Smokey Chicken’s Favorite White Sauce

I had the chance this past weekend to help a buddy smoke 50 lbs of pork butts and 50 lbs of chicken breasts for a church picnic on Saturday.  Eric put the butts on the rotisserie smoker Friday morning and added the chicken breasts a little later in the day.

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By around 6:30 pm we were pulling everything off the smoker (along with some ribs a neighbor donated and some Conecuh Sausage from Alabama…the four basic food groups:  pork, pork, pork and chicken) and proceeded to pull and sample, pull and sample!

As we were driving to the picnic site on Saturday morning Tonya was lamenting that she should have put together some white sauce for the chicken.  We had plenty of red BBQ sauces for the pork and we had talked about our favorite sauces on Friday night.  I was first introduced to white sauce when managing Hog Heaven in Nashville many, many moons ago and serving their Kickin’ Chicken white sauce and it’s still a local favorite!  We have been working on some variations at the house over the years and have come up with a quick, simple version that the family loves!

Go Preds!

Smokey Chicken's Favorite White Sauce

  • Servings: hard to say, a lot
  • Time: less than 15 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

½ cup mayonnaise

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1/3 cup sour cream

1 tbsp Dijon or brown spicy mustard

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

½ tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp cayenne pepper, more for spicer sauce

½ tsp garlic powder

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine mayonnaise and sour cream, stirring until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and chill.  Tastes even better the next day!

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So Easy Fish Tacos

(This is Tonya hijacking Scot’s blog again…)

We have a rule in our house:  Whoever gets home from work first is in charge of dinner.  Lucky for me, I often beat my husband home!  I am always looking for a quick meal, one which can be ready in less than 30 minutes and this is definitely one of those meals.  They are also a delicious healthy alternative to burgers this Memorial Day weekend. 

Cooking your fish in a heavy skillet (iron skillets work great) will keep it moist and help cook it more evenly.  If you would rather cook on the grill simply wrap fish, oil and spices in aluminum foil and cook over medium high heat approximately 3-4 minutes per side.  We love this fish served on a tortilla with kale or cabbage and topped with avocado and pico de gallo.  Enjoy!

So Easy Fish Tacos

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: less than 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 tilapia fillets

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp paprika

Salt and pepper

Tortillas, avocado, salsa, shredded kale or cabbage, pico de gallo, or any other of your favorite toppings.

 

Pat tilapia fillets dry with paper towel.  Heat olive oil 1 to 2 minutes over medium-high heat in a large heavy skillet.  Stir in spices.  Reduce heat to medium.  Place fish fillets in pan and cook on one side 3 minutes.  Carefully turn fillets and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until fish is white and flaky.  Reduce heat to low and break apart fish in skillet.  Your fish is ready for tacos!

 

Back to Scot…

As I stated when I started this blog I am a lucky guy!  And traffic is awful so I usually get home around dinner time which means Tonya has probably created a wonderful dinner with an aroma that immediately hits me as I walk in the garage.

So I will contribute a beer pairing.  Truth be told, I don’t actually worry about the pairing because  I KNOW dinner will be great!  I like to recommend beers I have tried and enjoyed with the meal and hope others will like them as well.  IMG_5651 (002)

Take this suggestion:  Miro Miel Honey Blonde Ale by East Nashville Beer Works.  It’s a light and crisp beer using local honey and actually compliments the fish tacos and balances the saltiness of the fish and tortilla chips!  If you are in Nashville make sure and visit the brewery’s taproom!

Chicken Noodle Soup!

Well, yesterday was  March 11 (my brother’s birthday…Happy Birthday Ty!) and it IMG_5360 (002)was SNOWING. Yes, white stuff falling from the sky Saturday morning in the middle of March in Tennessee!  It was 75 degrees two days ago and I had planned to mow the lawn over the  weekend but we woke up to our tulips peeking out from under a blanket of slushy snow and the daffodils that came out early having seconds thoughts.

IMG_5370 (002)Sunday is Souper Sunday at church so what better dish to prepare on these cold, blustery days than Chicken Noodle Soup!  Ahh, the savory aroma of tarragon- and thyme-spiced chicken broth boiling on the stove, then adding the veggies and thick noodles as the anticipation of enjoying a big steaming bowl of wonderfulness builds up…Chicken Noodle Soup!  Sit by the roaring fireplace and watch outside as the Winter Wonderland returns during springtime.

