Smoked Habanero Flake on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro

Not too long ago I made a fantastic batch of red pepper flake using my dehydrator, a Nesco Snackmaster Pro. I use the spicy flakes on just about everything. But, I thought, nothing wrong with making an even tastier, hotter version. So I grabbed a big bag of red habaneros and proceeded to make smoked habanero flake.
smoked-habanero-flake-on-the-nesco-snackmaster-proSmoking the habaneros, though not required, gives the flakes a fantastic slightly-smoky flavor and aroma, much more complex than if you just ground dried habaneros. And oh, yes, these flakes are mighty hot. You have to be careful handling the peppers, and trust me, when you grind them, do NOT put your face over the grinder when you remove the lid. I speak the truth here, it’ll get you.

Smoked Habanero Flake on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro
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Note: You'll need a smoker (wood, charcoal, or electric), a dehydrator, and a spice grinder (I use a blade-style coffee grinder) to make these smoked habanero flakes.
Ingredients
  • Ripe habaneros, any color, preferably all roughly the same size
Instructions
  1. Fire up your smoker. Add a few chunks of stronger wood, such as hickory. Do not use a fruity wood such as apple, peach, etc.
  2. Add the habaneros to the smoker and smoke for 2 hours. You're not looking to dry them (though you could given plenty of time), just get a nice smoke flavor.
  3. Remove the habaneros and transfer to your dehydrator, set to 165 F.
  4. Dry the habaneros until crispy, 8-12 hours (or more if they are large, less if they are smaller). Rotate the trays every 2 hours to ensure even drying.
  5. Remove the habaneros and let cool slightly.
  6. Remove the stems from the peppers.
  7. Working in batches, transfer the peppers to a spice grinder with blades (do not use a burr grinder) and grind until the desired sized flakes are achieved.
  8. Store in an air-tight container.
  9. Note: The flakes will be mighty hot, so use sparingly.

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Corn Salad

Corn is in season and that’s a happy time for me. And as much as I love grilled corn-on-the-cob, corn in salads is tied for my favorite way to get some good fresh corn into my belly. Like this jalapeno popper grilled corn salad. Creamy dressing. Crunchy bacon. Deliciously sweet corn. And a little heat. This is the perfect side dish for a grill-out or picnic.
We’re getting our corn from the southern US now, but soon they’ll be harvesting corn here in Indiana. Almost time for my yearly ritual of putting up corn for the winter. I race on down to our local farmer’s market, Binford Farmer’s Market, and load up on corn as soon as it’s available. And I do mean load up. My favorite? My Dad’s Sweet Corn from Tipton, Indiana. Hand-picked and incredibly sweet, they always have great corn.

Also try my chili cheese Frito salad.

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Corn Salad
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Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
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Serves: 8 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ears fresh corn, husks NOT removed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 jalapenos, stems and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 cup cooked bacon, chopped
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for medium heat grilling.
  2. Peel back the husks from the corn but do not remove them. Remove all silks.
  3. Lightly brush the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pull the husks back around the corn and tightly wrap in foil.
  5. Place on the grill and cook 20 minutes, rotating often.
  6. Open the foil and continue cooking until the corn is tender.
  7. Remove the corn from the grill and let cool until you can cut the kernels from the ears.
  8. Combine the corn with all remaining ingredients.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Stir before serving.

Crispy Smoked Smashed Potatoes

I have a rule about firing up my Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker: never leave any empty space. The fire’s already going, might as well smoke as much as you can. I had a few corned beefs smoking, which meant I had some room left over, so I threw on a bag of red potatoes. After a few hours the potatoes were tender, ready for step 2: smashing. Later, when it was time for dinner, I placed the smashed potatoes onto a super hot griddle along with a little oil to crisp them up. Man, were they every delicious! Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, with a hint of smoke. A great side dish.
I like my crispy smoked smashed potatoes topped like I’d top a baked potato: butter, sour cream, chopped crispy bacon and green onion. Anita, on the other hand, keeps hers simple by squirting them with a good dose of ketchup. No matter what you put on yours, you can’t go wrong. The smoke adds a nice different flavor that you just won’t get from the oven.

Also try my grilled Hasselback potatoes!

