Good Eats.

I do not have expensive tastes when it comes to food.  I have eaten in the finest of restaurants, and I’ve eaten food prepped by the finest chefs.  And quite often I find that I would rather be eating something else… something simpler, and something more ordinary.  My Death Row Meal – Will be one of these:

Hot Dogs.  Good old fashioned dirty water dogs with steamed buns.  Top that with mustard and kraut and I could eat that all day.  Mustard and ketchup and chili… give me three and I can call that a meal.  Love hot dogs.  The simplicity of them, the versatility, all delicious.  If you don’t like a good hot dog – there is something wrong with you.  Best Dog?  Anywhere, but if I’m buying for me – I’ll buy Smithfield’s cheese filled dogs and some good spicy brown mustard.  (Classic yellow French’s if I’m doing a chili dog)

Burgers.  The Bacon Double Cheeseburger is the pinnacle of the Burger, but there are so many variations you could eat burgers for the rest of your life and never have the same one twice.   It’s such a broad spectrum that Burgers are it’s own food group.  The best Burgers?  The Buffalo Burger at the Bohemien Brewery in Salt Lake City.  Can’t get that? Five Guys.

Stew.  Beef Stew, Chicken Stew… whatever stew you have, I’ll have some.  I’m not talking Soup.  Soups are good – but Stew is a whole new level and they can be absolutely exquisite when done right.  The best stew?  My wife’s.

Tacos.  Now, the taco has some controversy to it.  Flour or Corn on the Tortillas.  Well, there is no controversy – it’s Corn.  And if you think flour – you are wrong and should fix your nasty self.  Take a flour tortilla and FRY IT.  Don’t microwave it.  Fry it.  Throw some meat on it, some diced onions, cilantro, some salsa or hot sauce… maybe some cheese and tomato, that’s fine.  But keep it simple.  So delightful.   Especially if you get them from some place that is not Taco Bell.  Now, those T-Bell Crunchy Tacos… That’s fine if you are in the mood for the crunch, but they do not hold a candle to the pure joy of a hot corn tortilla filled with spicy meat. I could eat tacos every day.  The best Tacos?  My wife’s.

Fish and Chips.  English Style “Fish and Chips”.  Beer battered, doused with Malt Vinegar. Maybe a little black pepper and salt on the chips.  Any time there is Sea Food or Fish on the Menu – I look for the Fish and Chips.  I want thick fillets, with a fried crust that’s golden brown.  And I don’t want anything else.  The best I had – was at a little Roach Coach in Richmond, VA.

Enchiladas.  If you like flour tortilla enchiladas, we can’t be friends anymore.  Corn, again.  And Fried.  Never green sauce unless it’s chicken.  Do not – DO NOT put green sauce on beef enchiladas.  Ever. Red.  Red sauce on everything – even chicken sometimes.  Lots of cheese.  Oh man… That’s Sunday Dinner stuff.  But the problem is that they take too long to prepare and there are never enough left overs.  If you make any – make 4 pans worth.  At the least.  2 pans – you are way short.  Only 1 pan – Why do you hate your family?  You only made enough for me.  The best Enchilada’s  Mine, when I make them.

Pizza.  There is Pizza, and then there is “New York Style”.  New York Style is fine… But I prefer a little bit thicker crust – like a “Hand Tossed” Papa John’s crust.  I don’t like the thick bready crusts like Pizza Hut – those oil sponges.  And I like toppings.  New York Style is too dang thin.  I needs a lot of toppings.  I like lots of flavors that work together – vegetables and meats have to harmonize.  A Spinach Pizza can be wonderful.  The most important element in a Pizza, after the foundational crust – is the sauce.  You can have everything else right, but if the sauce is lame – you have lame pizza.  And you have to have enough sauce.  I hate the pizzas that have almost no sauce on them.  They are missing out.  And I also hate the pizzas that lay down the cheese and then the toppings.  If you are going to do that – lay down some more cheese to hold the toppings on!  I don’t like just a pepperoni pizza.  That’s tired.  I need more to it… and less grease, please.  Default favorite? Papa John’s.  And I get the pepper.

