We're friends, right? So, then, we can be honest with one another, and we can admit that I was off my game last week.
Oh, it wasn't a terrible comeback - it was more "American Recordings" than "Chinese Democracy" - but it was still not my A-game. As some of you were all too willing to point out, I managed to forget the Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer feature, 1990s rap videos (which I've left out again this week, just to spite you), and text messages of the week.
Point being, I've still got some rust to shake off after missing a season and all of training camp. I know it. You know it. It's no big deal; I just need to keep battlefightin' and we'll get to where we need to be.
What's that? This post is a day late, so obviously I'm still rusty and off my game? Listen here, Mr. Rhetorical Device, you could not be more wrong. This post is a day late because, unless and until the 2DH starts paying the bills, real life is going to occasionally intrude and force some rescheduling.
Besides, that delay made for a great inclusion in this post based on Rivers' emailing me yesterday, "My reaction to the lack of 2DH today reminds me a lot of the Louis CK bit about how quickly the world owed us in-flight wi-fi."
Don't be like that guy on the airplane, people.
My hatred of non-noon-on-Sunday starts cannot possibly be overstated. This is true whether we are talking about 3:25pm Sunday, Monday night, or Thursday night.
After a lot of self-analysis, I think I've figured out why I feel this way, and it relates to two specific aspects of my personality: I am a creature of habit, to the point that altering an established routine occasionally makes me feel nauseous, and I am nearly incapable of allowing one change in my schedule to impact other events if I don't have to. Taken together, these two quirks mean that, when the Texans play a late-start game on Sunday afternoon, my day is immediately in shambles - I spend the morning watching the same pre-game stuff and drinking as if the Texans were kicking off at noon, even though I know that they aren't. I flip back and forth between multiple games, but not in the sense that I enjoy any of them. Rather, the channel surfing takes the appearance of someone who seems to think, "if I just keep changing channels, maybe I'll find the Texans game."
My hatred of Monday and Thursday games stems from this as well. Monday games mean the entire Sunday before is spent in a weird kind of delirium, while Thursday games mean the following Sunday feels like that. Plus, you throw in the fact that I usually have to work on a Monday or Thursday, then I have to wait hours after work to watch? Forget about it.
This is all absurd, and it is bizarre. But it is also me.
Turnovers by Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2014. I know! I'm as shocked as you!
Receiving yards needed by Andre Johnson to ensure that he finishes this season in the top 10 all-time in that category.
Andre Johnson currently has 12,828 receiving yards in 11 seasons plus two games. During that time period, he has caught passes from the following human beings: David Carr, Tony Banks, Sage Rosenfels, Dave Ragone, Jake Delhomme, Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, Case Keenum, Matt Leinart, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. If that seems like a pretty horrid list of ball chuckers, that's because it is.
Reggie Wayne currently has 13,692 receiving yards in 13 seasons plus two games. During that time period, he has caught passes from Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter, and Dan Orlovsky. Of course, Collins/Painter/Orlovsky were all in the same season, when the Colts were actively doing their "Suck for Luck" routine.
Now, maybe I'm biased, but given what Andre Johnson has had to work with - seriously, look at that friggin' list! - the fact that he is less than 1,000 yards behind Wayne right now is absolutely amazing. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: we are all lucky to be sharing time and space on this earth with Andre Johnson.
Passes - whether intended for him or not - that J.J. Watt has caught in his career.
Number of passes caught by J.J. Watt that have resulted in TDs.
Offensive TDs caught by J.J. Watt, giving him more such scores as a Texan than DeVier Posey and tying him with LeStar Jean and Eric Moulds.
Passes defended (or "defensed") needed by Jonathan Joseph as a Houston Texan to pass Dunta Robinson for the most all-time in team history.
On Saturday, I was flipping around, watching multiple college football games on TV. Mrs. MDC walks through the den and sees the Cowboys' stadium on TV.
Her: "What is that monstrosity?"
Me: "Cowboys Stadium."
Her: "It looks like an indoor theme park."
Me: "Yup...Six Flags Over Mediocrity."
