Tag Archives: dinosaur barbque

The CNY Food Box

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Some months ago I asked you, dear reader, to help me create a Syracuse centric food box that I could send to my friend Allison in Arkansas.

Time passed, Allison went through a job change, summer became fall and at some point, my brain fell out of my head. I totally forgot about this until one day and envelope with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning and a bag of fish fry coating, suitable for shrimp, catfish, Jacques Cousteau and other ocean creatures, arrived in the mail. I’ve documented the Cavender’s. I’m going to use the fish fry at some point when I set up a better deep-fry situation outside. I’m not allowed to deep fry things inside of the house and I’m actually okay with that fact.

So, in return I finally got off my butt and assembled my return offering. The Upstate New York box, I decided, left things too wide open. No, it needed to reflect Syracuse. After all, Upstate can mean at least three different types of hot dogs (Hoffmans, Zweigel’s, Sahlen’s for starters) Croghan Bologna, Buffalo Wings and Rochester Inferiority (or whatever they are noted for). Central New York can involve Utica greens, speedies and Grandma Brown’s baked beans. It needed to be narrowed to the four walls of the space I know best.

We’ve covered why Syracuse is a great food town in the past and I appreciate everyone’s suggestions. So, here’s what I finally settled on:



This is the best of Syracuse that did not require overnight shipping, a ton of packing material or dry ice, and would not tip off drug-sniffing dogs. That meant that Hoffman’s hot dogs, Stewart’s Ice Cream, and Cafe Kubal coffees are off the table. It’s also illegal to ship beer to your state (imagine that…damn Baptists), so no luck there. Given my luck with shipping glass lately, Salamida’s State Fair Barbecue sauce was also off the table. So, what do we have:

Buckwheat honey: Buckwheat flowers grow at higher elevations in New York and the honey generated from their pollination is pretty tasty. It has a flavor and consistency closer to molasses. It also has antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties, so if one of the boys is a pain in the ass, you can squeeze some on them and it should take care of things. I got this from a local Mennonite farmer at the Central New York Regional Market who grows tomatoes the size of my daughter’s head.

Flour City Pasta: I lied. This isn’t Syracuse-centric. I make my own rules. Anyhow, it’s made in Rochester but the owner is in Syracuse every Saturday selling pasta. It’s all natural artisan pasta. This is their Rasta Pasta blend. The pasta is made with semolina flour and sweet potatoes, carrots, thyme, limes and cayenne pepper. Grilled chicken over this with some garlic butter, or shrimp and a lime-cilantro cream sauce might be good here.

Pasta’s Hot Tomato Oil: This is a Syracuse institution. They just began bottling this within the past few years. Prior to that, you bought it at the restaurant or bakery in to-go containers. Anyhow, a little goes a long way here because there is a spice here. Serve it straight over pasta, mix it with a good refrigerated marinara or alfredo, or just dunk a baguette into it. Mike might even like a shot in his coffee in the morning. It’s shelf stable so it should keep for a while.

Dinosaur Bar-b-que Cajun Foreplay: If you ever visited Syracuse, I would take you here. It’s the landmark Syracuse restaurant: barbecue stand run by biker turned to-go counter turned biker bar turned full-service restaurant turned national chain. They have two in NYC, one is going to open in Chicago, but why bother. The original is the original. Anyhow, it’s a Memphis-style BBQ joint and this is their dry rub. I throw it on just about everything — meat, eggs, small children.

If I was better at packing boxes or had the extra scratch to throw around, you might have received some barbecue sauce or a Syracuse Crate.

Enjoy it. I’ve never mailed anything, knowingly, to Arkansas.



Al Dente on the Side: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Coleslaw

No children were injured during the preparation of this coleslaw
No children were injured during the preparation of this coleslaw

I made a righteous batch of coleslaw for The Kid’s birthday party last weekend. Annnnnnnnnnnnnd, I forgot to take a picture of it. I’m a dolt. However, the above photo of The Wife, The Kid and some of her friends during present opening time is much better than a bowl of shredded vegetables and dressing.

