Chicken Sandwich Chronicles: Jerrybuilt

Categories: Meat!, On the Menu

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
This might taste better than the burger version.
Following a less-than-stellar experience with Smashburger's chicken sandwiches, advice poured in as to where better versions could be found.

Among those venues suggested was JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers, whose seasonal burgers, at least, have been impressive.

In fact, prior to the chicken sandwich tipoff, I had planned a trip to the restaurant to try their special September burgers designed by local food writers and bloggers as part of JerryBuilt's ambassador program.

Two chickens could be killed with one stone during this visit, however, as almost all the ambassador burgers can be made with a chicken breast rather than a beef patty.

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5 Houston Meat Markets That Will Make Any Carnivore Happy

Categories: Meat!

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Photo by Phil Denton
A nicely stocked meat counter is a thing of beauty.

For many people, heading to the local megachain supermarket to get a few steaks or some ground meat for the evening's meal just won't cut it. Instead, those folks prefer to seek out meaty treasures from a standalone meat market, a type of business that is not as common as they once were, but that often offer cuts of meat and in house specialties that are not likely to end up on the shelves of most regular grocery stores.

Fortunately for residents of H-Town, the Houston area has quite a few good options for those individuals who want different types of choices when it comes to the meat they buy. Many of the existing meat markets have a definite old school charm as a result of being in business for many decades, and a trip to some of these places can feel like a trip in a time machine. Regardless of whether they trigger a nostalgic journey down memory lane or not, all of these meat markets offer their customers choices they won't easily find elsewhere.

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Smashburger's Not-So-Smashing Chicken Sandwich

Categories: Meat!, On the Menu

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Yes, that looks like something I might enjoy.
Can a burger joint offer a chicken sandwich that's as good or better than its hamburgers? Dare to dream, you say. Burger King's chicken sandwiches have the texture of sponges and are way over-salted, and the jury's still out whether McDonald's actually uses actual chicken in its sandwiches.

Well, at least let's do some cursory research first.

As far as small-chain burger joints go, Smashburger is not the best, but historically their beef products (at least in my experience) are very good. And given the wide range of types of chicken sandwiches, this menu item doesn't seem to be just an afterthought designed to appease a non-red meat eater dragged to the restaurant by her bovine-loving posse of friends.

Their "Smashchicken" varietals available include Truffle Mushroom Swiss; Avocado Club; BBQ Bacon Cheddar; Spicy Jalapeno Baja; Spinach, Cumber & Goat; Create-Your-Own.

With all chicken sandwiches, there is a choice of preparation (grilled or crispy) and bun (classic egg, spicy chipotle, gluten-free, multi-grain). Unlike in the case of their burgers, Smashchicken sandwiches come in only one size.

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The Olajuwon at Kahn's Deli Is A Slam Dunk

Categories: Meat!, On the Menu

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Sandwich refuses to be halved, so protein heavy is the interior.

Although Kahn's Delicatessen has been serving sizable "real sandwiches" to the Houston community since 1945, the restaurant is often overlooked in favor of powerhouse delis such as Kenny & Ziggy's. H-towners should spread the love to Kahn's, which also knows a thing or two about what to put between two slices of bread.

Among its old-school sandwich offerings is the "Olajuwon," a true submarine of a sandwich containing corned beef, knockwurst, swiss and cheddar cheeses, sauerkraut and dressed with spicy mustard and housemade Russian dressing. The Olajuwon is so named, one assumes, for the famous former Rockets star, and given that it boasts a full pound of meat (thereby making it appropriate fuel for 6'10" center), its name is fitting. Except, however, if the knockwurst used is made with pork, verboten for devout Muslims such as Olajuwon. Anyhoo.

This story continues on the next page.

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What Your Hot Dog Toppings Say About You

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Photo by Steven Depolo
They say your hot dog toppings are a window into your soul.
You know what they say. You can tell a lot about someone by what they put atop their hot dog. Okay, so maybe nobody actually says that. But we swear it's true!

Here's what your hot dog toppings say about you:

Just Ketchup: You're mom still does your laundry...and you don't mind one bit. What? She folds the like a boss and she never shrinks your deep vees.

