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
  • Difficulty: easy
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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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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
  • Difficulty: moderate
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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.







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
  • Difficulty: easy
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20-25 assorted chicken drumettes and wings or 4-5 chicken pieces


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.


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!

Hot Turkey Brine and Sage and Apple Turkey Brine

(2 recipes in one post!)

Turkey Day!!!  Yes, it’s that time of year when men go old-school and decide to spend theimg_3335 day avoiding most pre-Thanksgiving chores by breaking out the smoker and announcing “Honey, I really wish I could help you get the house ready for all the family and friends descending on us for Thanksgiving but I am going to be way too busy smoking a turkey and it will probably take my undivided attention…yes, for the entire day…no, really……long”

(Reality Check:  Wives wake up at 4:00 am on Thanksgiving day and put the turkey in the oven, then start working on the sides and desserts, while men sleep longer, only to be woken by the aroma of oven-baked turkey, come into the kitchen and grab a bowl of cereal, then sit on the couch and watch the parade….)

(Double reality check:  Turkey smoking happens the day before Thanksgiving and husband wakes up with wife on Turkey day at 4:00 am to help prep and cook the Thanksgiving feast.  Edited by wife)

Generally some of the best whole turkey-cooking methods involve brining the turkey in a salt mixture before cooking and the smoking method follows the same principle.  We like to prepare the brine and soak the breasts a least 24-36 hours before smoking.  Make sure the turkey is thawed when brining.

The Sage and Apple brine is for the more traditional turkey lovers who enjoy their bird with the smoke flavor highlighted by the apples and herbs.

Jumping on the back of the Hot Chicken bandwagon was an easy decision since it’s a favorite of mine and it’s popularity has outgrown Nashville.  The Hot Turkey idea  was inspired by many visits to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken,  Big Shakes Hot Chicken and, of course, Prince’s Hot Chicken

Whatever recipe you use, always make sure the brine is cool before you submerge the birdie-breasts and remember that you need to clean any materials that come in to contact with the raw turkey to avoid contamination.  This brine can be used for either oven-baked or smoked turkey.

Sage and Apple Turkey Brine

  • Servings: brine for 2 turkey breasts or 1 whole turkey
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 gallon water

2 quarts apple juice or apple ciderimg_3329

2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock

3/4 cup kosher salt

2 cups light brown sugar

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

4-5 bay leaves

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

3-4 fresh rosemary sprigs

1/4 cup whole peppercorns

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 tsp orange zest

Bring the ingredients to a boil or at least hot enough to make sure the salt and brown sugar dissolve and the flavors from the herbs or hot sauce infuse the mixture.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cool pour over the turkey breasts (Remember to remove the giblets from the cavity if they are included. Don’t want any surprises! ) and seal in a cooler or a large pot in your refrigerator. We use double kitchen trash bags and set in our large cooler with plenty of ice.