Thai Chicken Wings

Sunday, August 5, 2012

OK, I have to admit that if I were on death row, my last meal would be chicken wings, probably from Quaker Steak and Grill. But making awesome wings at home is not as difficult as you might think. Mine have a nice touch of hardwood smoke.These have a definite Thai twist to them. I used pre-cut chicken wings, thawed.

Chicken wings (I just get mine at WalMart, or wherever they might be on sale)
Canola Oil (1 cup, more or less, enough to barely cover wings in your pan)
Yellow Mustard
Penzey's Tandoori seasoning
Peanut Satay Sauce (found in Thai section)
Green Curry Paste (found in Thai section)

Make you sauce by mixing 2 parts Satay sauce and  1 part Curry paste.

After the wings are thawed, coat with yellow mustard and marinate for 2 hours in the ridge.
Place wings on smoker, 210F for 1 hour.(This is an optional step, but it is mandatory for me. I love the flavor it produces.

Heat oil in a cast iron pot, or use a deep fryer if you have one. When oil of starting to slowly churn (convect) start frying the wings in small batches. When they just start to get crisp, put them back on the smoker to drain. Do this for the remaining wings.

Now, we are going to double fry. This makes them unbelievably crisp and juicy! So start with the wings from the first batch and fry them all over again until golden brown. Drain and sprinkle lightly with the Tandoori seasoning. Coat with sauce.

Really - these are worth the effort. For a little more zing, mix a bit of dried chili peppers into the sauce.

This makes about 2 dozen. Enjoy!

Smoking Point of Oils

Monday, April 2, 2012

Smoke points matter. The smoking point of a given oil is the temerature that an oil breaks down chemically into glycerol and free fatty acids. Glycerol further breaks down into acrolein, which is an irritant to eyes and mucous membranes.

It is important to match the oil you use to purpose.
  • For oiling grill surfaces, I find that canola oil (refined) is the best all around.
  • For using high heat in something like a wok or for deep frying, then I use peanut oil. It has a higher smoking point than most all readily available cooking oils.

Olive, flaxseed, grapeseed, walnut, avacado, seseme oils have a very low smoke point and should be used primarily as a dressing or flavor for salads and perhaps drizzled onto cooked foods. General rule.... if it comes in a small quantity and is costly, I do not cook with it exposing it to heat. The exception might be extra virgin olive oil, which I will mix with canola or peanut oil. This allows the smoke point to be raised while still retaioning some of the olive oil flavor. The same is true of butter.

Seasoning of cast iron, whether cookware or grates is best done at lower temps, around 350F or so. At this range, the pores of the metal are opened (expanded), but will not burn canola, peanut or vegetable oils.

The chart below is from Wikipedia

FatQualitySmoke Point
Almond oil420°F216°C
Avocado oilRefined520°F271°C
Canola oilExpeller Press375-450°F[5]190-232°C
Canola oilHigh Oleic475°F246°C
Canola oilRefined400°F204°C[1]
Castor oilRefined392°F200°C[6]
Coconut oilExtra Virgin (Unrefined)350°F[7]177°C
Coconut oilRefined450°F232°C
Corn oilUnrefined352°F178°C[6]
Corn oilRefined450°F232°C[1]
Cottonseed oil420°F216°C[1]
Flax seed oilUnrefined225°F107°C
Ghee (Indian Clarified Butter)485°F252°C
Grapeseed oil420°F216°C
Hazelnut oil430°F221°C
Hemp oil330°F165°C
Macadamia oil413°F210°C
Mustard oil489°F254°C
Olive oilExtra virgin375°F191°C
Olive oilVirgin391°F199°C[6]
Olive oilPomace460°F238°C[1]
Olive oilExtra light468°F242°C[1]
Olive oil, high quality (low acidity)Extra virgin405°F207°C
Palm oilDifractionated455°F235°C[8]
Peanut oilUnrefined320°F160°C
Peanut oilRefined450°F232°C[1]
Rice bran oil490°F254°C
Safflower oilUnrefined225°F107°C
Safflower oilSemirefined320°F160°C
Safflower oilRefined510°F266°C[1]
Sesame oilUnrefined350°F177°C
Sesame oilSemirefined450°F232°C
Soybean oilUnrefined320°F160°C
Soybean oilSemirefined350°F177°C
Soybean oilRefined460°F238°C[1]
Sunflower oilUnrefined225°F107°C
Sunflower oilSemirefined450°F232°C
Sunflower oil, high oleicUnrefined320°F160°C
Sunflower oilRefined440°F227°C[1]
Tea seed oil485°F252°C
Vegetable shortening360°F182°C
Walnut oilUnrefined320°F160°C
Walnut oilSemirefined400°F204°C

Feast Following the Fast

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday, and Lent is over and so is the Lenten Fast. Dinner tonight was a meat-fest, with chicken, lamb and bacon.

Smoked Chicken Thighs:
Marinaded and de-boned chicken thighs are placed in a muffin tin with holes drilled in the bottom and sides of the cups to allow smoke in and grease out. They come out evenly shaped and very moist with amazingly crisp skin. It was glazed with a mixture of honey and molasses. After 2 1/2 hours of smoke, they were removed from the tin and placed briefly on a hot grill. Since the glaze was not diluted in any way, I did not expose it to the grill surface.

