Eggs and Sausage Gravy

I often crave biscuits and gravy for breakfast, but I’m no baker and usually don’t have the time (or inclination) to whip up a batch of biscuits from scratch. By substituting English muffins for biscuits and slapping a soft-cooked egg on top (just because I can) I turned this into a no-muss, no-fuss breakfast that I can make whenever the mood strikes.

4 eggs
2 gluten-free English muffins, toasted (I like Food for Life)
1 pound pork breakfast sausage
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons gluten-free baking mix
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Do not drain. Add the baking mix and cook over low heat for 5 minutes until it starts to form a roux and begins to brown.

Remove pan from heat and stir in the milk a little at a time. Scrape the bottom to get up any brown bits. Return to medium-high heat and stir occasionally until gravy comes to a simmer and starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add the hot sauce, salt, and black pepper and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low.

In a non-stick fry pan, fry the eggs over medium heat until the whites start to set. Cover the pan with a lid and let cook for another minute or so until the yolks have just started to set.

Egg and Gravy
Gooey, yolky, hot saucy – yummmmmmm!

Ladle gravy over warm muffins and top with the eggs. Splash with additional hot sauce as needed.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
The English muffins aren’t quite as decadent as biscuits, but the soft egg makes up for it. The big plus is that I can have this on the table in under 20 minutes.

Mayo Chicken Thighs

Mayo Chicken Thighs

I have to admit that I was more than a little ooged out by the mayonnaise-based marinade used in The Grillin’ Fools’ Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken.  Raw chicken soaking in a slimy mayo bath – yech. However, their results did look mighty tasty, and I have been looking for something new to do with chicken. So here goes….

12 bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup of your favorite rub (Plowboy’s Yardbird in this case)

Wearing food-safe gloves (cuts way down on the gross factor), combine the mayo and the rub. Slather both sides of the thighs with the marinade and toss into a zip-top bag. Cover with any remaining marinade and toss to coat. Squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it up, and stash in the fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is even better). Turn the bag every so often to make sure all the pieces get a coated in the marinade.

Just before you are ready to fire up the grill, remove the thighs from the marinade and give them a dash of rub on each side. Arrange them on a rack set over a pan (I used a 9×13 baking rack) and return to the fridge uncovered. This will help remove any excess moisture and crisp up the skin.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook at medium (350°F) heat. I used a plate setter on the Big Green Egg to give me nice diffused heat and prevent flare ups.

When the grill is up to temp, arrange the thighs on the grate skin side up. Close the lid and let it cook for 20 minutes. Flip and cook skin-side down for 20 minutes. Flip again and cook skin-side up until the chicken is done – 180°F internal in the thickest part of the thigh.

Remove chicken from grill and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
It’s pretty amazing just how juicy these thighs cooked up. It was almost like they had been braised, but the skin was still nice and crispy. The flavor of the rub came though nicely, but any mayo taste had completely melted away. They were some of the best thighs I think I’ve ever made – well worth the slime.

Yogurt Pancakes

Looking for something hearty, but not overwhelming, for Monday morning to soak up all the Super Bowl fun?

1 cup honey Greek yogurt
7 tablespoons gluten-free pancake mix (I used Wildroots)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
Butter

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, pancake mix, baking soda, and eggs until just combined.

In a medium non-stick fry pan, melt a pat of butter over medium heat.

Drop 1/4 – 1/2 cup servings of pancake batter into pan. Cook on the first side until bubbles start to form on the surface and edges are starting to brown. Flip and cook the other side for about a minute.

Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
These are definitely different from any other pancakes I’ve made. It’s kind of hard to explain – airy and tender, but also rich and filling. Let’s just call them “lightly decadent” and leave it at that.

Rooster Wings

Rooster Wings

I love hot wings and playoff time is as good an excuse as any to fire up a batch. This time I went sweet and sticky with most of the heat coming from sriracha (aka rooster sauce).

12 chicken wings
Juice of 1 orange (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1-2 tablespoons sriracha
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce

Combine the juice, chili sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sriracha, oil, and fish sauce. Put the wings in a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over them. Turn to coat, then squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it up, and stash in the fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is even better). Turn the bag every so often to make sure all the pieces get a coated in the marinade.

Set a cooling rack on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Reserve the marinade and move the to the rack and let them sit uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight to let the skin to dry out a bit.

Set your grill up for a raised direct cook at 350°F. On the Big Green Egg I used an extender to move the grate up to the level of the rim, putting the chicken further away from the heat.

When the grill is ready, put the wings on the grill and cook undisturbed for 30 minutes. Flip and cook for another 20 minutes, or until brown and crispy.

Pour the reserved marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until it has reduced by about a third (5-10 minutes). Taste and adjust the seasonings. Baste the wings on both sides with the sauce. Let them cook for another 10 minutes, then baste again.

Serve with remaining sauce for dipping.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
The wings were very tasty. I really liked how the orange juice brightened up the flavor and kept them from tasting too sweet or heavy. I went with 2 tablespoons of sriracha, but they could have been a little hotter.

While the marinade boosted the flavor, the skin didn’t get as crisp as I would have liked. Maybe they need a coating of a little oil or a longer rest in the fridge.

