Pig of the Month Key West in a Bottle Citrus Grilling Sauce

People go on quests for the perfect type of food all the time. America’s best burger, the most extravagant red velvet cupcakes Venus has to offer, the types of things that reality television shows and type 2 diabetes are made of. I have some staples that I find always need improvement, but when it comes to barbecue sauce, I’m a closeted settler. I find that in most cases, it’s so slanted toward the mediocre that finding a sauce that doesn’t send me into a Tazmanian devil-esque frenzy makes my pants tent.

I thought it was crazy to want more out of barbecue sauce, and had been perfectly happy with either ignoring it or using it as an industrial-strength paste for my wallpaper, until I found this. Buyer’s Best Friend sent this summery sauce over by Pig of the Month. Initially, I looked at it and could almost taste the sugar and molasses-heavy flavors through the glass, like a useless sixth sense. However, since my father was coming by, we decided to throw caution to the grill and use it as a marinade and glaze for chicken, and boy, are we glad we did that.

Pig of the Month specializes in cutting out the middleman and sending dismembered animal parts right to your door, fresh for consumption and ritual sacrifice over fire pits. In addition to controlling the meat racket, they also sell bottles of their homemade sauces. We tried the Key West Citrus sauce and it was divine. I think I’ve used this on no less than three dishes in the last two days. Dumplings. An omlet sandwich. Grilled chicken. Turkey burgers.

Holy cow. BB-who, now? This sauce is silky. This sauce is sweet, but nowhere near unctuous. It has a spicy, bold pepper kick. Exceptional really isn’t a strong enough word for this sauce. Stupendous? Finger lickin’ good? Doesn’t hold a candle to how it really tastes. Instead, I’ll casually mention that by accident- I cannot stress that enough, a few drops of this made it onto a spoonful of peanut butter I was eating. And I kept eating it. And it was freaking awesome. That good enough for you?

Point is, this has the best balance and fruitiness of any barbecue sauce I’ve had. It eschews the unwritten philosophy that meat needs copious amounts of sugar, salt, and bland spices to handle a six-hour ride in a smoker and instead, soaks a bright, clean set of fruit juices (grapefruit comes out especially well here) and bold cayenne and cumin into the meat. It’s both a wonderful marinade and glaze as well as a drizzled sauce. If you’ve tried any other sauces from Pig of the Month (or any of their delectable porky products) let us know how you like them!

Taco Bell Beefy Nacho Burrito

Like envisioning a post-apocalyptic backdrop in which our dinosaur overlords taunt us with what once was food as we choke down our pellet diets, it is difficult and panicky for me to visualize a town where the only viable quasi-Mexi option is Taco Bell. Suffice to say, the days of both Taco Hell, Schlocko Bell, and jokes lifted from 90’s topical jokebooks where the punchline (lunchline?) is always “looking for a byte to eat” because haha, computers, are OVER FOREVER.
I mean, sometimes they’re just so predictable. I used to be able to diagram Taco Bell’s new formulations in the same way that I diagram logic games. For instance: Taco Bell uses seven ingredients, Guacamole, Fresh tomatoes, Hot sauce, Imaginary steak, Jalapenos, Krunchtastic Chips®, and Lard to make four items, Qrazy Burritos®, Rollitos®, Stufftwiches®, and Tacos®. If guacamole and tomatoes are in a taco together, there can’t be any lard. No Rollito® can have more than three components. If a Stufftwich® does not have Krunchtastic chips®, it must have Imaginary steak. Each ingredient can be added one time to multiple items. No items have less than two ingredients. And so on.

