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Monday, July 18, 2011

Four Ingredient Challenge

It's that time of the month again, The Four Ingredient Challenge, wherein, I cook a meal using ingredients that I would never use together to make a meal. This month the ingredients are:

Hot Dogs (which I am interpreting as wieners)
Baked Beans
Dill Pickles

Now, I could go the hot dog with dill pickles route, some beans on the side and a blueberry smoothie, but, where is the fun in that? I do these cooks to see how I can fit a square peg into a round hole of culinary excess. I have a long history of this, as a child, I was given a toy where you test your child's innate intelligence by seeing if they can put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. Really? So intellect is doing what is obvious and simple? Nay! I say gimme a bigger hammer Mom!

So, what to do? Have a beer! A honey pale ale, which actually was for dinner. Anyway, well, I went with a classic, beans and franks, with a few twists. And for the sides, cornbread and mustard. For these challenges, I really try to come up with a complete plate that works at all levels. For the hot dogs, I went with my childhood favorite of Saag's frankfurters, growing up, we would get these at their butcher shop in Oakland, it was across the street from the Oakland Flower Market. They are still excellent sausages.

As you see my set up above, I smoked them on a rack over the bean pan with an apple wood fire for 1/2 hour. Then into the bean pot. These were finished cover on after 1-1/2 hours at 300F. The beans were a small can of Bush's Vegetarian Beans and a can of Navy Beans to cut the sweetness and excess sauce. I also added 1 tablespoon of grainy mustard, 1 tablespoon of my basic BBQ rub, 1 tablespoon of Red Boat fish sauce, 1/4 cup bourbon ketchup and 1/2 cup of honey pale ale.

The cornbread ended up being Honey Pale Ale Blueberry Cornbread, which was primarily Jiffy Cornbread mix with the milk reduced 1/2 and ale added. I also added 1/2 cup of dried blueberries and some chopped canned green peppers. I like the Hatch brand as they have a little heat.

I like to make cornbread in a cast iron pan, whether over the fire or in the oven. I preheat the pan and fat to make sure the thermal mass if already hot, it makes a nice crust as well. This actually works great for many quick breads and cobbler like breads as well. A little bacon grease would have been perfect for this, but, I used the far more convenient butter. Of course, my cast iron is very well seasoned and release is not an issue.
Hmmm, something looks like it is missing. Oh, finally, dill pickles, what to do with those, well, mustard is really good with beans, with frankfurters and with cornbread, so, dill goes with mustard and this is all I decided to do. Chopped up some dill pickle, add 1/2 teaspoon of dill liquid to 1 tablespoon of prepared rough grind mustard and mix it all up. The spicy and sour profile really cuts through the sweet and fatty components of this meal perfectly. The mustard sauce may have been even better on the beans than it was with the frankfurters.

This is really a meal that worked great. Not all of these Four Ingredient Challenges have worked perfectly, but, it is easy to see why this kind of meal has become a standard of the American table. I highly encourage you to take a look at all of the other participants in this little challenge, their links are below. There is a wild cross section of interesting minds at work.

Larry Gaian of The BBQ Grail - Entry Here
The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet and is listed on as one of the top BBQ blogs.

Paul Haight of No Excuses BBQ Entry Here
The No Excuses BBQ website was started in January of 2009 as a way to record the author’s goal of cooking outdoors at least once a week throughout the year and showing the results to the world.  Somewhere along the way things got out of control…

Chris Grove of Nibble Me This - Entry Here
Nibble Me This is Chris Grove’s blog about his misadventures in live fire cooking. ”I have no culinary training….I’m just entertaining myself with fire and food”.

Hanneke Eerden of The Dutchess CooksEntry Here
The Dutchess Cooks was started in 2010. After years of cooking, grilling, baking and reading other people’s blogs, I thought “why not start my own blog??” And I did, in 2010, but already after a short period of time, a blog wasn’t enough, and I started my own website. It’s not my goal to publish or come up with fancy and difficult recipes: just good and delicious food with an international twist! Straight from my plate to yours!

Marc Van Der Wouw of Grill Adventures - Entry Here
Grilladventures by broadcastmarc is started on march of 2010.I started the BBQ thing when I was 30,before that we eat a lot outside.have fun,but when the kids came in our life We start serious cooking.Most of it is realy healthy I think;-)The grill has a special place in my heart,We love to do things outside..Everything I make is an adventure,and sometimes we use the books.We try to grill as much as we can year round.

Jerry Russel of Cooking by the Seat of my Pants - Entry Here
Cooking by the seat of my Pants began life as a way to document our culinary misadventures. Since then it has become our way to encourage people to cook without boundaries or recipes. To just get in the kitchen and cook something from the heart.

Jason Adams of Jason's BBQ Adventures - Entry Here
Started Jason's BBQ Adventures in 2007 and originally fell in love with real BBQ the first time I tried to smoke a pork shoulder and soon after started smoking ribs, brisket and chicken. After a while I started to experiment with grilling and smoking just about anything and ultimately fell in love with the entire cooking process.

Wilfred Reinke of Oshawa Ogre's Views News & BBQ's - Entry Here
Wilfred is somewhat of a newcomer to the BBQ scene having only done standard grilling for most of his 50 years, He found and became passionate about Low & Slow about 2 years ago. and that passion also morphed into a second hobby which is writing. Oshawa Ogre's Views News & BBQ's has been a project that has taken on a life of it's own and blessed him with many many new friends in the BBQ community on Twitter, facebook and through the blog.


  1. Bob!! I like that bread!! :-))

  2. Love that the process beings with a nice beer! Cornbread is really fun. I am excited to join the 4 ingredient challenge next month. Gave you a quick shout out on The Daily Dish today. Hope you consider entering our grilling contest this week!

  3. Nice twist on the cornbread and a great meal overall.

  4. Excellent job! Love the blueberry cornbread idea.

  5. Thanks Chris and Larry. Feel free to try it out Larry, it works great.

  6. Nice meal! Love the blueberry cornbread

  7. Great minds think alike; for a minute I thought I was looking at one of my pictures when I saw the weenies sitting over the top of the beans. I think we even have some of the same cookware choices... ;)

    Great looking blueberry cornbread, I'm going to have to do that in the near future while the blueberries are still in season. And you can't go wrong with a honey pale ale...

  8. Thanks Jason and Paul, I recommend the cornbread. Yes, Paul, there are only so many places great minds can go with cookware selections.

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