Granny’s Secret Fried Chicken using the Vortex

I keep having to pinch myself when I make ‘fried’ chicken on my charcoal grill using the Vortex. Am I dreaming? I’m really eating deep-fried chicken, right? But it’s not. No oil was used in making Granny’s Secret Fried chicken using the Vortex, other than a very light coating at the end to help crisp up the skin. That’s it. The skin is amazingly crunchy and crazy delicious. The meat is so juicy that it drips all down your forearms. And tender? Super perfect texture, bite after bite.
Granny’s Secret Fried Chicken using the Vortex

The ‘secret’ to Granny’s Secret Fried chicken using the Vortex is using Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix for the coating. I’ve never used it on chicken. I will be from now on. It crisps up perfectly. Grandma’s secret is out!

Also try my spicy buttermilk fried chicken using the Vortex.

Granny’s Secret Fried Chicken using the Vortex

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

For the brine

  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

For the chicken

  • 1 chicken cut up (or use 6-8 pieces)
  • 3 cups Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg beaten lightly
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted, cooled slightly
  • 1/2 cup whole milk room temperature
  • vegetable oil for basting

Instructions

For the brine

  • Combine all brine ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the salt is dissolved and the honey is melted. Remove from heat and let cool.

For the chicken

  • Place the chicken in a large resealable container. Add the cooled brine. Refrigerate for 3 1/2 hours. Turn the chicken every 30 minutes or so if not fully submerged.
  • Fire up your Vortex. Fill it completely with charcoal.
  • Remove chicken from brine and rinse.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the egg, butter and milk.
  • In a resealable bag, combine the pancake mix, salt and pepper.
  • Working in batches, dip chicken into the egg mixture. Shake off excess then place in the bag. Seal and shake to coat.
  • Transfer chicken to the grill around the Vortex. Close the lid and cook for 30-45 minutes. Turn the lid every 15 minutes. Cook until the chicken reaches 165 F as tested in several places.
  • Lightly brush the chicken with oil and let cook another 5 minutes before removing.

Notes

Add a teaspoon or two of paprika, garlic powder and cayenne pepper to the coating mix for even more deliciousness!

Copycat Red Robin’s Haystack Tavern Burger

What’s better than onions on a burger? Why, onion straws of course! And what’s better than ketchup on a burger? Why, Campfire sauce of course! Put the two on a hot-off-the-grill patty with good ole American cheese and you don’t have to call me twice for dinner. This copycat of Red Robin’s Haystack Tavern burger is mighty good stuff. Now, when you order it at the restaurant you usually get a double. I made mine a single. In hindsight I’m not sure why because one patty was great, but two would’ve been better!

Copycat Red Robin's Haystack Tavern Burger

You might have a bit of the Campfire left after you make your copycat Red Robin Haystack Tavern burgers. That’s a good thing. Slather it on sandwiches. Dip some fries in it. Put it on hot dogs.

I recommend making a few extra onion straws. Half of them won’t last long enough to make it to the burgers. Oh, and they’re great dipped in the Campfire sauce too!

Also try my copycat of Red Robin’s Royal Red Robin burger.

Copycat Red Robin’s Haystack Tavern Burger

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

For the burgers

  • 8 hamburger patties or 4 if making singles
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 slices American cheese or 4 if making singles
  • 4 sesame seed hamburger buns
  • Campfire sauce from below, to taste
  • onion straws from below

For the Campfire sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Hickory BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

For the onion straws

  • 1 large sweet onion skinned, halved, sliced thin
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons blackened seasoning or substitute Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

For the burgers

  • Season the patties with salt and pepper and cook as desired. Top with cheese.
  • Toast the buns if desired.
  • Slather the insides of the buns with the Campfire sauce.
  • Add onion straws to bun bottoms. Add patties and top buns and serve.

