Krispy Country Chicken using the Vortex

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.
Krispy Country Chicken using the VortexI 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.

Also try my easy Cajun fried chicken using the Vortex.

Krispy Country Chicken using the Vortex

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 -8 pieces
Author Mike

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Fire up your grill with the Vortex BBQ. Let the coals get good and hot.
  • Prepare chicken per package instructions.
  • Transfer chicken to your grill grate around the Vortex and cook until done, about 45 minutes.
  • Lightly brush the chicken with oil the last 5 minutes of cooking to get a crispier skin.

Balsamic Smoked Honey Vinaigrette

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.
Balsamic Smoked Honey Vinaigrette

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.

Also try my blue cheese vinaigrette.

Balsamic Smoked Honey Vinaigrette

Course Salad Dressing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup smoked honey or less, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Whisk together all ingredients.

Smoked Pecans

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!
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!

Also try my smoked pistachios.

Smoked Pecans

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Cooling time 30 minutes
Servings 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled raw pecans
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted

Spice mixture

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika pimentón
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

For a spicy version, substitute cayenne pepper for the cinnamon.

Rotisserie Pineapple Bourbon Glazed Boneless Ham

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!
Rotisserie Pineapple Bourbon Glazed Boneless Ham

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!

Also try my Brazilian rotisserie pineapple.

Rotisserie Pineapple Bourbon Glazed Boneless Ham

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 1 ham

Ingredients

  • 7-10 pound boneless smoked ham
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried, ground
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup bourbon

Instructions

  • 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.

Dill Pickle Pasta Salad

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.

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.

Also try my Tuscan pasta salad.

Dill Pickle Pasta Salad

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1/2 pound medium pasta shells
  • 3/4 cup dill pickles sliced
  • 2/3 cup medium cheddar cheese diced
  • 3 tablespoons white onion finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill or 1 heaping teaspoon dried, to taste
  • 1/2 cup pickle juice from the jar (never toss out pickle jar juice!)

For the dressing

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1.4 tablespoons pickle juice from the jar (like I said, never toss out pickle jar juice!)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

For the dressing

  • Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.

For the salad

  • Cook the pasta to al dente per the package instructions. Rinse and drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add the pickle juice to the pasta and toss gently to coat. Let sit for 5 minutes then drain (but do not rinse!).
  • Add in the dressing and stir gently to coat.
  • Place in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. I prefer to let the salad come to near room temperature before serving so that the dressing is not quite as thick.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

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!
Loaded Baked Potato SaladJust 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.

Speaking of baked potatoes, try my go-to, never-failed technique for making the perfect baked potato.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 4 potatoes peeled, cubed
  • 4 potatoes unpeeled, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon cooked, chopped, divided
  • 6 green onions chopped, divided
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just soft. Note: I prefer to steam my potatoes so that they keep their shape better, but boiling them is just fine. Drain.
  • Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients, reserving some of the crumbled bacon, green onions and cheese.
  • Fold to combine.

To serve cold

  • Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Serve topped with reserved bacon, green onions and cheese.

To serve hot

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Transfer potato mixture to a baking dish.
  • Top with reserved bacon, green onions and cheese.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add bacon, onions and cheese (reserve some of each for top).
  • Mix with potatoes.
  • Pour into baking dish.
  • Top with reserved cheese, onions, and bacon.
  • Bake 350 for 10-15 minutes (until cheese melts).

Easy Cajun Fried Chicken using the Vortex

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.
Easy Cajun Fried Chicken using the Vortex

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.

Also try my Cajun injected fried chicken and my super-easy Krispy Country fried chicken using the Vortex.

Easy Cajun Fried Chicken using the Vortex

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk plus more, if needed
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce or more, to taste
  • 4 large split chicken breasts or your favorite cuts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • vegetable oil

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Remove and serve.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

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.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

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.

Also try my chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries hulled, diced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.

Green Enchilada Sauce

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!
Green Enchilada Sauce

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.

Green Enchilada Sauce

Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Hatch Chiles roasted, stems, skin, membranes and seeds removed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 jalapeños stems, membranes and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 head garlic cloves peeled, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin I used 1/2 tablespoon
  • 3 cups water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in the large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and jalapeno and cook until just starting to soften.
  • Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the chiles, cumin and water. Stir and let simmer 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  • Working in batches, blend the mixture in a blender or food processor until the desired texture is achieved.
  • Store in the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze for later use.

Copycat Max and Erma’s Santa Fe Chicken Salad

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.
Copycat Max and Erma's Santa Fe Chicken Salad

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.


Also try my Southern Fried chicken salad.

Copycat Max and Erma's Santa Fe Chicken Salad

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

For the salad

  • Your favorite greens iceberg, green leaf, and/or red leaf lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
  • Fried chicken, from below
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • tomatoes chopped or sliced
  • fried tortilla strips
  • Ranch dressing

For the fried chicken

  • 2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts or 1 large
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • hot sauce to taste
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

For the salad

  • 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.