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!


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!


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.


  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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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.


Potato Latkes

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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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…

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.