For the Campfire sauce

  • Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the onion straws

  • Place onion rings in a bowl. Add buttermilk to cover.
  • Heat oil to 350 F.
  • In a resealable container or bag add the flour, seasoning and salt. Shake to combine.
  • Working in very small batches so as to not have the onion straws stick together, take a few onions out of the buttermilk and shake off the excess.
  • Add to the flour mixture, seal and shake to coat.
  • Transfer to the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate or wire rack to drain.

Copycat Red Robin BLTA

Who doesn’t love a BLT sandwich? It screams summer, with ripe tomatoes and crunchy lettuce. Add avocado and you get a copycat of Red Robin’s BLTA. That’s bacon, lettuce, tomato and of course… avocado! The addition of avocado really takes the classic sandwich to a new, wonderful, place. And serving it on a sweet, pillowy croissant is the way to go.
Copycat Red Robin BLTA

If you’re missing a little heat in your copycat Red Robin BLTA, mix a teaspoon or two of adobo sauce in with the mayonnaise. You don’t want to go crazy with it, but a little spiciness will offset the sweet bread and avocado perfectly. It also adds a bit more smokiness, helping that wonderful bacon smoke along a bit.

Also try my copycat Jason’s Deli California Club sandwich.

Copycat Red Robin BLTA

Course Appetizer or Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 2 large croissants
  • mayonnaise to taste
  • 6 slices turkey breast sandwich meat
  • 4 slices bacon cooked until crisp
  • 1/2 avocado sliced
  • 2 leaves green lettuce
  • 1 tomato sliced

Instructions

  • Slice croissants in half. Slather with the mayonnaise.
  • Add turkey, bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato. Serve.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

We both found this marinated vegetable salad to be absolutely incredible. We could not stop eating it. The dressing has the right balance of sweet and tart. The veggies have the right balance of crunch and tenderness. The seasoning is perfect.

This recipe make a pretty big batch of salad so you’ll have a lot to feed a crowd. It’s the perfect dish for a family get-together or picnic. It’s super easy to make and travels well.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

You don’t have to be real picky as to which vegetables you add to this marinated vegetable salad. It’s very flexible. You can pretty much walk down the produce aisle in your grocery store and grab whatever’s in season and you’ll be soon enjoying a fantastic dish.

If fresh produce is out-of-season, try my marinated vegetable salad recipe that uses frozen veggies instead.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Course Salad
Prep Time 2 hours
Servings 10
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup bottled cherry peppers halved
  • 3 medium zucchini cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 carrots peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small onion thinly sliced

Instructions

  • Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, cherry pepper halves, zucchini, carrots, and onion.
  • Add the dressing to the vegetables and toss gently to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2-24 hours. Stir every hour.

Cajun Muffaletta Poboys

Muffaletta sandwiches are tied with pastrami sandwiches on my list of all-time-favorite sandwiches. I often make my own pastrami. And I often make my own olive salad. But doing either is kind of a time-consuming process. These Cajun Muffaletta poboys are not only easier to make, they’re beyond crazy good. Delicious deli meat and cheese slices are combined with a spread that has a great mustard-y spiciness to it. The olive salad is divine and really, I could just eat it out of a bowl by itself.

Cajun Muffaletta Poboys

Don’t let the number of ingredients in these Cajun Muffaletta poboys scare you off. This recipe is well worth rounding them up. And many are things you probably already have on hand. Once you have the spread and the salad you’re good-to-go to make the best sandwich you’ve had in a long, long time.

Cajun Muffaletta Poboys

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients

For the sandwich

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 4 ounces. deli ham sliced thin
  • 4 ounces Genoa salami sliced thin
  • 4 ounces Provolone cheese sliced thin
  • 4 ounces Mozzarella cheese sliced thin
  • 1 cup olive salad see below
  • 2 tablespoons Po'Boy spread see below
  • 1 cup iceberg lettuce shredded
  • 1 tomatoes sliced thin

Marguerite's Creole Poboy Spread

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Creole mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce

Creole Olive Salad

  • 1 cup stuffed green olives
  • 1 cup black olives
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos
  • 1 tablespoon green onions sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

For the sandwich

  • Cut the bread in half horizontally.
  • Slather the top half of the bread with the poboy spread and the bottom with the olive salad.
  • Add the meats and cheeses, followed by the shredded lettuce and tomatoes.
  • Add top bread half and slice in half. Serve.

