Jack Friday!

This week was a special week for Rub smokehouse and bar in Birmingham as there was a special event held on Friday night. To commemorate Jack Daniels birthday and the launch of ‘Jack Fridays’ Rub held an evening of specially created food and drink, including cocktails and an incredible feat of culinary ingenuity that I will cover a little later called the ‘Mac n Jack’ Burger.

I had promised my Fiance a night out a while ago as it seems to have been a while since we went out just the two of us and given the advert that popped up on my Facebook for Rub’s Jack Friday and the special relationship I have built up with them the past few weeks it seemed like the perfect option. So I booked a table for 8:45pm and rocked up ready to have a real feed, JD t-shirt being worn in the true spirit of the evening!

Broad street was buzzing by the time we arrived seemingly raring to go for a heavy weekend of bank holiday festivities and the high energy atmosphere as ever was carried with us and up into the lift into the restaurant which was heaving with patrons enjoying their hard earned Friday treats. We sat down and ordered a few drinks to whet our appetites before we got started and took a look at the menu, Becky ordering a corn dog out of pure intrigue while I pondered the many wonderful options available. Before long the drinks arrived and again in the spirit of the evening I went for a ginger beer with a single shot of JD’s finest, which seemingly did the trick to relax me after a long week.

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The corn dog was a really nice experience and again came quickly regardless of how busy they were which was great, not something seen regularly on these shores the Corn dog is a hot dog sausage coated in a cornmeal batter and deep fried. The result is a rich, crispy and indulgent little morsel that to be fair would go great as a side served with your food let alone a stater as it is billed, a great little appetizer all the same! For our main meals I naturally ended up going for the epic Mac n Jack as Becky chose the pulled pork platter.

Only when I saw a few of the Mac n Jack’s pass me by did I begin to worry about my capability to actually finish the damn thing! It was huge! A mountain of meat enriched with Tennessee’s famous exported whiskey and three wooden skewers holding it all back from gravity’s cruel and unforgiving attempts to bring it crashing down all over the serving tray. I was not waiting long before it was time to see for myself if I could manage this monolithic masterpiece and was presented with a tray containing the towering burger alongside a nifty little JD branded box containing my lightly spiced fries. The Mac n Jack burger is a coming together of two 6oz cheeseburgers, cooked with a JD ice cube on top of it to imbue with the whiskey’s deep flavours, their signature 16 hour slow Brisket with JD gravy, breaded macaroni cheese (Yes. breaded. macaroni. cheese. If I break it down into singular words its easier to process!) all pinned into a burger roll and garnished with a JD rubbed chicken wing.

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Now if you think its a mouthful when reading this then try eating it! It was a surprisingly fantastic balance of deep beefy flavours, rich and silky gravy with the crispy saltiness that comes from the crunchy breading and smooth insides of the macaroni and cheese cutting through the richness without being stodgy or overbearing. A real treat and something that I hope sticks around on their menu. I couldn’t possibly try and pick it up so I had to dismantle it using my trusty steak knife and break it down into parts, starting with the top part of the burn and using it as a vehicle for the wonderfully wilting beef brisket and slowly working my way through the first layer to get to the mac n cheese below.

Meanwhile Becky was enjoying her pulled pork platter, a rather decent helping of slow cooked pork shoulder served with two sides, her selections were the smoked cheddar mash and the corn on the cob. The pork was smokey and luxurious, with the hickory really coming through as a primary flavour and creating a perfect pairing with the smoked cheddar that was running through the mash. She seemed to really enjoy it but unfortunately she wasn’t able to finish it as she hasn’t quite got the glutinous resilience that I have stored beneath my relatively modest belt line, It was however willingly put into a takeaway box for us by a very helpful member of staff and enjoyed as part of lunch the next day.

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By this point the restaurant was starting to calm down and people were slowly disappearing to do whatever they usually do on a Friday night on Broad street, which for many I assume involved quite a lot more Jack Daniels than was on my table. Myself and my good lady however were sat waiting for me to complete Rub’s latest offering, by this point I was well into the 60z cheesburgers and the spiced Rub fries, which were a really strong aspect of the meal in their own right. Crispy on the outside and temptingly fluffy on the inside which were superbly complemented with a slathering of ketchup and French’s American mustard as most fries are.

Needless to say I didn’t finish the Mac n Jack, but as the trend that Rub seem to be developing since they opened in Birmingham goes, It was an incredibly satisfying experience that did not leave you wanting for more. An all encompassing combination of flavours and textures that leaves no stone of detail unturned, no craving unquenched and no belly empty. A great addition to an already stellar line up on the menu, only enhanced by the Jack Daniels party vibe. We finished the evening with a drink at the bar (Brewdog Punk IPA on tap. Don’t mind if I do!) and a quick watch of the band that was setting up for the evenings festivities. Unfortunately our parking time restraints did not allow us to see the whole gig however they sure looked the part and sounded great while they were starting up. I hope the gig went well for them as a bass player myself I can appreciate the hard working musicians of this world as well as the food.

So as ever Rub gave us a great night out with some great food and kept me busy while also reminding me that as greedy as I am, even I have my limits however much I would of loved to have polished off the Mac n Jack and gone again on another one. The staff were excellent in such a high pressure, busy environment and they kept everybody well looked after and happy as per usual. Great work as ever guys and I’m sure it wont be long before we see you again.

….Oh and Happy Birthday Mr. Daniels I am a big fan or your work!