Smoked Prime Rib – Perfecting the Reverse Sear

I spent New Year’s Eve alone this year :(. I still wanted to celebrate surviving another trip around the sun, so I hunted up a small prime rib roast and tried my hand yet again at a reverse sear.

With prime rib, you want to maximize the amount of medium-rare meat from edge to center and still have a nicely browned, flavorful crust. This can be a bit tricky because most traditional roasting techniques end up overcooking the outermost layers, leaving you with a wide band of gray and dry meat.

The reverse sear avoids this by cooking the meat slowly until it’s just about medium rare, then pulling it out to rest for 30 minutes while you crank the heat up as high as it’ll go. Then searing the roast until the outside is brown and sizzling, but not so long that you start to cook the inside.

1 prime rib roast (2.8 pounds, boneless)
Sea or kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons Montreal-style steak seasoning

Prep the roast at least a day in advance. Score the deckle (fat cap by making shallow diagonal cuts in a diamond pattern at about 1-inch intervals. Generously dust the roast on all sides with the steak seasoning and plenty of salt, making sure to work it into the cuts.

If the roast is too oblong, tie if up with butcher’s twine to get it more round and compact. This will help it cook more evenly. Stash in the fridge overnight.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook over low (250°F) heat. On the Big Green Egg this meant using the plate setter (convEGGtor) inverted with the legs up and a drip pan to diffuse the heat.

When the grill is ready add a little wood for smoke. I use a mix of apple and a little mesquite.

Roast the meat at 250°F until it hits 120°F internal, about for 1 1/2 hours. I used a Maverick Et-732 Remote Thermometer to keep an eye on both grill and internal meat temp.

Prime Rib

Remove from the grill and let rest someplace warm for 30 minutes.

Prime Rib

While the meat is resting, crank up your grill as hot as it will go while still keeping the indirect setup. I got the Egg up to just a bit shy of 700°F.

Return the roast to the grill for 5-10 minutes, just long enough to crisp the outside.

Prime Rib

Slice and served immediately.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Perfectly rare/medium-rare with a crispy crust and not a titch of gray to be seen. The smoke added a little bite to the meat that helped to offset the richness. Now that I’ve got this reverse sear figured out I’m going to be using it a lot more.

For you food geeks – I took the roast off the grill when it hit 118°F Internal. The temp rose while resting to 123°F then dropped to 122°F.  There was less than a tablespoon of juices lost on the cutting board and the meat was so juicy that there were little pools of standing juice on the slices. The sear only took 5 minutes as was so intense that at the end the little fat in the drip pan got so hot it ignited.

Oyster Stew

My first experience making oyster stew was not a pretty one. I remember trying to follow some snooty recipe by scalding milk in a paper-thin tin pan over a temperamental electric burner while a certain persnickety relative told me how I was doing it wrong. It came out fine, but no fun was had that evening.

Since then I’ve learned a few things:

  • Good gear matters – it doesn’t have to be fancy, high-end stuff, but heavy pans and sharp knives make a world of difference,
  • Scalding milk is a waste of time.
  • Recipes are good starting places but nothing is written in stone. Feel free to experiment.
  • Cook with people or for people but don’t let anyone tell you how to cook.
  • Just like there is only one captain on a ship, there is only one chef in the kitchen.

Oyster Stew
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup clam juice
1 pint oysters and their liquor
1 medium leek, finely chopped
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and sweat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the juice has reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Add the cream, milk, celery salt, Bay seasoning, hot sauce, and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the oysters and parsley and simmer until the oysters start to curl, about 3 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread and more hot sauce.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
I don’t know why I don’t make this more often. It’s rich, elegant, tasty, and comes together in a flash. I’ve tried a lot of different aromatics in this dish and I really like the way leeks bring a sweet and subtle flavor to the dish without overwhelming the oysters.

Chex Party Mix

Chex mix one of my favorite holiday snacks.  Thanks to the hot sauce and fresh garlic, this recipe tastes a ton better than the commercial ones and it’s gluten-free.

3 cups gluten-free Corn Chex
3 cups gluten-free Rice Chex
2 cups gluten-free pretzels (Snyder’s Of Hanover or Glutino are both good)
2 cups mixed nuts
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3 tablespoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is easy to find)
1-2 teaspoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Ground sea or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Pour cereal, pretzels, and nuts into a into a large mixing bowl or cake pan.

In a microwave-safe bowl, add butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, season salt, and onion powder and microwave until butter is melted. Stir together and taste. Add hot sauce and adjust seasonings as you see fit (I added a more Worcestershire and hot sauce).

Chex Mix

Slowly pour butter sauce over cereal mixture, tossing and stirring as you go.

Transfer mix onto one or two baking sheets (I left mine in the large cake pan that I mixed everything in) and bake, checking and stirring every 15 minutes until mix is toasted and fragrant, about 1 hour.

Chex Mix

Remove from oven. Taste, and if you want to, grind just a bit of sea salt over it. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
I’m VERY happy with how this batch turned out – salty and savory with just the right kick of heat. I used less cereal and more pretzels this time and I think it makes for a crunchier mix. As fast as this disappears, I’d double the recipe for a crowd.