82BBQ

by Anne Maxfield on November 4, 2019

While great BBQ might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of restaurants in the Hudson Valley, your chances of finding some good ribs and brisket are awfully high here.

82BBQ which opened recently in Verbank (near Millbrook) has raised that BBQ bar a little higher. We went for lunch on a Friday and quickly became fans.

It’s a nicely designed room with your choice of a communal high-top table, or smaller tables for 2 or 4 and there’s a big patio with cheerful orange chairs for outdoor dining.

I started with the smoked wings in hopes that they would match my favorites from Billy Joes in Newburg. They were really good, with crispy well-spiced skin, but being the smoke fiend that I am, I would have liked a bit more smoke flavor coming through. They came with a Sriracha blue cheese dipping sauce that gave them some heat and played well with the spices on the wings. I loved that you could get 6 or 12 as it’s usually a struggle for me to get through more than 6 (and it gives you a chance to nibble on more of the menu).

To go with my wings, how about some smokehouse fries with pulled pork and Monterey Jack cheese?  The fried potatoes were fried half-moons of potatoes which made them great for scooping up the pulled pork and cheese. Think of them as being the fry version of nachos. Great snack food and for once you could really taste the cheese!

My friend went for the pulled pork and 2 sides, this time mac and cheese and green beans. The pulled pork was yummy, with nice crispy bits—like my favorite burnt ends. Mac and cheese was creamy, buttery cheesy and delicious. The green beans were not cooked to death, which may insult some Southerners, but I like my beans to have a little life left in them and these did. The pickled veggies that came on the side were a nice touch that I got to enjoy because my friend is not a fan of anything pickled.

What struck me about the food at 82BBQ, and it may seem strange when you’re talking about BBQ, was that all the dishes tasted fresh. It wasn’t just gloppy BBQ, produced on a large scale. I mentioned it to the chef when we were chatting after the meal and he confirmed it, telling me that he made everything fresh daily and when it was gone, it was gone. I also appreciated that the portions were good-sized, but not overwhelming.

We went back for dinner to try their take on some of the more traditional BBQ items, like ribs, brisket, chicken and their custom-made andouille sausage. Everything was really good, and we’ve eaten through most of the main dishes and sides. So far, my favorites are the ribs and pulled pork, but the brisket and sausages are close contenders. For sides, I’d definitely go for the braised greens—perfectly cooked with a nice vinegar kick — and the mac and cheese. Skip the coleslaw, it’s the only thing on the menu that needs work, and save room for the (I can’t believe I’m writing this) amazing bread pudding. It’s warm and creamy with a good dose of real maple syrup. I’ve never been a bread pudding fan, but 2 bites of 82BBQ’s and I’d go back just for the bread pudding. Yup, that good.

Open for lunch Friday-Sunday and dinner every day but Monday.

82BBQ

3134 Route 82, Verbank NY

845-677-0082

 

Share

{ 0 comments }

Sheet-Pan Pork Chops and Brussels Sprouts

by Anne Maxfield on October 28, 2019

When a pork chop fell out of the freezer, I took it as a hint that it was wanting to be dinner. It helped that this recipe was an easy way to get pork and veg on the table. Serves 4:

  • ½ tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 large bone-in pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 3/4 pounds total)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved through the stem
  • ¼ cup whole sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, salt, cumin seeds, ground cumin, black pepper, red-pepper flakes and garlic until mixture resembles wet sand.

Smear mixture all over pork and let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes or refrigerate, covered, up to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 450°. In a bowl, toss Brussels sprouts and sage leaves with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out on one side of a rimmed baking sheet. Add the pork to the other side of the sheet and place in the oven.

Roast pork chops and sprouts for 15 minutes. Flip the chops over and give the sprouts a stir and continue roasting until the pork is cooked through (135° for medium-rare) and the sprouts are browned and tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let pork rest 5 minutes before slicing off the bone as you would a steak. Serve together, with lemon wedges and enjoy!

My verdict: This ended up being a week where the sheet pans got a good workout. Like the chicken recipe, the ease of cooking like this makes it a winner. I had some potatoes that I’d cooked, so I tossed them in the oil and added them to the sheet pan.

My only tweak to this might be to use fewer cumin seeds and increase the ground cumin. It seemed like a lot of seeds, but to be honest, I only cooked one giant pork chop, so the ratio of cumin seeds to pork might have been too high to begin with.

Any vegetable that takes well to roasting would be good if Brussels sprouts aren’t your thing. And I’m sure that lamb chops would do nicely instead of pork, but watch the time, as they generally run smaller.

Share

{ 0 comments }

Willow Restaurant at the Mirbeau

by Anne Maxfield on October 21, 2019

Willow is the new Charlie Palmer restaurant at Rhinebeck’s Mirbeau Inn and Spa.

It’s always a bit risky (and some might say unfair) to hit up a restaurant in the first week.

And doubly so on a Friday night (with a chef in the party).

But we were looking forward to trying it–friends had “previewed” it at brunch on the opening weekend and wanted to go for dinner.

