There are two choices when it comes to making ‘fried’ chicken using a Vortex. You can make your own batter from scratch or you can use a mix from the store. I’ve done both time and time again and have never ever been disappointed. This time I picked up a box of Fry Krisp Krispy Country chicken mix. It’s the easiest mix in the world, giving you nicely crunchy, juicy, flavorful chicken in less than an hour with no oil used for frying. I do like to brush my chicken with just a bit of oil just before I pull it off the grill. It gives the chicken a bit more crunch and coats any leftover batter that might be hanging around. It’s completely optional, but I always do it.
Anita and I were grabbing lunch at one of our local favorite pizza joints not long ago. The lunch special comes with a small side salad. For the dressing Anita went with the balsamic smoked honey vinaigrette. I was intrigued. She was intrigued. Smoked honey? You know, that has to be good. Well, it was. It was “bring me a bottle of that dressing so I can drink it” good. Of course, that means I had to make a version of it when I got home.
This is a great, simple dressing without the smoked honey. With it, it becomes something a bit different. The smoke flavor isn’t overwhelming, but it’s there. Depending on the honey that you use, I recommend adding just a bit at first and tasting to see if you want to add more. Me, I want that smokiness up front and center. You might now.
My goodness, me, there went my self-control again. Good thing I made two big batches of these smoked pecans because a lot of them were sacrificed in the name of ‘quality control’. The nuts are smoked just enough. There is a such thing as too much smoke on nuts. You don’t want it to be overwhelming, but you do want to still taste smoke. Otherwise, you can’t call them smoked pecans!
I used two different spice mixtures for the smoked pecans. The first batch I made a somewhat sweet, southwestern-inspired mix. It was a great balance of flavors, and one enjoyed by everyone. The second version I went a bit spicier (but not too spicy) route. It’s the same as the first mix, but with cayenne instead of cinnamon. People often shy away when they see ‘spicy’, but I found them to have just a hint of a kick and a little sweetness.
If you just finished smoking ribs, pork, whatever, on your smoker and still have some fire, smoked pecans are a great way to use up the rest of that smoke time. Never waste it, I say!
Fire up your smoke for 250 F. Use a fruit wood, such as apple, or pecan. Since the smoking time is short compared to say, smoking ribs, I recommend using extra wood to generate more smoke than you might usually.
Place the nuts in a disposable aluminum pan. Drizzle with the melted butter and stir to coat.
Combine the spice mixture ingredients and sprinkle over the nuts. Stir to coat.
Place the pan onto the smoker and smoke 60 minutes. Stir the nuts every 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the smoker and let the nuts cool completely before serving. On the off chance you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container.
For a spicy version, substitute cayenne pepper for the cinnamon.
I recently bought a new gas grill, retiring (at least for now) one I’d had for 19 years and had used almost 4,000 times. This time, I got a grill with a rotisserie. I didn’t think I’d need one, but I’d been looking forward to trying some new things, like this rotisserie pineapple bourbon glazed boneless ham.
I chose a boneless ham because I wanted to slice the end result thin and use it for sandwiches. Normally I’d score my ham, but I’ve found that scoring makes it very difficult to slice so thin. I still got that wonderful pineapple flavor, with just a hint of bourbon. It was delicious!
You can use this same approach on any pre-cooked ham, smoked or not. I found this rotisserie pineapple bourbon glazed boneless ham to be absolutely delicious. I could not sampling the slices as I cut them. The thin slices were for sandwiches. The thicker ones will find their way into omelets and yes, even homemade Spam!
Fire up your grill for direct cooking. You're aiming for a cook temperature around 350 F.
Carefully feed the ham onto the rotisserie and secure the ends.
In a small bowl whisk together the mustard and rosemary. Rub the mixture all over the ham.
Turn on the rotisserie, close the grill and cook for 15 minutes.
In a small bowl whisk together the juice, sugar and bourbon. Brush onto all sides of the ham. Save a little of the mixture for the last glaze.
Continue cooking another 15-30 minutes or until the ham reaches 140 F. Brush with remaining glaze, carefully remove from the grill, and let rest 15 minutes before removing from the rotisserie and slicing.
If you’re into pickles like I am, you will agree that this is the best pasta salad ever. It’s packed with dill pickle flavor. Not just in the dressing. And not just from the pickle slices. Even the pasta tastes dill-y. Sorry, but yeah, it’s dill-icious. I had to say it. Because I absolutely love this dill pickle pasta salad.
What would I change about this dill pickle salad? Well, I’d not make such a small batch next time, that’s for sure. I’d double it at the very least.
This recipe is also another lesson in why you never, ever toss the juice left in your pickle jars once the pickles are gone. Save it. Always.
I’ve made this creamy, tasty, bacony loaded baked potato salad twice now. And I’m not ashamed to admit that the second time I made it, I unintentionally made a boo-boo. I was relying on my (fading) memory, and completely forgot to bake the salad. Well, you know what? It was just as fantastic as the baked version! Either way, I felt like I was biting into a seriously loaded up baked potato (my favorite kind). So hot or cold, dig in! Just about any potato will do in this loaded baked potato salad, but I tend to use Yukons because they add a very buttery flavor. I also prefer to steam my potato chunks instead of boil them. Tossing and beating and bagging around in a pot is a good way to turn a nice square potato piece into a marble-looking potato in no time.
