I really needed this final Meatwave of the 2023 season to give me direction. The cookout I hosted prior to this one was more chaotic and draining than any in the past, which left me wondering where should I go from there. If that was going to be the norm, I was going to have to rethink this series going forward because the way I felt coming out of that Meatwave was not going to be sustainable. I pushed forward with one final event though, but got nervous it was going to be a repeat as the guest list grew to be close to the same number as before, but Meatorite ended up being pretty exemplary of my ideal—I had a big group of friends attend, but things felt chill the entire day and I was able to balance my cooking and relaxing times efficiently. It also helped that the menu turned out pretty damn amazing too.
The focal point of the day for me were these smoked quesabirria tacos. This is a recipe I've had jotted down for years as something I wanted to tackle, so it felt great that these tacos exceeded my expectations. I had smoked about six pounds of beef chuck before braising it in a chile heavy liquid until completely tender. The meat had an incredible smoky, spicy, and slightly tangy flavor that was even better when married with cheese inside of semi-crispy tortillas.
I followed the Mexican thread to stitch together the rest of the menu, which included two variations of tamales. This first one made great use of brisket I had froze after Carne-val back in May. I also used beef tallow that I had rendered from that brisket as the fat in the masa, which made these tamales really rich tasting without being overly heavy at the same time.
In contrast to those, I wanted a vegetarian option, so I opted for roasted peppers and Oaxaca cheese, which is one of my favorite tamale filling combos. I wasn't sure how a vegetarian masa would hold up though, but using a 50/50 combo of butter and vegetable shortening, along with vegetable stock, provided a good richness and flavor to make these hold up against the usual lard-laden tamales.
For a heartier non-meat option, I tried out chipotle tofu tortas. The chipotle marinade gave the tofu a deep smoky and spicy profile that got well balanced when assembled into sandwiches with Oaxaca cheese, lettuce, tomato, poblanos, avocado, and mayo. The assembled sandwiches got pressed on the grill, which was key in my mind because the hot and crusty bread really sealed the deal for me.
Finally, I needed to get in one final recipe to have on tap for Wing Month in January, so conceived of this chile-lime wing variation. This was not meant to be a spicy wing, but rather one that takes advantage of the complexity of dried peppers, with anchos, guajillos, and chipotles working together to do that here. Then a sweet lime sauce was applied after they were done being cooked and the final wing had a very well balanced flavor with a ton of depth to it.
At the last Meatwave I was so exhausted after I had cooked everything that I only snapped one shot of the crowd. This time, however, I got back to my better documentation of the other part of the equation that makes these events so amazing—the wonderful people. We were celebrating a double birthday, so Kaitlin and Kim got to share a giant Dr Pepper pecan sheet cake that Kris has made for them.
The kiddos took up residence in the hammock grove for most of the afternoon, as they commonly like to do. Here we have Julian with momma Kelly trying to figure out that right comfortable position for prime hammock sitting.
This is a great group of human beings consisting of Lauren, Christina x2, Chelsea, Farrell, and Kim (again). As I look at this picture, I feel really good that I got a chance to chat with all of them at some point during the day, which isn't always the case at every Meatwave.
On one half of the couch we have Steve, Leslie, Sue, and Chris. We spent part of the day planning out spending more time together next summer as Sue and Chris are our Bulls mini-plan buddies for next season, and we're likely going to be doing more sports by going in on a mini-plan for the Courage with Steve.
Moving to the other side of couch, we have my biased opinion of the best guest—Betty—with her also amazing human companions of Evan and Meredith.
As I like to do at fall Meatwaves, I closed out the day with a fire and s'mores. Most folks had to split before dark, but Christina actually returned with her canine pal Trixie later in the evening and we all stayed out and enjoyed the warm fire in the cool, crisp autumn air. This is definitely what The Meatwave is all about and I was so happy I finished this day feeling like I can't wait to get things going next year, which will be our twentieth season!