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A close look at two dishes: Denver omelet vs. Carolina barbecue
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A close look at two dishes: Denver omelet vs. Carolina barbecue

Denver vs. Carolina matchup puts spotlight on regional dishes

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Super Bowl 50 this Sunday puts the spotlight on more than just the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.

It highlights two foods named for the same regions where the two opposing football teams call home.

Enter the Denver omelet and Carolina barbecue.

Sure, they may not even come together during the same meal or even on the same menu, but there’s no denying they are delicious. Who can deny the fact that both can hold their own no matter the time of day? At least we think so.

So we wanted to look into what makes these two dishes some of the most popular items at two Tulsa eateries.

The Denver omelet

Call it a Denver omelet or a Western omelet — if there is ham, onions, cheese and peppers, you’re there. Visit any breakfast hot spot or diner and you’ll find it in the omelet section.

At Tally’s Diner, the Denver omelet has been on the menu since the beginning, said Tally Alame, owner and operator of the diner.

But he said the history of the omelet started long before 1987, when he opened the diner. During the cowboy days, the omelet was served as a sandwich, he said, but later evolved to stand on its own without being stuffed between two slices of bread. And at Tally’s, it is served with a side of potatoes and your choice of toast, biscuits and gravy or a pancake.

“It’s that combination of onions, peppers, ham and cheese,” Alame said. “It’s really popular, people like it.”

Order up a plate at the restaurant, and it’s likely you’ll receive an omelet whipped up by one of the restaurant’s longtime employees, Rocky Friedman. Friedman has worked for Tally for about 25 years and has truly perfected his omelet-flipping technique, said the owner.

Instead of the Julia Child-type omelet you might be familiar with — the fluffy stuffed egg that is served folded over in a semi-circle form — Tally’s signature omelets will arrive rolled, stuffed and topped with cheese.

It starts with equal handfuls of diced onions, green peppers and ham cooked on the flat-top grill, Alame said, while the eggs spread out “like a blanket.”

The filling is cooked for just a short amount of time to leave the peppers and onions whole but long enough to give the ham a nice sear, too.

“Then (the filling) is spread over the eggs, and cheese is added. It’s folded three times like a roll, and cheese is added inside and on top,” he said.

DENVER OMELET

Makes 1 omelet

3 eggs, scrambled

¼ cup onion, diced

¼ cup green bell pepper, diced

¼ cup country ham, diced

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons cooking oil, separated

1. Heat one tablespoon cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion, bell pepper and ham until onions become translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove filling to a plate and set aside.

2. Add remaining oil to the same skillet over medium heat, and allow it to come to temperature. Pour eggs into the skillet, and leave it untouched, about 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Using a rubber spatula, gently turn the eggs, tilting the pan to one side for assistance.

4. Empty the filling mixture in the center of the eggs and cover with half the cheese. Use the spatula to fold over the sides and then slide onto a plate and cover with remaining cheese.

Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich

The Tulsa-based Rib Crib chain whips up three kinds of sauce, according to Brian Fritz, general manager of the downtown location. He said everyone has a different version of the tangy sauce that is Carolina barbecue sauce.

“There’s tons of ways to make a sauce, and this is our version of Carolina sauce,” he said. “It’s gotta have that mustard or vinegar base to start with.”

The company competes in barbecue competitions as far as Wisconsin and Tennessee to Texas. And depending on where you go, the region will dictate the flavors. Some like their barbecue spicy, while the Carolina sauce developed for the Rib Crib brand has a sharpness to it that really sets it apart from their mild and hot sauces. Their menu boasts a Carolina Pulled Pork Sammy that pairs two things they believe makes it a true Carolina sandwich: Carolina sauce and coleslaw.

“It’s that combination of the hot pork and that cold slaw,” he said. “And here in Tulsa, we added lettuce and tomato to give it that extra crunch.”

Order the sandwich from any of its more than 60 locations and you’ll likely get a mound of pulled pork on top of a toasted bun with lettuce and tomato, finished with a hefty portion of coleslaw and a few squirts of their tangy sauce. Diners have the option to choose from the three sauces as the bottles are set out on every table at each restaurant.

“It’s great on ribs, but mainly it’s served on pork,” Fritz said.

And the meat is a big part of Rib Crib’s barbecue philosophy: All the meat is cooked in-house. The sauces are all mixed locally but distributed to all its locations to maintain its consistency from store to store.

A SIMPLE CAROLINA SAUCE

1½ cups yellow mustard

½ cup brown sugar

¾ cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon white pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons butter, room temp

1½ teaspoons liquid smoke

¾ cup warm water

1. In a saucepan, stir together water, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar. Season with chili powder, black, white and cayenne peppers. Bring to a simmer over low to medium heat for about 20 minutes, but do not boil.