However, with the release of the Doritos Tacos Locos and the newest member of the gang, the Beefy Nacho Burrito, I’m confronted with more than one wild-card element. Queso strips? A Dorito-laced taco shell? Where do those fit in? In the case of the Beefy Nacho Burrito, chips make a surprisingly successful addition to an otherwise blase burrito- that is, only if they’re not inside it. The core structural problem with the BNB is that, like its spicy predecessor, the Beefy Crunch Burrito, unless you live inside a Taco Bell or are eating it in the store (an awkward moment for anyone with a camera who, like me, intends to take photos) it inevitably turns into a monolithic, soggy mess as soon as you get back. It’s salty, sauce-heavy, and tasty, but in both cases, they present an issue I never thought I’d have: too many condiments.
The end bites are predominantly tortilla, cheese sauce, and sour cream. If you’re lucky, a few errant pieces of ground beef will be in there, too. I thought that this had a better balance of spices and heat than the Beefy Crunch, because the addition of Volcano sauce (which might not be standard) made for a more up-front spiciness and lingering heat. Perhaps this would be better if given the McDLT makeover- keeping the hot side hot and giving you a bag of strips like croutons to sprinkle on a few seconds before ingestion would solve the textural inconsistencies, but still eliminates convenience. Taco Bell R ‘n’ D- make some thicker chips! Or spray them with a nacho cheese-flavored hydrophobic coating.

I will say this- the combination of Volcano cheese sauce, ground beef, and sour cream evokes the flavor of nachos, I guess, in the same way that looking at porn is just like having sex. To their credit, this is a passable alternative for nachos if you’re driving* and need to eat nachos**. Besides, by the time the actual nachos get to your clumsy hands, they’re already soggy from the condensation. It’s nachos lite, because the the tortilla strips are rendered as soft and pliable as the tortilla surrounding it. You can see them in the burrito, but in all other senses they don’t register at all. Which is why I asked for a separate bag of them to taste- exactly what do Queso Strips bring to the table?
They taste identical to the Four Cheese Doritos, now discontinued in the States but flourishing in Canada as far as I can tell, which leads me to believe that these exotic export hail not from sunny Mexico, as all Taco Bell items obviously derive from, but from our neighbors above. They’re thin and crispy, seemingly thinner than the Doritos here, with a mild, creamy cheesiness, like the powder that comes in boxes of mac and cheese. I think I enjoyed them more than the burrito itself. As for that, it’s a fun novelty, but not much else. Get some Queso Strips and sprinkle them in yourself if you must***.

*- while high
**- while high
***- while high

Mission Cantina, South Amherst, MA

Mission Cantina has one impressive set of cojones- and not in a good way. South Amherst’s latest addition to the mainly mediocre Mexican scene around town boasts a boring menu with impressive prices. For a joint set in the dingiest of strip malls, they’ve got an ego as large as the burritos they’re serving up. On a Tuesday evening, I decided to take Esportoe out to celebrate his graduation.  Only one of us would manage to survive the night without vomiting profusely. We were up against a 30-45 minute wait while being stared at by the angriest of Amherst’s notorious smug liberal adult scene. Apparently, Tuesday is Margarita and Forced Coworker Socialization night, so the tiny place was booming.

Accompanied by an abrasive mariachi soundtrack, blasting from ceiling mounted-speakers like Daft Punk, and the ever-tempting scent of pizza in the take-out joint next door, we opted to forge on. In an ideal world, we would have left after the hostess informed us that she was too busy to take our phone number so we wouldn’t have to be confined to the cramped space in order to ensure our table, and this review would show you how good our pizza slice was and how awful Mission Cantina was. Did I mention that nobody recommended we make reservations? And that I didn’t expect to for strip mall Mexican? But we’re stupid college students, so we stayed. That 30-45 minute wait turned into an hour before we were seated. Interesting cocktail flavors and Mexican coke tantalized us from the menu, but at $8.50 minimum for a medium-sized beverage, we opted for water instead.

The food is twice the price of both Mi Tierra and La Veracruzana but looked decent enough. We opted for a sampler of six tacos and chicken mole, along with an order of chips and salsa. It was worth noting that we had a wonderful multi-tasking bartender slash waitress who almost made up for the overt douchiness of the hostess. And luckily for me, I reasoned that I’d be able to eat the tacos with my hands- a boon as my fork and knife were filthy and covered with sticky bits of food. Our chips arrived quickly and came in a huge basket along with three salsas. Exactly what I expected for standard chips ‘n’ dip, but for $4.50, I wanted to see some fucking miracles. The chips were tasty- hot, crispy, and fresh, and, although this may just be something I enjoy, glistening ever so slightly with oil. Although the size was a hair unwieldy, there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch and they were wonderfully craggy, all the better to dip with.
The salsas, on the other hand, had some issues. For .75 cents apiece- more like a buck apiece if you factor in the chips at around a dollar’s worth of tortillas, they came off as kind of skimpy. They were served in an oversized container that made the portions- about an ounce’s worth of salsa per bowl, look very spartan. The flavors were tasty and I appreciated the variety. Of the three- a classic red, pineapple verde, and black bean negro, I definitely enjoyed the black bean the best. It was smoky and smooth, but not terribly thick so it still retained a spreadable texture. The pineapple was fresh and zesty but was separated as soon as it hit the table and made for a very messy eating experience. The red salsa was standard, nothing to write home about. None of them had any heat or spice.
And then our food came. When they were dropped down at our places, the bus boy neglected to mention which tacos were which. Understandable for three, but rather annoying for six, especially in the dark, cavernously lit restaurant where they all basically looked the same. Going down the line, though- we ordered carnitas, fried fish, al pastor, chorizo, chicken, and carne asada. But we’ll get back to those.

