A lot of restaurant signature sauces start with simple, off-the-shelf ingredients. A restaurant near us starts with BBQ sauce and Ranch, just like with this quick fix BBQ Ranch dressing, and then adds a few other ingredients (such as crumbled cooked bacon) to make it different for different dishes, such as for dipping onion rings or chicken wings. This quick fix BBQ dressing isn’t just for salads, that’s for sure. I squirted it on a big plate of French fries. I dipped grilled chicken wings in it. Just make sure you start with good, quality BBQ sauce and Ranch dressing. And don’t hesitate to use a spicy BBQ sauce, or one with a bit of smoky flavor to it.
There’s one rule I have about meatloaf: the veggies have to be chunky. I want some crunch to offset what is essentially a large brick-of-meat. Nothing wrong with a brick of meat, but put some nice chunky vegetables in it. This easy Creole meatloaf hit the spot and it definitely did not break my meatloaf rule. Great flavor. Moist. And just a hint of spiciness. Now, I will say that leftover super chunky easy Creole meatloaf does make for a pretty messy sandwich. But then, who really sits around dreaming of a nice, neat leftover meatloaf sandwich? Not me. It is not something to be ashamed of if you have to go open-faced with your meatloaf sandwich.
There’s definitely no wrong way to make ‘fried’ chicken on your charcoal grill using the Vortex. I absolutely love it. For a long time I’ve been making my chicken using batter made from scratch. This time I decided to try an off-the-shelf batter mix usually meant for actual deep frying in oil. The result? Absolutely delicious, crunchy, moist fried chicken with about as little fuss and mess as possible. And no oil. Any good fried chicken batter mix will work. It’s called easy crispy fried chicken for a reason. Just dip and put onto the grill. I prefer to use split bone-in chicken breasts or thighs. I recommend bone-in chicken because it will have more flavor and won’t dry out as easily as boneless. You can use boneless chicken but you might have to adjust the cook time. When I do need boneless ‘fried’ chicken I still cook it bone-on then remove the meat from the bone when done. If you prefer to make your own batter from scratch, try my super easy Vortex fried chicken recipe. For something a bit more fru-fru, make my spicy BBQ fried chicken. You’ll quickly see why fried chicken on the Vortex is fantastic!
Note: I've found that rotating the lid isn't very necessary, specially on smaller grills. You can experiment by not rotating and checking the chicken after 30 minutes. If the pieces are cooking evenly you can skip rotating the lid.
I set out to prove to myself just how easy it can be to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving (or any time of the year). That meant no brining, no basting, no rubs, no oils, no injecting. Nothing. Just a turkey breast. To achieve what ended up being a fantastic result, I used a turkey breast that was already in a basting solution. Turkeys that are already pre-brined (or ‘pumped’) are common and they do save you a lot of time and hassle. I was very, very happy with this easy smoked turkey breast. It was completely fuss-free. The skin was nice and crunchy. The meat was tender and moist. All that greatness and all I did was put it on the smoker and make sure the cook temperature stayed around 325 F. I used plenty of wood to get plenty of smoky flavor, which I think made up for the spices or basting sauce I would normally add. This is a great way to make a turkey breast for a crowd while still leaving yourself free for other things.
This recipe uses a 'pumped' turkey breast, or one that has already been brined. The package will state 'contains up to 8% of a solution of water, salt, spices to enhance tenderness and juiciness'. Normally I would use a natural turkey that does not contain such a solution, but the goal was to make as easy a turkey breast as possible.
Yes, sometimes I just grab a big ole jar or two of spaghetti sauce at the grocery store instead of making a big batch of homemade sauce. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I don’t just heat up the sauce and toss it over cooked pasta. Nope, I gotta make my shortcut spaghetti. It’s a dish I started making in my bachelor years, and have perfected over time.
You can use ground beef instead of Italian sausage, but I wouldn’t. The first years I made shortcut spaghetti I used beef. Sausage is better. Much better. And my homemade Italian sausage is fantastic. I make a batch and freeze it in one pound packages. Perfect for a shortcut dish.
Oh, and I almost forgot! Instead of pasta, serve the meat sauce mixture on a hoagie or sub roll as a sandwich and top with tons of shredded mozzarella. It’s the perfect messy Sloppy Italian Joe sandwich. Or substitute meatballs for the sausage.
I admit, I don’t always cook up a big ole fru-fru dinner. In fact, sometimes I crave junk food. Or a take on junk food.
I was rummaging through the freezer and found a batch of homemade pizza sauce. I decided to make some cheater chicken Parmesan sliders. They’re just what you might imagine: pre-made chicken nuggets, pizza (or marinara) sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, all served on slider buns for a quick and easy tasty bites. They’re actually very tasty and kinda fun to eat. They are also perfect game-time snacks. Make sure you use nuggets that are slider-friendly. Chunky nuggets won’t do well here. You want flat ones, which is why I used the nuggets from Tyson’s. Chunky nuggets to make for great crispy chicken po boys, though.
Turkey roasts from Butterball are a really great way to cook up turkey in no time at all. They’re pretty much no-fuss. Defrost, season, cook, eat. The roasts are already brined, so you don’t have to mess with that either.
In keeping with the easy theme, I decided to cook a roast on my Char-Broil Big Easy. It was my first time (I usually cook full turkeys or bone-in turkey breasts), and I have to say, wow, that was easy! I literally just put a seasoned defrosted roast in the cooker and went away for 45 minutes. I came back to dinner. Well, ok, almost dinner. I made a batch of my delicious (and also easy) Cajun gravy, some stuffing, and green beans. Then I had dinner.
You don’t have to worry about this turkey roast drying out on the Char-Broil Big Easy. Just like with all other things poultry, the Big Easy cooks the roast up evenly and without losing all those great juices.
I seasoned the roast with my Fire-Eater rub, which might not be for everyone, and is definitely not ‘Thanksgivingy’. Substitute your favorite seasoning. Salt and pepper are great by themselves, so no need to use anything fancy. I also made another turkey roast a few days later that I first injected with Texas butter (any injectable butter-based sauce will do). It was really fantastic too! Whole chicken is just as easy, too.
Looking for the perfect dessert to cook in the Big Easy? Try my mini pumpkin cheesecakes. They also take only minutes to cook (they do need to chill before serving), but boy, are they ever fantastic!