Maximus Minimus is a food truck based out of Seattle, Washington. I’ve never been to the truck, but I caught it on an episode of Eat Street a while back, and just had to make their pulled pork. It is a different take on pulled pork than I am used to, which is cooked low and slow on a smoker. Instead, the pork is first seared on a grill and then roasted in the oven until done and fall-apart tender. The result is a fantastic crusted meat festival that is perfect on everything from BBQ sandwiches…
to Cuban sandwiches.
If you live somewhere where there are food trucks, I encourage you to venture out and give them a visit if you haven’t already. Here in Indy we have a number of great trucks, offering everything from Cajun to Caribbean to donuts and cupcakes.
Combine the seasonings and rub into the pork shoulder. Place in a resealable container or wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.
Fire up your grill for high-heat cooking and preheat your oven to 325 F. (Alternatively, you can use a crockpot set to 'high').
Place shoulder onto the grill and sear on each side until browned, 10-15 minutes per side.
Transfer pork to a Dutch oven or the crockpot and cook 3-4 hours until falling apart tender. You will not have to add any liquid. (Note: If your Dutch oven lid doesn't seal completely, cover the top with a piece of foil and then add the lid.)
I use my Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Oil-less Turkey Fryer a lot, for cooking everything from chicken wings to roasting peppers to these Italian meatballs. This Italian meatballs recipe is our favorite. We make a big batch of 24 or so 2 ounce meatballs and cook them all at once. We used to cook them in the oven, but now with the Big Easy (and the Wingin’ator 3000 modification) I can cook a huge batch all at once in less than 30 minutes, without any cleanup other than putting the cook basket into the dishwasher. You can’t get any easier than that!
If you don’t have a Wingin’ator 3000 you can get a bunk bed basket for the Big Easy. You won’t be able to cook quite as many Italian meatballs at once, but they’ll turn out fantastic nonetheless.
The meatballs are done when they hit 165 F. If you’ve loaded up your Big Easy with a lot of meatballs at once, check a few meatballs for doneness before deciding that they are all done.
These meatballs are great on rolls with your favorite sauce, or over pasta.
Spray the basket(s) (and Wingin'ator 3000 if you're using one) with no-stick spray.
Add the meatballs, but do not crowd them. I was able to fit 28 meatballs on the Wingin'ator 3000 without any problem, and could've easily fit a few more. Without the Wingin'ator 3000 you'll be able to fit at least 10 meatballs at once (with the bunk basket).
Cook in the Big Easy for 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature on several of the balls measures 165 F.
I made a big ole batch of fire-eater chicken the other day. It has a really nice kick to it. Besides sandwiches and other great uses for the chicken, I made this insanely good mac-and-cheese. It’s based on a buffalo chicken mac-and-cheese recipe, so you know that it’s great. And you don’t have to use fire-eater chicken, any roasted (or rotisserie) chicken will do, but I highly recommend the kicked-up flavor of the fire-eater version.
This fire-eater mac-and-cheese is creamy, like it should be. And crunchy, thanks to the celery and panko breadcrumbs. And it has a kick to it. Just like I like.
I was toodling around the house the other day, with the TV on in the background, when I heard a young lady say “okra giardiniera” in a southern voice. I instantly stopped what I was doing, grabbed the Tivo remote, and backed the show up a bit to see what exactly “okra giardiniera” was. The show was Kimberly’s Simply Southern on the GAC network, and Miss Kimberly (from the country group Little Big Town) was making hot dogs topped with okra giardiniera. And so… I made it too. I had to. It has okra in it.
It takes 2 days to make the mix, so don’t get in too big of a big rush. But it is so worth the time. The end result is lightly pickled (not too strong on the vinegar), with a little oil (almost like an olive salad), and a lot crunchy. Don’t fear the okra slime… you can rinse almost all of it away after the first day. Personally, I’ll eat okra any time, any way, full slime or not (see my Southern fried okra).
Oh, and I went with bigger cuts on the veggies just to get more crunch. That’s just me, you can make them as big or as small as you want.
Next up, I’m going to top a muffuletta sandwich with this giardiniera. I know it’ll be outstanding!
1 cup sliced fresh okra (frozen okra, thawed works just fine)
1 cup diced carrots
3-6 jalapeños, seeded (if desired), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the salt, okra, carrots, jalapeños, garlic, celery and red bell peppers into a resealable container. Add enough cold water to just cover the vegetables. Seal and place in the fridge overnight.
Pour the mixture into a caldron and rinse well. You can mix the vegetables a bit to get them really rinsed well (read: remove any okra slime), but don't be too aggressive or all of the tasty okra seeds will fly out.
Return vegetables to the resealable container.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, oregano, and pepper. Pour over the vegetables and stir gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The giardiniera is ready to use the next stay. It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
I was looking for a different take on ribs, something other than the “usual” BBQ-flavor, when I came across a recipe for ribs with the flavor of Italian sausage (oh my!), courtesy Chef John. I knew right then that I was going to make them on my Big Easy.
