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. 😀
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 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.
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.