Tag Archives: Slow and Low

Superbowl Snacks: Smoked Chicken Wings

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! 🙂

image from middleclasskitchen.blogspot.com AND Ed Edd & Eddie ala Cartoon Network

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.

Southern UNfried Chicken

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.

Yes, UN-Fried Chicken

The Backstory:

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.

Net Result:

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!

Delicious!

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.

Hatching a Dinner Scheme :D

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:

Just a hair overdone today. They came out on the low end of Medium. Slow smoking them meant they were still moist and tender though

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? 😀

Tomahawk Ribeye and Mac & Cheese

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:

Yes, I got a little too much pepper on top to make a pretty picture. It did stir into the mix fine though.
Hint; they’re not really talking about food here, LOL

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.

Not Beer Can Chicken

Today’s food post turned out to be one where I had to improvise. I got a couple of ceramic “roasters” for making “beer can chicken”.

Beer Can Chicken???

I suppose I’ll have to divert for a moment and explain beer can chicken. It’s a (mostly) Southern thing. 🙂 Beer Butt chicken among the classy folk, lol. At it’s simplest, beer can chicken is standing the chicken upright with an open beer can stuffed in the body cavity. The beer steams the inside of the chicken, keeping it moist, tender, and adding flavor.

Since it’s hard to get the chicken to stand up on end, there are wire racks that you can use to hold the can, and thus keep it upright, OR you can get a ceramic one like I did:

The ceramic is the best option IMO, because you can use anything to “steam” the inside of the chicken. Refined aluminum (ie from the can) has been linked to Alzheimer’s and other health problems, then there’s the whole paint on the can too, so yeah… ceramic for me. Too many other bonuses on top of being able to use something other than skunky beer.

Back to the Meal!

So, I brined the chicken about six hours, then rinsed it off, dried and seasoned it:

The seasoning was a combination of Sucklebuster’s SPG and Clucker Dust:

1836 is Sucklebuster’s signature beef rub; and the year Texas became a state.

SPG is just salt, pepper and garlic. Easy to do yourself but handy to have in a single bottle and Sucklebusters really is a top notch spice company. Clucker Dust has a few more seasonings; primarily a little brown sugar and chipotle pepper. Not enough to make it sweet or hot. It’s just enough to make the flavor profile more complex.

OK, so after I got some rub on the chicken, I filled up the “roaster” (some BBQ folks in the South call them thrones), with water, apple juice, garlic, rosemary, basil and oregano. Then I put the chicken on the throne, lol.

At this point is where I hit my problem and had to improvise. The original plan was to smoke the chicken slow and low on the Rec-Tec 680. HOWEVER… the throne was too tall to fit in the smoker.

Improvise, adapt and overcome… Into the oven it went instead:

I cooked it at 275 F (or 135c ) so as to keep the meat tender. I was being cautious there since this was the first time doing chicken this way. If I had it to do over again, I’d cook it at 325 or 350 so that the skin got a little crispier. All in all, it turned out really well though:

You can see the juice running off the chicken onto the cutting board.

Add some steamed and seasoned green beans and some cheddar biscuits:

Half a yard bird to go. 😀

No, neither of us finished a full half a yard bird either, LOL. Leftovers are all part of the madness here at casa de silk. Here’s a look at how tender that chicken was also:

That meat just pulled right off the leg.

Flavor was there also. The diluted apple juice and seasonings added some mild flavor while still allowing the flavor of the chicken itself to come through. Higher heat might have steamed more flavor into the bird though. 🤔

Anyhoo, we’ve ordered the standard (not tall) size roasters from Amazon, which will shorten the height by 3 inches (7.62cm).

That should give us clearance to use the smoker next time. Probably get a slightly smaller chicken too. This one was fairly big. Overall a successful experiment. I’m looking forward to doing it again and adding some smoke flavor.

An Added Note on These Ceramic Roasters or Thrones:

The nice thing about these is that you can use anything to ‘steam’ the chicken with. Beer and Coca-Cola are the most popular options in the South, but you can use anything from Champagne to dark ale to fruit juice… even sauces. You MIGHT want to dilute stronger liquids with water though, or your lemon chicken could be REALLY lemony. Then add any seasonings you want into that liquid, and viola! Moist, tender chicken flavored any way you chose to do it. And you can use it in the oven, or with a smoker or grill.

They clean up pretty easy also.

There are also ‘throne’ models for turkeys, but that’s going to stand pretty tall…