Chicken Noodle Soup for the SOUL.  A nice bowl of soup always seems to make a sick person feel better, a wintry day feel a little warmer and even soothe the spirit, bringing back memories of Mom’s special recipe, a little dash of this spice and that spice, combined with big chunks of chicken and carrots and celery and noodles…Our daughter said she would have a cold any day as long as she could have the this chicken noodle soup!

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 2 hrs
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2-3 large skin-on chicken breasts

9 cups chicken broth (homemade or store bought)IMG_5372 (002)

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 stalks of celery chopped

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 tsp tarragon

1-2 sprigs fresh thyme (2 tsp dried thyme can be substituted)

1 tsp dried parsley

1 bay leaf

1 package kluski or other egg noodles uncooked

1 lemon

Salt & pepper

Bring chicken, broth, garlic, and onion to a boil.  Cook over low/medium heat until chicken is tender, 30-40 minutes.  Remove chicken, cool.  When chicken is cool, remove skin and bones.  Chop or pull into bitesize pieces.  Strain garlic and onions from broth, discard vegetables.  (I like to do this step the day before making the soup so I can refrigerate the broth and skim fat off the top.  The chicken is also easier to pull when cold)  Bring broth back to a boil.  Add in carrots, celery, tarragon, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf.  Simmer 45 minutes.  Add uncooked noodles.  Simmer until noodles are tender, 10-15 minutes.  Reduce heat to low.  Add chicken to soup.  Stir in juice of one lemon and salt and pepper to taste.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetable Stir-Fry with Cauliflower Rice

(Scot:  My blog has been hi-jacked by Tonya)

My husband loves rice and stir-fry…a lot.  In fact whenever it is his turn to cook dinner, it is pretty much a 50-50 chance we will be having something stir fried. His theory:  Chop it up, season it up, cook it up, put it on rice!

(Scot:  Yup!  My “trinity”:  hot oil, red pepper flakes and teriyaki sauce…yummmm)img_5267

I love cauliflower.  Raw, sauteed, roasted, it really doesn’t matter.  One of my favorite Indian appetizers is Gobi Aloo, which is breaded and roasted spicy cauliflower.  In fact, I could happily be a pescetarian and survive on beans, veggies, fruit, and fish.  

(Scot:  I grew up a presbyterian and love seafood but still crave meat…to Tonya’s credit she does recognize the benefits of portion control and practices healthier eating habits, hoping this thought process transfers to the family…)

img_5271I found this healthier alternative to traditional stir-fry, substituting rice with finely chopped cauliflower.  Scot was skeptical at first but this was a perfect blend of both.

(Scot:  Wait, what?  Cauliflower instead of rice?)

Yes, cauliflower instead of rice.  If you are clever, you might even be able to do the substitute without anyone knowing.  Delicious and nutritious!

(Scot:  Tonya didn’t really trick me…It was a really tasty dish and the cauliflower had basically the same texture as rice.  Chopped, seasoned and cooked in a wok with my “trinity”!!)

Vegetable Stir-Fry with Cauliflower Rice

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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3 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 head cauliflower, finely chopped (can be grated or pulsed in food processor)

¼ cup diced red pepper

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ tsp red pepper flakes

Teriyaki sauce

Soy sauce

img_5283Heat olive oil (sesame oil can be substituted) over medium heat in large skillet or wok.  Add garlic and onion and cook over low/medium heat until onion is tender.  Increase heat slightly and add red pepper and asparagus, stirring constantly.  Lastly, add cauliflower and cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Season with teriyaki and/or soy sauce.

Add cooked shrimp or chicken if desired.

Huli Huli Chicken Wings

Tonya and I decided to forego our wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii this year and instead spent the weekend working the concession stand at our daughter Emma’s school, taxiing eight high-schoolers from a dance to late night bowling and watching a middle school performance of The Wizard of Oz.  Hawaii could come to our kitchen, by golly!

One of the highlights of the weekend was doing what we like to do the most, spending img_5247Saturday night together working on a recipe.  Inspired by an recent episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, we channeled our inner “Polynesian”, threw on our hula skirt and coconut shell bras and put our spin on a batch of Huli huli marinade for some chicken wings!

Huli huli chicken is a common and favorite Hawaiian dish that is generally found at roadside stands or food trucks along highways on the islands.  Huli huli chicken was originally created and trademarked by Ernest Morgado in 1955 as he developed his version of teriyaki chicken. Huli means “turn” in Hawaiian. Ernest created a “rotisserie” using two mesh grates to turn large amounts of chicken at one time while liberally basting the chicken with the marinade. His original recipe remains a secret but many variations are used today.

img_5244While the recipes differ on some levels the primary ingredients include ginger root, pineapple juice, ketchup, sherry or chicken broth, soy sauce and brown sugar.  As long as these staples are included the Huli huli marinade remains intact. The key is that this is a marinade so the measurements or amounts don’t have to be exact and can include garlic, Sriracha, rice vinegar, dry mustard or lemon juice.