Esportoe’s chicken was pretty good. Served with rice and beans, mole dripping off of everything, it was an incredibly well-rendered rendition of the sauce. When eaten with the sides, however, it was as though we were eating a different sauce completely. It translated so differently on protein versus on a carbohydrate, the latter full of cinnamon and smoke, tempered by the meat. It was a little too intense, slightly imbalanced and overpowering almost every other flavor. His chicken was crisp and tasty. Served with four tortillas, it made tacos better than the ones I’d ordered.
I won’t mince words: three out of my six tacos were edible. Not good- that distinction goes to only one taco. Three out of six were food-like enough to put in my mouth and chew. We’ll start with the failing three. We bit into the carnitas taco first, only to find that it was incredibly dry and stringy, not to mention cold and flavorless. The chorizo was even more offensive. I mean, it’s pretty difficult to screw up chorizo, unless of course you fry little chunks of it into oblivion until they’re charred and black, add excess oil when you realize you’ve seared off all the fat and moisture, and serve it on a tortilla. The result is burnt chorizo popcorn pieces. That was the first time I’ve ever spat something from a restaurant into my napkin. Hideous. The carne asada hovered on the cusp of edible and dog food, with a flavor nowhere near steak and a heavy-handed cuminy aftertaste, so oversalted I could feel my blood pressure take a direct hit.
The chicken and fried fish tacos were stuffed full– at least a half cup of cubed, grilled chicken and a large hunk of fried fish spilling out of the tortilla, but were undistinguished in flavor. The slaw atop the fish barely registered as part of the taco and the chicken was bone-dry, improved in flavor as well as in texture with a little salsa dribbled on top. The only taco we both enjoyed was the al pastor, and here, the definition of enjoyed is more like “tolerated.” Sweet, tender, and tasty pork. Whatever. It was edible. It’s also worth mentioning that both our plates looked like they’d been through a shooting range. How were they so chipped!?

The bill came to around $50 with a tip and to our delight a few hours later, came with a free round of food poisoning for Esportoe, who texted me the one-word review of “threwup” later that evening. Absolutely horrendous. It’s double the price and double the attitude. It made me wonder whether the few bright spots in the meal were merely flukes. After reading all of this, you’re probably guessing that the restaurant is new and still wobbling on its soft opening legs. It’s been open for six months. Anywhere else and this place would have been shuttered within a month, but I’m guessing its loyal fan base will keep it festering for a little bit longer. My advice- cut off those cojones and serve them in a better taco. If you cook it correctly, maybe I’ll even come back. Mission Cantina, meet Mission Improvement. It’s a good thing. 

Dunkin Donuts’ Southwest Steak and Southwest Veggie Breakfast Burritos

The cashier beamed at me like I’d just eaten a dozen doughnuts in one sitting.
 “You got the last two burritos!”
Trying not to sound too excited or too interested in the comings and goings of QSR quasi-Mexican breakfast food, I asked her if they were popular.

