Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Review: Monkey Wrench Smokehouse, Travelers Rest, SC

We finally made it out to the local Craft Axe Throwing (insanely fun) place for my birthday, and afterwards decided to head into TR (pronounced "Tee" "Arah") for dinner. I kept hearing mixed reviews from friends and family, but figured it was time to try out Monkey Wrench Smokehouse.

We went with some friends, so we decided to do this community style. The girls split the smoked BBQ potato, and both really liked it. I mean, what's not to like about a smoked potato with all of the fixings and BBQ inside?

The guys got The Smokehouse, which is their super combo plate. It comes with pulled pork, brisket, half rack of ribs, wings, sausage, cornbread, and chose to go with the mac 'n' cheese, hushpuppies, and potato salad for our 3 sides. 

The only way to really review this honking display of food is to go one by one, so starting bottom left and making our way around ... 

Brisket - The rub is really good, and the flavor on the outside with the smoke was good. It was cooked way over though, and even being cut nearly a 1/4 inch thick (maybe wider), it still just fell a part. The inside just tasted like roast beef. Brisket is supposed to be cut in slices, not slabs.

Pulled Pork - Flavor and texture on the pork was really good.

Ribs - These were actually cooked extremely close to accurate temp. They were a hair over. Still held together, but fell off a little more than "nailed it" (we're talking about 15 minutes). My biggest issue with them is they were just absolutely caked in sauce. Usually the sauce, if added, is added towards the end of the cook so it'll hold to the meat, but these were just dripping. 15 years ago, I would have rolled around in these.

Wings - The wings were delicious. They could add more of the seasoning/rub to them, but it's smoked wings and that's always a good thing.

Hot Link Sausage - If I said it was overcooked, it would be an extreme understatement. This thing looked and tasted like it'd been cooked about 5 times. I don't know if this isn't a big seller for them, so maybe it's stuck around for a while, but absolutely obliterated. It reminded me of the turkey from Christmas Vacation.

Cornbread - It wasn't complete opposite of the sausage, but it could have stayed in the oven another couple of minutes. There were pieces just a hair under.

Potato Salad - I don't eat it, so I don't have a clue. I believe the others liked it though.

Hushpuppies - You can see from the picture, they were overdone as well. They weren't loaded down with onions like some places do, so they were still good.

Mac 'n' Cheese - A little on the greasy side, but good. Mac 'n' cheese is one of those, it's hard to make bad, but it's hard to blow your mind (unless you make mine).

So that was our experience. Some good, some bad, a whole lot of inconsistencies with cook times. I think the flavor of the food over all was pretty good, but take brisket off the menu if you're going to cut it that thick (before someone from Texas comes in and laughs at SC), and just tweak everything else.

I feel like I'm being a little more critical and harsh here than I usually am, but my home town has been a small town my whole life and is trying to turn into a "foody" spot with numerous new modern restaurants opening the last few years. Even before this recent development took place, it desperately needed and deserved a good BBQ restaurant. Monkey Wrench is going to be successful because of their location, it's a fun little area, you can enjoy a cold beer and entertainment outside, and the food is good enough. Is it the BBQ joint to bring people to and remember TR for? I don't believe so.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Juicy Lucia Burgers

We've been making the same ol' normal burgers lately, so it was time to get fancy again. Opened up Adam Richman's Straight Up Tasty and found the "Juicy Lucia".

Mix a pound of sausage with a pound of ground beef, salt, pepper, and garlic. The recipe calls for liquid smoke (I'm giving a very judgmental stare right now).

Roast a red pepper.

On the side I made the grilled fingerling potatoes from Melissa Cookston's Smokin' Hot in the South. Slice the potatoes and then add salt, pepper, olive oil, tarragon, and garlic and mix up.

I added a little tinfoil pack of pecan wood chips and then threw them on the grill.

Once the patties are made add basil, mozzarella, and the chopped roasted peppers before adding the top layer of meat to seal in the goody.

Looking back, maybe I should have made the patties and filling a little thinner.

I'm not a big pepper fan because I don't feel they add a whole lot to most things. I was picking up pieces of the roasted red pepper that would fall out and stuck them back in/on by burger to eat. They added a little sweetness kick to all of the flavors from the beef and sausage patties. I did cook them a little further than I would have liked. Being as thick as they are, it was really hard to get a good idea on the cook. Even with that, I would say this is a top 5 burger that I've ever cooked. The flavor is amazing.

As for the fingerling potatoes, they were absolutely delicious. I wish I would have stirred them while they were cooking. Some potatoes got more smoke than the others, so it would have been better to even that out.

Second cookbook creation of the year, and second meal that will be created again.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Happy Lasagna

For Christmas the wifey asked for The Happy Cookbook by Steve and Kathy Doocy. We really hadn't been cooking that many new things lately so that's part of the reason I haven't been posting, but with the new cookbook I thought it was time to get back to both. First up is what's called "Engagement Lasagna".

I'm obviously out of practice of taking pictures for posts since I didn't do a full ingredients picture, but we'll just have to explain on the way through.

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a skillet add EVOO, garlic, and diced onion. The recipe calls for an entire onion I believe, but I only went with half. I may have also intentionally not cleaned out all of the bacon fat from breakfast. Cook on medium-high head until the onions are cooked (translucent).

Once the onions are done they go into a stockpot (see below), and the sausage and beef goes into the skillet to cook.

In the stockpot add 4 more cloves of garlic, tomato paste, red wine, basil, can of crushed tomatoes, tablespoon of sugar and Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper.

Add the yummy delicious meat, stir, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl combine ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, mozzarella, salt, and a quarter of the meat sauce.

Start with a light base layer of sauce on the bottom before adding a layer of noodles. Then spread meat sauce and top with ricotta mixture before adding another layer of noodle. Repeat and top the final layer of noodles with mozzarella.

Cover with a sheet of tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Let it sit for 10 minutes, and then chow down.

We made our Mexican Lasagna for years now, but I believe this is the first time I've ever made real lasagna. Heck, it may be the first time I've ever eaten real lasagna. I do know one thing, it won't be the last. This stuff was good.