Current streak of consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards by Arian Foster. He had two two-game streaks in 2010, a two-game and a three-game streak in 2011, and two two-game streaks in 2012.
Rushing yards by Arian Foster in his only previous game against the New York Giants, a 34-10 thrashing of the Texans.
Answer to the question, "Are the Giants as good on defense in 2014 as they were in 2010?"
BBQU PhD Program: Cooking for Mary.
This year, rather than continue to delve into the minutia of regional BBQ, which we covered pretty extensively in 2012, we are going a step further and focusing on some advanced topics in cured/slow-cooked/otherwise-awesome forms of carnivorous pleasure. Which sounds dirty, but (generally) isn't. This week's topic: Leg of Lamb.
When most people think of eating lamb, they think of lamb chops. This is understandable, as lamb chops are delicious little morsels of goodness and they take to a number of unique sauces very well. I certainly couldn't fault someone for thinking that lamb chops are the best way to consume that animal.
They would be wrong, mind you, because they would be ignoring the deliciousness that comes from a perfectly cooked leg of lamb, but I wouldn't fault someone who didn't know better.
The three most common cuts of leg of lamb are bone-in, boneless (i.e. "rolled"), and butterflied. Because Mrs. MDC likes meat more on the medium-well side and because it's kind of primal and awesome, I prefer to go with a bone-in leg in the 8-11 lbs. range.
PROTIP: Have your butcher remove the shank and the aitchbone before you take the leg of lamb home. The aitchbone is a huge pain in the butt to remove without wasting a lot of meat. Let the butcher do his butchery for you.
Once you've gotten the leg home, it's time to prep. First, we need to make our wet rub. (I'll come back to why you should do this first.) For the rub on a 9-lb leg, you'll need:
- 3 tbsp. dried rosemary leaves, crushed in your hand
- 1.5 tbsp. mustard seeds (give these a quick crush with the bottom of a heavy pot)
- 3 tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
- 1.5 tbsp. Spanish paprika
- 20 cloves of garlic, minced
- 5 tsp. (NOT tbsp.) of regular table salt
- 9 tbsp. canola oil
Mix all of these ingredients together in a glass bowl and let the mixture rest at room temperature while you prepare the meat.
Leg of lamb, like brisket, does not absorb the fat that melts on the surface during cooking. Unlike brisket, however, we don't need that fat cap for a waterproof bottom during the cooking process. So, against everything you might currently believe, I'm telling you to completely remove the fat cap on your lamb leg. It's just going to run off and keep flavors from getting down into that part of the meat. You also need to remove as much silverskin as possible (preferably all of it).
Take that trimmed beauty and grab your butcher string or whatever twine you use for tying meat and tie the leg firmly so that it's as solid a mass as you can make it. There will be some loose flaps that seem to defy being tied in place, but do the best you can.
Once it is tied up, use the tip of a sharp, small knife (or even a metal skewer) and poke holes all over that sucker. Now apply the wet rub, working it into the crevices and cracks as much as possible.
For fire purposes, we're actually going to use a grill, but at smoker temperatures, because we want the direct heat for searing/charring purposes. So set your grill up for two-zone cooking, and get the overall temperature to 225.
Stick your thermometer or probe into the meat, being careful not to have it up against the bone, and cook the leg on the indirect-cooking zone until the internal temp hits 110. Now move the leg over to the direct-cooking zone and sear the outside of the roast on all sides - you may have to be creative when you need to sear the narrow sides and find a way to prop it up - until the internal temp is 135. The narrower end of the leg will be closer to 155 at this point, so you'll have a variety of doneness for yourself and your guests.
Take it off, and let it rest on a cutting board for at least 30 minutes before you cut it. Then slice against the grain and enjoy.
BBQU PhD Program: Spice Chemistry.
The reason for making the rub ahead of time is because aroma molecules in many spices (and aroma molecules generally) are non-polar and, therefore, are soluable in oil, since oil molecules are also generally non-polar (unlike water molecules).
By making the wet rub first, you give the oil time to break down and release some of those flavor molecules, meaning that the flavor of your rub will be stronger and more developed by the time you apply it to the lamb.