“We introduced them today and we just can’t keep them on the shelves!” That settled it for me. After hearing about these via press release, they sounded too good to pass up. Dunkin’ Donuts is less known for their breakfast sandwiches and wraps, having gone through strange hybridized products in the last few years. Waffle sandwiches, fruity bagels, and sausage biscuits didn’t make the cut, but I believe they may have a contender on their hands with the new Southwest Steak and Southwest Veggie breakfast burritos.
My first indicator that these would be good? The latter contains sweet potato, a component I’ve never seen used in D ‘n’ D products before, along with roasted corn, black beans, scrambled eggs, and cheese. The former, a more standard meat ‘n’ potatoes flavor, was advertised as containing seasoned steak, potatoes, various fire-kissed vegetables, eggs, and cheese. Both burritos were about the size and thickness of a TV remote control, roughly six inches long and sealed tightly with a uniform brown, bubbly crisp. That’s definitely a good sign, as nothing can bring down a burrito more than a chalky, crumbly tortilla. These had the added benefit of carrying a salty, grilled flavor on the shell, almost like a taco shell, without seeming greasy or filmy.
The tortillas held together wonderfully and contained all the fillings while still remaining soft and yielding to each bite. Whatever size they used was perfectly proportionate to the filling, which extended from edge to edge and filled the center of the tortilla, bulging slightly out of the seam. The veggie burrito was outstanding for a fast-food breakfast item. It had a predominantly smoky chipotle accent from the peppers and an underlying sweetness from the potatoes, which, as the most plentiful ingredient, were up front and center.

All the ingredients were well-cooked without being mushy, a typical complaint of the nuked veggies used in these premade filling mixes, and the beans and corn added a crisp texture and additional layer of flavor to the sandwich. The cheese wasn’t really noticeable but bound all the ingredients together well. While this definitely could have used a little hot sauce, the smoky heat of the peppers wasn’t shy at all.
The steak burrito was definitely the mushier, saltier one of the bunch, crammed with pieces of steak and potato. Both were texturally indistinguishable but well-seasoned with heft and body. Calling it steak is a little overzealous, on par with calling a Big Wheel a Ferrari. It has the texture of loosely chopped sausage. Like the veggie burrito, this was also spiced, but not necessarily spicy. The eggs and cheese played a bigger role in this and I felt like this had a more breakfasty feel than the other.

 I enjoyed how much meat there was in proportion to the other ingredients. For three dollars apiece, they were both filled very generously. If you skipped breakfast but don’t yet feel like lunch, one or two of these will really hit the spot.

Prometheus Springs Chili Mango

Happy Cinco de Mayo. Or at least it would be a happy one if going to a Mexican restaurant around here wasn’t like playing Russian Roulette. We have two decent Mexican places here, one of which is open on erratic days, and the other of which is a popular favorite of parents with screaming kids. Both were overflowing with Corona-pickled bros tonight. There are two more places, but with menu items like quesabbqburrito mashup with fried refried deep-fried beans, is there really even a point? I digress. We were tired and went the sandwich route this year, which was as delicious or possibly even more delicious than hearing David Bowie through a synthesizer-enhanced Dobro. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t celebrate.

Prometheus Springs is quickly becoming my new favorite thing ever, and that’s not solely because their logo is “fire for the mortals” or due to their adorable usage of emoticons on their packaging. Or even because they send this flavor over for us to try. It’s because, quite simply, they’re freaking badass. Look at those flavors. Ignore, for a moment, that their logo looks like something you’d dream of, but never dare, tattoo on your body. Ourobouros is like, “Yeah, I’m eating my own tail. U mad bro?” Put aside the fact that there are six different ways to prepare this drink on the side of the bottle. Instead please check out the flavors. Lychee Wasabi. Citrus Cayenne. It’s silly to even review this because it gets a ten. They all get a ten. Ten for you, Glen Coco. We have spent upwards of one 2012 Toyota’s worth, or two 1998 Neon’s worth, on Pomegranate Black Pepper alone.

Regardless, it’s good to know what’s out there in the great, wide, refrigerated world, kicking Nantucket Nectar’s ass and making Juicy Juice its bitch. Chili Mango has a nose that seasoned connoisseurs will immediately recognize as a mid-90’s Snapple Mango Madness, with a clean, floral scent, almost delicate, and underlying sharpness. The chili has awakened. The flavor is by no means sharp, though. While I was left wishing the mango was a little richer in this, lacking the thick indulgence of mango nectar or juice, the acidity and general flavor was clear and pure. The spice comes and goes as a prickle, but it’s a jolt on the back of your tongue. Not unpleasant or bitter, and in no way tasting like Tabasco or even chili powder’s pungency. Just clean heat and a little buzz to start- or end- the day with.

