I’m always on the lookout for a different sauce for my smoked ribs, pulled pork, or whatever meats I’m cooking on my smoker. It’s not because I don’t already have a good collection of sauces that I love, but because sometimes you just want something different. This smokehouse BBQ sauce intrigued me when I first saw it because it had both chile peppers and lemon juice. I thought, well, that’s new. So I made it and it came out great on a nice big rack of smoked spare ribs! Thick but not too thick, this sauce has a hint of spiciness, a hint of smokiness, and a slight vinegar kick. In a ways it’s a combination of many BBQ sauces, from Kansas City to Memphis to the Carolinas. Different, but different in a good way.
One of my favorite things to do in the summer (around July 4th here in Indiana) is to buy a lot of sweet corn and put it up for the winter. And I do mean a lot of sweet corn. For the two of us that often means 100-150 ears at once. It’s a good day’s work, but well worth it later in the year, specially when I can use it to make great-tasting dishes like this slow cooker chili cheese corn. I really enjoy cooking corn in the slow cooker. The corn keeps it’s light crunch, and all of the sweetness. Add bit of roasted green chiles and cream cheese and you have a truly fantastic side dish. For a little more kick, use diced roasted jalapenos instead. Or for less kick, roast a poblano (or even green bell pepper) under your broiler until blackened, then remove the burnt skin, seeds and chop. No matter what you use, it’ll add a nice contrast to the sweetness and creaminess of the corn.
Wow, talk about a burger that just rocketed to the top of our favorite-to-make list. These campfire burgers are just packed with flavor, inside and out. The patties are not boring, combining ground beef with cheese, bacon, Worcestershire and just a hint of smokiness. And then there’s the caramelized onions. Caramelized onions are a wonderful thing but adding balsamic vinegar to them makes them spectacular. And finally, a lightly smoky creamy sauce to top it all off. I recommend making more of the onions than the recipe calls for. On the off-chance that you have leftover onions they are also fantastic on grilled hot dogs. I also recommend making more of the sauce. It’s great to have on hand for, well, hot dogs again, but also po boy sandwiches or even as a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets.
I’m a big fan of making beer-can chicken on my Big Easy. I end up with tender, moist flavor-packed chicken every time. That’s why I was so intrigued with the idea of making beer-can cabbage. Just like with chicken, the cabbage came out tender and tasty. Absolutely perfect, chopped and mounded on top of a pulled pork sandwich.I used a head of purple cabbage. You want to make sure you get one that is big enough to hold a beer can. The can doesn’t have to fit entirely inside of the cabbage, but you want it to go at least three inches. The hardest part of making beer-can cabbage is definitely the process of hollowing out the center of the cabbage. You don’t want to hollow out too much, so be careful.
Of course, the stronger the beer, the stronger the beer flavor will be in the cooked cabbage. I used a very light American beer. Since I was using the cabbage on a pulled pork sandwich I didn’t want something overwhelming.
Anita and I recently spent a few days in lovely Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania while attending a conference. I made sure I had my ‘to-eat’ list down before leaving, because one thing you can be sure of finding in Pittsburgh: good food. At the top of my list was dry chicken wings. No, not dry like ‘ewww, this meat is dry’. Dry as in the wings aren’t tossed in sauce after being cooked. Instead they are dusted with seasoning. The end result is almost like roasted chicken, but with much more pronounced flavors. Since our trip I’ve been seriously addicted to making dry wings, like these smoky chipotle wings
.When you first taste the rub for these wings you might think they’ll come out super spicy. Maybe too spicy for grandma. Well, no actually. The heat mellows a bit while the wings cook. You’re left with a slightly smoky, slightly sweet, and a bit-of-heat flavor that is absolutely crazy good. Good enough for grandma, though you might want to run the idea by her first.
Smoky chipotle wings would be absolutely perfect served any time, but they’d really make a great appetizer for the big game. They’re easy to make and packed with flavor.
I absolutely love chicken wings, cooked any way, with any sauce (or without). I love them so much that I created a free eCookbook that is full of my favorite wing recipes.