Marguerite's Creole Poboy Spread

  • Whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

Creole Olive Salad

  • Place all ingredients except for the oil into a food processor. Pulse until chopped and blended but do not over blend.
  • Transfer to an airtight container. Pour the oil over the top of the salad and seal. Refrigerate overnight before using.

Lemon Pepper Corn on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Chicken is my favorite thing to cook on my Big Easy. Corn-on-the-cob is my second most favorite. You can season it a million ways and no matter what, it always comes out sweet and tasty. Like this lemon pepper corn on the Char-Broil Big Easy. This is why the arrival of sweet corn season is such a happy time for me.
Lemon Pepper Corn on the Char-Broil Big Easy

You cannot screw up lemon pepper corn on the Char-Broil Big Easy. Well, you could if you let it overcook, I guess. But, it’s pretty unforgiving. If you’re not sure that it’s quite done, just life up a piece and poke a kernel with a toothpick. If the toothpick inserts with just a little resistance and the kernel ‘pops’, you’re good-to-go.

Corn-on-the-cob on the Big Easy is also great with lime pepper seasoning. As good as my garlic Old Bay corn!

Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page and my free Big Easy eCookbook!

Lemon Pepper Corn on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Lemon pepper corn on the Char-Broil Big Easy is why the arrival of sweet corn season is such a happy time for me.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 4 ears corn-on-the-cob husks and silks removed, cut in half
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper more or less, to taste

Instructions

  • Fire up your Big Easy.
  • Brush corn with the butter. Sprinkle with the lemon pepper.
  • Place corn into the Big Easy basket. You'll need a Bunk Bed basket to cook all of the corn at once.
  • Cook in the Big Easy for 20-25 minutes or until the corn is tender.

Notes

You'll need a Bunk Bed basket or two to cook more corn at once on your Big Easy.

Slow Cooker Taco Meat Version 2.0

I’m a big fan of taco night. Granted, it’s not real Mexican taco night, but it’ll do. Well-seasoned ground beef, cooked slow all day, soaking up flavor after flavor. Nothing fancy. No fine dining here. Just tasty tacos. Perfect on a cold night and nothing could possibly be easier to make than slow cooker taco meat.
Slow Cooker Taco MeatI prefer to use my homemade taco seasoning instead of the packets you get in the store. I like to be able to control the amount of salt and making it myself gives me that chance.

We’re both big fans of Mrs. Renfro’s salsas, and in particular the peach-flavored salsa. It adds a nice mellow sweetness to this slow cooker taco meat. For a nice kick, try Mrs. Renfro’s Mango Habanero salsa. It’ll wake you up!

Slow Cooker Taco Meat Version 2.0

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 25 minutes
Servings 8 -10 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large green bell pepper seeded, chopped
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1-2 cups peach salsa I used Mrs. Renfro's. You can substitute any good thick salsa.
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning I used a heavy 2 tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning

Instructions

  • Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain and transfer to a slow cooker.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  • Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally.

Grilled Garlic Parsley Cheese Bread

When I made a big ole batch of smoked NOLA shrimp the other day I knew I needed something for sopping up that delicious, spicy, rich sauce left at the bottom of the plate. Grilled garlic parsley cheese bread to the rescue! The bread gets delightfully crunchy on the grill. The cheesy topping has hints of garlic with fresh parsley. On both sides of the bread! Yes! Double the flavor! I love garlic bread. But garlic bread with the topping on both sides? Crazy good!
Grilled Garlic Parsley Cheese Bread

You do have to keep an eye on your grilled garlic parsley cheese bread. Well, at least while you’re grilling it. Maybe after, too, in case someone wants to steal one of your pieces. As the butter melts, it may drip down into your grill and case a little flame up. If that happens (and it probably will), just temporarily move the bread away from the flame using some tongs. Wait for the fire to die back down, then move the bread back over the direct heat. No problem.

