If You’ve Got ‘Em, Smoke ‘Em (The Chicken Chronicles, Chapter [N])

Some of you may recall I have a roast chicken obsession.  Been a while since we’ve talked about my problem here, but now’s the time.

Yesterday I mashed together a couple of recipes to come up with this:

That would be Peruvian/beer can chicken, smoked on Weber grill.

The Peruvian stuff is here.  Doubled the marinade for the two chickens.  Spooned it all over under the skin; rubbed the left-overs on the outside.

Took two beer cans, drank half the contents of each,* and  proceeded as directed here: putting the half-empty cans in the cavity, and setting both chickens upright, using the legs to make a tripod. (Forgot this bit: I let the chickens rest (not vertically) for about three hours coming up to room temperature from the fridge before shoving the beer can up their butts and getting ready to sit them on the fire.)

Then: about a chimney full of good charcoal (lump hardwood), a few more chunks once I dumped the chimney out.  When the coals were red with just a grey rim, I tossed on two handfuls of soaked wood chips; made sure the whole smokey mass was to one side of the grill; placed the cooking grated and set the chickens on the cool side of the Weber with their backs to the coals.

Next, I covered the Weber, with the air holes in the lid almost completely open, and let ’em go.  I checked them first at about 15 minutes, and again ten minutes later, when I shut the air vent down a little — maybe to two-thirds open — in a probably feckless gesture at getting a little more smoke.  About ten minutes after that, they were done — in the state you see in the photo above.

I also made the cilantro-feta green sauce from the first link, which I can’t recommend too highly; it’s kind of like a creamy chimichurri.  The other minor note: it’s worth picking up the Peruvian chile pastes.  I tried doing this with substitutes and it just doesn’t come out with the same pop.

In any event, when we got the chicken to the table it was, by general consensus, simply the best chicken we’d ever had.  The Peruvian flavor was present, but not overwhelming; ditto the smoke.  The thigh meat was perfect and yet the breast was not overdone.  It was as moist as any bird I’ve ever had — I’m guessing the combination of the vertical cooking position and the moisture from the beer does some kind of magic.

In the midst of the holy hell that is daily life, I have to say it was a pure pleasure to try something new (to me) and have it come out just right, better than imagined.

(We were cooking for very good friends, and the rest of the meal was not shabby either.  I’ll save the salmon bacon post for later.)

Anyway, the thread is open, but I’d like to know if any of y’all want to share any of your similar experiences:  something you cooked or ate that gave you inordinate pleasure.

Over to you, jackals-with-bibs.

*Of the two, the Snaggle Tooth Bandana IPA was really nice.

 

 



Anthony Bourdain Dead, RIP

Depression is a horrible thing. Apparently, he committed suicide in France. He was a great chef, communicator, and shared the glory that is human culinary ingenuity and tradition. He will be missed.

 

Folks, don’t ever let your depression make you ignore this wonderful community of jackals and pet lovers. We will help you, hold, and lift you, just reach out.

I’ll  update with links soon and suicide prevention information.

 

The National Suicide Prevention 24 Hour Hotline is (800) 273-8255

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

You can also text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. People are standing by, ready to help without judgement.



A Late Snack: Caramel Swirl Cake

I made a caramel swirl layer cake with salted caramel ganache for Mother’s Day brunch last week.

I adapted the white layer cake recipe from Epicurious, which you can find at this link. Or use your own preferred white cake recipe. The adaptation was swirling salted caramel ganache into the cake batter before putting it into the oven.

Salted Caramel Ganache

8 ounces of caramels (If you have a recipe for caramels you like and want to do the work, then make them. If there is a for purchase caramels that you like, then save yourself some time and effort and buy them.)

8 ounces of heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Kosher salt to taste

Place 8 ounces of caramels in a mixing bowl. Scald the cream and vanilla extract and pour it over the caramels. Because caramels don’t melt like chocolate does, place the mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water as a double boiler. Let the scalded cream sit on the caramels in the double bowler till the caramels are soft enough to whisk the hot cream into, then whisk them together to make the ganache. Add kosher salt to taste, or if you like your caramel unsalted, leave it out. I won’t call the food police. Swirl the caramel ganache into the cake batter after it has been poured into the cake pans and then bake per the recipe’s instruction. They should look something like this:

Once the cakes are done and cool, make another batch of caramel ganache and set it aside until it comes to room temperature. Then whip another 8 ounces of heavy whipping cream till you get stiff peaked whipped cream. Fold the room temperature caramel ganache into the whipped cream to make caramel mousse.

