The Olajuwon at Kahn's Deli Is A Slam Dunk

Categories: Meat!, On the Menu

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.

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What Your Hot Dog Toppings Say About You

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

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

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.

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What Is Halal Meat, and Why Should You Care?

Categories: Meat!

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!

Thumbnail image for Killens_brisket.jpg
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

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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Dish of the Week: Steak au Poivre

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski
This steak is crusted with peppercorn, then topped with a quick pan sauce.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're covering the modern French beef dish, steak au poivre.

Literally meaning "pepper steak," this steak is crusted with coarse, barely crushed peppercorns before being seared and smothered in a pan sauce made with wine, cognac, and/or cream. Best served medium-rare for ultimate succulence, the dish is traditionally made using tender cuts of beef like filet mignon.

The origin of the dish is unclear, with French chefs laying claim to the dish as far back as 1905. There are even theories that trace the origins back to Leopold I of Germany in 1790 (though this is often refuted, as any good theory is). But our favorite theory? Some say the dish was popularized in the 19th century, when notable figures would take their female companions to French bistros to dine on the steak because of pepper's natual aphrodisiac qualities. Ooh la la.

Whatever its beginnings, the steak has made it big in today's fine dining scene. The rich, fatty meat is contrasted by the piquant, woodsy peppercorns, which form a caramelized crust when seared in a hot pan with oil or butter. As the steak rests, a quick pan sauce is made using cognac, red wine, or bourbon and often shallots, butter, mustard, peppercorns and cream.

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Recipe: Indian Meat Loaf

Categories: Meat!, Recipes

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Mise en...bowl?

The most logical way to make use of my husband's over-abundance of Indian spices would be to make some sort of Indian dish. But that particular evening I was feeling not so logical (thanks, perhaps, to the consumption of a glass of a very full-bodied petite sirah). I wanted Indian food. But I also wanted meat loaf. So I made...yes, you guessed it.

It turns out I am hardly the first person to experiment with this form of fusion cooking. Although I had made regular meat loaf enough to be able to wing the recipe, I was uncertain as to the specific proportions of South Asian spices I should incorporate in my loaf o' meat.

The first recipe I checked out looked delicious, but the instructions totally intimidated me I was missing a few of the key ingredients.

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The Ten Most Common Grilling Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Photo by Molly Dunn
Don't let that grill get too hot, otherwise you'll lose your eyebrows when you open the lid.
"Do I still have eyebrows?" my fiancé said to me a couple of weeks ago after he was standing too close to my parents' outdoor grill.

You see, we turned the grill on, started talking and forgot to turn the heat down. Once we opened the grill, a blast of 650-degree heat came shooting out, burning (or singeing) anything it touched. In this case, it was my fiance's eyelashes and eyebrows. They were both scorched.

As funny as it was (sorry, Randall), it was also dangerous. That's the last time my family will forget to turn down the heat on the grill before taking off the lid, or at least won't neglect the rapidly rising temperature.

Because we don't want you, dear readers, to scorch your face or torch a piece of meat, we spoke with two chefs who know a thing or two about grilling, chef Ronnie Killen of Killen's Steakhouse and Killen's BBQ, and chef Edelberto Goncalves of Fielding's Wood Grill, to find out what the most common grilling mistakes are and how to prevent them.

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