We both absolutely love making ‘fried’ chicken on our Weber Jumbo Joe or Performer using the Vortex BBQ. We can’t stop being amazed as to how much like ‘real’ fried chicken it is. From the crunchy skin to moist, tender, delicious meat, you cannot beat it. After trying literally 100s of recipes, this easy Cajun fried chicken one is our go-to, easy technique. The end result is incredible.
You can use the same approach as I did for making this easy Cajun fried chicken using the Vortex for your own variation.I am partial to hot sauce, but if you’re not, you can leave it out. And I’m partial to Cajun or Creole seasoning, but any seasoning mix will work. However, steer clear of any rub or mix that contains sugars as those will tender to burn with the high heat from the Vortex.
Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce in a resealable container. Add the chicken pieces. If the chicken isn't completely covered, add more buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
Fire up your grill with the Vortex BBQ in the center. Fill the Vortex completely with coals and let them light completely before adding the chicken.
Combine the flour and seasoning in a large baggie, bowl or pie plate.
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk mixture and shake off any excess. Add to the flour mixture and coat well.
Transfer chicken to the grill and close the lid with the vents wide open. Cook for 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 F. You may turn the lid 90% every 15 minutes if desired, but I haven't found that it matters much on a smaller charcoal grill. On larger ones I do rotate the lid.
Lightly brush the chicken with some oil and cook another 2-3 minutes.
I could not resist when I saw beautiful, ripe red strawberries at the grocery store. As many dishes as I could use them in, my mind instantly went to creamy, yummy, delicious homemade strawberry ice cream. This ice cream is so smooth, but it also has nice little bites of crazy good strawberry. It tastes so fresh, it’s hard to stop eating it.
I often change recipes when I make them. And I often cut back on things like, oh, cream or sugar. But not when I make homemade strawberry ice cream. This is not the time to be skimpy or try to make a dish super-duper healthy. This is decadent goodness. It’s supposed to be that way.
Place the diced strawberries into a large bowl. Add the honey, sugar and lemon juice. Stir to coat then let sit on the countertop for 15-20 minutes or until the juices from the strawberries has been released. There should be a good bit of juice in the bottom of the bowl.
Use a potato masher or fork to mash the strawberry mixture until all of the larger chunks have been mashed. But don't go crazy on it if you prefer some occasional strawberry pieces in your ice cream.
Stir in the heavy cream, half and half and vanilla extract.
Transfer to your ice cream maker and process per manufacturer's instructions. Freeze overnight. Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Hatch chiles can be hard to come by here in Indiana. And when they are here, I grab a big batch of them. I love roasting them. They are great in lots of lots of dishes, and specially in green enchilada sauce. The flavor the chiles add is amazing. This is not an ordinary enchilada sauce. It’s fantastic!
If you are unable to find and roast Hatch chiles, roasted green chiles from a can are a fine substitute in this green enchilada sauce. You may want to drain the chiles first if they come in a lot of liquid.
As far as the amount of cumin in this recipe goes, I’d say use your own tastes as a guide. I rather like cumin, but Anita does not so I cut back on it quite a bit. The sauce was still fantastic.
There’s a Max and Erma’s restaurant right next door to the Premium Outlet Mall in Edinburgh, Indiana. We make it a point to stop by for lunch or dinner there whenever we can. Plus, you get to sit while you eat and after a few hours at the mall, you need that. Nine times out of ten I order the Santa Fe chicken salad. It’s a huge salad, with just the right toppings, and really, really good chicken. And when I’m not at the outlet mall, I can make a pretty darned good copycat of the same salad at home without a lot of fuss.
You can substitute chicken tenders for the chicken breast if you wish. I like my chicken a bit spicy so I load up on the hot sauce. Feel free to adjust to your taste. The chicken itself is outstanding.
To get the fancy dressing swirls on my copycat Max and Erma’s Santa Fe chicken salad I put some Ranch in a squeeze bottle with three nozzles and go to town on it. Hey, it’s fun.
Divide lettuce between two large plates. Add the chicken, cheeses, tomatoes, and tortilla strips.
Drizzle with Ranch dressing and serve.
For the fried chicken
Cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces or strips, as desired. Transfer to a bowl or pie pan.
Stir in the buttermilk and hot sauce. Let marinate for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.
Combine the flour, salt, black pepper, chipotle chile powder, oregano and cumin and place into another pie pan.
Heat 2" of oil to 350 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
Working in batches, remove chicken from the buttermilk. Shake off the excess and then coat well in the flour mixture. Return the chicken pieces to the buttermilk and turn to coat. Shake off the excess and again coat in the flour mixture.
Fry 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown, turning once.
Remove to a wire rack or paper towel-lined to cool slightly and drain.