Huli huli chicken is frequently skin-on chicken pieces grilled and served with sticky white rice.  We decided we didn’t enjoy enough wings last weekend at the big football game party so used the Huli huli marinade on chicken wings and substituted the sticky white rice with brown rice topped with sauteed zucchini and onions.  Huli huli would be fantastic on chicken thighs, too!

Huli huli chicken wings

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 20 minutes prep, 4-8 hrs refrigeration, 20 minutes cooking
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20-25 assorted chicken drumettes and wings or 4-5 chicken pieces

marinade

1/3 cup ketchupimg_5257

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

1/4 cup sherry or chicken broth

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsps Sriracha

1 piece ginger root, grated and crushed

4 green onions, chopped

1/4 tsp dry mustard

Mix all ingredients in bowl, stirring until brown sugar, honey and dry mustard are dissolved.  Set aside about 1 cup of marinade and pour the remaining over the chicken in a large plastic bag, seal bag tight and refrigerate at least 4-8 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, brush your grill grates with cooking oil, and once the grill is pre-heated, cook the chicken until the juices are clear, turning and basting frequently with the marinade you set aside.

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Speaking of beer, you would think I would suggest something like Kona Longboard or a Coconut Stout to go with the Huli huli wings.  Actually, a great pairing was the Sunseeker Pils, a light bodied pilsner brewed by Green Man Brewery, located in one of the coolest towns east of the Mississippi,  Asheville NC.  Sunseeker was the perfect beer to evoke thoughts of sunshine along with the island fare!

Sauerbraten and Potato Latkes…”Or so the German’s would have us believe”

“…or so the Germans would have us believe” – Norm Macdonald, Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update.

That phrase has always “tickled me funny bone.”  When you insert those eight simple words into a conversation, you either get that confused look and “Yeah. Umm, what?”  (Millennials or Gen Y) or someone might say “Oh yeah, I remember that…but who said it? Seinfeld? Richard Lewis?” (Baby Boomers/Generation X)

Buried deep in my wife Tonya’s lineage, struggling to culinarily  burst forth, is the German side of her gene pool.  The result of this internal battle manifests itself in a hearty favorite dish of MEAT and potatoes known as:  Sauerbraten and Potato Latkes!  Now get this everybody, if you aren’t aware, Sauerbraten is roast BEEF that is marinated for 3 days, yes 3 days, and during the cooking process and when done, can be covered with a sauce made from…Gingersnap Cookies!

ROAST MEAT, potato PANCAKES and ….COOKIES!

Tonya first started experimenting with this dish in the 1990’s and we also ordered the Sauerbraten at one of Chicago’s most famous German restaurants, The Bergoff Restaurant.  Imagine hoisting a stein of good German brew as you salute your tablemates and pretend you speak German while feasting on their fantastic offerings.

Sauerbraten

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 20 minutes prep, 3 days refrigeration,4 hrs cooking
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 cup waterimg_5166

1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 onions, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

2 bay leaves

3 whole garlic cloves

1/8 tsp ground allspice

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp black peppercorns

4 pound rump roast

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/3 cup all purpose flour

2/3 cup finely crushed gingersnap cookies

Combine water, red wine vinegar, red wine, bay leaves, onions, carrots, allspice, garlic cloves, peppercorns and salt in large non-metal bowl.  Place roast in marinade, cover and refrigerate for 3 days.  Turn once daily.

Remove roast from marinade (keep marinade) and wipe dry.  In large heavy pot or Dutch oven, brown the roast on all sides, sprinkling the flour as you turn it. Add the marinade back to the pot with the roast, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 3-4 hours, until meat is tender and easily pulls apart.

Remove roast from pot, strain marinade and discard vegetables and whole spices. Return marinade to pot, bring to slow boil while sprinkling in the crushed gingersnap cookies.  Slice meat, add back to pot and simmer 5 minutes.  Serve.

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Potato Latkes

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 large raw potatoes, peeled and grated

1/2 cup onion, grated

1 large egg

3 tbsp flour

salt and pepper

vegetable oil for cooking

Whisk all ingredients except for potatoes in bowl.  Stir in potatoes.  Form mixture into patties, making sure to squeeze liquid from mixture, and fry in skillet until golden brown.

