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. Smoking 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
3 cups shredded cheese mix (I used a Mexican cheese blend), divided
Preheat oven to 350 F.
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.
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.
Add bacon to baking sheet and sprinkle with the BBQ rub.
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.
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.
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.
Slowly whisk in the half and half. Keep whisking for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Remove from heat and stir in the 4 cups of cheddar cheese. Pour over the noodles and stir gently to combine.
Place half of the noodle and cheese mixture into the aluminum pan.
Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mix and more of the rub.
Add remaining noodles and sprinkle with the remaining cheese mix.
Add more rub and all of the crumbled bacon.
Place on the smoker and smoke for 2-3 hours depending on how smoky you want it.
Remove and let rest at least 30 minutes (good luck with waiting that long!) before slicing and serving.
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.
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!
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.