The Breakfast Burrito.  The Holy of Holies of Breakfast foods and one I could eat at every meal.  I want the Burrito to be fat and heavy.  The filling – no RICE, damn it.  I hate burritos that have more rice than everything else.  That’s cheap.  That’s a dodge.  That’s a half-assed attempt at a Burrito.  The Breakfast Burrito should be filled with eggs.  Going in there with the eggs, some hash browns, some sausage, and some cheese.  Maybe some jalapenos. Maybe some tomatoes.  The tortilla here can be flour.  But it needs to be thin and chewy, not thick and bready.  It’s got to be strong enough to contain the filling.  I don’t want it breaking open mid bite.  I also don’t want to be chewing a mouthful of tortilla.  So the size of the tortilla verses the filling must be in balance.  I’ve studied the art of the Breakfast Burrito for decades.  And I’ve had it all across the country.  You know where the best one I’ve had was?
Just off I-95 at a Sheetz.  I was in Breakfast Burrito Nirvana.  I ordered 3 for the road and the only regret I have on that decision was that I only ordered 3.

Chili.  Like Burgers – this could be it’s own topic.  A good Chili is a work of art.  You can argue Beans or No Beans… But if you don’t have beans in your chili – you have Hot Dog Sauce.  Other than that, there are so many ways to make a chili, and none of them wrong.  All good. Unless you screw it up.  First off, it needs to be thick.  It needs structure.  It needs to be able to hold a spoon straight up.  Anything less and you have soup and should be beaten.  Thicken it up and live.  A good chili can be hot, as hot as you like.  But don’t make it sweet or tangy.  It needs to be spicy.  At the very least it should warm your mouth.  At the most – maybe causing spontaneous human combustion is too much.  My last chili – I made women, children, and shaved men cry.  It was heroic chili.  It was chili for bearded men only.  It was the best chili I had ever made.  The best chili I had ever had someplace else?  I had a bowl of chili at the Pelican Lake Cafe 15 miles out of Vernal Utah.  That was some fine chili.

26 thoughts on “Good Eats.”

  1. Dangit. Now I’m hungry. I’d like a breakfast burrito (no tomatoes…blech IMO) and a bacon double-cheeseburger please.

    Fortunately, I’m getting ready to have pancakes and bacon for supper.

    I wonder if I can talk the wife into BDCB’s…

  2. 1. The chili dog with chopped onion and cheese. One of Gods gifts to mankind.
    2. Turkey chili, my recipe, you can’t tell is not beef and it is so healthy it is jaw dropping. I have won two contests with this stuff. (If it don’t have red beans its soup)
    3. Pizza. Now here I am at a loss. Most of the pizza places seem to have given up on it they all taste the same to me. Godfather’s used to a world class pizza but have gone down hill in the last few years to become no better than and worse in some case of the national joints…

  3. Ahh . . . yes. The breakfast burrito. Outside of the full blown southern style breakfast and the English “bomber breakfast” it is possibly the best thing ever served before noon. My local mom and pop Mexican food place ( The Burrito and Co. – breakfast is served anytime – all day ) makes one that is to die for. Scrambled eggs, homemade beef machaca, onions, tomatoes and green chiles. It weighs a pound and a half. I order mine with fresh jalapeno added for a little extra zing and get some fresh green tomatillo salsa on the side. Nirvana on a plate.

    1. Dangit.

      I’m going to have to stop coming to this site.

      *looks dubiously at last hole in belt…

  4. My own favorite variation on the hot dog is to bake an andouille sausage in a 350 degree oven until it’s swollen but not bursting, then bake the hot dog rolls in the same oven until they’re toasty and hot. I like ’em plain, but you can put whatever toppings you want on them. Far superior to the standard hot dog.

    I’m happiest with the hamburgers I grill myself. I’ve tried Five Guys and franly don’t see the appeal. I find Fuddrucker’s hamburgers to be better than Five Guys, but you have tell the Fuddrucker’s people to cook them well done or they come out undercooked.

  5. You and i have the same menu Mr. Ogre. Save for the Frenches mustard i am a Plochman’s guy, all the way.

    I am a sucker for a good old fashioned Chicago Dog, Dill pickle spear, sweet relish, Tomato wedges (no ketchup!), celery salt/seeds, HOT sport peppers, Poppy seed bun. mouth is watering.

    I would have to add Hot Itialan beef sandwich to the list. Chewy italian roll overflowing with thin sliced beef and that HOT Giardiniera pepper mix that the oil runs down off your elbows. i could live off them.