Tabasco Buffalo Style Hot Sauce

My life is flaming right now. And I don’t mean in a listening to Elton John more than usual, leather jacket wearing, pompadour sort of way, because that would imply that I hadn’t already been doing those things. Ahem. What I mean is that things are coming together all at once and the hours in the day just aren’t feeling long enough. Cooking, blogging, and overall enjoyment of life have been pushed aside for finals preparation and LSAT cramming, as well as the ensuing therapy that comes with both, and I’ve barely had time to eat a full meal on an honest-to-goodness table, as opposed to the pile of papers that typically serve as my plate, much less prepare one for Miss Love and I. Imagine my joy when the newest sauce from Tabasco came to the house today- Buffalo style, no less. Easy to use and easy to enjoy…or was it?
I was initially skeptical, but then again, due to the aforementioned LSAT prep, I’ve been initially skeptical about everything I’ve been doing lately. Reading traffic signs. Watching television. Even a simple question from Miss Love about dinner will elicit a stern discussion about whether or not her suppressed premise includes not wanting to eat chicken for the sixth night in a row and determine if her argument to do so is structurally flawed.  
So reading on a package that something is “Buffalo style” rather than “Buffalo” in name gets my brain racing. And calorie-free Buffalo to boot- now that’s something to tweet about.

 Luckily, my fears were for naught. While I was initially put off by the scent, a combination of regular Tabasco and an underlying nose of spicy musk, as well as its ability to tattoo the skin with its signature orange brand, a sure sign that tells everyone you see that you’re well on your way to obesity and are proud of it, the flavor carefully mimicked buffalo wings without the usage of butter. Or witchcraft.
It’s less spicy than Tabasco but spicy enough to leave a good tingle on the lips and tasted amazing with our homemade chicken patties. It’s also thicker than regular Tabasco, which makes it easy to toss wings or chicken pieces in and not have to worry about the sauce dripping off. It’s got a good texture and easily adheres. This will definitely be a key player in our dinner condiment lineup.

Tikka Masala Enchiladas with Cilantro Jalapeno Crema

I have a problem? An enchilada problem? No. No, no, no, no- you’re the one with a problem. I won’t hear anything else. The problem- your problem, mind you, is that you don’t have a forkful of these crammed in your mouth right now. That’s the story and I’m sticking to it.
These all started when Miss Love, weary of my enchilada fixation, casually suggested we eat something different for dinner outside of the six versions of faux-Mexican we’ve eaten in the last month. As if. Something with a little less corn tortilla and tomatillo. Something with curry, with grapes, with bread, with anything but chicken and hot sauce. Unfortunately, I’d just finished the last of our previous batch of enchiladas and really wanted more. She, in all her wily form, went straight for the heart and suggested chicken tikka masala, one of my favorite dishes.
What I countered with may have changed our eating patterns forever. “How about chicken tikka enchiladas?” And so it began. It wasn’t like we planned on layering charred pieces of chicken marinated in a revamped Russian dressing on corn tortillas with cheese, tikka masala sauce, and topping them with a cilantro jalapeno crema. It wasn’t like we anticipated nearly inhaling the whole pan all the while discussing how good tomorrow’s lunch would be. It wasn’t like we predicted that during all of this, the kitten would teach herself to adhere to the screen door, grapple her way up to the door frame, and balance atop it yelling until we took her down.
And yet, it all came together beautifully. Two stubborn women were momentarily quiet as they ate their dinner, two cats cried for chicken, and the lemony, spicy, sweet, meaty goodness of these enchiladas proved to me that arguing with your lady can sometimes bring wonderful things. Namely, more enchiladas.
Chicken Tikka Enchiladas with Cilantro Jalapeno Crema
Ingredients (serves 4)
3 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/3 cup of spicy ketchup
1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of hot sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
Dash of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jar of tikka masala sauce
12 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
Cilantro jalapeno crema on top
Cilantro Jalapeno Crema
Ingredients (makes about 1 cup)
1 cup of chopped cilantro
2 jalapenos, deseeded and cored
1/3 cup of sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste
1. Set your oven on broil and prepare your sour cream marinade. Salt and pepper your chicken breasts. Mix together sour cream, the garlic, the spices, and spicy ketchup. Taste and adjust as needed and spread over chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet.
2. Depending on how thick the breasts are, they will need to broil for 12-14 minutes on each side or until cooked and crispy. While they are broiling, prepare the crema by placing all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blending until combined and chopped. Grate the cheddar cheese and set it aside.
3. When the chicken is cool and easy to handle, chop it into bite sized chunks. Heat half of the tikka sauce on the stovetop and dip the tortillas in, one at a time, letting them sit for a few seconds until they are soft. Place the chicken in a bowl and pour more sauce into the bottom of the saucepan, enough to cover the bottom.
4. To assemble the enchiladas, place a few tablespoons of chicken in the tortilla and top with cheese. Roll them up and set them in the pan, lined up until the pan is full.
5. Pour the remaining tikka masala sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Heat on low until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with crema and hot sauce to taste.
And we never argued again.