Unlike recent, much anticipated openings that were hugely disappointing, Willow came through with delicious food.

The room is much more formal than we’ve gotten used to seeing. No dark grey walls or Edison bulbs to be found. A fireplace at one end, with framed vintage Hermes (I’m assuming) scarves on the other and interesting carpeting to mute noise. It looks very much like what it is—a hotel dining room in an upscale inn.

I started out with the Shelter Island grilled oysters, with pancetta, garlic and parsley oil. They were delicious, plump and juicy and the garlic and parsley made a nice sauce for them.

Other appetizers that were passed around the table were a salad of beets and endive blanketed with a blizzard of ricotta salata. I’ll have to take everyone’s word that they were good. Frank had the tuna tartare Niçoise with olives, haricots vert, potatoes, radishes and a tiny “HV” quail egg. It was good, but someone went a little overboard with the olives—almost overwhelming the tuna. We were all happy when John went for the fois gras (and was willing to share). It was a nice piece of seared fois gras with a couple of brioche slices and a row of apple slices. All good, but as I said to John, almost everything goes with fois gras (and tastes wonderful).

Thinking there might be dessert, I went for the small portion of gnocchi with wild mushrooms. It was a risky move, as good gnocchi are rare, but the risk/reward paid off with delicate, melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi. The mushrooms led to one of the funnier moments of the evening. There was a small bunch of (I’m guessing) hen-of-the-woods and somehow my knife had disappeared. When I asked for a knife, the server returned with a huge streak knife, capable of doing serious damage. We will now jokingly refer to any steak knives as “gnocchi knives”.

We all decided that John’s halibut was the best-looking plate of the evening and the fish was perfectly cooked on a bed of risotto with chanterelles.

Frank had the chicken—it’s his new test for restaurants—how well can you do chicken? They passed with flying colors—crispy skin and tasty meat. He wasn’t fond of the sunchokes that accompanied the chicken—they seemed a little overcooked, but the “heirloom” spinach was very tasty. He also ordered the Brussels sprout side dish—roasted with an agrodolce sauce, chipotle aioli and another blizzard of ricotta salata. It was a good combination and once we got the grilled lime that came with it to actually produce juice, it made it even better.

Our other friend had the duck breast with farro and huckleberries. The duck was nice and rosy and tasted good, but I was missing the crunch of duck skin. The combo of farro and huckleberries was a nice change from the usual duck with a fruit sauce.

Having saved room for dessert, I went for the bittersweet chocolate cake with salted caramel and chocolate bourbon ice cream. After being assured by our waiter that the cake was nut free, I was surprised when the base of the cake turned out to be marzipan (almond paste).

Which brings me to the big issue. Service. Our waiter was a great guy, helpful, eager and completely overwhelmed. When asked, he admitted that his training was basically “sink or swim.” If you remember the scene in Ratatouille where Linguini is roller skating through the restaurant you get the idea.

Luckily, that’s something that some training can rectify, but it was a bit surprising in a fine dining restaurant that has Charlie Palmer’s name attached.

What’s more important is that we had a great time that night and the food was terrific. We’ll definitely be back and look forward to being there when the kitchen and staff have had the time to get into their groove.

 

Share

{ 0 comments }

The Trendiest Sheet Pan Chicken

by Anne Maxfield on October 14, 2019

This sheet pan chicken recipe is supposed to be the most popular recipe on the NY Times Cooking site, and it looked good, so we had to give it a try. Serves 4:

The Trendiest Sheet Pan Chicken

  • 3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups green Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 cup parsley, tender leaves and stems, chopped

Heat oven to 450°. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with turmeric and 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Make sure chicken is skin-side up, then pour vinegar over and around chicken and place in the oven.

Bake chicken, without flipping, until cooked through and deeply browned all over, 25 to 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, combine olives, garlic, parsley, the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Once chicken is cooked, remove baking sheet from the oven and transfer chicken to a large serving platter, leaving behind any of the juices and bits stuck to the pan.

Make sure the baking sheet is on a sturdy surface (the stovetop, a counter), then pour the olive mixture onto the sheet. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently scrape up all the bits the chicken left behind, letting the olive mixture mingle with the rendered fat and turn into a sauce. Pour olive mixture over the chicken, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: I think Frank liked this better than I did. It might be because for once, I cooked him a breast and kept the thighs to myself. Both were crispy skinned and tender inside, so I would definitely use this technique to make chicken anytime.

However, the next time I make the recipe, I’ll deglaze the sheet pan on the stove over heat.  I didn’t like the sauce being cold and while I love garlic, the raw garlic overpowered the dish (true confession, I have great garlic from our CSA and it’s very pungent, but I only used 1 good sized clove).

The other thing missing IMHO was a little acid, so maybe a squirt of lemon in the sauce at the end.

And if I’m being hyper-critical, the olives were good, but a little subtle. Maybe a mix of black and green would pop more.

And, on another note, use a sturdy sheet pan so it doesn’t warp and be prepared to do some serious oven cleaning afterward.

Have you tried this? What did you think?

Share

{ 2 comments }