It's not leftovers, it's a succession plan.
The Friday Newsletter is forward-thinking about BBQ.
I made too much meat this weekend.
I had a large group of family and friends come in to town to celebrate my 40th birthday, and I was catering the party myself. I love cooking for a crowd, and yet I still managed to overshoot, smoking a full brisket and a dozen pounds of ribs. Even with plenty of mouths to feed, I had a lot left over.
To lesser chefs, this might be seen as a miscalculation.
To me? It’s an opportunity.
A well-planned barbecue can be like a summer Thanksgiving; far more than just a single meal, it’s a chance to set yourself up for a solid week of leftovers. Let me tell you, there are few workplace power-moves greater than heating up smoked meats in the office kitchenette; you can fill your place of business with an aroma that says “hello, coworkers. I have been to Flavortown, and I have come back bearing riches.”
Of course, you have to be willing to get creative, or things can get repetitive quickly.
Aside from the health ramifications of eating brisket for six days in a row—and I remind you that you are not my doctor—you have to consider the need to vary your flavors.
Varied flavors? Friends, that’s where The Action Cookbook Newsletter thrives.
Welcome back to The Friday Newsletter.
This is the ACBN’s flagship missive, a jam-packed lifestyle guide filled with everything you need to launch you into the weekend in style.
Each and every Friday for nearly three years running, The Friday Newsletter has offered ACBN readers Seven (7) Good Things:
a musical recommendation
something to watch
a wild card (!?) and,
a selection of very good dogs and cats.
It’s the most reliable good time on the internet, if you ask me.
Today’s edition is a good one, and before we get down to brass tacks, I want to share a very special promotion with you.
It’s Action CookBox time again.
If you’ve been around for a while, you may know that I do periodic giveaways here—everything from stickers to books—and my biggest recurring giveaway is something I call “The Action CookBox”, a full-on prize package that contains some of my favorite items related to ACBN Friday content.
Well, I’m coming up on another anniversary here, I’ve got a spiffy new logo and style guide, and so to celebrate, in June I’ll be running a contest for my biggest and best Action CookBox yet, THE COOKBOX XL3000.
What’s in it? Why, I’m glad you asked!
This month’s CookBox contains:
Javelin Instant-Read Thermometer — A reliable and accurate tool, I’ve used mine almost daily since I got it many years ago, and it’s had a bigger impact on the quality of my cooking than basically anything else.
Broil King Super-Flipper — There’s few things more satisfying than holding a kitchen tool with some heft, and I’ve fallen in love with this extra-large and extra-heavy flipper for grilling. It’s what Thor would flip burgers with. Speaking of hammers, though—
NorPro Meat Pounder — You know, for pounding out those Kentuckiana Hot Loins.
OXO Cocktail Measuring Cup — A small measuring cup with easy-to-read gradations down to 1/4 of an ounce. I use this in almost all of my cocktail-making.
Extra-large Silicone Pastry Mat — I’m not a baker, I’m a cook, but I love making pizza, and I’ve found no better way to evenly and safely stretch a dough to the proper size and shape than to do it on a mat just like this
ACBN SWAG SUITE! — OH MY GOD I HAVE LOGO MERCHANDISE NOW. You’re going to get some of everything: an ACBN HydroFlask (perfect for smuggling Friday cocktails into the pool), ACBN koozie, ACBN pet bandana, ACBN stickers, keychain and button.
(I will have more details in the next week or two on how these items might be distributed beyond the CookBox.)
A taste of Cincinnati! — Because why not? Just for fun, I’m going to send you a can of Skyline Chili, a bottle of their signature hot sauce, and a bottle of BBQ sauce from Cincinnati’s beloved Montgomery Inn
That’s a lot of stuff! The total value of the package is well over $150, and entry is open starting today, with the winner announced on Friday, June 24th for this newsletter’s third anniversary.
To be eligible, you just have to be a paying subscriber to this fine newsletter. If you’re not signed up for the full experience, there’s no better time than now!
Upgrade to a paid subscription, support your favorite independent media, and become eligible to win THE COOKBOX XL3000!
Now, where were we?
7) He’s about to brisk it all
Ah, yes. The leftovers.
There are a number of great things you can do with leftover smoked meat. You can chop it into tacos, quesadillas or nachos. You can use it a pizza topping or a filling for a killer grilled-cheese sandwich. You can make a dog intensely loyal to you, or make a cat briefly acknowledge your existence.
You can also make one heck of a good batch of fried rice.
This isn’t a new move for me—in fact, leftovers as fried rice is one of my true go-tos—but the spin I took on the holiday weekend surplus worked marvelously, and it’s absolutely worth giving it a go in your own kitchen.
BBQ Fried Rice
2 eggs, beaten
8-12 ounces leftover smoked meat, chopped
1/2 of a red onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 head of red cabbage, shredded
kernels from 2 ears of cooked corn (grilled to a nice char, in my case)
1-1/2 cups cooked brown rice, spread on a plate to cool and dry out slightly
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a carbon-steel wok set to the highest setting your stove will do. Once it just begins to smoke, add in the eggs, and scramble quickly, emptying them to a plate once fully set. Add the chopped meat, and toss until reheated and slightly crisped; empty it to the plate as well. Add the onion and garlic, then a minute or two later the bell pepper and cabbage. Stir until the cabbage softens just slightly, then add the corn, rice and soy sauce, and stir vigorously to combine.
1 cup sour cream
juice of 1 lime
2 chipotle peppers in adobo
Puree together using a hand blender, and transfer to a squeeze bottle. Plate the fried rice, and drizzle the crema over top.
Finish the dish with the crushed peanuts, chopped scallions, and a squeeze of lime.
Did you expect it to be this pretty? Well, you should have. Leftover barbecue can be a beautiful thing. The key element here—both aesthetically and texturally—is the cabbage, which, when provided in nearly equal quantity to the rice, gave the whole dish a pleasant crunch that felt like something different.
Now, we need a drink that’s a worthy companion to this work of art.