Thursday, 3 December 2009

Smoked Chicken Wings

The Canadian Foot League (CFL) recently had the big game - the Grey Cup with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (Go Riders) vs. Montreal Allouettes. Although I'm not a football fan, I'm a bandwagon fan, so this was the perfect opportunity to put together some football party fare.

The star of the show: chicken wings.

But not any chicken wings. Smoked chicken wings.

Now there are many schools of thought on the chicken wing. From super hot, tears in your eyes, blowing your nose, taste not the issue wings to sticky and sweet wings with a multitude of options in between. Of course, if you want to go into sauces (blue cheese dip?) and accompaniments (carrot and celery sticks) just adds to the list and dimension of chicken wings.

For the "Game" my husband requested hot wings - specifically, Louisiana hot sauce wings. So the challenge was on (beyond the Grey Cup).

I have made wings on the smoker before, but not of the hot wing variety. I figured I'd apply some of the same principles from previous. I also didn't want the super hot for the sake of hot wings, but hot with some taste wings. Here's how it went down.

I figured I would want the wings to smoke awhile without any sauce - as any chile based or tomato sauce will char and make a bitter flavour. So I brought in a trusty sweet spice rub for the initial job.

Once the wings were close to being cooked, I added sauce. To get flavour and not just heat, I determined to combine the Louisiana hot sauce (1 part) with some French dressing (2 parts). The dressing would add flavour, but temper the full-on heat.

The end result was terrific. Fall off the bone wings, with good flavour, but good heat. Mmmm. Would I change anything? Next time I would try doing the sauce as a baste instead of a pan sauce, to ensure extra crispiness of the wings (but that’s just personal preference).

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Smoked Corn Casserole

This was an experiment. But I'm happy to say that it was a rather successful one. I've made hashbrown/potato casseroles before, but I wanted something different. I also wanted something with a bit of spice to complement other Southwestern dishes I had on the go.

Corn. Jalapenos. Leftovers. All the fixin's for a brilliant corn casserole - but done on the smoker.

What I did was throw a bunch of stuff together. Literally. This became a bit of a "using up the leftovers" dish (or eating down the fridge as it were), but with enough thought to ensure tastiness . I also wanted flavours that would take smoke well.

I started with some frozen corn. Then I chucked in some chopped ham - not the icky processed stuff, but some ham that I had actually previously smoked (but that's another blogpost). From there a last chipotle chile in adobo sauce that I had leftover, 1/2 jalapeno pepper that I had leftover, some green onions (just on hand, not leftover), and a tex mex blend of cheese (semi-leftover) . I mixed all these great ingredients together, then finished with a blend of cream and eggs.

I topped with additional cheese and put on the smoker. This was a bit tricky as the heat was first at 275F for another dish for 1 hour. But when that was done the corn didn't' look quite ready, so I cranked the heat to 400F and let it finish for 1 hour. Perfect.

This was yummy. I find that some veggie dishes really take smoke well, and corn is definitely one of them.

My new leftover go to dish.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

16 Spice Smoked Chicken

I've gotta be up front, right from the start. This was actually 15 spice smoked chicken, not 16. It's not that I have anything against 16. In fact, I would have been more than happy to have truly been 16 spice, but the sad fact is that I was unable to locate one of the spices, hence 15.

It begins with Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill cookbook. Actually, that's not right. It begins with a dinner at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in August.

You see, I've not watched a lot of Bobby Flay's Food Network shows, and up until that point I had only flipped through his cookbooks - from a design perspective they didn't do much for me, so I never bought one, despite my ever increasing collection of cookbooks with celebrity chefs.

But after eating at Mesa Grill New York in August and delighting in the incredible spice blends (subtle, spicy, interesting) I had another look at the book. Again, the look didn't entice me, but actually seeing the recipes I had tried drew me in. IN the end, a quick visit to and I was the proud owner of the Mesa Grill Cookbook.

I've made several dishes from this book, but this was the first on the smoker. You see, I was looking for a recipe that would lend itself to the smoker, but have that southwest, spicy feel (I should admit here that I may be addicted to spicy, Mexican food, and the southwest varietal is supporting this habit).

