I showed the corned beef I smoked for this meal in a recent post. Being a contrarian, I had to do something different with it for dinner. We had a long day that day, and after getting stabbed, I didn’t feel like an ornate meal. Truth? They’ll take away my (part) Irish Card, BUT, I’ve always hated the “throw it all in a pot and boil it” thing for corned beef and cabbage on Saint Patrick’s Day. It takes all the flavor right out of everything.
So what DID I end up doing??
Corned beef sandwiches with coleslaw and Havarti cheese on pretzel rolls with fries.
Viola: Corned beef, cabbage and carrots (in the slaw) and potatoes (fries). Untraditionally traditional. 😀
Yesterday evening we finally had a break in the never ending rain (I swear I thought we moved to Tennessee, not Oregon), and we dragged the smoker out of the garage to get some cooking done while we can. It’s going to rain the rest of the week.
Anyhow, I smoked a small ham for sandwich meat, 3 chicken breasts for a dish I’ll be making in the next day or two, a turkey breast for sandwich meat, and a nice piece of corned beef brisket for dinner tonight. 😀
A few hours later…
I had to sneak a little piece of the corned beef also after my mom said it would be tough and I should have boiled it.
Being salt cured, it’s a little on the salty side, and while it was a little bit firmer than my usual brisket:
It was still plenty tender, because my family is from Texas, damnit, and tough brisket of any variety is a crime there!
Seriously, ask any Texan and they’ll tell you that you can talk bad about somebody’s mama before you can trash talk their brisket. 😀
It’s been a couple of days, but I’m back with a tasty food treat. Last Sunday was Superbowl Sunday. No big deal for me, other than I like to see the commercials. They’re typically more creative than the average advertisement. As with last year, I made some snack type food to nibble on while we were parked in front of the TV.
I kept it a little more basic this time since it ended up being just the two of us. However, the weather allowed for pulling the smoker out of the garage and making some slow smoked chicken wings! 🙂
Step One: Brining
I started by wet brining the wings, and apparently forgot to get a picture of doing so. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, wet brining is soaking a piece of meat in salt water. This adds moisture to the meat and the salt breaks down (tenderizes) the meat as well. This results in a moister, more tender piece of meat. I find it’s particularly helpful with previously frozen meat. As an added note, poultry and pork brine well, but beef shouldn’t be brined. Beef loses too much of it’s natural juices when brined, which means lost flavor.
Wet brine recipes are all over the internet, and the standard ratio is one cup of salt to one gallon of water. Personally, I think that tends to be a bit strong, and I go roughly 1/2 that. It will take a little experimenting for you to find a ratio that works for your individual tastes. You want the meat tender, but not too salty tasting after cooking.
You can also add other ingredients to your brine mix. I vary mine a bit, but minced garlic always makes it into the brine.
There’s also dry brining. That is basically putting the meat into a bed of salt or dry rubbing salt on it. I’ve yet to try this method for fear of the meat being too salty. HOWEVER, it’s supposed to be good for poultry. Wet skin tends to turn rubbery during cooking, and dry brining is one way to help prevent that. More on that in a little bit. 😉
Step Two: Prep
The next thing to do is dry off the wings as best you can,with some paper towels, for the reason previously mentioned. Before we get to putting a dry rub on the wings though, let’s mention another trick to getting crispy skin on your grilled chicken. That being to dust it lightly with either baking powder or corn starch. Baking powder is an old restaurant trick for this situation since it’s relatively flavor free in light doses.
After drying and possibly dusting with baking powder, there’s the dry rub.
I personally use a simple mix of Salt, Pepper and Garlic most of the time. Options are almost endless here however. Most stores carry several flavors also. Other favorites of mine are Greek, Chipotle and Lemon Pepper. There are thousands of recipes all over the internet also if you want to make your own.
My only two pieces of advice there are use fresh spices, and avoid sugar. Well, also if you make enough to have extra, store it in an airtight container. It’ll last longer. Sugar is really unnecessary though if the rest of the flavors are properly balanced. Some cooks like it because it caramelizes and helps produce a bark on the meat, but good grilling technique can eliminate that need also.
Step 3: Onto the Smoker!
After putting some sort of dry rub on the wings, they’re ready for the grill:
The big lesson in the picture above is to space them out. This gives the smoke as much surface area as possible to soak into the meat and flavor it.
Cooking the wings is a little tricky. The lower the temperature, the more time the smoke has to get into the meat. HOWEVER, to ensure a nice crispy skin on the wings, they need to be cooked at a minimum temperature of 275F to 300F or 135C to 148C.
If you cook at 200F, it will take roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to a proper internal temperature of 165F (74C), which is the temperature the US government says is needed to kill all possible bacteria in the chicken. If you cook at the 275F to 300F range mentioned above, you can reduce that cooking time to roughly an hour and a half total.
A compromise option I use, and have mentioned here before, is to get the meat to an internal temperature about 30F below finished, then put it onto some direct heat like my Weber charcoal grill. This will put a nice sear on beef or pork, and help crisp up the skin on chicken.
