My AFC Divisional Round Cook-off: Tennessee vs Baltimore

In the case of this match-up, I think I was more excited about the cooking than I was about the actual game. Maybe Baltimore is not the most sought culinary destination in the US but it is famous for Old Bay spice and the iconic crab cake. It’s also home to Chap’s Pit Beef (the sandwich stop in the parking lot of an LGBTQ strip club) and Sip and Bite (the greek diner with some of the best feta cheese I’ve ever had) which rank number 8 and 13 on my DDD list respectively.

Nashville, on the other hand, is one of the more popular foodie stops which offers a blend of old school southern food outlets and chic eateries. I have had the pleasure of dining at Husk in the Sean Brock days and to this day Arnold’s Country Kitchen and its meat and three remains at the top on my list of all time Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Before getting into the showdown, a few comments about the game:

  1. I was surprised to see that Ryan Tannehill was only 31 so I can’t use my “Lamar Jackson got his ass kicked by his dad” joke…maybe more like his older brother although I often equate QB years to be more like dog vs human. I think it was important for Jackson to taste defeat so he can bounce back in a Patrick Mahomes vs RG III fashion. That said, it should be pointed out that Tannehill only threw for 88 yards with no picks whereas Jackson tossed for 365 but with 2 INTs so it’s hard to say that Ryan was the better QB in the end.
  2. I think the irony is the fact that Baltimore got beat by using the same blueprint that won them Superbowl XLVII…a moderately talented QB and good defense vs a flashy offence lead by a run/pass threat. Similar to this game, Flacco manged to avoid interceptions whereas Kapernick’s balanced offence numbers (including 62 rushing yards himself) was tainted by a pick and a sub 100 QB rating.
  3. Everything said, I can’t get excited about Tennessee. Sure, watching Henry run for almost 200 yards and average 6.5 per carry is somewhat exciting but I can’t help but remember every week of this year’s football pool when I cringed while being forced to choose a winner in any of the painful AFC South interdivisional game.

For the cook-off, I went with the aforementioned crab cake versus Nashville hot chicken. There are hundreds of crab cake concoctions out there but I opted for Andrew Zimmerman’s recipe which is definitely crab forward and uses saltine crackers as its binder. I did take the liberty of throwing in a pinch of Old Bay Seasoning for good measure. They fried up beautifully and really only need a bit of lemon as an accent.

My Tennessee choice was Nashville Hot Chicken, a signature item in many Tennessee eateries including Hattie B’s. Fried chicken is ubiquitous in the US but the uniqueness of this dish is the basting sauce which is a combination of fat, cayenne pepper and sugar. The result is extreme sweet/heat. I used a whole chicken which I cut into 8 pieces instead of quarters allowing for a reasonable frying time of 15 minutes or so. I tempered the heat with a tangy side of slaw, some homemade bread and some lakeside pickles which worked really well.

My Take

Unlike the game, when it came to the cook-off there was no clear winner . I mean choosing between a crab cake and fried chicken is a dubious task especially when the chosen recipes are spot on. Honestly, I think fried chicken holds it own without the Nashville cayenne/sugar topping and I guess I can handle a good crab cake without an aioli although I won’t omit the Old Bay seasoning under any circumstances.

I think Lamar Jackson needs an ass kicking to remind him he’s not quite prime time yet (6 of their games were against Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati after all). Next year we will see whether he takes the path of Pat Mahomes or rides (or kneels) away in the sunset like Colin Kapernik. With Marcos Mariota in his prime, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan Tannehill ends up following in the footsteps of the likes of other past and present 30 plusers like Joe Flacco/Peyton Manning and Kirk Cousins/Brett Favre by joining a retirement team such as Denver or Minnesota.

DDD:Baltimore:Chap’s Pit Beef

Part of the difficulty of ranking DDDs, or any restaurants for that matter, if the fact that they are so different.  Take Chaps Pit Beef for example. It’s a humble abode with a simple concept; charcoaled meat on bread but can it compete with likes of sausage gravy and Maryland’s own blue crab cakes?

The directions are straight forward.

1.Get on the Pulaksi highway.

2. Look for Gentleman’s Gold Club.

3.  Enter parking lot. Park. Leave car.

4.  Follow smell of smoky goodness to small, stand alone shack.

5.  Enter.

6. Got to counter, imagine any combination of meat possible (beef, sausage, ham, turkey and corned beef).  Many are named after famous people, teams etc.  Put pointer finger and thumb on chin and stare blankly at the numerous choices.

7. Order.

8.  Move to the other side of counter and wait.

9. When food comes proceed to condiment counter and dress accordingly.

I felt a pang of betrayal not ordering the The Guy’s Triple D, but decided on the Richwich, a corned beef, beef, turkey and sausage which pays homage to Man vs Food host Adam Richman (sorry Guy, but it had two kinds of beef!).

Having just eaten at Sip and Bite, I took it to go and drove toward Pennsylvania with a side of tiger (horseradish) and house made BBQ sauce. I had every intention of waiting until I drove a reasonable distance before digging in, but as I said on yelp, it spoke to me, asking me over and over to eat it. I really had no choice, so I finally had to succumb, pull over for safety reasons.  I slathered it with the sauces and indulged.  I must of looked like a cross between a rabid dog (complete with dripping tiger sauce) and a fat kid in a pie eating contest. I swear a state officer did a double take making sure I wasn’t wrestling a ruffed grouse.

Chaps is a straight forward sandwich and burger shack set up in the parking lot of a strip bar. Chaps offers a fantastic sandwich, highlighted by the tender beef, corned beef and turkey.  The sausage was so-so and a bit awkward, so I would likely go with the Raven (beef, turkey, corned beef ) next time.   As for the sausage, I’ll  leave it for the Gentleman’s Gold Club.

Verdict: 5  Guyz

Richwich- Undressed
Richwich- Undressed

Richwich- Dressed with Tiger Sauce
Richwich- Dressed with Tiger Sauce and Attacked

Chaps Pit Beef on Urbanspoon