Coleslaw is a take it or leave it endeavor for me. Homemade coleslaw is usually good. I don’t like it if it’s too sweet, and I have never found a foodservice slaw that hits the mark. Most of the time, it’s served in a little 2 oz. plastic Solo-brand ramekin with a lid. And, I would imagine that 80 to 85 percent of the coleslaw served that way ends up in the trash. But, the slaw from Dinosaur is excellent, packing a good balance of acid and spice with a crispy cabbage and creaminess from the mayo.

I deviated slightly from John Stage’s original, but my adaptation honors the spirit of coleslaw as a necessary and required side for good barbecue.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: I took one terrible photo of the finished product with my iPhone. This is what happens when you drink a lot of beer while cooking.

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Adapted from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse by John Stage and Nancy Radke

  • 2 bags of cabbage shredded for coleslaw
  • 2 or 3 carrots, shredded, if the bagged cabbage does not have carrots
  • 16 oz. mayonnaise
  • 8 oz. cider vinegar
  • 4 oz. prepared bleu cheese dressing
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 large onion, grated
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dill seed

Add all but the first two ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Adjust flavors with salt and pepper if necessary. Fold in the cabbage until everything is well coated in dressing. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving so that the dressing can soak into the veggies.

Thursday Dinner: Dirty Rice

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Dirty rice has been a personal favorite of mine since high school when I would devour bowls of it from the Dinosaur Bar-b-que. Back in the day, the Dinosaur was something really special. Enormous portions, a lot of smoke and heat, waitresses with bad attitudes, and an eclectic menu that with barbecue that spoke a Memphis dialect but featured a number of Bayou-inspired touches. Now…it’s still a restaurant I enjoy, but it’s not the same. I think the shine wore off when the waitresses were told to stop swearing at the customers. Anyhow, it’s still somewhere The Wife and I enjoy and take people to when they visit. But, it’s just not the same.

Where was I? Oh, right, dirty rice. So, the Dinosaur’s dirty rice would reach up and slap you with heat from the jalepeños and the rich rice that had been sauteed with okra, bell peppers, onion and garlic. The “dirty” comes from the brownish tinge that the rice grains take on from the browned garlic and onions. The rice binds right to this goodness and enhances the flavor. While I didn’t have okra on hand, I went with some cured andouille sausage for some extra flavor.

Dirty rice does not need to cook all that long. The rice toasts, steeps in broth, absorbs the liquid, and hits the table in less than 40 minutes with a lot of flavor. Continue reading Thursday Dinner: Dirty Rice

Pickling Without Canning: Garlic Dill Pickles

IMG_4663Dill pickles have been standard summertime venture ever since I picked up my first copy of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse. I made my first batch while still living with my father, who hated the dill-vinegar smell that would hang in the house for the day or two following.

IMG_4653The project moved to my own dwelling(s), where it is something I put together once or so each year. Frankly, I can’t stand the steamed vinegar that hangs in the air either. However, the payoff is worth it.

I use a modified version of Dinosaur pickle recipe. I don’t know how to do it better than them, but I know that my primary audience (The Wife) does not like jalepeños with her pickles. Sooooooooooo, I try to balance it off with the requisite amount of garlic.

My past container of choice has been a 2-quart Rubbermaid container wrapped twice in plastic. This time around, I’m using a 2.5L sealed lockjar.

Continue reading Pickling Without Canning: Garlic Dill Pickles

Saturday dinner: Smoked pork loin hash


While I was in Dallas a couple of weeks ago, our hotel served a smoked beef brisket hash at one of the meals. It was very good, but I was convinced that I could do better.

My plans were stymied by my shopping trip to Wegmans and it’s $4.99 per pound price tag. Having smoked a brisket before, I know that you lose a couple of pounds in melted fat and lost water. By the time I trimmed the excess fat, the 7-pound brisket (the smallest in the case) was going to yield about 4 or 4 1/2 pounds. On the flip side, I could spend the same amount of money through the catering office at the Dinosaur Barbque and get 3 pounds of cooked brisket to use. So, out with the brisket and in with the pork loin. I made a 7-pound pork loin, thinking that if I was going through the trouble of breaking out the smoker that I should get at least two dinners from it. Continue reading Saturday dinner: Smoked pork loin hash