Smoked Bourbon Chicken

April 25, 2016

My General Electric oven has electronic ignition and every few years I have to have a new electronic ignition installed. GE has designed the oven so that you cannot replace the part without removing the oven door, making it more trouble than its worth. Until I can get the repairman out I am stuck using my grill for most of my cooking. I saw today’s recipe on a recent episode of Cook’s Country TV show. It looks deliciously smokey and is a minimum about of work. I used more wood chips than called for in the recipe, and there was beautiful pink smoke ring. 4-1/2 stars for its simplicity and wonderful smokiness.

Deeply smoked chicken with minimum effort

Deeply smoked chicken with minimum effort

Comments:

  1. I had trouble finding 3-1/2-pound chickens, so I used the smallest I could find; 4-1/2 pounds.
  2. If you are using a gas grill, replace Step 7 with the following instructions: Remove the cooking grate and set the wood chips directly onto the primary burner. Replace cooking grate and set all burners to high. Cover and pre-heat grill for 15 minutes. Leave the primary burner set to high but turn off all other burners. You may need to adjust your primary burner to maintain grill temperature between 350 to 375 degrees.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $12.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 5:45 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

1 shallot
4 garlic cloves
1-1/4 cups bourbon
1-1/4 cups soy sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (3-2/3 ounces)
2 teaspoons pepper
2 whole chickens (3-1/2 to 4-lbs each)
1 cup wood chips
4 wooden skewers (12-inches)

  1. Mince your shallot and 4 garlic cloves. Add to a medium saucepan along with equal amounts of bourbon and soy sauce. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons ground black pepper.
  2. Cover and put saucepan over medium-high burner until comes up to a boil; about 5 minutes. Boil for 1 minutes and remove from heat source; allow to cool completely; about 1 hour, but you can make and refrigerate it up to 3 days ahead-of-time.
  3. Set aside 3/4 cup bourbon mixture for basting in Step 8.
  4. Prepare the chicken by discarding giblets (or reserving to make chicken stock). Set chicken on a cutting board with the breast-side downward and use kitchen sheers to cut on each of the backbone.  Flip chicken over with skin-side upwards. Use a chef’s knife to cut through the center of the breast and split the chicken into two halves. Cut 1/2-inch deep slits, spaced 1/2-inch apart. Put one chicken (two halves) into 1-gallon Zip-lock bag (total of 2 zip-lock bags). Equally divide the marinade between the two bags. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight. Flip occasionally to evenly distribute the marinade.
  5. Soak 1 cup wood chips in water for at least 15 minutes. Remove wood chips from water and put center of a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Wrap up and cut two 3″-slits in the top.
  6. Remove chicken from marinade-filled bags and pat dry using paper towels. Throw away the marinade. Insert a skewer length-wise through the thickest part of breast down and through the thigh of each chicken half. (see photo)
  7. Open the bottom vents of your grill half-way, and ignite a large chimney starts filled with charcoal; about 6 quarts. When the top coals become partially covered with fine grey ash, empty so that coals are steeply banked against on side of the grill, while the other side is completely empty.  Set wood packet directly on top of coals. Put grill grate in place, cover and allow to pre-heat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil cooking grate using paper-towels dipped in vegetable oil.
  8. Set chicken on the grill with the skin-side up and the legs towards the fire. Cover grill and cook for 1bout 1-1/2 hours, basting with the reserved marinade every 15 minutes. After 45 minutes rotate the positions of the chicken so that they cook evenly; but still keeping the lets closer to the fire. The chicken will be done when the breast reach 160-degress and the thighs reach 175-degrees.
  9. Set chicken on carving board and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 20 minutes, before carving and serving.

Broccoli-Cheese Soup

April 8, 2016

I first made this soup last October, but came across a few technical issues which I have corrected when I made this soup again over the weekend. In fact, I loved it so much that I made a second batch the next day. The soup is very flavorful, and uses baby spinach to amplify the broccoli flavor (and color). The recipe uses sharp cheeses (sharp cheddar and parmesan) to attain great cheesy flavor, but without so much cheese as to make the soup feel heavy or fat laden. I splurged a little and bought a sharp English cheddar, but since it only added a few dollars because the recipe just needs 3-ounces. Overall the recipe is delicious; 4-1/2 stars.

Delicious soup has been great for the cold weather

Delicious soup has been great for the cold weather

I was hoping to stretch the soup throughout the week (for lunches), and was a little surprised that the recipe only yields 4 bowls of soup. So I made a second batch yesterday, still having enough baby spinach and sharp English cheddar to make the second batch. I only need to buy another 2-1/2 pounds of broccoli.

