Episode 351 - Across the United States

Release Date: May 29, 2020

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  57 min.

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Prior to the American Civil War, you had two ways to move people and goods between coasts. You could make a 2,000 mile journey by wagon train through daunting terrain, or take an arduous voyage by ship all the way around the tip of South America.

Both of these choices were dangerous and expensive. And, as everyone knows, you most likely just died from dysentery.

But now, in the latter half of the 19th century, the vast American continent stands open and ready to be connected... by rail!

Can you build a transportation empire by investing in railroad companies, delivering goods and passengers, and picking up gold along the way?

In a train game world full of slow freights, Across the United States is a Bullet Train, delivering balanced fun at blistering speed, refusing to get sidetracked by little details. 

Listen in to discover why we think it deserves a place at your table and the distinction of our Spiel of Approval.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Across the United States       Okazu Brand |  BGG  

Designer: Hisashi Hiyashi

Publisher: Okazu Brand

Artist: Ryo Nyamo

2-5 players  60 min.   ages 10+   MSRP 5000 Yen ($47)

Time to teach/learn: 10-15 minutes

The Meal

Since so many of us are remaining sheltered and needing to find ways to plan meals and find fun in life, we offer up the following…

Listed below are some go-to recipes and game suggestions. Each one could be an evening’s entertainment with anyone you happen to be sheltered with!

Meal 1: Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Provided by: Doug Richardson

Game: Murano

Bolognese Recipe

End of Days Bolognese from Nat's What I Reckon (NSFW)

Meal 2: Grilled Pepper & Flank Steak Fajitas

Provided by: Stephen Conway

Game: Luchador  | Our Review of Luchador on Episode 185

Fajitas Recipe


1.75 – 2 lb flank steak

flank steak rub ingredients

cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powdersalt, pepper, brown sugar, flour

6 peppers (red, orange, yellow)

2 onions

1 container of mushrooms

olive oil


condiments: guacamole, sour cream, salsa

How To Prepare

The Grill: Start the fire as you prep the veggies and steak if you’re using charcoal. Place coals on one half of the coal tray, so that you have a hot and “cold” side to the grill. 

The Veggies: Cut peppers into quarters so they will lay as flat as possible on the grill. Trim and seed the peppers. Peel the onions and cut them in half horizontally.  Clean and slice the mushrooms. Toss all the veggies in a bowl with oil to give them a light coating. The peppers and onions are readty for the grill. For the mushrooms, prepare a foil packet (rip off a long sheet of foil, place the mushrooms flat on half the surface of the foil, then fold over the other half of the foil and pinch the edges to make a packet. Poke a few holes in the top of the packet to allow steam to escape. 

Grilling the Veggies: Place the peppers directly on the hot side of the grill, skin side down. The goal here is to get the skins blackened but not incinerated. Most of the surface should be blackened when ready to move to the cold side of the grill. Always keep the skin side of the peppers on the grill, never the flesh side. If space is an issue, you can stack the peppers on top of each other like a deck of cards. Delicious delicious cards. ☺ Allow the peppers to continue to cook as you prepare the rest of the meal. The skins will pucker up and the peppers will be soft and pliable when ready. Remove them from the grill and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then starting from the pointy end of the pepper, peel the blackened skin loose from each pepper slice, leaving a beautiful roasted pepper to slice into smaller bits for fajitas.

For the onion, place on the hot side until seared with grill marks (3-4 minutes a side) then transfer to the cold side and allow to continue to cook as the rest of the meal goes. The onions will become translucent when ready. Remove from the grill and slice into smaller bits for fajitas.

The packet of mushrooms goes directly over the hot side of the grill and can stay there for a good while. Make one of your steam vents in the packet large enough to serve as a peep hole. Leave them on the hot side for 5-10 minutes then transfer to the cold side and allow them to continue to cook there. You can easily place peppers or onions on top of the packet if space is an issue. As everything finishes, you can place the packet back over the hot side  to finish them off (2-4 minutes). Remove from packet and place in a bowl. They are ready.

The Steak: Prepare the rub. Notice I did not give exact amounts. Experiment! I’d say equal parts of cumin, garlic and onion, chili powder to taste, and a decent amount of brown sugar. The flour should be added just a little at a time. Its purpose is to keep the rub loose and easy to apply. Blend the other spices first and then add a little flour and blend again until it has a nice loose consistency.

Apply a very liberal amount of rub to the entire steak.  Make sure it is coated well. Let it sit with the rub for at least 15-20 minutes as the grill heats up. Add extra rub as needed.

Grilling the Steak: It will go quickly so be ready. It is the last thing you will cook so make sure all the veggies are well under way and have been cooking on the cold side for at least 8-10 minutes before starting the steak. 

Place steak on the hot side to sear one side and then the other. Be watchful and vigiliant here. If the grill is nice and hot this can take place in 2-3 minutes. The goal is to get a nice sear and grill marks on each side and then transfer to the cold side of the grill and close the lid. Let the steak cook the rest of the way covered. Total cook time should be in the 8-12 minute range if your grill is nice and hot. No more than 20. You do not want to overcook this steak! Easy trick for medium rare is to flex your hand by stretching your  fingers wide. Feel the muscle between your thumb and forefinger.  Firm but a little give in it. Using grill tongs  test the steak. Pull it off when it has this texture. Pull the steak off, let rest for a few minutes and do a test cut on the thick end of the steak. ALWAYS CUT FLANK STEAK AGAINST THE GRAIN OF THE MEAT! Do not go past medium. I recommend medium rare. If ready, slice away! If not, place back on the cold side for a few additional minutes but watch it closely.

Serve with tortillas and condiments. Muy delicioso!


Music credits include:

Hell On Wheels - And They're Off  |  by Kevin Kiner and Gustavo Santaolallathe song

Hungry Man   by Louis Jordan  |  the song

Hell On Wheels - Main Title  |  by  Kevin Kiner and Gustavo Santaolalla|  the song