John and cousin Jack Crouch debate proper cowboy hat etiquette. Do you agree? Or, are they stepping in cow patties? Let us know your thoughts….

This is the second episode of Backroads and BBQ from our visit to Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas. The day before we went to Lockhart, we visited with Aaron Franklin at Franklin’s BBQ in Austin. When we told him we were headed to Kreuz, he recommended the pork chop and jalapeno sausage hot link. So, that’s what I got. Check it out!

This poke recipe is so light and fresh and easy. The key to the dish is getting very, very high quality and super fresh tuna. Without that, this dish is nothing. The essential oils really add a grand amount of flavor that you can’t get from any other source. Be sure to use food-grade high quality essential oils (like those from Young Living). Read the labels on the essential oil bottles. If they say “not for internal consumption”, believe them. This probably means there’s something in them they aren’t telling you — not all and only essential oil.

1 pound ahi tuna, large diced in ¼ to ½ inch cubes

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

3 drops orange essential oil

1 Meyer lemon rind, finely minced

1 tablespoon Black sesame seeds

 One pinch Tabasco powder or ¼ teaspoon tabasco sauce

Combine sesame oil, orange oil and tuna. Marinate for 30 minutes. Before serving, add lemon rind, tabasco, and sesame seeds and stir. Drizzle with ponzu sance and garnish with lemon rind and mint leaves.

Ponzu sauce

3 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced

2 pinches Black lava salt

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup Yuzu sauce

1 teaspoon Black sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients and stir well.


1 Meyer lemon rind, finely zested

1 tablespoon mint leaves, finely sliced (Chiffonade)

Combine lemon rind and mint in ice water and hold for garnish.

½ cup peeled and roasted hatch green chiles

¼ cup 1 year aged asiago with rosemary cheese

¼ cup 1 year aged gouda

¼ cup manchego cheese

¼ cup Cabot Farms Vermont white cheddar cheese

½ cup milk

3 tablespoons butter

1 pound  elbow pasta

¼ cup pecarino romano, grated

1/8 cup Parmesan cheese

¼ cup cracker crumbs

Boil pasta in water until al dente and drain. Add butter, milk, asiago, gouda, manchego, and cheddar cheeses. Stir until melted and combined. Pour into a baking dish. Combine pecarino romano, parmesan, and cracker crumbs, then sprinkle over the pasta. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

Imagine the sweet taste of fire embracing your tomatoes and peppers and onions that you blend into a fresh salsa. Perfection! Tortilla chips and some friends over and it’s a party! Salsa is super easy to make. When I fire up the grill, I always have a few extra veggies on hand to throw on the fire and make salsa with. This salsa recipe freezes easily for later use too. Put it in a crockpot or Instapot for Salsa Chicken. Throw it in with melted cheese and some milk to make a Fire Roasted Queso.

Chef John’s Fire Roasted Salsa

5 medium-size tomatoes, overripe, left whole

1 onion, cut in quarters

½ jalapeno pepper

2 tablespoons freeze dried cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon Magic Spice Mix (recipe below)

Heat wood fire grill (I used a Pitboss XL with oak wood chunks, but you can use a gas grill too.) Place a large cast iron skillet on the fire and heat the pan until water sizzles when dropped on it. Char the tomatoes, onions and pepper, shaking the pan to move the veggies and prevent sticking. Turn until charred on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove from fire and refrigerate overnight. (Do not blend while hot.)

Once cooled, remove charred veggies from refrigerator and dump them into a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds at a time until pureed to salsa consistency. (It’s important to pulse and not just turn it on because turning it on will just spin the liquid and not actually chop.)

Pour the tomato mixture into a bowl and add cilantro, lime juice, and spices. Mix and let sit for an hour or so to meld in the flavors. Depending on the acidity of the tomatoes, you may want to add either more lime juice or more spices to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips. Freezes well too.

You can also put the leftover salsa in a crockpot with chicken to make a salsa stewed chicken for tacos the next day.

Magic Spice Blend:

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon coriander

2 teaspoons celery salt

2 teaspoons cumin

Mix together and store in airtight container. Hint: The fresher the spices you use, the better the flavor. Don’t store your spices for more than 6 months at a time.

This is a good rub on meat or chicken and cooked on the grill.