Turn the cake out onto a round, then frost the top of the first layer with mousse. Place the second layer on top, then frost the top of that and the sides of the whole cake. Then place in the refrigerator. Make one last 1/2 batch of the caramel ganache – just 1/2 everything in the recipe – and let it cool to room temperature. Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and pour the ganache over the top and smoothing it out over the top and the sides with a spatula. Then sprinkle the top with kosher salt or whatever your preferred finishing salt is.

 

Then slice and enjoy!

Stay hungry!

Open thread.

 








Recipe Exchange: Multi-Pot Quick Recipe

I’ve been using my multi-pot electric pressure cooker a lot. I’ve been making my standard pressure cooker recipes, including a delicious pot roast  (recipe here – although I’ve been using  whiskey instead of wine and really liking the flavor)

My multi-pot came with both a steamer tray and a steam basket. The former is so you can steam instead of boil your food and the latter so  you can cook two items at once. On a busy day, I may not cook fancy, but with a pressure cooker  you can put together a quick flavorful meal in a few minutes.

I thought it was time to give the steamer basket a try.

First up – the steamer tray. The one that came with the multi-pot is basically a wire rack. The one from my stove-top pressure cooker is a flat tray.

I wondered if it would fit and sure enough it did. So I started with that one, since I was more familiar with it. What I love about the steamer tray is you can infuse whatever you’re cooking with lots of flavor by placing a spice packet (I use unbleached coffee filters and string) under the tray, add just enough water to cover the tray and cook as usual.  Super flavorful when pressure cooked.

I made Chicken in BBQ sauce and mashed potatoes:

Shredded BBQ Chicken

  • 3 small boneless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper
  • red wine vinegar
  • water
  • spice packet: rosemary, sage, garlic, oregano – crushed together and tied into a flat spice packet to fit under the tray

Lightly salt and pepper chicken breasts. In the multi-pot add enough liquid (1/2 water and 1/2 red wine vinegar) to barely cover the tray. Add spice packet, steaming tray and then chicken breasts.

Now it’s time to add the potatoes in the steaming basket.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 potatoes (I like yukon gold, but any will do), washed and cut into eight pieces each)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the steam basket into the multi-pot and add potatoes.

Now it’s time to attach the lid and cook according to directions – use the time for the longest cooking item, in this case the chicken (15 minutes vs. 10 minutes for the potatoes).

Once the cooker has depressurized, add potatoes to a large bowl to mash, heat milk and butter in microwave until butter is melted and add to potatoes. Mash and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.

For the chicken, remove from the pressure cooker to a plate. Remove spice packet and liquid (I save the liquid and freeze for soup base). Shred chicken (I use two forks, pulling in opposite directions) and then add back into the multi-pot along with BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays – sweet & spicy – is my favorite) and turn the multi-pot to WARM. Let simmer until everything is heated through (a couple of minutes).

Serve with steamed buttered green beans for a quick evening meal.  It’s not fancy, but it’s also not fast food. ;-)

This technique can be used with many items – instead of BBQ you can skip the vinegar when cooking and then use the liquid, along with milk, butter and flour to make a quick gravy after the chicken has steamed. Shred the chicken, add to the gravy and serve over potatoes.

Use this two-tier ctechnique with pot roast, ribs, pork roast… etc.

I think I’m going to try lemon juice, chicken and rice for my next quickie concoction.

Note on steamer tray – I made my first batch of mashed potatoes without it and the potatoes were watery. The next batch I switched to the steamer tray and they were smooth and creamy. Lesson: steam whenever you can instead of boil.

For all my present and future Multi-Pot recipes, bookmark this link.

Next Multi-Pot recipe will be Sesame Chicken.

What’s on your menu this Sunday night? Any Massachusetts peeps running/viewing the marathon tomorrow? Feel free to share recipes and discuss whatever.

Open thread








Saturday Morning Open Thread: Stay Positive


 
Consumer alert: If you’re a fan of Penzey’s Spices (useful even to those of us who aren’t exactly cooks), this is definitely the weekend to check your email — or their online site, to find the store nearest you.
 
