Review – Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue in Harlem

Awesome appie plate at Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue in Harlem

Spicy Shrimp Boil • Chicken Wings • Fried Green Tomatoes • Deviled Eggs in the Swag Sampler Plate at Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue

I was really stoked with Julien of VillageVines.com asked me if we’d be up for joining him for dinner while we were in NYC and I agonized over the list of restaurants that VillageVines had relationships with trying to pick the right one for our Tuesday night excursion.   Logistics were a bit tricky as I had a pair of really awesome Yankee’s tickets courtesy of Karen Garcia and I wanted to make sure that whichever restaurant we chose would have us headed in the right direction (towards The Bronx) if at all possible.  Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue in Harlem looked to be a perfect choice.   I gathered up a dining/baseball game partner in Stephanie (@MicroSteph) Lichtenstein and met Julien at our hotel to catch a cab to Harlem.

I was stoked when we arrived and realized that we were just a block from the Cotton Club, where we’d gathered for the CAMA Gospel Brunch last year.  Once we stepped into the restaurant, I knew we were in for a treat as the smoky aroma of BBQ goodness greeted me immediately.   We started our adventure with a Swag Sampler Plate (Spicy Shrimp Boil • Chicken Wings • Fried Green Tomatoes • Deviled Eggs) and a round of beers and dove in.   The appetizers were awesome and flavorful and we were only about 2/3 through when our entree’s showed up.

HALF BAR-B-Q CHICKEN-ALL NATURAL from Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue in Harlem

Barbecued Chicken Apple brined, pit smoked and slathered with original Barbecue Sauce

As always, we each ordered something different so we could sample and share and we ended up with a nice representati0n of the menu.  I ordered the Texas Brisket and Pulled Pork Combo Plate  – for sides I went with Mac and Cheese and Simmered Greens.  The Brisket was tender and sweet with some spice from the pickled jalapeno’s it came with – the smoke ring was gorgeous and the flavor was to match.  The Pulled Pork was also awesome – slow smoked Pork Butt hand pulled and mixed with a savory sauce.  Mac and Cheese seemed to be one of my theme’s of the week as I was really on a comfort food rampage and the mac and cheese at Dino BBQ held it’s own.   It was definitely not the “Kraft Dinner”  version-  homemade with plenty of creamy, buttery, cheesy goodness.  The greens were delicious as well.

Wade's dinner at Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue in Harlem

Awesome Barbecue grub - Texas Brisket, Pulled Pork in Savory Sauce, Homestyle Mac and Cheese and Collard Greens

Stephanie’s Half Bar-B-Q Chicken was delicious as well.  Brining was key as it makes for moist delicious chicken with flavor that is embedded deep in the meat.  Stephanie chose the Bar-B-Q sauce option (they also offer Creole Honey Mustard) and it was a winner.  Julien stepped up and ordered the whole rack of Bar-B-Cue Pork Ribs, which he proceded to share liberally (thanks Julien) and they were the real winner of the evening.   The key here is the preparation as the Ribs are marinated for 24 hours in Dino BBQ’s “Action Spice Rub”  then cooked low and slow to perfection.   The natural juices from the ribs combining with the rub made sauces unnecessary.    The flavor and texture were phenomenal – I know that next time I go back (and I will) I’ll be ordering up some ribs for myself. All and all – the meal was super tasty and approachable – the service was a little spotty, but I always put more importance on the food, especially at a casual spot like this.

After finishing our entree’s and our second beer, we knew we were done for and waived off the dessert menu and walked/rolled our way to the subway station where Steph and I headed uptown to Yankee Stadium and Julien headed downtown to another engagement.   Thanks to Julien and VillageVines.com for a wonderful meal and thanks to Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue for cooking it up.


Review – Tipsy Parson in Chelsea

One of the things I was looking forward to most in our recent trip to New York City was trying out the Village Vines service and discount at Tipsy Parson in Chelsea.  I am a sucker for well executed Southern cuisine, so I was dying to try this place with some friends.   As I got closer to our reservation time, the drama built as my flight was delayed in Atlanta and I was seriously worried about being able to make it anywhere  close to our reservation time.  Alas – the foodie gods smiled on me as I was able to get from La Guardia, to midtown to drop off my bags then on to Chelsea with one minute to spare before my 9:00 reservation was missed.  On arrival, I joined Joe Sousa and Melissa Salas in the bar for a cocktail (The Jezebel) until my other dining partners Josh Shanas and Stephanie Lichtenstein made their arrivals.

We were seated in the lively back room of Tipsy Parson at a communal long table with two other parties, and launched the evening with a first course of hushpuppies and fried pickles for the group to share and sample.   The hushpuppies were a little overdone, but still moist in the middle and really nicely flavored with herbs and spices that nicely complemented the sweetness of the corn..   The fried pickles where well executed –  perfectly cooked with a spicy dipping sauce that really made the dish – the heat was there, but it wasn’t overpowering.

A few of us decided to try a second appetizer  course  –  Joe and I decided to go for the Shrimp and Grits.   This is one of my favorite dishes ever and the Tipsy Parson didn’t disappoint.    The consistency of the grits was perfect, super creamy (I am pretty sure this recipe wasn’t cardiologist approved)  with nice spice on the shrimp and in the grits themselves.   The fried green tomatoes were nicely executed – their tartness providing a nice foil for the sweetness of the shrimp and grits.   This dish was Southern comfort food at it’s best.