It was one of those days where I wanted to seriously up my game. I figured (correctly) that a stop at our local fish mongers, Caplinger’s, would inspire me even more. And so I set off to make crab-stuffed shrimp on the grill. Large shrimp are butterflied, the meat separated from the shells but still connected, and then stuffed with an absolutely delightful mixture of crab and seasonings that reminds me very much of crab cake. I cooked the shrimp over charcoal in a cast-iron skillet, giving the shrimp a light smoky flavor. The end result was out-of-this-world delicious. For appetizer-sized crab-stuffed shrimp use smaller shrimp, like the 16 count shrimp I used. For main dishes, get some 6-8 count shrimp. The larger the shrimp the easier they are to butterfly and the easier it is to separate the meat from the shell, which is definitely the most difficult part of making these shrimp. The rest is easy peasy.
As I sit here and remember just how fantastic the crab stuffing was in these shrimp, I recall back to the best crabcakes I’ve ever had, at Timbuktu’s in Hanover, Maryland. Their crabcakes have the largest and most delicious chunks of crab in them… mmmmmm….
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, plus more if needed
1/2 pound lump crab
Fire up your grill for two zone (direct and indirect cooking). Alternatively, you can cook these shrimp in the oven at 350 F.
Cut a slit down the backs of the shrimp. Do not cut all the way thru.
Butterfly the shrimp and remove the vein.
Separate the shell from the meat but do not remove it. The shell will still be attached at the tail, but the meat will not be attached to the shell.
Lightly butter a 7" cast iron skillet. Add the shrimp, butterflied side up.
Melt 1/2 pound of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat.
Crumble the crackers into a large bowl. Add the bread, Old Bay seasoning, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Add most of the melted butter. Do not add any of the onion or garlic, you just want to add the liquid.
Mix and add the mayonnaise. Try to squeeze the mixture together. If it holds together, it's ready. If it's too dry add more of the melted butter and a little bit of mayonnaise and mix and try again. Keep adding more butter/mayonnaise until the mixture holds together.
Lightly chop the crab and fold into the cracker mixture.
Working in batches, squeeze a tablespoon or two of the stuffing into a small log shape and place inside the butterflied shrimp. Don't be shy with the stuffing, you'll have plenty.
Place over indirect heat or in the oven and cook 20 minutes or until the shrimp is done. The shrimp will be pink in color on the outside and the flesh is opaque. If cooking on the grill rotate your skillet once to achieve consistent cooking.
Place the lemon halves over direct heat on the grill and grill until seared. If cooking in the oven, just use the halves as is - don't cook them.
Sometimes what you think might be a mistake can end up being one of the best things that you have ever done. I ordered some pork shanks from our local butcher. My goal was to make pork wings, which are made from the shank. Well, I didn’t explain myself well and what I ended up with was a big bag of shanks that had been cut in half, which definitely weren’t going to work for pork wings. Well, a quick glance around the web and I found tons of great recipes for braising shanks, which I will do but I also found the idea of smoking them and using them in the place of smoked hocks. Now that’s an idea I can get excited about because I love hocks and beans. So I took 8 of the shanks (trust me, I have plenty more), brined them for a while and then smoked them. The end result was tender, perfectly smoky-flavored shanks that were amazing in a big pot of beans. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to get more shanks from my butcher for no other reason than to smoke them. They’ll be great this fall and winter in soups and stews. They also fit in well with my ‘no empty space on the smoker’ rule, which says if you’re going to fire up your smoker, use all available room that you have. No point in wasting smoke. Shanks are the perfect size for using up valuable smoker grate space in my opinion.
I made a lot, and I do mean a lot, of beer can chickens on my Char-Broil Big Easy last weekend. So, I had a good amount of chicken on hand, and that got me to thinking jambalaya. I took the classic jambalaya recipe from Chef John Folse and used my tender, incredibly flavorful beer can chicken instead of browned fresh chicken.
There’s no loser in this beer can chicken jambalaya, but for me the winner is the rice (well, and me for getting to eat it). It absorbs flavors from the vegetables and meats and broth and spices and turns out just flat-out incredible.
You can add shrimp to this jambalaya if you want, but I prefer mine without it. It’s hard to re-heat shrimp leftovers without them becoming way too tough. Since this recipe make a big, big batch and there’s only two of us, I was guaranteed to have leftovers and then some.