Lamb Steaks:
Excess fat removed. (The bulk of the gamey flavor of lamb comes from the rich, dense fat. I like the taste, but my wife is not too fond of it)
Cubed, marinaded in oil, lemon juice, rosemary and garlic and quick-grilled. Take care to not overcook. It's that simple!

Thick-sliced Farmland brand smoked bacon, placed on the Traeger pellet smoker along with the chicken until done.

Rice Pilaf: 
I admit to cheating.  Schwan's makes rice simple and very fast. This was important tonight because with all the time I spent on the meat and beans, I forgot about a second side.

(Very) Simple Smoked Beans:

1 large can of pork&beans, drained, washed and pork removed
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon pork rub
1 chopped onion
1 cinnamon stick
Molasses to taste 

Placed in an open, shallow pan and smoked along with the chicken. Why a shallow pan? The cook time was unusually short and a shallow pan allows more surface area for the smoke to penetrate.

Purple Glaze

Given my recent fixation on glazes for meat, I thought I would share with you a glaze I used yesterday on some smoked feather bones. It is deceptively simple.

1/2 cup of cheap blackberry brandy (DeKuyper or Phillips will do)
2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar

Flambe the brandy to drive off the alcohol. This is especially important with cheap brandy as it is usually almost harsh with alcohol.

Wisk the sugar into the hot brandy until dissolved.

Brush onto the meat, being careful not to burn the sugars.

This leaves an extraordinary shine with a purple-red hue. Left over glaze could be brushed onto meat as a sauce replacement after the meat is removed from heat.

Detailed instructions on glazing.

Orange Glaze for Ckicken

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More and more, I am seeing the value in "glazing" grilled meats. A glaze adds a layer of flavor, but, perhaps even more important, it gives the meat a very appetizing shine. This, of course, is assuming one does not burn the glaze.

Glazes always have a sugar or sweet component to them. Sugar, burns quickly at high heat, and leaves the meat with a bitter flavor that is by most standards, undesirable. My method, learned after burning more than my share of chicken is simple.

I am assuming that the reader can cook a moist and flavorful piece of chicken. My chick breasts are always moist and juicy, even with the skin removed. I marinade the meat for at least an hour and then cook it slowly with indirect heat.. Then I post-sear it, that is, I put the grill-marks on after the meat is very nearly to temp. I do not bring it to temp because the searing will add several degrees to the meat.

Before I apply a glaze, I sear each side of the meat on the grill once over high, direct heat. Once each side has been seared with marks going in one direction, I apply glaze to the top side and then turn the flame down. I flip the meat in a way that puts marks in a criss-cross pattern. The smaller the piece of meat, the tighter I design the pattern.

I put glaze on the opposite side. I allow the meat to sear on each side for 30-90 seconds, depending on the flame level, checking often by lifting the meat on one edge and checking for the amout of shine I desire. When I am satisfied, the meat is removed and allowed to sit at room temp for at least 5 to 8 minutes. This is a period known as "resting". It allows for the juices tat have been forced to the middle of the meat by the high heat to re-disperse into the whole piece.

This make for an excellent presentation and very juicy chicken.

  Now, for the glaze.

Juice of 2 oranges (Valencia or Naval) If you want to use Clementines, then squeeze 3.
1-2 teaspoons orange zest, to taste
2 teaspoons Penzey's Arizona Dreaming
1 1/2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar, or 2 tablespoons honey.

Rum Cake with Butter Rum Glaze

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Photo by Dcn. Bill
Anything you can do in the indoors can also be done outdoors. I have been cooking almost exclusively outdoors for years. It takes a few adjustments, especially in in adverse weather. Fortunately, my outdoor kitchens have always had a roof or covering of some sort. I had originally made this in a cast-iron bread pan. It came out a bit dense and a little too dark on the edges. I used a Nordic Ware bundt pan this time, with much better results. Because of the rose design of my particular pan, the edges have a nice crunch, while the interior of the cake is moist and light. BTW this cake will get better tasting in a day or so, but it is pretty outstanding as it is.

 This cake is pretty straightforward. The glaze, not so much. It starts with a Betty Crocker Pound Cake mix.
The mix calls for two eggs (large) and 2/3 cups of water as well as 1/2 stick of softened butter. Use butter. It is pound cake, after all.

Here is my tweak: Burn the alcohol out of 1/2 cup of your favorite rum. I use Sailor Jerry's. Not my favorite for drinking,but great for cooking. Where this recipe can easily be adopted for the indoor kitchen, this part, burning the alcohol, should not, unless you want to remodel your kitchen, from scratch..... and grow your eyebrows back! hy burn it? Most rum cakes take days to reach an edible product. The alcohol is just to "hot" for the throat for it to be enjoyable. Burning the alcohol concentrates the rum flavor but looses the burn.

Put your reduced rum into a measuring cup and add cold water to make 2/3 cups of liquid.