Another interesting fact is that in preparation for this blog, I had a looksee on the web to see if any site had posted this spice blend recipe. Indeed they did, including Bobby Flay's own website, but with a noticeable difference. Instead of the 3tbsp of cinnamon called for in the actutal cookbook (which I had no intention of using as it seemed extreme to me) it called just for one. I'm assuming a correction - likely much needed.

One more tidbit, the spice I didn't' have on hand was chile de arbol. After doing a quick check on the spiciness of the chile de arbol (15000-30000 scoville units) I determined that this one was more about the heat than the flavour, so I substituted additional cayenne in place.

I basically prepared the chicken in usual smoker fashion, but substituted the 16 (actually 15) spice blend as my rub. So quick rundown:

• Spatchcock chicken, rinse and pat dry
• Rub with spice blend
• Meanwhile prepare smoker - put in a light smoke varietal (apple, maple, alder) - heat to high
• Wait 15 minutes
• When chicken is ready to go on reduce temp to 275F
• Put the bird on
• Sprtiz every hour with apple juice until ready (depends on size)
• Mmmmm

The end result was a wonderfully smoked chicken (as usual), with an entriguing taste. The spice rub reminded me of 5 spice rub, but a bit more complex (likely the additional 10 spices contributed to this).

I served topped with a roasted red pepper sauce, and a rendition of Sophie's Salad, both from the Bobby Flay Mesa Grill cookbook and a yummy smoked corn casserole (but that's another blogpost).

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Gourmet Magazine Closes

It's not about smoking. It's not about pressure cooking. But it is significant in the world of food.

Gourmet magazine, published since 1940, is closing. A sad day indeed.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Smoked Mixed Nuts

Ever since we got out smoker, I've been wanted to try smoked nuts, but just never got around to it. But faced with a fast approaching cocktail hour with friends - I figured it would be the perfect time to try.

A bit of background.

We have a few friends coming over for cocktail hour. Knowing the players, I thought it would be fun to try to do a traditional type one where instead of the usual beer and wine we opt for some classics like bourbon manhatten's (one of our friend's favourites) and cosmopolitans or the like. Of course beer and wine would also be availalbe.

So with these classic drinks I thought some proper accompanients would be in good order. Although the drinks have that 60s flair, I wasn't quite in the mood for appies with toothpicks in them. I figured cocktail nuts with a twist would be good.

I've made nut appetizers before, but not on the smoker. I'm not crazy about nut recipes that use melted butter as they get a bit greasy and for nibblies and that's not convenient. So I went with a trusted eggwhite recipe.

The trick here is two fold (no egg white pun intended).
One: Proper egg white beating,

Two: Yummy spices. The latter is the funnest part as you can be super creative or just use what you have available. Today's line up included sugar, chopped fresh rosemary, chile
powder, cumin and garlic powder.

I won't go into details as it's easy pleasy and the recipe is below.

What I will tell you is that these were delicious. Not super smoky, but more of a hint of smoke. And did I mention easy?
Smoked Mixded Nuts

2 egg whites
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
4 cups mixed nuts such as walnuts, pecans, almonds

Preheat your smoker to 300F.

Beat the egg whites until frothy in a large bowl (as you'll be adding the nuts to this bowl later). You're not aiming for stiff peaks here, but you don't want any clear eggy goo either. Then you mix up your spices in a separate bowl and fold them in with the egg whites.

Add your nuts and mix well. Note, I used slivered almonds instead of whole and this worked very well. When you mix you will find that the egg whites are almost stringy - that's ok.

Pour into a disposable aluminum pan and spread around evenly. Place on the smoker and cook 15-20 minutes. Mix about. Reduce heat to 250F and cook another 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool before serving (although you can cheat and taste while warm as they are good then too).

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Smoked Beef Finger Ribs

I am finally back at home for a stretch where I can resume some cookery of the smoker and/or pressure cooker variety! On the menu, smoked beef finger ribs

At this juncture I would like to give you some details on what Beef Finger Ribs are in terms of cut, but I can't as I just don't know. I tried to look online, but didn't find any further details, and many items discussed "boneless beef finger ribs" which these aren't - they have bone. I would like to say that the obvious is that they are a product from the cow that comes from the ribs, but then using that logic one may also think that they are a cow fingers product as well. What I can confirm based on visual (vs. the logic scenario) is they are definitely a rib product. But not the usual large ribs, so likely from a different area or a different trim.

