Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Inspired by Columbus: Iron Grill (part 1)

Iron Grill Barbecue and Grill
5295 N. High St.
Columbus, OH
(614) 885-7444
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You may remember Iron Grill by it's old name, Pig Iron BBQ.  But back in 2012, Eugene Staravecka, the owner of Gahanna Grill purchased and renovated the space.  What is clear about Iron Grill - from the name to the decor to the menu - is that it seeks to combine what people enjoy from both Gahanna Grill and Pig Iron BBQ.

My wife, son, and I headed there on a Saturday for lunch.  It was not very busy inside as most people were enjoying their meals and the great weather on the patio.  We were told we could sit wherever, so we walked through the modestly decorated wooden dining room. We found a booth in the back where we settled down to look at the menu.

The menu has a lot of enjoyable pub and fast casual staples divided into the usual categories: appetizers (like wings, onion rings, and potato skins), soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers. The menu is quite extensive, which is great since you need to please a wide variety of people, but can be a little daunting.

However, there were a few things that really stood out as being particularly interesting: pulled pork and sauerkraut "eggrolls" from the appetizer menu, pulled pork and chili nachos, the "Memphis Burger" and a few of the daily specials like the smoked pork loin, smoked prime rib, and a delicious and deadly-sounding dish called the "hog stack."  Knowing that the portions were pretty big, we only ordered the pulled pork nachos and the Memphis burger.

Lyndsay ordered the nachos sans jalapeno for $8.99 and I ordered the burger which was also $8.99.  The nachos are huge, easily two meals for the average diner or a great appetizer to share with a large group.  The flavors of the chili and pulled pork go well together.  The pork is tender and the homemade barbecue sauce is tasty and unique.  If I were to change this dish, I would probably layer the nachos a little better so the cheese and toppings are spread more evenly, but this is a problem I have with most nachos.

I've had a bacon cheeseburger before. I've had an onion ring on a burger before. I've had a pulled pork sandwich. But, I've never had all of them mixed together.  It should come as no surprise that all of these flavors work well together, but the real appeal of this dish is the myriad of textures you experience with every bite. Soft bun, crisp lettuce, tender pork, crunchy onion ring, and chewy burger, make this burger a delight to eat.  It is definitely one of my favorite specialty burgers I've had.

How I was Inspired

My first thought was to take the ingredients from my wife's nachos and change it up a little bit.  I decided that if I added a little coleslaw, they would make great tacos.  It just so happened that I had just made some pulled pork the previous day, so all I needed was some coleslaw, chili, cheese, and taco shells and I would be all set.

The great thing about these tacos is that they can be as easy or as complicated as you like.  You can go buy your favorite pulled pork (mine is Ray Ray's), a can of chili, some deli coleslaw, shells, and cheese and literally have no work to do.  I love to cook, so I made everything except for the shells.

You can make a decent pulled pork without a smoker either on your grill, using this recipe (which is what I did this time), or in your oven with this recipe (which I have done in the past).

Though I do enjoy a Texas-style chili, a ground-beef chili with tomato and kidney beans is what we got on our nachos at Iron Grill, so I made up a big pot of it using this recipe. I have to say, even though I only needed a little chili for the tacos, I'm not upset.  This week I'll also be eating chili cheese dogs, chili omelets, and chili mac.

Finally, I had to find a really great coleslaw recipe.  I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of coleslaw, and I've tried multiple recipes on my own and multiple iterations at restaurants.  But this recipe was really excellent.  The cabbage was still crisp, it wasn't waterlogged, and it had excellent flavor without being too thickly dressed, over-sweet, or overly vinegary.  

So now that I had all my components in place, I invited over my friends Zach and Libby and we all enjoyed these chili, pulled pork, and coleslaw tacos together.  Though each individual component has it's own recipe, here are a few things to remember when making these tacos

  1. Don't try to overfill the taco shells or you will have a mess on your hands and your basically back to nachos at that point.
  2. Start with just a little bit of chili on the bottom of the taco shell.
  3. Then add some mild cheddar, Monterrey jack, or your favorite Mexican cheese on top of the chili.
  4. Next, the thickest layer should be made up of the pulled pork.  Putting the cheese between the two hottest layers will help it melt faster.
  5. Finally, put a small amount of the coleslaw on top and enjoy.
So head on out to Iron Grill and get some classic dishes made better with a little barbecue. Let me know if there is a dish somewhere I should try, or if you would like any more info in later posts.  Later this week, I will do a short follow-up post where I reveal what dish the Memphis burger inspired me to create.  You won't want to miss it, it is going to be a tasty burger.


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