Have you noticed that almost anything you need can be purchased at the corner gas station? With the price of gasoline, that’s a good thing!For those who are looking for a nutritional and delicious quick meal, have we got a gas station for you! At Bear’s Den – Tasty possibilities are endless
by Don Bingham
Have you noticed that almost anything you need can be purchased at the corner gas station? With the price of gasoline, that’s a good thing!For those who are looking for a nutritional and delicious quick meal, have we got a gas station for you!The Bear’s Den – located in a Conway gas station at 2890 Dave Ward Drive – is actually one of Conway’s best hidden secrets. Many have been stopping by, including local police officers, military personnel, university staff and lots of students. Yes, there’s the availability of everything fried that is still digestible but the secret is the wonder that this gas station fires up Monday through Friday – the smoking wagon.For the low-carb dieters, those who like outdoor grill flavors, and those who are looking for a quick take-out to add to what is waiting at home, the possibilities are endless. The smoked ribs, half and whole smoked chickens, pork chops and turkey legs are smoked to perfection.True enough, you have to forget the Limoge china and Ralph Lauren napkins but Bart Sullivan serves up genuine warmth and hospitality – one of those characteristics I look for in my eating establishments – and now it is offered as daily fare at the local corner gas station.You’ll have to pull up next to the 50-cent “vacuum your own car” pump rather than valet parking and be prepared to be met with the ambience of the elegant Harley motorcycle and bar stools rather than white tablecloths and bud vases. Just watch your step and make your way to the carryout line of wonderful smoked meats.Upon further investigation, I’ve discovered the sauces are all natural – no additives, no preservatives – and are packed full of flavor. The 501 market arena has lots of great barbecue options. We all have our favorites. We’ll support them and will continue to welcome more choices in our local neighborhoods, but I’m delighted to add the Bear’s Den to my fast food, drive-by gourmet roster.May I recommend the following recipe for dinner tonight, using the Bear’s Den smoked chicken.Fruit Salad with Blackberry Basil Vinaigrette
8 cups mixed greens1 ½ cup sliced mango1 ½ cup pink grapefruit segments1 ½ cup sliced strawberries1 cup fresh blackberries1 large avocado, slicedSmoked chicken slices
Mix and toss with dressing. Place smoked chicken on salad for a great protein meal.
Blackberry Basil Vinaigrette
½ (10 ounce) jar seedless blackberry preserves*¼ cup red wine vinegar6 fresh basil leaves1 garlic clove, sliced½ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon seasoned pepper¾ cup vegetable oil*Raspberry preserves may be substituted.
Pulse preserves and vinegar; add next four ingredients. With blender running, add oil slowly. Process until smooth. Serves 6.
Chicken Artichoke Salad
¾ cup coarsely chopped red pepper2 ½ cups cubed poached chicken1 ½ cups hearts of artichoke, quartered (about 1 ½ 14-ounce cans)Egg Yolk Vinaigrette¼ cup sour cream
Cut red pepper in half and remove seeds. Cut each piece in half vertically and remove the skin with a vegetable peeler. Chop coarsely. Combine red pepper, chicken and artichokes in a large bowl. Whisk vinaigrette and sour cream together. Add to chicken mixture. Stir well, cover and chill at least 6 hours or overnight. Serves 4-6.
Egg Yolk Vinaigrette
1 small shallot½ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon dried tarragon2 egg yolks2 teaspoons Dijon mustard2 tablespoons lemon juice2 tablespoons white wine vinegar½ cup salad oilFreshly ground white pepper
With the steel blade in the processor bowl and the machine running, drop the shallot down the feed tube. Mince finely. Scrape bowl down. Add salt, tarragon, egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar. Process 10 to 15 seconds to mix very well. With machine running, slowly pour salad oil down feed tube. Process 5 seconds after all of the oil is in. Scrape down, process 5 seconds more. Season with pepper and additional salt to taste.