Monty jack on top, cooked in my cast iron pans that are used for nothing else. Cornbread for gold.

The main course was a host of grilled pork sausages that CBoy cooked outside on the grill, and there were assorted mustards and chutneys, and the like to dress them with. Pork for prosperity!

After that was a spice cake that Jules and Di made, oozing with frosting. Not specifically a good luck dish, but a perfect finish to the meal. We also had a sparkling wine taste-off, between Gruet Blanc de Noirs ($14), Segura Viudas Heredad ($20), and Anna de Cordíniu Brut ($12) and the Anna de Cordíniu Brut blew the other two out of the water, and cost the least. Gotta love those cavas from Penedés!

With that much good luck under my belt, hopefully this year will be a cakewalk!