The result is fantastic. They taste just like Italian sausage, with a wonderful twist. Again, tender and juicy. And with the hint (not overpowering) of fennel and the other seasonings found in Italian sausage. The orange glaze is absolutely to die for. The brown sugar gives the ribs a bit of a crust, a crunchy exterior. The glaze is not overly sweet thanks to rice wine vinegar, orange juice and zest, and chile paste (yum! a nice kick!). These are some of the best ribs I’ve ever had or made, and I’ve made a lot of them, from on the grill, on the smoker, and now on the Big Easy.
2 racks baby back ribs, trimmed to fit the Big Easy (alternatively, if you have a particularly large rack, just halve it and the remaining ingredients). Remove the membrane from the backs of the ribs and trim any large chunks of fat.
32 ounces apple cider or juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/3 cup sea salt
1/2 cup loose packed brown sugar
For the rub
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, lightly ground
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons garlic salt
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the glaze
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup orange juice (2 big oranges)
2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon hot chile paste
Place the ribs into a resealable container.
In a medium bowl, combine the brine ingredients. Pour over the ribs and seal.
Refrigerate 12 hours, turning the ribs occasionally.
Fire up your big easy
Attach ribs to the rib hooks. Attach ribs to the Big Easy and lower into the cooker. Cook 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the rub by combining all ingredients.
Rub ribs generously with the rub (being careful to not burn yourself on the rib hooks!). Wrap the ribs in foil, making sure that the rib hooks stick out enough to be used.
Return ribs to the Big Easy and cook another 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and simmer until reduced by half.
Remove ribs from the Big Easy and remove the foil. Brush ribs on all sides with the glaze and return to the cooker for 10 minutes. Add more glaze and cook another 5 minutes or until the desired color is achieved.
Brownies. Pretzels. Nutella. You don’t really need to say any more about these little treats. They’re a bit sweet. And a bit salty. And a bit nutty. They’re really, really good. The pretzels also add a nice crunchy outside, and the fudge brownies have a smooth, tender chocolately inside.
I have to admit, Nutella’s rather addicting. It was tempting to lick the spoon while frosting these brownies.
After enjoying (ok, devouring) a batch of fire-eater chicken wings the other day, I just had to find another use for Steven Raichlen’s fantastic fire-eater rub. The rub has a tremendous kick and flavor thanks to celery seed and a few other things. So, I decided I’d fire up my Char-Broil Big Easy and roast some split chicken breasts. Chicken and turkey are the reason I bought my Big Easy – it’s beyond easy, and always produces tender, juicy, flavorful meats.
I removed the skin from two family packs of bone-in split chicken breasts, gave them a little rub down, and two hours later put them into the Big Easy (I used a Bunk Bed Basket, which essentially doubles how many chicken breasts I can cook at once). Total weight was around 10 pounds, so at 10 minutes/pound, the chicken was all done in about 2 hours. And boy did it smell and look fantastic.
You can serve these as-is and wow everyone. Or remove the meat and use it anywhere you need some kickin’ chicken. I shredded some for tortilla soup, and cubed some more for an outstanding Fire-Eater Mac-and-Cheese.
I love a great hobo hash for dinner. You can pretty much just grab whatever’s in your fridge and pantry at the time and toss it into a skillet. Eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, cheese. Anything and everything.
I recall breakfasts like this from when I was a kid, at a diner in the town where my grandfather lived. The cook there would throw everything onto a flat top and in just seconds you had a hot breakfast on your plate. It was cheap and it was good, but I think I probably skipped the mushrooms as a kid.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts were on sale the other day so I backed up the truck and bought a few family packs. I often make chicken sandwiches, but I like to butterfly the breasts first so they aren’t so thick. You get more flavor that way, you get more out of your chicken, and the texture is better I think. I don’t like biting through a 1″ thick piece of chicken breast. But that’s just me!
For these grilled chicken fajita sandwiches I first marinated the chicken for 2 hours then tossed it into the grill. Meanwhile, I made a simple (but fantastic) roasted poblano cream sauce for topping the sandwiches. The sauce itself is amazing (and perfect as a dip, or in baked potatoes) and it compliments the smoky grilled chicken flavor perfectly.
What a wonderful salad this turned out to be. Anita and I were at our local Whole Foods Market the other day when Anita purchased a pound of their spinach and orzo salad. It was so good that I immediately looked at the ingredients list and went on a hunt to find a clone of it. And here it is.
This salad has a great almost creamy texture from the orzo, with a crunch of celery and red onion. The dressing is simple and straightforward – I used a bottled tomato balsamic vinaigrette but any variation of a vinaigrette would work just was well. The salad is finished off with my favorite, feta, and toasted pine nuts. Perfect!