Now mix and bake, on the propane or pellet grill,  the cake according to box instructions, replacing the water with rum-water mixture.

Allow it to cool for 15 minutes. The cake should still be warm when removed from the mold, but if too warm, the cake will fall apart.

While the cake is cooking, over flame, burn the alcohol from 1/2 to 3/4 cups of rum. We do this for the same reason as before and in the same safe way.

To the hot reduced rum, add 1/2 stick butter and mix until incorporated. Now, remove from flame and stir in sugar until the glaze is thinner than honey, but considerably thicker than water. The idea here is to allow the glaze to soak into the cake, not just sit on top of it. I use confectioner's or powdered sugar. But any sugar could be used. I would avoid brown sugar as its flavor coould over power the rum and butter. Allow the glaze to cool down, but not cool enough to form a skin. For more rum flavor, skip the butter in the glaze. 

Now, here's a nice trick. mix in 1/2 shot of rum, straight from the bottle to the glaze, just before spooning it onto the cake. This gives the hint of burn that tells people it is a rum cake, without adding any significant alcohol content to the end product.

As I alluded to, slowly spoon the glaze all over the top of the cake, allowing it to soak into the cake.

After the cake has cooled, dust with powdered sugar. This is purely aesthetics, but remember, we eat with our eyes first.

A note about the picture, yes that is a Corelle Ware pattern from the 1970's. We got place settings for about 72 as wedding gifts. The stuff is almost indestructible, which is why we still have so much of it. They have been our everyday dishes for 33 years.

Smoked Country-Style Ribs

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Country-Style Pork Ribs, (Photo by Dcn. Bill)
Country-Style Ribs are not ribs at all, but rather are cut from the pork shoulder. They may or may not be boneless. The best thing about them is that they are meaty and almost always affordable. On the down side, because they are essentially shoulder, they are going to take a long time to cook. Once finished they can be served as ribs or pull the meat like you would from a shoulder.

A word about the rub. I use the freshest and best spices and herbs available to me. I get an awful lot of my spices from Penzey's, and those obtained from there are specified as such. I get no considerations from Penzey's but am happy to recommend there products as they are amazing for rubs.

Whenever possible, I grind pepper fresh. Most rubs do better if they remain simple. This is not a simple rub, but the ingredients are also not simple. It is blended to bring out the best qualities of each spice. not allowing any one to dominate, but each to contribute. This rub is great for any pork or chicken recipe.

Rub Ingredients:

3 whole allspice
1 Tablespoon of Penzey's India Extra Bold Peppercorns
2 Tablespoon of Penzey's Minced Garlic
1  Penzey's Tsin Tsin Pepper
Course grind the above in a coffee or spice grinder.

Add to the following:
1 Tablespoon and 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Turbinado Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Penzey's Arizona Dreaming
2 Teaspoons of Penzey's Aleppo Peppers
2 Tablespoons of Penzey's Hungarian Style Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon of Penzey's Hot Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon of Penzey's Red Chipolte Pepper
2 Teaspoons of Penzey's California Orange Peel
1 Teaspoon of Penzey's California Lemon Peel

Mix all together by hand, breaking up any clumps. Store in a glass jar with tight fitting lid. Fresh (enough) for about a month, though I make it fresh every time.

Coat your ribs well in cheap yellow mustard. Cover the coated meat with a generous amount of rub, pressing it (Use a back of a large spoon) into all surfaces. Place meat in a leak proof container, cover and refrigerate overnight.

I used a Treager pellet smoker to do these, but any smoker will work. I also use a 50/50 mix of hickory and apple wood for the smoke. Hickory provides that familiar flavor that is loved in the Midwest. Apple adds very little, but stops the hickory from over-smoking the meat as it is on the meat for 3 hours.

Smoke for 3 hours at 190F.

Remove from smoker and wrap 1 or 2 ribs together in a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Before folding the foil shut, pour 1 or 2 shots of your favorite bourbon or whiskey on the ribs. Sprinkle one side with more of the rub. Wrap tightly and return to smoker for one more hour at 190F.

After one hour, raise the temp to 250F for two hours.

Remove from smoker and let rest in the foil for 15-20 minutes. Heat drives moisture into the middle of the meat. Resting allows it to seep back into the entire piece of meat.

I finish these off with a whiskey glaze over a hot propane flame, but you don't need to finish them off at all.

1/4 cup favorite whiskey or bourbon in a sauce pan. Add three pinches of rub mix. Place over high heat OUTDOORS and burn off the alcohol. This will very likely flame in the pan. (this heating has a two-fold purpose, to burn off alcohol and open up the more aromatic aspects of the rub.

Remove pan from heat and stir in 1/4 cup turbinado sugar mixing as well as you can.

Finishing them off, picture before the glaze

Picture with the glaze
Cook rested ribs on one side until one direction of desired grill marks appear, turn over and repeat on the other side. Coat the "up" side with the whiskey, sugar glaze. Flip over, to form a criss-cross pattern with the already formed marks. on the grill to caramelize the sugar, being careful not to burn the sugar. Repeat with other side.

Let the meat rest once again, then Serve-em up.

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