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Hungry buck cookies

Happy Friday everyone! The weekend is just around the corner, bake off is in full swing and it looks like we are due some good weather this weekend.

This week the BBC’s popular show ‘The Great British bake off’ held their biscuit week, showing off the bakers skills in three specific challenges that incorporate a wide range of biscuit making techniques to show that they deserve another week on the show. My fiancé adores the program and as she is a Teacher, she has time off around the time that the show airs for her summer break, so she likes to bake on ‘Bake off’ day something that relates to the corresponding week on the show.

This week I was treated to a chunky, oat biscuit that was sweet, nutty and filling. Great with a coffee first thing at work!

Heres the recipe for you to try making our new favourite biscuit at home…

Ingredients:

125g butter, Softened, plus extra to grease
100 g soft light brown sugar
50 g golden syrup
140 g plain flour
1 medium egg
100g large rolled oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75 g pecan halves, roughly chopped to decorate
40 g Dark chocolate, melted

Method:

Preheat oven to 170°C (150°C fan) mark 3. Lightly grease two large baking sheets. In a large bowl, mix together the cookie ingredients until well combined. Put large tablespoonfuls of the mixture on to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them well apart. Bake for 12-15min until golden. Leave to cool for 10min on the baking sheet, then drizzle with melted chocolate. Serve immediately, or leave to set first.

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And that is how easy it is! Seriously! Enjoy you weekends all.

Burgathon edition #3 The maple steak burger

This week brings a whole different kind of animal to the burgathon table to finish the series. It brings together two sides of the spectrum and mashes them together to create something so moreish, I struggle to not eat it every day. This is easily my favourite burger so far. The Maple bagel burger is a congregation of sweet and savoury flavours joining forces to excite the taste buds and whip your senses into frenzy.

This one is inspired, just like the mardi gras burger, by the cultural melting pot that is the USA. The blend of flavours and culinary diversity that comes together to create some truly unique food. The soft bagel, the sweet, warm, spiced burger and the mellow, mustardy undertones of the dressing complete the package and create something truly fantastic.

 

So to get us started youll need:

For the burger

600g lean steak mince
3 tablespoons maple syrup
large pinch cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon mild chili flakes
pinch fine sea salt
4 fresh white bagels
8 slices pastrami
8 slices good Swiss cheese
chopped salad leaves of your choice, sliced tomato and a splash of olive oil.

For the dressing

1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon good quality mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon English mustard
pinch white pepper.

Method:

  1. Combine the mince, chili flakes, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a bowl. With clean hands mix well until all seasoning and the maple syrup is evenly distributed.
  2. split into 4 evenly sized balls and pat down into discs around an inch thick.
  3. Cover and leave in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to firm up.
  4. preheat a griddle pan on a medium heat and add a little oil to each side of the burgers.
  5. Add the burgers to the griddle 2 at a time and cook for 7 minutes on each side. Preheat your grill on high.
  6. Grill the bagels on both sides until they start to brown.
  7. cut up 2 pieces of pastrami per burger, top with a few pieces of cheese and slide under the grill for a few minutes. then remove and rest for a few moments.
  8. Mix all of the dressing ingredients together and add it right the way around the base of the bagels, followed by the salad, the burger with the pastrami and now soft Swiss cheese, capped off with the top half of the bagel and press down a little to push it all together.
  9. Then enjoy it! it really is a show stopper!

that completes my trio of simple but effective burger recipes for you to try, I hope you enjoyed them! Keep your eyes peeled for new burger recipes and more on food gecko!

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Slow cooked BBQ pulled pork

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This recipe is a really easy alongside being an exceptionally tasty addition to the ever growing reel of the Gecko recipe archive. It can be done in a crock pot in the oven but I used a slow cooker. Two of my recommended cuts of pork are a shoulder or leg joint. Feel free to adapt the rub or marinade to your taste by cranking up the spice a bit or lowering it to your particular preference! I did this one Friday at work with the intention of feeding 3 of us and had so much left over I ended up supplying lunch for 8 people and getting a great reaction from all of them. I served it on wholemeal buns with pickled red onions and a garlic mayonnaise.

Smokey BBQ pork

Dry rub:

2 Tbspn cayenne pepper
2 Tbspn dried oregano
2 tbspn garlic
2 tbspn smoked paprika
1 tspn chilli powder
1 tbspn brown sugar
1 large pinch sea salt

MIX/CRUSH well (pestle is handy but not essential) and Rub evenly onto the meat and leave for around 30 minutes.

Marinade:

1/2 submerge the pork in vegetable stock
Add the rest of dry rub and mix well with 3 tablespoons of good barbeque sauce.
Add pork (with any major fat cut off. I had to butcher it to get it into the slow cooker anyway it was a rather big piece of meat as the picture shows) and cook for 12 hours on low.

Once cooked:
Drain the liquid from the slow cooker/Pot.
Rip apart with a pair of forks until completely shredded, add q further pinch of sea salt and add another drizzle of BBQ sauce and mix until evenly distributed. Leave to rest in the pot for a few minutes to absorb any remaining juices and take on the sauce nicely.

And that’s all there is to it. This one really is a personal favourite of mine as it really makes an impression considering it is left to its own devices over night, not really been meddled with. It showcases how simple good cooking can be and its comfort food at its best. I’m pretty sure it would go down a storm at a big get together for a sporting event or a family occasion for an alternative to soggy sandwiches and sausage rolls…

final thought: Go the extra mile and fit a good spoon full into a wrap with a good quality chili sauce and some sliced mixed peppers. bang on.