Also try my easy grilled chimichurri bread.

Grilled Garlic Parsley Cheese Bread

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter softened
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Fire up your grill for direct and indirect cooking.
  • Cut the bread into 1/2" thick slices.
  • Place softened butter, garlic, cheese, parsley and salt in a bowl and mash with a fork to combine.
  • Slather the butter mixture onto both sides of the bread and transfer to the grill over direct heat. Grill 1-3 minutes per side until lightly toasted and crispy. Watch out for flare-ups as the butter melts. If you get a flare-up, move the bread to indirect heat until the fire dies down.
  • Serve immediately.

Enchilada Beans

Man do I ever love a big ole pot of great beans. But these enchilada beans aren’t great beans. They’re amazing beans. The flavors are just amazing. Southwestern in nature, with the perfect texture and a sauce that is to die for, I could eat these beans all day long and still ask for more.
Enchilada Beans

You cannot improve on these enchilada beans. Don’t go adding hot sauce, or spicy chili powder, or some fru-fru roasted tomato sauce. They don’t need any messing with. At all. Trust me on this. Make them exactly as the recipe calls for and you will thank me all day long.

Now, that being said… after making these a few times the thought of adding crumbled browned ground beef and making these beans into a chili did occur to me…

Also try my cowboy beans.

Enchilada Beans

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 14 1/2 ounces chicken broth
  • 3 15 ounce cans red beans drained, rinsed
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven. Add onion and cook until just starting to soften.
  • Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Sprinkle onions with flour, chili powder and cumin and stir. Cook for 5 minutes to cook the flour, stirring.
  • Stir in the broth and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until thickened.

Italian Slow Cooker Beef Sandwiches with Giardiniera Aioli

I need a bib, drop cloth, tarp or half a roll of paper towel to eat a sandwich, I know it’s a great sandwich. The messier, the better and these Italian slow cooker beef sandwiches with Giardiniera aioli are true to the rule. The beef is delicious. Moist and tender and packed with flavor, you could eat it by itself. The giardiniera aioli is different, wonderful, and definitely something I”ll be using on other sandwiches and for sure, po boys! I add a bit of slaw to bring a bit of crunch and a nice vinegar hit to offset the sweet tender beef. This is the sandwich of kings!

Italian Slow Cooker Beef Sandwiches with Giardiniera Aioli

These Italian slow cooker beef sandwiches with giardiniera aioli are great made just like the recipe states. But, if you want a bit of a kick to your sandwich, well, you came to the right place. Add some spicy pepper rings to the beef as it cooks low-and slow in the slow cooker. And substitute spicy giardiniera for the ‘regular’ stuff. That’ll satisfy your need for spicy, for sure!

Also try my slow cooker beef debris sandwiches.

Italian Slow Cooker Beef Sandwiches with Giardiniera Aioli

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Assemble time 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

For the Italian Beef

  • 4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast trimmed
  • 2 large red bell peppers seeded, sliced
  • 1 small sweet onion halve, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with basil and oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Aioli

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 16 ounce jar giardiniera drained
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the sandwich

  • 4 14" loaves French bread halved crosswise, split and lightly toasted
  • Delta slaw or your favorite vinegar-sauced slaw

Instructions

  • For the Italian beef
  • Combine the chuck, bell peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, salt and pepper in a slow cooker. Cook on the low setting for 8 hours. Use a ladle to remove some of the excess fat from the surface, then coarsely shred the beef with two forks. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Remove the meat from the cooker and shred. Return to the sauce in the slow cooker and keep warm until ready to use.

For the aioli

  • Place the egg, garlic and Dijon into a food processor and pulse until combined.
  • With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and vegetable oil until they are blended.
  • Add the giardiniera and pulse a few times. Do not over process. You want it just chopped, not liquefied.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the sandwich

  • Spread 2 tablespoons (or more) of the aioli on both sides of the bread
  • Divide the beef between the bottom bread halves.
  • Add some slaw. Top with the bread tops and serve.