As a side note, searing a piece of meat after slow cooking it is technically called a reverse sear. A normal sear occurs at the beginning of cooking. A normal sear is done to lock in moisture. Slow cooking does the same thing however, and will allow smoke and rub flavors to penetrate the meat.
That difference in temperature I found via experimenting. It seems to allow just enough time for the meat to develop a sear without drying it out. The reverse sear step can go fast regardless, so I advise closely monitoring the meat at his stage to avoid drying it out.
Step 4: EAT!
Serve with whatever dressing or sauce sounds exciting OR enjoy as is to truly savor the smoke flavor.
The above pic from Sunday reflects me skipping the reverse sear step. The weather was lousy, and my back was hurting. I crisped them up in our air fryer after this picture which made them much nicer.
They definitely turned out better than the game, or the commercials.
I’m overdue for a food post here. 🙂 I did this one a while back, and have just had too much drama to deal with.
Almost as fun as the cooking for me. It all started with the bottle of spice in the upper right corner of the picture. We found a cute little shop that sold spices for just about every kind of cooking you can think of. One of the bottles we bought was for fried chicken seasoning.
When it came time to do the chicken for dinner though, we were already behind schedule for the day and stressed out. I just plain didn’t feel like the mess of creating a batter dredge for the chicken. The end result is we decided to put the chicken on the smoker just using the seasonings without all the extra flour and oil.
Chicken that tasted exactly like fried chicken but with a deep smoke flavor also. It was really juicy and tender. Total winner; all the flavor of fried chicken with none of the fat and carbs!
We had it plain the first night, but the leftovers got served with veggies and topped with a bit of cream of mushroom soup as gravy:
This one was a fun experiment that turned out much better than I expected. It just goes to show that there are options for making classic unhealthy food into something healthy that still tastes great. It’s a process of discovery I’m enjoying more and more.
While I did mine on our Rec-Tec pellet smoker, this could just as easily be done baked in an oven. I’d recommend on a wire rack to let the skin crisp just a little as it bakes.
I teased in a reply to my burger post that I would be doing NY Steak tonight. I did too! The equally fabulous side dish ends up SORT OF getting the headline though. For those who don’t know, I *love* Tex-Mex cooking. Three peppers in particular are my absolute favorites; Chipotle, Tomatillo and Hatch.
Hatch chilis are green chilis grown around the Hatch, New Mexico area. They can get as hot as Jalapenos, but typically are fairly mild. Great for when you have somebody who doesn’t like hot food, but can appreciate savory, OR you want to add some flavor to an otherwise delicate food.
Trying to tell Hatch that they’re not the chili capital is like trying to tell a Texan they didn’t invent BBQ by the way. LOL. More on the side dish in a minute. First lets take a look at that slow cooked New York Steak:
Slow smoked for almost 2 hours at 185 degrees (85 Celsius). You can see that delicious Hickory and Mesquite smoke ring in the first picture. Topped off with a little Sucklebusters 1836 seasoning rubbed in before cooking, and it’s nearly perfection.
Not an affiliate link BTW, just one of the companies I trust to do right by people and make a killer product. All their rubs and seasonings are good.
The show stealer turned out to be the baby Yukon Gold potatoes with hatch pepper seasoning though. Just something I found at Kroger. Fabulous flavor, and something I’ll try again. 🙂 Next time, I’ll try to do the Hatch seasoning myself and will hopefully have a recipe for you all.
Oh, and did I forget the Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Mousse for dessert? 😀
My latest kitchen adventure involved slow smoking a tomahawk cut two pound Ribeye steak, and some homemade (not quite) Macaroni and Cheese. OK, so first the side dish.
I say not quite Mac because every pasta shape has a different name. The store was cleaned out of the usual mini sea shell shaped pasta I like (it does a great job of holding cheese), and most of what was left in-stock was known to be poor quality brands. I ended up settling on Orecchiette. Close enough, I figured.
Add in some diced panchetta and ton of cheese and we had the start of something good:
I know, odd combination of cheeses, but it worked… Other than how oily the cheddar was. After the cheese was melted and the pasta cooked, into the pan it went with some panko bread crumbs on top. Cook till the Panko is golden brown and we had a delicious side dish:
And then there was the giant, man-eating steak, slow smoked for two and a half hours:
Normally, I’d have pulled it off the smoker at 100 degrees internal temperature and then dropped it on the charcoal grill just long enough to get a nice sear and reach a perfect medium rare internal temp of 135. No charcoal grills allowed at the apartments though.
We divided the steak in two and each had half, since it was a steak-asaurus.
And that was Labor Day dinner here at Chateau de Silk.
Oh yes… The baked potato. A standard gourmet preparation there. After washing the potato, pat it dry, then rub olive oil into it and douse with salt, pepper and garlic. Baked unwrapped. You’ll get an amazingly tasty crisp skin. on the tater.
Yes, a 2 for 1 here. After trying the Korean Bulgogi recipe that’s been in my family for a good 40 years on chicken, I threatened to try it on pork as well. When I did spare ribs yesterday, I did just that. One one rack of ribs anyway. The other was old school Texas.