For the main dish,  I let our server choose between the Roasted Poussin (yogurt & smoked pepper marinated organic, free-range baby chicken, creamed corn succotash, tasso ham) and the Fudge Family Farms Pork Chop ( a 16oz. grilled pork chop, tuscan kale salad, cherry mustard, almond brown butter)  – he steered me towards the Pork Chop and I don’t think there was a bad choice available.  Josh went with the Poussin, while Joe chose the Broiled Catfish.  Stephanie went off the beaten path with a side of mac and cheese and a 4 inch tall buttermilk chive biscuit.   The lovely Melissa decided to make the health and figure conscious decision… to an extent as she ordered a salad and the buttermilk chive biscuit as well – she took some ribbing from the rest of us for being “that salad eating girl.”

The Fudge Family Farms Pork Chop was a revelation.  It was huge, perfectly cooked and seasoned with a sauce (cherry mustard, almond brown butter)  that was one of the best I’ve ever enjoyed.   For the first (and not the last time of the week, I was not able to finish my entree as the chop was just too much after all the appies we’d enjoyed.   I got the chance to try Josh’s Poussin as well and he had a winner.  It was quite simply the most explosively moist and flavorful chicken I have ever eaten.  I’m guessing it was brined pre-marinade as the flavor was present all the way through the meat.   I would have been extremely satisfied with either choice.

We had some other ideas for dessert and were all pretty full so we decided to skip on dessert at the Tipsy Parson – but will have to check it out next time we’re back.

Quick summary –  The Tipsy Parson in Chelsea offers extremely soulful food featuring generous portions of food with big flavor.  The atmosphere was lively and loud – not a quiet, romantic spot for sure.  It was a restaurant that clearly celebrated a funky Southern comfort food ideal and we all left full and happy.   I highly recommend Tipsy Parson – oh, and the fact that we saved 30% on our bill with an assist from Village Vines was pretty awesome as well.  We walked out of Tipsy Parson having ordered all over the menu and feeding a party of 5 for under $250.00 – not bad for great food in NYC.

David Zelken Dominates a 3.5 Pound Chimichanga!

Our friend from Shareasale, David Zelken absolutely dominates the “Big Mel” challenge at Dos Diablos, a new Mexican restaurant in Chicago. The “Big Mel” is a 3.5 pound Chimichanga with all the fixin’s. My big question here, is – where the heck did a skinny guy like David pack in all this grub.

Family Recipe – Corn Flake Oven-Fried Chicken

Awesome pic of Corn Flake Overn Baked Chicken

Corn Flake Oven-Baked Chicken - photo courtesy of HubPages.com

This is a classic recipe that has been around for years, but it’s a really good one and it’s healthier (way lower fat) than your standard fried chicken recipe, and with great crunch.   I tweaked the recipe a bit (took it beyond salt and pepper for seasoning and it is a definite winner.  I also tweaked the original recipe by not drizzling the top of the chicken with melted butter or margarine as that would screw up the whole “reduced fat” angle.

If your family loves fried chicken, but you’d like to cut down the fat, give this one a shot.

Ingredients:

1.25 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved length-wise (to make a thin cutlet)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup non-fat or low-fat milk
1 egg
3 cups crushed corn flakes
1 TBL Seasoned salt of your choice
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (to taste)

The Process:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prepare chicken breasts by removing visible fat and slicing length-wise to form a thin cutlet

Prepare batter by mixing milk and egg together and beating until combined, then stir in flour to form a thick batter.
Add Frank’s Red Hot sauce and 1/2 TBL seasoned salt to batter and mix to integrate

Prepare corn flakes by placing in a ziplock bag and crushing with a rolling pin.  You want some texture here so don’t crush too fine.
Add 1/2 TBL of seasoned salt and mix with a fork

Place batter and crushed corn flakes in shallow bowls

Spray a cookie sheet with pan spray

Dip chicken pieces first in the batter, allowing the excess batter to drip off into the batter bowl, then place the battered  chicken piece into the crushed corn flakes.   I then shake the bowl a bit to get best coverage and press the chicken pieces in lightly to make sure they are coated.  Flip and repeat.

Place the crusted chicken pieces on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes until the chicken reached the proper internal temperature.   NOTE: if you don’t split the chicken breasts, your cooking time will be longer.

The resulting chicken will resemble KFC’s “Extra Crispy” chicken with a really awesome crunchy crust with some serious flake to it.   I serve it with reduced fat “Grand’s” biscuits, mashed potatoes with carrots and gravy (optional)

Family Recipe – BBQ Chicken Sloppy Joes

I am always looking for healthy recipes for my family. My kids (and my wife) can be picky sometimes, so when I find a recipe that everyone likes, that the kids can help with, and that is actually good for them, I know I have a winner on my hands. Enter BBQ Chicken Sloppy Joes from the Rachel Ray Yum-O Family Cookbook .

I did make a couple of changes to the recipe you will find at the link above that worked for me and my family in using a bagged Cole Slaw mix from the store and in substituting apple cider vinegar for the red wine vinegar called for in the recipe.    I also added some oven fries to round out the meal.   I’ll leave substitutions and sides up to your discretion.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 tablespoon grill seasoning, such as McCormick brand Montreal Chicken Seasoning
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar  (I used apple cider vinegar )
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can tomato sauce (14 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 4 crusty rolls, split and toasted (I used Kaiser Rolls)

The Technique:

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, then add the EVOO. Add the ground chicken to the pan and, using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula, break it up into crumbles so that it can brown evenly. Season the chicken with grill seasoning blend.

Once the chicken begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes, add the onion and peppers and cook 5-6 minutes more to soften.

In a bowl, combine the vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and hot sauce. Stir the BBQ Joe sauce into the chicken and combine. Reduce heat to simmer, let mixture bubble and then combine for 5 minutes more.

Prepare the bagged Cole Slaw

Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, pile the sloppy chicken onto toasted bun bottoms, then top with Slaw  and bun tops.  Serve with oven fries, more slaw or potato chips.