Crispy Smoked Smashed Potatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
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Ingredients
  • Red potatoes (try to use ones that are roughly all the same size)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Your favorite potato toppings
Instructions
  1. Fire up your smoker for smoking at 250 F. Use a lighter fruit food such as peach or apple.
  2. Toss the potatoes with a bit of oil. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Place potatoes on the smoker and smoke until tender, 1-2 hours depending on size.
  4. Remove potatoes and let cool slightly.
  5. Place potatoes onto a cutting board or solid flat surface. Take a large skillet (cast iron works great for this) and gently push down onto the potatoes, flattening them out.
  6. To crisp the potatoes, add a little oil to the skillet you just used and place over high heat (I put the skillet on my grill).
  7. Add the potatoes and crisp on one side, 5-10 minutes. Flip and crisp the other side.
  8. Serve hot with your favorite toppings.

Grilled Cornbread with Hatch Chile Honey Butter

Not too long ago I grilled up some cornbread and brushed it with jalapeno honey butter. Good doesn’t even come close to describing how great it was. I instantly became a big fan of grilled cornbread. And since I roasted a huge batch of Hatch chiles, I figured, hey, how about grilled cornbread with Hatch chile honey butter? A little less spicy than the jalapeno version, but still packed with fantastic roasted pepper flavor and just a little sweetness.
Thicker cornbread definitely holds up better on the grill than the crumbly stuff. You have to be pretty careful flipping the cornbread, but it’s worth the stress. I like to have extra melted Hatch chile honey butter on the table when I serve these because, well, you can’t have too much of it that’s for sure.

If you love Hatch chiles as much as I do, don’t hesitate to add a few of the chopped roasted peppers into the cornbread mix before you bake it.

Grilled Cornbread with Hatch Chile Honey Butter
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
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Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 batch your favorite cornbread (I use Jiffy)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 Hatch chile, roasted, seeds and membranes removed (alternatively you can use a 4 ounce can of roasted green chiles)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Instructions
  1. Cook the cornbread per package instructions. You can use squares or muffins.
  2. Fire up your grill for direct cooking.
  3. Melt the butter and stir in the chiles and honey.
  4. Brush cornbread liberally on all sides with the butter mixture.
  5. Place onto the grill over direct heat for 3 minutes until grill marks start to appear.
  6. Carefully flip and grill on the other side.for 3 more minutes.
  7. Serve hot with any remaining butter.

Smoked Bacon Mac-and-Cheese

Oh my goodness. I’ve had my share of mac-and-cheese and then some. I’ve even grilled it. But nothing has ever come close to this smoked bacon mac-and-cheese. Yeah, it’s creamy ooey gooey cheesy like any proper mac-and-cheese should be. And it has bacon, glorious bacon. And it’s smoked. Yes, smoked. Not a lot of smokiness, not too much to overwhelm, but the exact perfect amount. This is just crazy good eats.

If you’re in the mood to make this smoked bacon mac-and-cheese even more over-the-top, add a few good handfuls of leftover smoked pulled pork. It’s a fantastic way to use up pulled pork if by chance you have some on hand. Me, I’d already eaten all of my smoked pork, and I was very, very happy with this dish without it.

For a another great ‘made outdoors’ take on mac-and-cheese, try my grilled Buffalo version.

Smoked Bacon Mac-and-Cheese
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Recipe type: Side
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Serves: 10-14 servings
 
You'll need a 9x13" deep disposable aluminum pan.
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 ounce) box elbow noodles
  • Your favorite BBQ rub
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 5 cups half and half
  • 9 x 13 x 3 (or so) deep foil pan
  • 3 cups shredded cheese mix (I used a Mexican cheese blend), divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Fire up your smoker for 225 F. Use whatever wood you like, but I would recommend a lighter fruit wood such as cherry or peach.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with foil. You might need two baking sheets if they aren't large enough to hold all of the bacon.
  4. Add bacon to baking sheet and sprinkle with the BBQ rub.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, sprinkle with more rub and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until cooked but not overly crispy. Remove from oven and transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Crumble the bacon once cooled.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook 8-9 minutes until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.
  7. Add butter to a medium saucepan over medium eat. Once melted whisk in the flour, mustard, salt, paprika and black pepper. Whisk for 2 minutes.
  8. Slowly whisk in the half and half. Keep whisking for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in the 4 cups of cheddar cheese. Pour over the noodles and stir gently to combine.
  10. Place half of the noodle and cheese mixture into the aluminum pan.
  11. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mix and more of the rub.
  12. Add remaining noodles and sprinkle with the remaining cheese mix.
  13. Add more rub and all of the crumbled bacon.
  14. Place on the smoker and smoke for 2-3 hours depending on how smoky you want it.
  15. Remove and let rest at least 30 minutes (good luck with waiting that long!) before slicing and serving.

