Tasty Beginnings

Recipe testing is a massive part of running a food based business and my favorite portion, to be perfectly honest. The hidden agenda behind nearly every chef’s tasting I’ve hosted was wanting to play with a new ingredient we’d found or try a strange cooking technique we’d read about. Menu planning is directly in line with recipe testing as far as importance, in fact it’s difficult for one to be successful without the other, and both are needed for a clear win. The Crappy Little Chuckwagon will be no different.

The Menu

My cooking is heavily influenced by Texas, and I plan on playing to my strengths. All my research begs the conclusion that less is more when it comes to food truck menus… so beef, pork, and vegetarian are what I choose for entrees, and I know I want a starchy side and a salad side. The beef is a no brainer – thick sliced Texas brisket in a smoky homemade BBQ sauce. It’s a bit of a family classic actually that’s been through several Imagetransitions before its final resting place of 50% smoking and 50% braising. In the best of all possible worlds, my pork selection would be ribs. However, in the best of all possible worlds I would also have limitless funds and resources. Being a not so perfect world, I have a spectacular recipe for a spicy pork burger. Ribs will come later.

The Challenge

You can’t just say “pork burger” and leave it at that. Here was my thought process. The large German and Czech populations in Texas have made kolaches and bread and butter pickles a staple at many meals, but how should they be served in the Crappy Little Chuck Wagon? I’ve already decided to test a kolache bun recipe for the spicy pork burgers. The sweet, buttery, flaky bread is a perfect medium for a spicy, juicy burger.

The RecipeImage

1 T. active dry yeast
1 cup of warm milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup of melted margarine
1 teaspoon of salt

  1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, warm milk, sugar and one cup of flour. Cover and let it rise until doubled in size.
  2. Beat together eggs, 3/4 cup of melted margarine, and salt. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture and blend.
  3. Stir in about 3 more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should be soft and moist. Mix using a dough hook until the dough is smooth and highly malleable, about 15 minutes.
  4. Cover the bowl and let rise until doubled in size—about an hour.
  5. After dough has risen, punch it down and pull 3 oz. dough balls.
  6. Place the dough balls on a greased baking sheet ½ inches apart, cover, and let rise again for another hour.
  7. Bake in oven at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown all the way to the pan. Allow the buns to cool slightly before trying to slice them in half.

Image

With our homemade kolache buns in place, I’m ready to build my CLCW burger. Pork is a brilliant start to a juicy burger, but I have a secret to share with you. If you add bread crumbs to your burger mix, the water in the meat mixes with the gluten in the bread crumbs to provide a nice uniform structure to the patty and a wonderful crunch off the grill. If you soak the bread crumbs in a liquid, when the burger starts to heat up on the grill, the liquid begins to steam out of the bread crumb, releasing moisture into the patty. If you soak the bread crumbs in Texas beer…that moisture release includes a punch of flavor. To reproduce the sweetness and texture of bread and butter pickles without the predictability of putting a pickle on a burger, I’ve perfected a pickled pineapple over the course of a summer. We have sweet, juicy, crispy, and tangy; what’s missing? SPICY!! Nothing beats homemade mayonnaise, and the only thing better than homemade mayonnaise is my garlicky, Sriracha aioli.

Two entrees are down with one to go before I tackle the side dishes. We’re already using homemade bread. What about a grilled Texas flat bread for our vegetarian entrée?! Hmmmnnnn…. Cannot wait to test that one.