I approached the ribs in usual smoker fashion. Dry rub marinade; sprtizing, basting with sauce. Here's the rundown.

I first used a plain basic (lazy) dry rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. (In hindsight, I should have used something more zesty and less salty such as my ancho dry rub or spicy dry rub which I make in supply so I always have it on hand). I let the dry rub absorb for about 1/2 hour.

I used a grapvine wood pellet and let the ribs cook at 225F for about 4 hours. I would normally suggest sprtizing with apple juice every 1/2 hour for the last 3 hours, but we ended up going for a motorcycle ride and I was able to only sprtiz for a couple of hours.

Finally, I made a yummy Chipotle Raspberry bbq baste/mop type sauce which I mopped the ribs with 3 times during the last 45 minutes of cooking. I also served a bit on the side for extra dipping (if you do this, be sure you aren't using any that's had the potential of cross-contamination).

The result. Pretty delicious. Served with some corn on the cob and beets with fresh dill all from the farmers market. Does it get any better?

Chipotle Raspberry Mop Sauce

14 oz can tomatoes with sauce
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 cloves garlic minced
2 cups frozen raspberries
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tbsp molasses
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp celery seed
2 tsp black pepper

Process the tomatoes and chipotle peppers together until smooth and pour into a large saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil stirring often. Reduce heat, and let simmer for 30-60 minutes.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Up-State New York n' Smokin'

No I'm not being lazy and avoiding posts. I've been travelling through New England/Up-State New York / and the Mid-West for all of July and blog-posts haven't been at the top of my to-do list (they fall short of lobster rolls, incredible architecture, and tall ships).
Although I plan to jump back into smoker recipes and pressure-cooking recipes, I thought I'd do a quick blurb on smoker cooking during my travels.

When you think of smoking, you don't normally think of Up-State New York and/or New England - you'd be more apt to think of Kansas or the deep south. But let me tell you, smoking is alive and well in the North East.

We passed many a smoker places - in hindsight I should have taken pictures of all that I saw as it truly is surprising. But what I will tell/show you is the place where we did stop and partake of a delicious smoker meal.
The Tail o' the Pup is a smoker joint just north outside of Lake Placid. We had seen it a couple of years ago when driving through, and always regretted not stopping. On this trip, we made it our initial destination (shortly followed by Lake Placid).
The Tail o' the Pup not only does smoked foods, but also seafood boils. Very cool. It's not upscale, but it is delicious, and the perfect outdoor eatery. The outdoor space (which is much larger than the indoor space) is perfectly designed for some laid-back hanging out while chowing down on big food. Since we were there around 2:00 p.m. we didn't see it, but they do have live entertainment on an outdoor stage.
In order to maximize our tasting of all things smoked, we shared the meat platter. Complete with pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken, and ribs. All were tasty, and had a delicious charcoal flabour. If I had to pick the pulled pork would be my fav (my husband voted for the beef brisket).

Apart from that, I should mention, Lake Placid is a beautfiul place.

We stayed a few nights at this great hotel called High Peaks resort which is right on the main street and overlooks Mirror Lake. Fantastic. The little townsite is very nice with all the essentials (Starbucks). Also, the roads around the area are amazing, particulary if you have a motorbike or a sports car (twisty, smooth and scenic).

I should also mention this fantastic side-trip we did to Burlington, Vermont where we had a smoked meat sandwich at Leunig's downtown. It was beyond amazing.

So there it is boys and girls. A quick update.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Pressure Cooking in Jamaica (Curried Goat)

I'm currently on vacation in Jamaica mon and had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be doing any posts as I wouldn't be doing any cooking. But as fate would have it, a pressure cooker appeared on the scene and I reckoned a post was order.

We're on this amazing holiday in Jamaica in June. Not your usual time for a "hot holiday" if you're from the northern hemisphere, but our travel companions are from the southern hemisphere (Australia) and it indeed is winter there.

We're staying at a gorgeous estate called
Hammerstein's Highland House (HHH). It's a private estate so it's just us eight friends (old and new) here. We have incredible amenities, including all of the meals prepared for us at the times we specify. In fact, they ring a bell when a meal is ready - which we all love. It actually makes you conditioned to start salivating when you hear it and wander zombie-like to the dining area. I can now relate to my cat and why she gets so excited at the sound of her food jar coming out.