Serve hot with a dab of sour cream

We had the Sauerbraten and latkes with baked apples and salad.  Some recipes call for the Sauerbraten to be served with Spaetzle, an egg noodle common in German dishes.  Either way, it’s a hearty dish even more delicious on a cold night with a cold beer.

My buddy Ray swears by Bitburger beer, a popular German brew that is a great accompaniment to the Sauerbraten.  It’s not craft, its not dark, it’s a pilsner. The company has been around since 1817 so they may know a thing or two about brewing…Or So the Germans would has us believe…

Thanksgiving Eve! Smoked Hot Turkey and Smoked Sage and Apple Turkey

Welcome to Thanksgiving Eve, an underrated and often overlooked “eve”.  Not the same panache as Christmas Eve for most people.   Thanksgiving Eve is the day preceding Thanksgiving, so there is still plenty going on.  Deviling the eggs, cooking the yams (by the way, my daughter Emma said my turkey name is “Yam Bam Messy Dressin”…).  Going to sleep at night with dreams of candied sweet potatoes, dressing and corn and potatoes all mixed up and smothered with gravy…Wait, what am i forgetting?

Turkey!  Yes!  The centerpiece of the meal!  The foundation of all the Thanksgiving food that follows.  The focal point of the dinner table.  The prize bird that perpetrated the myth that Benjamin Franklin once proposed the turkey should be our National Bird. (He didn’t actually formally state that he wanted the turkey instead of the bald eagle, just that the drawing of the bald eagle looked like a turkey and felt the turkey was a more “respectable” bird).

067So what has become a family tradition is the smoking of the turkey on Thanksgiving Eve and this year was no exception.  Today our smoker contained not one, not two, but THREE smoked turkey breasts!  We smoked a Hot Turkey in the Nashville tradition, following the “Hot Chicken bandwagon”  brined in hot sauce and rubbed with hot spices, as well as two  traditional versions, brined in apple cider and sage and rubbed with various spices.  (Please see my blog “Hot Turkey Brine and Sage and Apple Turkey Brine” for the brining instructions.)055

 

Once we pulled the birds from the brine, we coated each one with a dollop of mayonnaise to help the rub stick to the bird better.  For the Hot Turkey rub, we created our own using hot spices (cayenne pepper, pepper flakes, some other secrets found in the cabinet) along with my brother Kent’s (aka The Deck Chef, check his site here)  So Damn Hot Cajun Rub. Shout Out to my Bro!!

The rub for the other turkeys included dried thyme, dried sage, dried parsley, white pepper and garlic powder.  Once the birdie breasts were good and rubbed down and covered, they were placed on the electric smoker breast side down initially and turned over
about half-way through the smoking
process.  The drip pan liquid used for the Hot Turkey smoker included water, hot sauce and of course…beer.  For the other smoker, we used water, apple cider and…beer.  When smoking, you have to keep liquid in the drip pan to add moisture during the smoking process along with enhancing the flavor.  We used apple wood for both smokers  which is less strong than hickory and adds a subtle flavor while not taking over-powering the natural taste of the turkey and brine.

(The beagle or other family pet is essential during the smoking process to help clean any spills along with keeping you vigilant.)

Turkeys need cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  You can actually 041
pull the bird off when you reach 160 degrees and they will continue to cook while sitting in a pan.  This helps prevent over-cooking and drying out your bird breast. Smoking time could be anywhere from 30-45 minutes per pound, and since smokers vary  for a 7 -9 pound breast figure a good 5+ hours.  Avoid the temptation to lift the smoker lid!  This is the same concept with opening the oven door when cooking. You don’t want the heat to escape.  Every once in a while you may want to replenish your soaked wood but even opening the little door lets heat escape.089.JPG075

The Hot Turkey turned out just as we had hoped.  The brining process added a lot of juiciness and the flavor was fantastic!  The meat itself had a little bit of spicy bite but  the real heat came from the skin.  The rub combined with the smoking had a heat comparable to some of the “hot” levels at local Hot Chicken spots but certainly not the hot, hot level where the heat can get in the way of the taste.  It will certainly appeal to those fans of Hot Chicken!

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The beer used for the drip pan is not the same beer I’m recommending!  You have to try Peanut Butter Milk Stout!  Brewed locally by Tailgate Beer, this beer is one of my favorites from the brewery located just down the road from my family’s old West Nashville house. Just a hint of peanut butter, smooth and verrry drinkable.  Best from the tap but the cans do it justice!  These cans from The Casual Pint in Franklin.