I thought this Cajun stuffed chicken breast came out absolutely fantastic. Pounding the chicken out to a nice consistent thickness was a bit challenging, but I’m sure with more practice I’ll have it down pat. The filling is super-simple, just a few diced and sliced vegetables and a bit of cheese. The stuffed chicken is seasoned with Cajun seasoning, browned quickly on the stovetop, then transferred to the oven to finish cooking. Done and yum! I prefer to use my own Cajun seasoning in this and other recipes. I grind it myself so I get the consistency that I want. For this dish I ground the seasoning very fine.
I absolutely loved these bacon cheese-stuffed peppers. Every bite was full of my favorite things, like cheese and bacon. And a bit of sharp onion and sweet roasted bell pepper. I left the onions fairly crunchy because I was looking for a great crunch (along with the crunch of the bacon) to contrast the soft pepper and gooey cheese. You can cook yours further if you want but don’t go overboard. Crunch here is a good thing. For a spicier version, substitute habanero jack cheese for the cheeses, and use poblano peppers instead of red bell peppers. A sprinkle or two of red pepper flake on top isn’t going to hurt anything either. You can’t go wrong with bacon cheese-stuffed peppers no matter how you change them up (if you do).
I bought a case of Hatch chiles the other day. Most of the chiles ended up being roasted, but I kept a few for these sausage-stuffed Hatch chiles. Now I’m wishing that I’d kept a bunch more of the un-roasted peppers on hand because they sure make some fantastic dishes. I could’ve served this as an appetizer or as a main dish. I went the main dish route, and backed up the truck. I wasn’t shy about how many I put on my plate. There were no leftovers. Sausage and bacon, with a hint of fennel on a grilled chile with just a bit of cheese. Smoked low and slow. Like a fancy jalapeno popper, sort of. For a kicked-up version substitute spicy sausage and add a few good-sized pinches of red pepper flake to the meat mixture. Oh, and use a nice pepper jack or even habanero jack cheese for that extra creamy kick.
For a healthier version, skip the cheese and bacon and use turkey sausage. You might want to up the seasonings though.
You can also make these sausage-stuffed Hatch chiles on your grill, be it charcoal or gas. Just cook them over indirect heat, trying to keep the temperatures fairly low as to not over-cook them.
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.
For years and years I have grilled my sausages after they spent some quality time in a ‘bath’ of beer and peppers and onions. And they are great, I admit it. But these kraut-stuffed sausages, well, they’re really beyond great. Tender, moist, and just packed with flavor. Such a wonderful texture in every single bite. I couldn’t stop eating them. Topped with plenty of mustard, these are now my only go-to grilled sausages. You have to use the right kind of sausages to make these kraut-stuffed sausages. Get the fresh sausages, with casings. You need to be able to poke your finger inside to make a cavity for the fantastic (but easy) filling. And unless your fingers are really, really long, don’t get really, really long sausages!
I suggested to Anita that we try adding other things to the stuffing, such as chopped roasted jalapenos, or poblanos or the like and she gave me a dirty look. The “don’t mess with this” look. So I won’t.
1 pound fresh sausages (Italian, Kielbasa, whichever you prefer, just make sure you get the sausages in casings). I used Johnsonville Italian sausages which come 5 to a pound
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, cut thin
1 pound kraut plus some of the juice
1 cup shredded cheese (Monterrey Jack, mozzarella, any good white melting cheese will work)
5 fresh sausage buns
Your favorite mustard
Using your fingers, make a hole down the center of each sausage, creating a cavity that runs the full length of the sausages.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add the onion, kraut, and a bit of the juice from the kraut jar.
Stir and let cook until the onions are softened.
Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Stir in the cheese. It won't melt but it will help bind the kraut mixture together.
Fire up your grill for indirect cooking.
Using your hands, grab some of the kraut mixture and force it into the cavity in the sausages. Just keep packing it in. Don't worry about being all pretty and what-not, just get it in there. But don't shove so hard that you have a blowout!
Place sausages over indirect heat on the grill and cook for 30 minutes until nice and dark and done.
Toast the buns.
Add cooked sausages to the buns and top with plenty of mustard.
Wow, talk about amazingly good. The heck with the main dish, just load me up on some of these Cajun shrimp-stuffed poblano peppers. A slight kick of heat, perfect shrimp and creamy melted cheese. What’s not to love? You could use green bell peppers instead, if you want. I love poblanos because they are a little spicier than a bell pepper without just completely drowning out a dish in heat.
For extra kick, substitute shredded pepper jack cheese for the feta and mozzarella and add a few diced roasted jalapenos into the shrimp mixture. That’ll definitely liven up the party.
This may be one of my favorite summertime vegetable grilling ideas. It doesn’t really matter what vegetables you use, either. Just grab whatever vegetables are in season at the store, roast them on the grill, then spoon them into large mushroom caps. Add a bit of seasoning, a little cheese, place onto a cedar plank over a hot fire, and in no time at all you’ll have a great side dish.
Grilling on cedar planks can be a sensitive subject. Some folks really don’t care for it, others, like me, love it. I like the light flavor the planks can add (I tend to not get my planks super smoky before adding my food). And it looks cool. And it makes the deck area smell great. I have to admit that I’m cheap, so I re-use planks as much as I can. As long as you don’t burn them too much on one side, you can get a few uses from them.
Very few things are as addicting as chorizo-stuffed Fritos. These little bite-sized snacks disappear in no time. As an added bonus, they are incredibly easy to make. I made a batch on my Char-Broil Big Easy. You can fit a whole bunch of stuffed Fritos on the Big Easy, making it perfect for cooking for a crowd, if you have the available cooking rack. Just about anything you put in the Fritos is going to taste great. I used Mexican chorizo because I love the spiciness that is brings to dishes, but ground breakfast sausage would also be fantastic.
Be careful when pulling these chorizo-stuffed Fritos off your Big Easy. In no time the chips get mighty hot, so use tongs or let them cool a bit first before handling and eating.