Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kansas City Good Eats Tour Stop: Dixon's Famous Chili

Although I'm not in line for the family restaurant empire (nor am I even sure I'm related to this particular lineage of Dixon's), I can confidently say that my name proudly adorns a true culinary road food classic in Kansas City, my gastronomic home away from home. Located merely blocks from Kaufmann Stadium, the fellas and I decided early on that this was going to be our post-game meal last week.

The only thing that I had heard about the place was that their version of chili is quite a bit different from what most everyone is used to. The only other place that I've heard of chili that is this unique is Cincinatti Chili, wich has a bit of a sweetness to go with the normally savory, tomatoey dish, and tends to be poured over plates of spaghetti. Whils bearing no resemblance to Cincy, Dixon's Chili is no less original. Here's the run-down on how it all comes together.

First, every component of Dixon's chili is prepared separately. Only when you order do the ingredients begin to come together. The two main components are ground beef, which is drained to the point of a bit of a dry consistency. No worries, that good meat grease does not go to complete waste (more on that in a sec). Pinto beans are cooked fresh every day in another separate pot. When a standard order of chili is made, a scoop of strained beans gets put on a plate. The bean liquid is set aside and served separately, to be added individually to your particular taste. Next, a couple of scoops of the ground beef is spread over the beans.

At this's all up to you. You receive two tiny bowls of both the bean liquid and the rendered meat drippings. Also on the table is a shaker of their special chili powder, along with shredded cheddar cheese and some freshly minced jalapeno peppers. The real secret ingredient is sitting on the tables, as well....a bottle of chile-infused vinegar. With a complete guess at a good combination of all the ingredients, the entire dish came together with that drizzling of vinegar. I proceeded to walk through that plate of goodness with zero self-restraint and dignity. No need for such manners, frankly.

Fellow culinary experts Martin & Scott also seemed to enjoy the tasty vittles, although Martin could not tame the entire chili dog order. I happily slid his plate over and finished it off in short order. Apparently sitting out in the hot right-field sun at Kaufmann Stadium caused for some serious hunger to brew. After a few photo opportunities with the freindly wait staff (who were a bit taken with our heartfelt curiosity and charm of the place), the visit was deemed a roaring success. If you get the chance, set your apprehensions aside and give it a shot. If for nothing else, do it for Dixon, won't you?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Must-Own Shirts

It's hard to separate yourself from the rash of trendy funny t-shirts that the Hot Topic crowd seems to be buying these days, but here's a few shirt designs that recently caught my eye. One shirt was immediately purchased by a buddy of mine when I forwarded the link. Dammit. I threw the last one in for long-time blog supporter Michael (You're welcome!).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Vortex2 De-Mystified

Courtesy of chaser/photographer extraordinaire Ryan McGinnis, from the entertaining/flaming Vortex2 thread on the Stormtrack Message Board. You can click on a link below to really learn about the project, but the issue at hand is the massive fleet of vehicles (over 40 total) that will be out on the Plains collecting research data with the goal of increasing warning times, and ultimately saving lives. In the process, they may be taking up a LOT roadside real estate over the next month or so that would normally be taken by enthusiast storm chasers. Selfishness and entitlement abounds. Ryan has a way of effectively getting his sarcastic point across. Well done, Sir. And ditto.

Frequently Asked Questions For sci.geo.stormtrack.vortex2-thread

Q1: What is Vortex 2?

Vortex 2 is a two year science mission to study various supercellular parameters and how they relate to tornado genesis. You can find out more here.

Q2: Well I think it's useless.

It's not useless -- just do a bit of research and you will see their team research goals.

Q3: Clicking links is a lot of work. I don't want to.


Q4: Well I still think it's useless.

See Q1.

Q5: If I'm on the plains and a Vortex 2 radar truck pulls next to me and kindly asks me if I can maybe move my car 20 feet to the north so that he can have an unobstructed view to collect data for a 12 million dollar science project designed to help save lives, can I kill him and take his truck?

No. Murdering radar truck drivers is illegal. The kind thing to do would be to smile and agree and move the car 20 feet to the north. Possibly later the Vortex 2 driver will buy you a beer.

Q6: But what if I don't want to move? Can I tell him to screw off? Can I make an obscene gesture? Can I passively-aggressively sigh and roll my eyes?

Yes, all of these things are allowable responses; however, you may wish to consult alt.jerks.recovery for further information about why these responses may not be perceived as optimal.

Q7: Okay but what if the truck driver is a real idiot. He's just looking at me funny when I ask him to "cross my palm with silver". What if he tries to battle ram me?

This is a highly improbable scenario. If it occurs, you should contact law enforcement.

Q8: Okay but what if the truck driver has zombie dogs, and the dogs are like, barking, and every time they bark, zombie bees come out of their mouth and try to turn me into a zombie with their zombie stings?

Zombie mitigation is outside the purview of this FAQ, however, it should be noted that it is highly unlikely you will be able to successfully destroy the central nervous system of large quantities of zombie bees and zombie dogs before you succumb to stings and bites. The most prudent course of action would be to depress the accelerator to the floor and not release it until you have crossed a state line. Please consult sci.geo.vortex2.zombie-dogs for more information.

Q9: But I don't want to move for anyone, ever! I'm a very special person!

It's okay. Yes, you are.

Q10: Where can I become a certified chaser? Do they issue free lightbars?


Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed...

Click it. Thanks, Yosh.
Customer Review

By B. Govern "Bee-Dot-Govern" (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that's when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women. The women knew from the wolves on my shirt that I, like a wolf, am a mysterious loner who knows how to 'howl at the moon' from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called mehth. I told them no, because they didn't have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn't settle for the first thing that comes to him.

I arrived at Wal-mart, mounted my courtesy-scooter (walking is such a drag!) sitting side saddle so that my wolves would show. While I was browsing tube socks, I could hear aroused asthmatic breathing behind me. I turned around to see a slightly sweaty dream in sweatpants and flip-flops standing there. She told me she liked the wolves on my shirt, I told her I wanted to howl at her moon. She offered me a swig from her mountain dew, and I drove my scooter, with her shuffling along side out the door and into the rest of our lives. Thank you wolf shirt.

Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women

Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the 'guns'), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Country-Style Ribs Experiment

Country-style ribs are a meaty treat, and were a staple in our house growing up. My definition of barbecue was anything that had barbecue sauce on it. These were made in the crock pot, all day, by my mother. With a side of Velveeta Shells & Cheese, you had one of my all-time favorites growing up. But I've graduated now from BBQ School, and I know that a Crock Pot has no place in the BBQ vernacular. Here's my breakdown of how things went on my first try at smoking country-style ribs.

Cut fron the sirloin, or rib end of a pork loin, country-style ribs are big and meaty. They could almost be confused to look like a sliced pork shoulder/butt roast. Since this was my first try at smoking this cut, I was a little nervous about just how long these would take, and if I'd dry them out. I was banking on at least 4 hours of cooking time at 225 degrees. After that, I was guessing.

The fiasco of the day was preparing the dry rub. I had been sitting on some rub and spice packets from Traeger, which came with the smoker when I bought it last May. Looking at their rib rub, it looked to be nothing but some sugar, a little salt and some caramel coloring, or smoke flavor. Bizzare. of course, like the idiot I am, I didn't bother to actually taste it. I also saw a cajun rub packet, so I thought since the rib rub looked so "weak" in my mind, I'd just combine the two. Oh wait....what's this one? Sweet rub? Perfect, I thought. The sweet rub would balance the Cajun rub, and since the rib rub already has to be perfectly balanced, this will be the rub to end all rubs! (New game: take a drink every time I say the word "rub"). Right??

Wrong. Since Genius here didn't do any tasting of any of the three before combining them, OR before heaping it on the meat, he pretty much set himself for failure in the flavor category. The rub was entirely too salty, which just made the spicy Cajun part of the mix even that much more potent. By the time I knew I needed to balance it out with some sugar, it was too late. I was committed to it now. S0 my only hope in balancing out the savory rub was to hit the ribs during the smoking process with a spritz of 4 parts Apple Juice, one part Jim Beam Bourbon, and one part REAL maple syrup. Then, just pray for the best. This picture above shows the ribs after about an hour of cooking.

So with the temperature locked in where I wanted it, and the light, sweet cherrywood smoke rolling, it was simply a game of wait and see. i gave them a spray of the apple jucie-whiskey glaze every hour. After 4 hours of smoke time, I could tell they weren't at the doneness I was looking for (seen here to the right). I decided that I was going to stick with keeping them on the smoker as is, without doing any foil wrapping or steaming, and keeping the temperature where it was, as well. The ribs looked as if they had enough fat and marbling that they wouldn't be dry. After letting them go for another hour and a half, it looked and felt like the meat was tender. The ribs themselves looked incredible, with an amazing, rich burgundy red color to them. Still, I knew that the rub was going to make or break these things. I figured with some sweet BBQ sauce to accompany them, they would still be good.

But, alas, the dry rub mess-up was simply too much to overcome. The ribs were simply too salty to really enjoy. Even with a good quality BBQ sauce, the saltiness was too much to overcome. I'm also suspecting that the salt aided in the ribs being a bit dry, too, drawing out more moisture than normal. As far as texture and tenderness, they were also a little bit dried out on average, especially the ones that didn't have the bone in. There were some really good textured parts, though, as seen in the picture below. But Holy Hell, they look good, don't they?? Damn shame....

So, lessons learned: 1) Make your own dry rub. I shuld've known better, but I was in a hurry, so I tried to improvise with what I had on hand. I should know by now to never tkae shortcuts when it comes to making a dry rub. 2) Don't guess on your dry rub, or go by looks. Taste the damn thing. How stupid could you be to NOT taste it before you coat your pig parts?? This particular savory rib rub concoction would have possibly been edible with a light shake coating, not the full-on liberal rub I gave them. 3) Probably should foil wrap these for the last hour or so, or think about beginning to experiment with some sort of steam set-up in the pellet smoker. I think because of the cut of these country-style ribs, and so much cooking area on them, they naturally would have a tendency to dry out, regardless of the fat content.

Always a learning experience. I'll definitely be trying these again, with far better results. That's BBQ, though. Tons of trial & error. Don't be scurred to mess up.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

He's Good.

If you're even a partial observer of baseball, you owe it to yourself to watch this guy. Why not start Monday night? Looking to go 6-0 in 6 starts on the season, versus those dirty, smelly South-Siders from Chicago. Typically the Royals have been mathematically eliminated from post-season contention by May 1st. Not so fast, my friend. Go Blue.