    When i lived out in UT, i got kind of hooked on those darn “Big Ben” burgers in Riverdale. Simple, but they were darn good.

      1. It has been a while since i have been out there, moved back to the midwest in ’90. But, I don’t remember having a problem finding it, I did a lot of my shopping on The Hill though.

  6. A pretty strong list..but i would add ribs in there, not the generic, bland possibly boiled ribs from Tony Roma’s or any other chain establishment. I mean from a roadside rib joint! Gotta smell the woodsmoke in the dining room and there had better be a smoke ring in the meat or I WILL send them back. Usually I just just fire up my smoker for a spell, nurse a couple microbrews….my ribs are the best after all…(ducking in case I kicked over a hornets nest)

  7. Sorry, gotta go with steak as the all-time king of foods.

    Ordered a steak recently, and the waitress made the number one mistake of serving steak: she did not bring a steak knife. That always pisses me off, but I figured I’d saw into it with the butter knife, so I could at least see if they’d cooked it right (anything above medium rare is totally unacceptable). I found out that it was no mistake: that steak was so tender that a butter knife was all that was needed.

    It was topped (not smothered) with corn and jalapenos in a bit of cream sauce – enough for added flavor, but not taking away from the flavor of the meat. Like lingerie on a supermodel… enough for some class, but not hiding anything of what’s underneath.

    Steak should be lean, not fatty. Choosing fatty cuts is what one does when the quality of the meat is low, and it needs to be hidden by the flavor of the fat. Meat that’s actually worthy can stand on its own, with only a small amount of fat for variety.

    Also, steaks should only be measured in “ounces” if they’re on the kids’ menu. If a man sits down to dinner, you hand him a menu that has steaks listed in /pounds/.

  8. Ah yes I remember steaks….Don’t forget the refi on the house to pay for those steaks these days! Can’t believe the high cost of beef on the west coast these days. I have cattle ranches within sight of my back porch! Well as a dietitian said in a class recently, don’t not eat it but it’s a good thing it costs so much so you will eat less of it…tube steaks get more of a work out these days in out house.

  9. I’m with you neck and neck on every subject except for the burger. I can’t get on board with the Five Guys. Their fries are awesome, but their burgers are secod class in my humble opinion. If we are talking fast food places, it’s Whataburger or nothing. For non-fast food places, there are always hole in the wall places that will put the fasties to shame. My favorite is a place here in the Dallas area called Snuffers. Dear Lord, it’s a heart attack on a plate. Worth every cholesterol point by far. As for Fuddruckers, you guys must have gotten the short end of the stick. The ones I’ve sampled here in Texas are pretty good.

  10. A while back I think I remember you complaining about the lack of good breakfast burritos nearby. Since reading that I happened to try a Chick Fil-A sausage breakfast burrito and I think they’re quite respectable. So long as you load up the inside with several of their (excellent) house jalapeno salsa packets and a packet or two of Texas Pete sauce to go with it.
    It’s a nice brick of eggs and sausage and other goodness for only $2.76. No potatoes in there but you can’t have everything.

  11. Hey Ogre – you ever make it in to Rich’s in SLC while you lived out here? Killer green chili cheeseburger (best ordered spicy, and with bacon). They roast their own chilis. Always good blues tunes in the background too – owner’s from TX.

    And don’t go to Sheetz only for burritos – they make a decent chili cheese dog too, and at an unbeatable price. Speaking of ‘dirty water’ dogs – if you’re ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in Johnstown, PA, hit up Coney Island Hot Dogs downtown. A local institution. Carry something that starts with “.4” if you’re there late night.

  12. The Chili Size: There are a number of variations. The one I like is a hamburger patty on a single peace of toast smothered in chili. The down side is you have to eat it with utensils. I’ll eat one with or without beans in the chili. The Chili should be at least medium spicy.
    My best bowl of chili was at a hole in the wall bar. Thick spicy no beans chili, cheese on top, and chopped white onions sprinkled over that.

    1. I hate Chicago. I’ve been there. Lived for awhile just outside of it. Not impressed with the city or the people, and especially the Politics. Of which I can not separate from the rest of the lot. I don’t even like “Chicago Dogs” if they are named such. Chicago turns me off even more than New York or LA.

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