BBQU PhD Program: Prof. Vega Discusses Beer Pairings.
For years, the 2DH has been our virtual professor in all things meat. From guidance on cuts to details on regional styles, the 2DH has provided us all with everything we need to know to satiate our inner carnivore. Throughout this culinary journey, however, one thought has continued to repeat itself at the forefront of my consciousness: "man, I could go for a beer right now."
MDC apparently agrees, and he has graciously handed me the microphone which I will use to attempt to pair a beer with his meaty musings. Within this space, I will attempt to accomplish five objectives (three, sir!): Explain the rationale behind the pairing, provide a brief history on the selected style, geek out a little regarding the construction of said style, and provide a few recommendations of commercially available beers. Yes, I know that's four objectives, but I really wanted to use that Monty Python line. DON'T YOU JUDGE ME!!
This week we're talking about lamb, and let's just lay it out there: lamb is sexy. Lamb is the smoking girl that sits across the bar, chatting with her girlfriends, and pretending not to notice your awkward stare. Her little black dress? Rosemary. I've eaten all sorts of animals out there from guinnea pig to kangaroo and lamb is in a class of its own. She's strong and independent, yet unique and delicate. You do not insult her with a weak pilsner, nor do you overpower her with a double IPA. Lamb requires a beer that is complex and flavorful without being abrasive. Enter the dubbel.
The dubbel is a style created by the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle in Antwerp, Belgium. Traditionally, the monastery had only produced a lighter beer, but in 1856 they expanded to a stronger, darker brew. A sort of brown ale with a Belgian kick. There are only ten authorized Trappist monasteries that can claim to brew authentic Trappist ales (even one in the USA!), but it is much simpler to get the Abbey designation which is for beers in the style.
The unique flavor profile of the Belgian ales comes primarily from the unique yeast strains. That's why all Belgian beers have that an aroma of chocolate, caramel, and even a bit of raisin. What gives it the complexity, though, is the use of Belgian candy syrup which is a byproduct of the sugar making process (candy sugar can be used as an alternate, but it won't have as intense a flavor). Alcohol is fairly high at about 6-8%, and hop character is quite low. Fermentation starts relatively cool (about 64 degrees F) to give it a clean finish, but is generally increased during fermentation in order to achieve full attenuation.
This all results in a rich and complex beer. The sweetness from the sugar is not overpowering, and is balanced not by hops as in most American and British ales, but rather by the yeast strains that give dubbbels their unique character. That depth of character makes it the perfect match for lamb.
He's Not Wrong.
J.J. Watt doesn't always catch passes, but when he does, they're touchdowns.
Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer Inexplicable Decision Of The Week.
[Author's note: It's a sad day in Two-Day Hangover Land. It seems that Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer has gotten married and changed the name on her public profile to the (relatively) more professional sounding, "Marijuana Sawyer-Clardy." Dang. Thankfully, we have a long memory around here, at least when it comes to stuff like this, so we'll just forge ahead and pretend like nothing has changed.]
Much like the decision to name your daughter "Marijuana Pepsi," the pass-interference call on A.J. Bouye in the end zone was completely inexplicable. Bouye was covering Denarius Moore and had every right to play for the ball like he did. The rules protecting receivers are one thing, but if we're just going to call any defensive contact a penalty, we're not making the game better in any tangible way except for the people who love inflated point totals.
TXT MSGS of the WEEK
I keep seeing #26 play well & it messes with my head.
Have y'all seen the Bill O'Brien mic'd up from last week? It's a delicious cocktail of f bombs. Waiting for my football boner to subside.
 Full disclosure: the answer is most likely "no."
 The one exception to this is Thanksgiving Day, but the reason for that is because I can treat them much the same way as I would with a Sunday noon start (e.g. beginning my drinking early), and there's enough stuff going on between when I get out of bed and kickoff that the time passes quickly.
 That list would also include Rex Grossman if Grossman had been able to get a catchable ball anywhere near Andre in the one game Rex played QB for this team.