The food has been exceptional - and we haven't had any desire to seek out other eating establishments. In fact, we tend to plan everything around our meals, and often spend a good chunk of our time talking about what we've eaten or what's coming next!

Back to the pressure cooker.

We were all sitting on the Terrace enjoying cocktail hour and the gorgeous view of Montego Bay.

Steve slipped into the kitchen and came back to announce that a pressure cooker was going. As any normal person would do given such news, I grabbed my camera and ran to the kitchen. Sure enough, a pressure cooker was toiling away. Even more exciting it was a Fagor brand 6 qt. - almost like what I have at home.

We enquired what treasure trove simmered away in this vessel. Just as I suspected, it was the curry goat that was one of the dishes on this evening's menu. The chef, Sherry-Anne, said it helps to keep it tender .

When we sat to dinner, the curry goat not only looked fantastic, but also smelled and tasted fantastic.

It was served alongside broccoli, cho cho (a local squash-type vegetable which is very good) and rice. I must confess though, I pretty much focused on eating the yummy curried goat and didn't dabble to much into the side dishes! Dessert was a delicious and perfect lemon soufflé!

I will definitely be trying to recreate this curried goat recipe in the future using my pressure cooker at home!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

OMG - Pulled Pork Tinga

UPDATE: See the end of this post for another instalment of using up the leftovers - smoked pulled pork pizza. This is a teaser photo right below - it's not pork tinga!

This would be an instalment in my using up the leftovers of the
"Cheap Ass Monday" Smoked Pork Picnic Roast. Although I've been using up the pork, I'm pacing myself on the postings. (Pacing=lazy)

Oh my god.

That was my first reaction to my first bite of this recipe.

After mulling over my leftover options, I decided to text one of my girlfriends from Mexico to get an idea. A simple text saying "I've got a bunch of left over pulled pork - any Mexican recipes for using it up" led to a flurry of texts for Tinga. And baby, it was so worth piecing together the multiple texts.

In fact, making this dish was thrilling on so many levels - and I can honestly say that doesn't happen every day in general cookery.

My first thrill was using a brand new
All-Clad 3 quart cassoulet that I added to my collection. What the hell a cassoulet is for, I don't know (surely not just cassoulet), but it was a thrill to use. So I started by sautéing some diced onions until just starting to brown then added some of the pulled pork leftovers.

Meanwhile, thrill number two arose, when I used a food processor to puree 2 large tomatoes, a large clove of garlic and 2 chipotles in adobo sauce. This was a thing of beauty. The resulting sauce was such a deep luscious colour, I knew I was onto something good.

I added the puree to the pork mixture, along with 1/2 cup of orange juice and salt and pepper and let it simmer. Again, it just looked completely fantastic. Thrilling, in fact.

I had zipped to the grocery after work to buy tostadas (actually Wal-Mart - a store which is a negative thrill, but they actually carry proper tostadas) so after the Tinga had simmered for 1/2 hour I was ready for assembly.

My girlfriend is travelling right now, so I can't confirm the proper, traditional way to serve Tinga. So I simply put some pork on a tostada, added lettuce, cheese and sour cream. I would have added avocado but the one I had on hand wasn't quite ripe.

Then I had a bite. Oh my god. It was amazing. I couldn't believe the flavours. To coin a phrase from
Moe the Bartender on The Simpsons "It's like a party in my mouth and everyone's invited". That Moe, he knows how to call it.

Pulled Pork Tinga Recipe
1 tbsp oil
1/2 large onion diced
2 cups pulled pork (leftovers)
2 large ripe tomatoes, cored
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (with sauce)
1 large clove garlic
1/2 cup orange juice

To serve: Tostadas, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, chopped avocado, sour cream

Heat the oil in a large saucepan (or cassoulet pan if you have) until just starting to brown. Add the pulled pork and mix. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, peppers and garlic in a food processor. Add to the pork along the orange juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer a 1/2 hour until somewhat reduced.

Smoked Pulled Pork and Pineapple Pizza
I won't go into the prep details for this (I'll save that for another blog - but I used more of the smoked pork picnic roast to do a smoked pizza. The result was pretty good. I really liked that it didn't have the processed flavour of bought pork product, but it wasn't exactly like ham and pineapple pizza either. It was pretty much unto its own.