Another positivity suggestion:



Saturday Recipes: Electric Pressure Cooker Update and Bonus Pups

First up – we have an Authors in Our Midst/Writers Chatting tomorrow. Same chat time, same chat place (12:30/11:30/10:30/9:30).  Now back to our recipes:

Yummy photo by the great JeffreyW

I have used my Multi-Pot consistently for the last few weeks. I made two batches of soup, pulled pork, pasta sauce and two batches of rice. The first batch of rice I was all cocky and used the simple pressure cooker setting and my own time – because you know, I’m the Queen of Pressure Cooking – well, that didn’t turn out very well. I mean, it was great sticky rice, but I was going for light and fluffy. So the next batch I used the Rice Button! I mean, come on, a pot you can just push RICE and 10 minutes later have fluffy rice – why was I fighting it??

The buttons on this brand are easy and intuitive to use. It does help that I’m familiar with what times work well with my stove top cooker and there are good resources in the booklets that came with the machine to help pick timing.

My first batch of soup was to make Beef with Barley Soup:

I used this recipe (click here). I was excited to try out the browning feature and the pressure cooking setting.

I quickly and easily sauteed the onions and browned the beef with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Then added the remainder of the ingredients, sealed it shut and turned it to the Meat/Stew setting and set it for 30 minutes.

It took it 10 minutes to come to pressure – which didn’t surprise me because I filled it to the highest mark allowed.

The soup was delicious – I could easily leave it on warm, open the lid and let sit and fill the house with yummy soup smells as long as I desired.  And clean up was a breeze – just tossed the insert into the dishwasher.

The one part of this electric pressure cooker that has been a learning curve for me is the quick -release method. I am so used to taking the pot over to the sink and running cold water over the top. With this, they say to just turn the pressure valve to open. Which sounds easy-peasy.  EXCEPT it spews greasy, starchy steam all over my kitchen cabinets.

The solution is fairly simple – I grabbed an old kitchen towel and cover the valve with that as it releases. Takes a bit longer, but no mess and no risk of a scary steam burn.

So for this recipe, I’d give the Multi-Pot a solid A.

This was almost two weeks ago – her 16 week photo.

Bonus puppies and ducks – there are more updates here and here (bonus ducks, too) – I’ve been terrible, I’ve been posting updates but not getting over here to cross-post.  I’ll do better.

What’s on your menu tonight? I know it’s St. Patrick’s Day, but I’m assuming many of us are beyond heading out for the green beer and pub crawls. All you Instant Pot people, what are some of your favorite recipes for it?








Recipe Thread: Winter Cooking Blues

As promised..

I’m so very tired of winter cooking. Stews, soups (ok, I’m never really tired of soup), roasted meats and veggies. Time to freshen things up.

But with what? The produce section is often disappointing with flavorless items that haven’t seen the light of day. But there are some bright spots and with those I can wave away the winter cooking blues.

First up: Peppers and onions.

This is the time of year when you can find a variety of sweet peppers in all kinds of colors at a pretty reasonable price. My recipes are usually fairly simple. Heat up olive oil, add thinly sliced onions and peppers, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté until they soften and onion are golden. Remove from heat and now you can cook up any number of things: chicken marinated in lemon juice and pepper, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki and ponzu sauce, pork medallions marinated in apple juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. The ideas are endless. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, quinoa…

Or how about Fajitas? That recipe is here.

Next up: Fresh salads.

I found a nice jicama one day and realized I hadn’t made a batch of Jicama Slaw since last summer.  A big bowl of that in the refrigerator to munch on all week really lifted the flavor blahs. You can find the recipe here.

Two other summer favorites that are easy to make mid-winter: Potato Salads (recipes here) and Coleslaw (recipe here).

How about fruits?

Now is the time for Strawberries (recipes here and here)

Blood Oranges (recipes here)

And Grapes – one of my favorite grape recipes is Grapes and Sausagesrecipe here.

That should be enough help you get through a few more weeks of winter while dreaming of the fresh vegetables soon to come from gardens and farm stands.

Bonus Recipe:

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce: 

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray and store in a freezer bag.

====================

And of course, bonus puppies. There is a complete update and lots more photos here.

What’s on your menu tonight?