Robert Rothschild Thai Plum Garlic Dipping Sauce

Today brought sunny skies, a productive afternoon, and an enormous package of Robert Rothschild sauces and snacks from Buyer’s Best Friend, quickly turning into Foodette’s Best Friend with the selection of goodies they tossed my way. Most of the package consisted of some awesome looking simmar sauces, one of which I immediately eyed as my conquest for tonight’s dinner. Thai Plum Garlic, you sultry devil. Once again, due to my inability to eke out more than three pages of dry academia in more than one sitting, I turned to cooking to ease the drudgery.
Tonight’s selection was a hodge-podge. I flirted with using a few other Asian ingredients to accentuate the sauce along with my cornmeal potstickers, but a brief tryst with sake-infused onions yielded no more than an awesome, creepy sci-fi photo and an overly sweet end product. Basil-infused garlic just seemed stupid. So, a few caramelized pearl onions and slices of pickled ginger later, I had my potsticker mixture in record time.
The sauce was really the highlight of the filling- it brought a sweet, yet pungent flavor to the chicken and really enhanced the ginger with a zippy chili flavor. Its texture was thick and bound everything together without the need for additional binder or liquid.
It wasn’t too sweet or salty, though, and had a quick lick of heat that inspired dipping the dumplings into the sauce even after using them in the mixture! A sign of a great condiment, for sure. While the dumplings weren’t perfect- I still have a ways to go with my wrapper recipe, the sauce definitely gave them that deliciously glutenous texture and flavor without having to order take-out.
Do you have any good tips for dumplings or best go-to grilling recipes? I have a ton of condiments to use now and I need all the tips I can get!

Grilled Queso Blanco and Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos

It’s Thursday. I’m at the tail end of Spring Break. And the only better thing I have to do tonight is watch Kramer vs. Kramer and write part of a term paper. Huzzuh! So, let’s be honest. Regular readers must be kind of annoyed that I’ve been lax on the reviews. New readers are all, “I’m looking for MiO and what is this” but I just can’t afford to give a damn or even half a damn. Not when there’s homemade salsa verde and 84 degree afternoons on the horizon.
So, once again, another faux-Mexican’t recipe from a girl who eats a lot of hot sauce. This time I’m hawking salsa verde that’s almost, kind of like the one your favorite- er, my favorite restaurant has in abundance and refuses to share the recipe for. It’s delicious. And I made tacos and topped them with grilled triangles of queso blanco and the tinny quintessential flavor of Texas Pete. Unofficially and illegally endorsed by Foodette Reviews!
Grilled Queso Blanco and Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
Ingredients (serves 2, three tacos apiece)
1/2 cup of salsa verde (recipe below)
2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
6 slices of queso fresco, cut into triangles
6 corn tortillas
Hot sauce to taste
1. Cut the chicken into small one-inch cubes and marinate in the salsa for thirty to sixty minutes.
2. Heat a medium grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high heat. Place the corn tortillas and cheese wedges on them for two minutes on each side, enough to get char marks on each side.

3. Grill the chicken until cooked and blackened slightly on each side and serve atop the tortillas, garnished with a little fresh salsa and hot sauce.
Salsa Verde
Ingredients (makes 4 cups)
1 avocado
1/2 large yellow onion
1 cup cilantro
2 cloves of garlic
1 lb of husked and quartered tomatillos
3 jalapeno peppers
1 squeezed lime’s worth of juice
1. Chop the onion and tomatillos and deseed the pepper.