2. Mix in Worcestershire, butter and liquid smoke and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Cool mixture and pour into an air-tight jar or container and refrigerate overnight allowing flavors to blend before using.

— Recipe courtesy of Brian Fritz, general manager of Rib Crib Blue Dome District

PORK DRY RUB

This seasoning can be used on any form of pork — from pork butt to pork ribs or chops.

¼ cup paprika

2 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1½ teaspoons dry mustard.

1. Mix all ingredients in a shaker or jar.

— Recipe courtesy of Brian Fritz, general manager of Rib Crib Blue Dome District

SMOKED PORK SHOULDER

1 9-11 pound pork shoulder

½ cup of the pork rub

1. Rinse pork in cold water to remove any purge.

2. Evenly and generously sprinkle all the ½ cup of pork rub.

3. Place pork on smoker fat side up at 210 degrees.

4. Smoke for 8 to 9 hours, allowing the rub to set and a bark to form. Once the bark has formed and the shoulder has a great color, it’s time to wrap the pork in foil for the final 1 to 2 hours. Note: Changes in temperature can drastically change the cook time. Keep an eye on color and internal temp. Done pork shoulder will be in the 190- to 200-degree range.

— Recipe courtesy of Brian Fritz, general manager of Rib Crib Blue Dome District

If you’re entertaining this weekend for the big game, here are some extra recipes worth dishing up for your guests.

PLANK GRILLED POTATO SKINS

1-2 cedar planks, soaked overnight

6 baking potatoes

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup rib rub

1 cup barbecue sauce

8 slices bacon, diced, fried crisp and wrapped in paper towel

½ cup shredded old orange cheddar cheese

3-4 green onions, chopped

1. Boil or bake potatoes until tender. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh (reserve for another use), leaving a ¼ to ½ inch shell.

2. Preheat grill to medium high or 450 degrees.

3. Cut each potato shell lengthwise into 3-5 wedges. Rub both sides of wedges with olive oil. Sprinkle with rib rub and place skins on pre-soaked planks.

4. Set planks on the grill, close lid and grill-roast for 10-12 minutes.

5. Generously brush wedges with barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with bacon and cheese.

6. Grill another 3-5 minutes, or until cheese has melted and the edges of skins are crispy. Remove from grill and garnish with chopped green onions.

7. Serve immediately from the plank with additional barbecue sauce on the side.

— Recipe courtesy of www.WinterBarbecuing.com.

PANINO MINI FILLO SHELLS

1 package (15 count) Athens Mini Fillo Shells

1 package (6 ounce) hard salami panino

Cilantro or basil leaves for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut each panino into 8½ inch pieces. Stand three pieces inside each mini fillo shell. Bake for 6-8 minutes.

3. Garnish each with cilantro or small basil leaf. Serve warm or room temperature.

— Recipe courtesy of www.AthensFoods.com.

GREEK STYLE NACHOS

½ cup roasted red peppers

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

Pinch kosher salt

1½ teaspoon fresh oregano, minced

1½ teaspoon Gaea’s Sitia, Crete D.O.P. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Kalamata D.O.P. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil

12 ounce pita chips

2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded

8 ounce mild feta cheese, crumbled

½ cup Gaea’s Green Greek olives, sliced

¼ cup Gaea’s Kalamata olives, sliced

½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

½ cup non-fat Greek-style yogurt

1. For the roasted red pepper salsa: Cut the red peppers into a medium dice and mix in a bowl with the garlic, salt, and oregano. Stir in the olive oil. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

2. For the Nachos: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take the roasted red pepper salsa out of the fridge and set it aside.

3. Spread the pita chips in a single layer on a baking sheet or a large heatproof platter. Sprinkle both cheeses evenly over the chips. Scatter the pepperoncini over the cheese. Bake the chips just until the cheese is melted, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the chips from the oven and scatter olives and cherry tomato quarters over the top.

4. Spoon some of the red pepper salsa on the nachos and then dab on small dollops of Greek yogurt. Place the remaining salsa into a bowl so folks can dip while they eat. Serve the nachos right away with the remaining salsa on the side for folks to dip.

— Recipe courtesy of Gaea Olive Oil

MARINATED CHICKEN

1.3 pounds chicken breasts (or boneless thighs)

3 tablespoons chestnut honey

1 teaspoon curry

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon mustard

Pepper

1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

1. Reduce heat and finish cooking the meat salting lightly.

2. Place the cumin in a frying pan and toast in order to release the essential oils. Press lightly and place it in a bowl.

3. Add the curry powder, lemon juice, honey, mustard and create a marinade. Add the chicken (chopped to your liking) and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the griddle. Once hot, drain the chicken cuts and cook.

5. Lower the heat and finish cooking. Lightly salt the meat.

6. Adjust salt and serve.

— Recipe courtesy of www.LagostinaUSA.com.

Jessica Rodrigo 918-581-8482

jessica.rodrigo@tulsaworld.com

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