There’s a Max and Erma’s restaurant right next door to the Premium Outlet Mall in Edinburgh, Indiana. We make it a point to stop by for lunch or dinner there whenever we can. Plus, you get to sit while you eat and after a few hours at the mall, you need that. Nine times out of ten I order the Santa Fe chicken salad. It’s a huge salad, with just the right toppings, and really, really good chicken. And when I’m not at the outlet mall, I can make a pretty darned good copycat of the same salad at home without a lot of fuss.
You can substitute chicken tenders for the chicken breast if you wish. I like my chicken a bit spicy so I load up on the hot sauce. Feel free to adjust to your taste. The chicken itself is outstanding.
To get the fancy dressing swirls on my copycat Max and Erma’s Santa Fe chicken salad I put some Ranch in a squeeze bottle with three nozzles and go to town on it. Hey, it’s fun.
Divide lettuce between two large plates. Add the chicken, cheeses, tomatoes, and tortilla strips.
Drizzle with Ranch dressing and serve.
For the fried chicken
Cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces or strips, as desired. Transfer to a bowl or pie pan.
Stir in the buttermilk and hot sauce. Let marinate for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.
Combine the flour, salt, black pepper, chipotle chile powder, oregano and cumin and place into another pie pan.
Heat 2" of oil to 350 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
Working in batches, remove chicken from the buttermilk. Shake off the excess and then coat well in the flour mixture. Return the chicken pieces to the buttermilk and turn to coat. Shake off the excess and again coat in the flour mixture.
Fry 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown, turning once.
Remove to a wire rack or paper towel-lined to cool slightly and drain.
I’ve said it hundreds of times. Chicken cooked on the Char-Broil Big Easy is a fantastic thing. It doesn’t take much effort and no fancy ingredients are required. I like to peruse the marinades at the grocery store, grabbing whatever strikes my fancy. This time my fancy had me using Old Colony Sauce. Often used for steaks, it’s also a fantastic marinade for chicken, adding a light Worcestershire-like flavor and tons of juiciness.
Old Colony sauce isn’t loaded up with sugar or honey, which is important when you are cooking on the Big Easy. Since the Big Easy cooks at a high temperature, marinades or sauces containing sugar or honey will tend to burn. You have to save those for saucing at the very end of your cooking, once the meat is almost done, so you don’t risk charred food.
As you can see, Old Colony sauce produced some mighty fine looking chicken (I used split chicken breasts), with great color and flavor throughout.
The reviews for my mushroom jerky made on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro are in! And well… they’re mixed! So why am posting it? Well, because I’m one on the ‘thumbs up’ side! I thought these mushrooms came out very woodsy and very flavorful, with a hint of spice to them. I loved them right off the dehydrator, I thought they had a nice texture with a little ‘tug’ to them.
After they cooled the mushrooms took on a slightly different texture. I’d call it less “jerky-like”. But still tasty. I opted to freeze the leftovers. They’ll be absolutely perfect in pasta sauce, that’s for sure. Or anywhere you need dried mushrooms but want something a bit more flavorful than ‘just’ ole dried up fungi!
Oh, Tuscan pasta salad, where have you been? I was getting just a bit tired of pasta salads and coleslaw then you came along and boom! Something totally different. This recipe makes a nice big batch, perfect for a family get-together, and perfect for that ‘wow factor too.
There’s nothing in this that will scare off grandma I tend to make my dishes on the spicy side. I resisted that temptation with this Tuscan pasta salad, with great results. Fresh and exciting, this salad hits the spot with it’s Italian-inspired flavors. You can substitute a tablespoon of dried basil for the fresh if you wish. Just make sure you crumble it a bit in your hand before adding it. I used fresh spinach, but you can also get away with frozen. Just make sure that it’s thawed completely first and squeeze very last drop of water from it before adding it (I like to place it in a kitchen towel, wrap it up tight, and squeeze the heck out of it).
This actually started out as just a test of an idea I’d had. It was a very hot day here. I have a pet peeve about cooking anything inside when it’s so hot. And thanks to my new Weber Summit S-670, I can not only cook in pots on a side burner, I have a big rotisserie I can use. I have the perfect basket for it, made by Napoleon, that I can use to cook up all sorts of side dishes, such as rotisserie French fries!
I started with frozen fries. And I went with the larger wedge fries because, this being my first time, I wasn’t sure how smaller fries might hold up to the constant tumbling. My rotisserie French fries came out fantastic, with a great crispiness and flavor. Of course, you can make them on a charcoal grill too with a rotisserie and a basket and get even more of that great ‘cooked outdoors’ flavor!