  1. The recipe calls for peeling the stalks; which was laborious when I first made this recipe in October. This time I only spend a few minutes peeling the stalks before breaking into 1-inch pieces. It saved nearly 30 minutes.
  2. The original recipe calls for something between 3 to 4 cups of water (in addition to the 2 cups of chicken broth); adjusting the amount of water in the final step according to your desired consistency. I would suggest adding at least 1 cup; and if you are planning to reheat, to add 1-1/2 cups of water.
  3. Because the soup was so thick, there was a lot of soup left in the blender after Step 5. To recover some of the lost soup, I blender the final cup of water (added as part of Step 6); which rinsed out most of the leftover soup, before adding the water to the pot.
  4. I bought an extra 1/2 pound of broccoli, because some of the stalks were very long and I wanted to trim away the very thick and hard portion. Besides, it was only sale for only 99-cents/pound.
  5. I did not quite have enough dry mustard powder for the second batch, so I used the following substitution rule: 1 teaspoon dried mustard = 1 Tablespoon prepared mustard.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $7.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 5:45 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

2 pounds broccoli (I used 1lb 10 oz florets, plus 6 ounces of stalks)
1 medium, roughly chopped onion (1 cup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed (2 teaspoons)
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
3–4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chicken broth
2-oz baby spinach (2 cups)
3-oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1-1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated fine (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

  1. Prepare broccoli by roughly chopped florets into 1-inch pieces, trim the stems, then peeled and cut into 1/4″-thick slices. Prepare onions by roughly chopped which should yield about 1 cup.
  2. Add butter to large Dutch oven set over medium-high burner. After the foaming subsides, add the prepared broccoli, onion. Press the garlic cloves directly into the pot. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon table salt.
  3. Cook for 6 minutes, stir frequently. After the pot becomes fragrant, add 1 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Bring water up to a simmer, cover, and reduce burner to maintain a simmer, and continue cooking for 20 more minutes until broccoli becomes very soft, stir once half way through cooking.
  4. Add 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water. Turn up burner to medium-high. Once pot is at a simmer, stir in baby spinach and wilt for 1 minute. Remove pot from burner.
  5. Put half of soup in blender, add shredded cheddar and grated Parmesan, and process for 1 minute until smooth.Empty into a medium-sized bowl and repeat this step with the remaining soup.
  6. Empty bowl of soup back into the Dutch oven, set over medium burner until begins to simmer. Add up to 1 cup of water until you attain the desired consistency (if you have a lot of leftover soup in blender; rinse blender first with the 1 cup of water, before adding it back to the pot). Adjust seasoning with salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper according to taste. Serve, with extra Parmesan passed separately.

Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breasts with Jalapeño and Cilantro Sauce

April 2, 2016

It’s been a few years since Chicken Breasts were my “go to” meal; recently I have been opting more for thighs. Today’s recipe slow-bakes chicken breasts in a low, 325-degree oven; then gives them a quick sear on the stove-top. Generally the breasts were moist, but a few of the slightly smaller pieces overcooked. For me, the biggest problem with this recipe is trying to brown a round breast in a flat skillet. Only 60% of the skin browned; leaving the sides of the chicken covered in flabby skin. The sauce was nice and bright. The chicken is a slightly below average 2-1/2 stars, while the sauce is 4-stars.

Side skin is flabby and unappealing

Side skin is flabby and unappealing

Comments:

  1. The cooking instructions for the second-side of the chicken were very confusing; I did not understand what they wanted so I just cooked the second side of the chicken.
  2. There are a few alternative for the sauce; including Tahini and Honey Sauce or Spicy Butter Sauce.

Rating: 2-1/2 stars.
Cost: $10.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for the chicken is here, and the sauce is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Chicken Ingredients:
4 bone-in chicken breasts (total of about 3-1/2 pounds)
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  1. Set a rack to the lower-middle of your oven and pre-heat to 325-degrees. And prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.
  2. Working with one breast at a time; trim away any excess fatty skin from the thick end of the breast. Carefully work your fingers under the skin to separate the skin from the meat. Leave the skin attached and the top, bottom, and at the ribs. Sprinkle each breast with just under 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, then lay the skin back in place. Poke 6 to 8 holes in the fat deposits of the skin using a paring knife. Set on the prepared baking sheet with the skin-side upwards. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
  3. Bake in 325-degree oven from 35-to-45 minutes until the chicken reaches 160-degrees. While the chicken bakes; prepare the sauce,
  4. Remove from oven when the chicken is ready, and pre-heat a 12″ regular skillet over a low burner for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and swirl so that the pan is evenly coated. Put chicken into skillet with the skin-side down, and turn up burner to medium-high. Cook for 3-to-5 minutes without moving the chicken; the skin will become crispy and well-browned.
  5. Flip the chicken and prop the thick-side of the breast is facing downward, continuing to cook for 1-to-2 minutes more until browned.
  6. Remove to serving platter and allow to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Jalapeño and Cilantro Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
3 jalapeño chiles
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Trim and coarse chop the cilantro. Stem and seed the jalapeños, if would want a spicier sauce include some of the seeds.
  2. Add all ingredients (except for olive oil) to your blender and process for 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the blender and continue to process for 1 more minute; until the sauce is smooth.
  3. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it becomes incorporated. Empty into a serving bowl.

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