Smoked Chicken Thighs

I have been smoking all sorts of meats for years. But for some reason, chicken thighs never made it onto my list of things to smoke. I was jonesin’ for a BBQ chicken sandwich. Now normally, I’d smoke a boneless chicken breast that I had brined (to keep it moist and tender) and shred or chop it. But since I’ve been on a chicken thigh kick lately, and had a freezer full of thighs from the last time they went on sale, that’s what I went with. And boy I could not have been happier.

After just a few hours on the smoker the chicken thighs were done. Super juicy and tender, I knew I was in for a treat. It didn’t take long to remove the skin (it’s not going to get crispy and hey, it’s not the healthiest part of the chicken) and separate the meat from the bones. Smoked thigh meat is perfect on BBQ sandwiches or nachos or pizzas.

Smoked Chicken Thighs
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Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
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Ingredients
  • 5 pound bone in, skin on chicken thighs
For the brine
  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce
For the rub
  • Prepared yellow mustard
  • Your favorite BBQ rub (I used my basic BBQ rub)
Instructions
  1. Trim any excess fat from the thighs. Place them in a large (large enough to hold the chicken and brine) resealable container.
  2. Add the brine. Stir gently to make sure the chicken is all exposed to the brine. Seal and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine (discard) and rinse with cold water. Return the chicken to the (now dry) container.
  4. Squirt the thighs with the mustard, turning to get all sides. Rub the mustard around and cover the thicken.
  5. Sprinkle the chicken with the rub, making you sure you get it on all sides.
  6. Fire up your smoker for cooking at 230 F. Use a nice fruit wood such as hickory. For a stronger smoke flavor use hickory.
  7. Add the chicken to the smoker and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 170 F, 2 to 2 1/12 hours.
  8. Remove the chicken. Discard the skin. Pull the meat from the bones and chop or shred as desired.
For the brine
  1. Combine all ingredients. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno-Stuffed Olives

I’ve found the replacement for eating popcorn while watching a movie. No more of that. Grilled bacon-wrapped jalapeno-stuffed olives are much, much better. Yeah, there’s definitely a spicy kick to them. And a little smokiness from the bacon. A bit salty. Just give me a bowl of these little bites and a little cool ranch or blue cheese dressing (gotta cool off!) and I’m happy!
You don’t have to go the spicy route if you don’t want to. Any stuffed olives will work just fine for this recipe. Try Gouda-stuffed olives, they’re fantastic too! Just make sure you get big olives, big enough to wrap the bacon around. Those lil ole pimento-stuffed olives that are barely bigger than peanuts just won’t do. And since you’ve got the grill going, might as well add a few bacon-wrapped meatballs!

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno-Stuffed Olives
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Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
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Serves: 15 bites
 
Ingredients
  • 15 jalapeno-stuffed green olives
  • 5 slices thin bacon, cut into thirds
  • Your favorite rub or seasoning
  • Ranch or blue cheese dressing, for serving
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for indirect cooking.
  2. Wrap each olive in a piece of bacon. I didn't need a toothpick to secure the bacon, but you might.
  3. Sprinkle your rub out on a plate and roll the bacon-wrapped olives in it to coat.
  4. Grill 20-30 minutes or until the bacon is cooked.
  5. Serve with cool ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

Grilled Yellow Squash

Simple yet delicious. You don’t always have to struggle to come up with a grill-able side dish idea, and you definitely don’t have to spend hours or even many minutes putting one together. Grilled yellow squash actually made me love squash, and let me tell you, that’s not an easy thing to do. The key for me was the onions. And that means Vidallia onions when I can get them. Always.
I also like adding my favorite seasonings to the foil packet instead of ‘just’ salt and pepper. One we truly enjoy is the Casa Seasoning from Albukirky Seasonings. It’s the perfect blend of salt, pepper, garlic and lemon, among other things.

Also try my grilled marinated medley, everything great in a single dish.

Grilled Yellow Squash
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
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Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 6 medium yellow squash, sliced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for indirect cooking at 350 F. Alternatively, you can make this in an oven preheated to 350 instead.
  2. Place all ingredients on a large piece of aluminum foil. Seal tightly.
  3. Transfer to the grill or oven and cook 20-25 minutes or until crisp-tender.

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