Just Mustard: Let's just say you're not exactly a risk taker, but you know what you like and you stick with it. Even if it does mean you've been stood up by the same Tinder date three nights in a row.


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Burger Report: Cottonwood's Bleu Cheese Burger

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Photo by Brooke Viggiano
There's a lot going on in this burger...and we love it all.
Though Cottonwood is known mostly as craft beer bar, it has some serious burger game. And while we've already waxed poetic about their poblano-and-fried-egg-laden Squirrel Master Burger -- it even made our critic's 100 Favorite Dishes of 2013 -- that doesn't mean the other burgers aren't just as good.

The Bleu Cheese Stuffed Burger ($10), for example, is ridiculously just as good. And it all starts with the patty.

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Kimchi Koagie Is a Killer

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Kimchi Koagie--is there an XL size?

In my continuing quest to sample Houston's cheesesteak options, I have been stalking Koagie Hots. Although the truck follows a fairly predictable schedule that regularly includes nearby (for me) Boondocks, finding it when it was open proved difficult in light of this writer's bedtime, which many octogenarians would consider "early."

So, I decided on a whim to hunt down Koagie Hots late during lunch hour at a location that shall go unnamed but involves driving on Westheimer in the Galleria area. According to the website, the truck would be open from 11am-2pm and at 1:45pm I was still crawling inch by inch in horrendous traffic. I called ahead with vague hopes of placing a pick-up order only to learn that the truck had closed at 1pm. Curses! Maybe I misread the website. Nevertheless, in a coup de customer service, employee "Matthew" apologized to me and offered me a free sandwich next time I made it to the truck.

And, I did, eventually.

This story continues on the next page.

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What Is Halal Meat, and Why Should You Care?

Categories: Meat!

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Photo by Violette79
Halal meat is becoming increasingly popular among non-Muslim populations.
"These things alone he has forbidden to you: What is already dead, blood, the flesh of swine, what has been offered up to other than Allah."
Al-Anam 6:145

While driving around Houston, you've probably noticed signs for Halal meat markets or Halal delis. You've probably read labels touting that a certain meat is halal or skimmed over articles noting a trend toward more and more people purchasing and consuming halal meat. Unless you're Muslim, though, you probably don't understand all that must be done for food to be called halal.

In Arabic, the word "halal" means permissible. Halal meat is meat that has been slaughtered according to Islamic law, as laid out in the Qu'ran. This particular type of slaughter is called dhabiha, it it requires that an animal's throat be slit swiftly with a sharp blade to ensure as little pain and suffering as possible. While this is being done, the person with the blade says a prayer to Allah, or at the very least invokes the name of Allah to bless the animal and give thanks for the food.

It's a very specific method of killing animals for food--one that also involves draining all the blood and ensuring that no live animals ever see another animal slaughtered. Zain Mohammed, a chemical engineering student at the University of Houston, has made it his mission to demystify halal food for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and in doing so, spread awareness about the health benefits of this unique practice.


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Fourth of July Barbecue Tips From Houston Pitmasters Ronnie Killen & Will Buckman

Categories: Meat!

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Photo by Mai Pham
Brisket is a necessity when celebrating the Fourth of July.
There's no question that the Fourth of July is a barbecuing holiday. Today is the day before this meat-feast celebration, so we wanted to help you decide what to plop on the grill this year by getting expert advice and ideas from a couple Houston barbecue pitmasters. We spoke with Ronnie Killen of Killen's Barbecue and Will Buckman of CorkScrew BBQ to find out what's going on their grills at home.

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The "Big Philly" Cheesesteak at Subway: Worth It?

Categories: Meat!, On the Menu

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Ooh, a coupon!

My next scheduled stop on my cheesesteak tour of Houston was Koagie Hots. However, the discovery of a coupon in my weekly circular made me take a slight detour to Subway.

I know over the years Subway has significantly expanded its menu (with some locations now even offering this pizza flatbread "flatizza" thing), but honestly I stopped paying attention around 1998. In general, I think their sandwiches are just fine though on the bland side and there's no shortage of better alternatives in Houston.

I was a bit surprised to see they offered their own version of a cheesesteak given this sandwich is rather labor-intensive compared to, say, an ol' turkey and cheese sub. The coupon and my own curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to investigate the merits, if any, of the "Big Philly."

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