I think you can easily get away with cooking smaller fries, such as crinkles. Just keep an eye on them because the cook time will obviously depend on how hot you have your grill. I kept the temperature right around 400 F directly below my basket. I did not use my infrared burner (you can see it above the basket in the picture above).
Fire up your grill for medium-high cooking and prepare a rotisserie basket setup.
Add fries to the basket and close. Turn on the rotisserie and close the lid. Let cook for 20 minutes then check for crispness. If the fries turn golden brown with a bit of char along the edges, they're done! If not, close the lid and cook another 10-25 minutes, checking every 10 minutes or so.
Use heat-proof gloves to remove and open the rotisserie basket. Serve.
Weber has a line of marinade mixes that you add juice to that are really, really good. And they’re perfect for flavoring chicken before cooking it on the Char-Broil Big Easy. I picked up a package of each and used them to marinate my favorite, split chicken breasts. The original BBQ marinade is mixed with apple juice to produce wonderfully seasoned chicken. A hint of hickory smoke and a hint of sweetness, you’ll think you’re enjoying sauced chicken, but instead all that flavor comes from the marinade alone.Since the Big Easy cooks at a high temperature you do have to watch that your chicken doesn’t char. One way to help prevent that is to not use marinades containing substances that might burn, like sugar or honey. The other is to rinse the chicken before cooking. Now, you’re going to lose a bit of flavor doing that, but if like me you’re going to remove the skin before eating, it really doesn’t make that big of a difference.
If you like boiled peanuts, you’re in luck. If you like smoked peanuts, you’re in luck too. These smoked peanuts in the shell will satisfy you no matter which camp you’re in. Lightly smokey and well, pea-like, you’ll want to make a big ole batch for snacking during the next big game on TV.
Unlike just boiled peanuts, which have a soggy shell, these smoked peanuts in the shell spend some quality time over higher heat, giving the shells an almost roasted-like texture. So when you crack one open, you might be expecting a roasted peanut. That’s not what you’ll get. The time in the brine not only softens the peanuts it lets them absorb smoke. That’s what you’re after.
Combine the water, salt, sugar and peanuts in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes into a large colander and then spread out on a flat surface covered with towels to dry completely.
Fire up your smoker for 250 F. Use any wood you prefer, but the peanuts will absorb the smoke so I recommend a lighter fruit wood.
Add the peanuts to the smoker. If your grates are too wide, add foil sheets or pans with holes poked in them or use a grill mat like I did.
Cover grill and smoke for 20 minutes. Stir and smoke 20 more minutes. And then stir and smoke 20 more minutes. If the nuts aren't a bit crunchy continue smoking or transfer to a sheet pan in a 225 F oven or on a grill until golden brown and crunchy.
In my world there’s nothing better than a burger cooked on a super hot flat top griddle. Boy do I love that nice little char you get on the patties. These pepper crusted bacon cheeseburgers amp up that great flat top (though you can certainly grill them!) flavor even more.
The patties are loaded with sweet onion and lots of black pepper. Lots of black pepper. Crispy bacon, lettuce, smoky cheese and a fantastically garlicky aioli top it all off Every bite is loaded with flavor. Do not be shy with the black pepper when you roll the burger patties in it. You really want a good strong pepper flavor. I used smoked pepper but any good freshly cracked pepper will do. For extra smoky flavor used smoked garlic instead of regular raw garlic.
I’m addicted to onion rings. And I’m picky about them. I’m picking about the coating. It has to be light and crunchy and it has to stick to every inch of the onion. And I’m picky about the onion. Each bite has to be ‘clean’. Nothing is worse than biting into a ring and having the entire onion want to come out at once. And of course, they have to taste great. These homemade onion rings pass my picky tests and then some. They are truly fantastic.
There is absolutely nothing I would change about the batter for these homemade onion rings. It has the perfect consistency and flavor. Well, ok, I might change up the seasoning just a bit depending on who I’m serving them to or whatever my mood is that day. Me, I like a bit of heat, so cayenne is my go-to seasoning. But, a little smoked paprika or even a dried herb such as Italian seasoning also makes for a pleasant change.
The batter would also be great on fish filets, making for a big plate of fish-and-rings.
My fast food dining days are pretty much behind me. Oh I might stop and grab something every once-in-a-while, specially if I’m traveling. I still crave some of my fast food favorites, but now I’m more a make-it-at-home kinda guy. So that’s how we ended up here, with a copycat of my favorite chain burger, the Burger King Whopper (although truth be told, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and BigMac are close behind on the list!).
I like to cook my copycat Burger King Whoppers on a flat top griddle on my grill. I get the griddle hot, screaming hot, first. That gives me that little char, that little crunch around the edges. And of course cooking on the grill gives you that char-grilled flavor just like at the restaurant!
If you don’t have a grill cook the burgers in a hot skillet!