All that was missing was a little green onion added to the Asian ribs as garnish, and some sauce for the regular ribs, but that came later. 😉
The flavor was heavenly on both. I’ve seen a ton of complicated recipes to get ribs to turn out flavorful on a pellet smoker. Nothing beats plain old LOW and slow at 185 for 6 hours however. The only extra is a light basting with apple juice every 45 minutes or so to keep them moist. Results? Judge for yourself:
Magnificent smoke ring on both of them, and deep flavor. The Bulgogi ribs tasted like the best Chinese (well, Korean) restaurant food you’ve ever had. 🙂
OK so actually, Tri-Tip is sirloin, not round, LOL. I’m past due for another cooking post however, and I finally managed to find a tri-tip out here. That alone took an act of God. I had no idea when I moved that Tennessee was full of BBQ Philistines who didn’t know what Tri-Tip was, LOL.
These also came pre-marinated, which I didn’t care for, but it was a case of beggars can’t be choosers.
Meat Buying Tip: Do NOT buy the dry pre-seasoned meats from the local grocery store (or Costco). They use the old, nearly expired pieces to make those, and let the spices piled on them cover up that the meat is turning color. Pre-packaged marinade cuts of meat tend to be lower quality as well.
Anyhow, I managed to turn this one into a solid success:
Add in some side dishes and we had a great meal:
One problem with marinading meats shows in the slices above. It’s clearly tender, but the marinade blocked much of the smoke flavor from getting into the meat. The smoke ring is faint, and not very deep.
So let’s hop in the way-back machine and go back to the start though. 😁 I had talked last time I tried “beer can” chicken that I was going to do it again as soon as I got a normal sized porcelain ‘throne’, so that it would actually fit in the smoker. Well, the replacements came in a few days ago.
So, it was time to get busy! Since these chicken thrones make for virtually unlimited options in what you use to steam the inside of the chicken, I decided to do something really different. My uncle brought back a marinade recipe decades ago from Korea when he was in the Navy. Looking online, apparently it’s bulgogi, but it’s not anywhere as sickeningly sweet as the stuff I’ve tried from Costco and a few other places. So anyway… Yeah… Insert Hipster joke or meme here.
Being bulgogi, it’s intended for beef, but I branched out and tried it on chicken with great success (so long as you don’t over-marinate it). Here’s that recipe, in the quantities he used it for a couple of pounds of short ribs:
Korean Short Rib Marinade (bulgogi)
1/3 a cup of soy sauce
1/3 a cup of water
1/4 cup of white or yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 scallions (green onions), chopped
2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 cloves of finely minced or pressed garlic
1/2 a teaspoon of pepper
A couple of quick notes here:
First, the original recipe also called for 1/4 a teaspoon of MSG. Given the bad rap that MSG has, I don’t use it though. I’ve also considered adding a tablespoon or two of freshly grated ginger, but haven’t tried it yet.
I’ve tried this on several cuts of beef such as tri-tip and tenderloin with great results. It works good with chicken also, but marinade times will vary. Beef you can do overnight and have great flavor when you cook. Chicken, you only want to do about an hour to and hour and a half per pound. I suspect it would work well on pork also IF it’s done for the same time as the chicken.
This is also one of those sauces that is best made the day before. It gives the flavors time to blend fully. That gives you the faint nutty flavor of the sesame seeds and the savoriness of the garlic and onion also. If you just throw it together and go, esp without thorough mixing, it’ll taste more like a cross between Teriyaki and Soy Sauce.
Lastly, Soy Sauce: I typically use low sodium soy sauce for food, BUT in the case of this marinade, I use regular soy sauce. The reason being that the marinade acts like a brine and tenderizes the meat. That’s primarily due to the salt in the soy sauce. Besides, with it being diluted with equal parts water, it’s not that strong.
Back to the Chicken!
So, I whipped up the marinade and put it and the chicken into a pot:
Because this was a nearly 4 pound chicken, and the pot wasn’t exactly a snug fit, I had to increase all the marinade recipe portions. I used a full 2 cups of soy sauce and water. I could have used less if I had broke the chicken down but then I couldn’t have put it on the throne. About 2/3 of a cup of the finished marinade went into the ‘throne’ also, instead of into the pot.
I let the chicken marinate 4 hours, then pulled it out of the pot and patted it dry with a paper towel. The next step was to rub some salt pepper and garlic into the skin. Given that I was doing an Asian dish, I added some sesame seeds also. With that, we were ready to go.
If I had been thinking, and had any on hand, I likely would have substituted Chinese five spice for the salt, pepper and garlic rub. I smoked it low and SLOW for two hours, which got the internal temperature to about 125 F. At that point, I turned the pellet smoker up to 350 F and cooked it for another 25 minutes to get the internal temperature to a proper 165 degrees F and crisp up the skin.
It turned out better than I’d hoped. Between the marinade, and the steaming from the throne, the chicken was so moist and tender it was unreal. Add some homemade white cheddar biscuits and mixed veggies on the side, and it was a fabulous meal:
And if you really want to see how moist that chicken turned out, check out this drumstick:
The color is due to a combination of the marinade and being smoked low and slow for two hours. It was properly cooked to 165 F internal temperature (as previously mentioned). 👍
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