2. Throw everything in a blender, pulse until smooth. Season to taste.
Try these and then you’ll believe me when I tell you that none of the three iterations of fresh salsa, chicken, and tortillas I’ve made in the last week along have had photo documentation due to gorging. You’ll see. You’ll all see.

Burger King’s New Chicken Strips and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ and Kung Pao Sauces

Now that the iconic fear-paralyzed face of the Burger King royalty is gone, who will usurp the noble throne? Built on ketchup slicks and nuggets seized from the crownius region of the chicken, the fast food restaurant has decreed a complete overhaul of its restaurants. My local BK, not a king, but not yet a lounge, has been partially remodeled but is stuck in a strange dead zone where the only recognizable theme is the leftover St. Patrick’s Day decorations from last week.
Aside from the new menu cards, BK has introduced a few new menu items, expanding to the cafe-style foods and coffee beverages to garner business from some of their obvious competition from Ronald the Court Jester. I guess if they play their cards right and assume that the law of gravity holds, it would be the most obvious and closest place for me to go for a mediocre frappe. But only if my Rascal stopped working and I had to…walk. Along with these, they’ve introduced a new chicken strip to go along with their new chicken tenders, released around this time next year. T’wasn’t the poultry that intrigued me, but rather, the debut of their two newest sauces, Kung Pao and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ, that carried me into my local establishment on this, the day of the newly released chicken strip.
Touting the strips in both a 3 and a 5 pack for $3.29 and $4.49, respectively, it works out to just over a dollar a strip if you’re going for the small pack. Not the most economical choice unless you’re just really, really into chicken strips. The strips are billed as being marinated and breaded in a seasoned coating, but eaten plain, salty, mediocre chicken was the only noticeable flavor. The breading was crisp, but lacked the crunchiness its counterparts have in abundance and clung closely to the chicken like a too-tight tube top on a girl making a duck face on Facebook. It was surprisingly devoid of oil, but left a very salty, onion-heavy aftertaste and had a bone-dry chewiness more appropriate on jerky than chicken. Only one of the strips was longer than a ballpoint pen and all were tough in texture. Hideously underwhelming, and they made me glad I’d anticipated the worst and bought a cheeseburger to eat instead.
I figured the sauces would be my saving grace for these strips, and let’s face it, they were really just a vehicle for them anyhow. Boasted as being “totally sweet” by my server, the new sauces don’t try to mimic anything I’ve seen from the competition. They blaze their own trail. The roasted jalapeno barbecue suffered from a lack of two things- enthusiasm and proper nomenclature. Assuming that titles as well as ingredients are listed in their order of amount from largest to smallest, I came into this carrying the expectation that “roasted jalapeno barbecue” would be peppers first and barbecue second. Not a chance, unfortunately. It was gummy and sweet when sampled on a spoon, with a heavy brown sugar assault and the clean, lingering bite of jalapeno peppers after. But eaten with the chicken strips or spread on a little bite of burger, the spiciness drowned in the rich ingredients that outnumbered it, leaving a generically sweet flavor with a touch of cayenne, like Sweet Baby Ray’s. I would have loved if there had been chunks of fresh pepper in this or even pickled rings.
The Kung Pao sauce, on the other hand, was perfectly executed and tasted like delicious, cheap Chinese takeout sauce with a more pronounced set of flavors. Hell, this even encompassed some of the cheaper takeout chicken sauces, at least around here. Wafting sharp, sweet pickled ginger aromas from the moment I opened the packet, I knew this would be a great addition to the sauce line. I’ll give it this- it completely blows McDonald’s Sweet Chili out of the water. This sauce had large pieces of ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes and brought an umami-laden depth to the traditional flavor profile of sweet and sour with an aggressive, lingering spice. Slightly tinny at first, but nothing repulsive. This was the only sauce we went back for seconds on.
I’m not typically crazy about fast food chicken as I’ve started making my own nuggets at home, but the new sauces are unique enough that I’d definitely consider getting the Kung Pao if I were ever at a loss for condiments around the house. Not that that will ever happen, but it’s a pleasant deviation from the standard ketchup ‘n’ mustard set.