Double-Smoked Ham

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I made this for our stuck-at-home Thanksgiving. Double-smoking and glazing the ham is a great way to really bump the flavor up without going to a whole lot of work.

1 spiral-sliced, fully-cooked ham
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Combine the honey, vinegars, Worcestershire, and spices in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside.

Set your grill up for 5 hour indirect cook over medium heat (325°F). On the Big Green Egg this means using about half a fire box full of lump charcoal, an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat, and a trivet to set the pan on. I added a good-sized chunk of pecan wood for smoke.

The spiral cut hams are cured, and fully cooked, so all you need to do is warm the ham to 140°F internal. For boneless hams, figure about 20 minutes per pound. For a bone-in hams, about 12 minutes per pound. Place the ham, flat side down, in a small roaster (I used a 9×13 cake pan). Close the lid and cook the ham for an hour.

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Baste the ham with 1/3 of the glaze. Close the lid and cook for another hour. Glaze again, and continue cooking until the ham reaches 140°F. Glaze one last time and remove to a cutting board.

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Let the ham rest 10 minutes before serving. The pan drippings were a little too sweet for a gravy, so I skimmed the fat off and served it as an au jus. My wife said it was so delicious she didn’t even mind too much being stuck home with me ;).

Being Thankful

This was not the Thanksgiving we expected. My dear wife has a case of the crud, so instead of spending it with family as we had planned, it’s just the two of us.

We’ve been sitting around in our jammies, reading the paper, sipping coffee, petting the cats, and counting our blessings.

I’m thankful for:

Said wife, who loves me and indulges my geeky hobbies
The fellowship of friends, family, and fellow foodies
Our 4 furry kids
A career that lets me keep food on  the table and a roof over our heads
Becoming gluten-free and making positive changes in our health

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Turkey Pozole

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This is one of my favorite dishes to make with leftover turkey. Since I almost always do our bird on the Big Green Egg, the meat has a smoky richness that goes great with the peppers and spices. Make the stock up ahead of time and this can be a quick dinner.

8 quarts cold water
1 turkey carcass
1 (20 ounce) can hominy (Juanita’s if you can get it)
1 (4 ounce) can green chilies
2-3 dried chipotles, chopped
1-2  jalapenos, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried cilantro

Put the carcass in a large stock pot and cover with water. I use a strainer insert to make removing the meat easier. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 4 hours.

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Remove the insert and set the the meat aside to cool. Bring the stock up to a low boil and add the hominy, onions, garlic, chilies, and spices. Reduce heat and let simmer while you take the turkey carcass apart. Roughly chop the meat and add to the stew. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour to blend the flavors.

Serve with corn chips, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkling of cojita cheese.

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

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We decided to cook an early Thanksgiving dinner with some friends since we’re going to be visiting family for turkey day. This is our first gluten-free major holiday meal, so we wanted to share some of the side dishes we made to go along with the spatchcocked turkey.

Gluten-Free Stuffing

This is a sage-heavy stuffing recipe that we love. Stuffing is an easy dish to make gluten free as it’s mostly just about replacing the bread, soup, and stock with GF versions. We found that it also helps to dry the bread cubes in the oven at 325°F for approximately an hour or so until the cubes are very dry like croutons.

2 loaves bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and dried (we used Pamela’s Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix)
2 cans gluten-free cream of celery soup (we used Healthy Valley)
2-3 cups chicken stock (we used Pacific Natural)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon sage

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic,  and celery and cook for about 10 minutes or until onions are translucent, but not browned.

In a large bowl, add the veggies to bread cubes and stir to mix. Add the soup and stir again. Add the sage and broth and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir one last time.

Mound stuffing into a buttered 13×9 inch baking dish, adding more stock over the top if it is too dry. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole

An update on the classic recipe from the side of the Campbell’s soup can. Caramelized onions replace the usual french fried ones.

4 cups cooked green beans
1 cans gluten-free cream of mushroom soup (we used Healthy Valley)
1 large onion, sliced into rings
1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon gluten-free soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos
1/4 sliced almonds

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until the onions are soft (about 5 minutes). Sprinkle with a little salt and continue to cook, stirring  frequently, until the onions are golden brown (about 20 minutes).

Remove half the onions and set aside. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to brown and lose their moisture.

Remove pan from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the soup, soy sauce, and beans to the pan. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour into a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Top with the reserved onions.

Bake at 350°F  for 25 minutes or until it is hot and bubbling. Top with the almonds and bake for 5 minutes or until the almonds are golden brown.

Manchego Potatoes

Adapted from an old Rachel Ray recipe (gotta love that mole). This recipe is inherently gluten-free and a great change from regular mashed potatoes.

4 pounds baby red-skinned or baby Yukon gold potatoes
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), cut into 4 or 5 chunks
1/2 – 3/4 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups shredded Manchego or Pecorino Romano cheese, about 3/4 to 1 pound of cheese
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Halve large potatoes, leave the small ones whole. Put potatoes and garlic in a large stockpot and cover with water. Put the lid on and bring to a boil. Uncover, add the salt, and cook until tender (about 15 minutes).

Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water.  Add the potatoes, garlic back to the hot pot. Add butter, cream, cheese, rosemary, reserved cooking water and mash the potatoes to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Gluten-Free Gravy

Pan drippings and scratch-made stock are the keys to the great flavor of this recipe. You can make the stock well advance and put the gravy together as the last thing you do before serving the bird.

Neck, backbone, giblets and trimmings reserved from the turkey
2-3 quarts water
2 medium onions, quartered
2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup gluten-free flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sage
2 bay leaves

Put the turkey bits, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic into a large stockpot and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 2-4 hours. Strain, add the herbs, and bring to a low boil. Cook until the stock has reduced to about 4 cups. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set someplace warm until the turkey is done.

Drain off the dripping from the turkey roaster. SAVE. Put the roaster over a burner on medium-high heat. Add the butter and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits of fond as the butter melts. Slowly add the flour, using a whisk to work it into the butter. Keep stirring until all of the flour is worked in and you have a smooth roux with no lumps of flour.

Pour as much fat as you can off the reserved pan drippings. Whisk the remaining drippings into the roux. Bring the stock to a low boil and slowly stirthe roux into the stock. Keep stirring as the gravy thickens. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until it reaches the thickness you want.

Happy Thanksgiving! With some planning ahead, it’s easy to have a gluten free holiday that everyone will enjoy.

Spatchcocked Turkey

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As the centerpiece of our gluten-free pre-Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to do a turkey on the Big Green Egg. Spatchcocking (butterflying) is a great way to grill poultry. By removing the bird’s backbone and flattening it,  the bird cooks faster and more evenly so you don’t have to worry that the breasts will dry out before the thighs are done.

The Bird

1 whole fresh turkey, 12-16 pounds (I used a brined, natural bird)
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 tablespoons poultry seasoning or rub (I used John Henry’s Texas Chicken Tickler)

Clean and rinse the turkey, then pat it dry. Cut off the tail and any large bits of fat or loose skin (save along with the neck, backbone, and giblets for making gravy).

Place the bird in front of you with the breast side down and the tail facing you. Spatchcock the bird by cutting up through the ribs on one side of the backbone with either a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife. The bottom couple of ribs are the worst to cut through. Once you are through those it goes pretty easily. Repeat on the other side and remove the backbone.

Flip the bird over and press down on the center of the breast with your thumbs while opening it up with your fingers until you hear the kneel bone crack and the bird lies flat.

Rub both sides of the bird with olive oil and season with the rub, making sure to work some under the skin. Refrigerate the turkey for a least an hour uncovered to let the skin dry out a little. This helps keep the skin crispy.

The Cook

Set your grill up for 4 hour indirect cook over medium heat (350°F). On the BGE this means using about half a fire box full of lump charcoal, an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat, and a drip pan to catch the fat. I added a good-sized chunk of guava wood for smoke.

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Put the turkey on the grill skin side up and close the lid. Cook undisturbed for 1 hour. Check and rotate the grill if necessary to even out any hot spots. Close the lid and cook until the turkey reaches 160°F in the breast. Figure  about 10 minutes per pound total cooking time. This 14.2 pound bird was done in just about 2 1/2 hours.

Remove the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. To serve, cut the legs from breast at the hip joint. Separate the drumsticks from the thighs (because nothing says Thanksgiving like gnawing on a big ol’ drumstick).

Find the joint connecting the wing and breast, and cut through it. Remove both wings. Cut the breast  meat into two pieces, slicing along either side of breastbone. Slice the breast meat across the grain.

Chile Chili

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There are a lot of regional chili styles out there, and sometimes it seems that the debate about what should or shouldn’t go into chili overlooks what chili is really about – chiles.

This recipe blends whole dried chiles into an adobo sauce that gives this dish a  nice, deep chile flavor.

2 pounds ground chuck (coarse grind if you can get it)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 ounce) diced tomatoes with liquid
1 can (15 ounce) diced tomatoes with liquid
2 cans (20 ounce) dark red kidney beans, drained
2 cups beef broth
2 ancho peppers, dried
4 guajillo peppers, dried
2 chipotle peppers, dried
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Chili powder to taste

The Chilies

The night before – wearing rubber gloves, stem and seed the chiles. I find this easiest to do with a pair of kitchen shears. Gently pull the stem  until it pops off (this often takes most of the seeds with it), cut open the side of the pepper, then spread it open and scrape out the remaining seeds and veins.

Fill a bowl about half full of hot water and have this ready beside the stove.  Get some ventilation going with an open a window or an exhaust fan. In a dry skillet (no oil) over medium heat, fry the chiles in small batches for just for about 15-20 seconds a side until they start to change color and become fragrant. As they finish cooking, remove them to the bowl of water.

When all of the chiles are cooked and in the bowl, use a small plate to weight them down so they are completely covered in water. Let this sit overnight.

The Adobo

Drain the chiles, discarding the soaking water. In a sauce pan, combine the chiles and the beef stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

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Blend the chile sauce until smooth. You can do this by running batches through a blend or food processor, but I find it easiest to just leave everything in the pot and use an immersion blender. Remove the pot from the heat and put it in the sink to help contain any splatters. Put the sauce aside to cool.

The Cook

This is one of the few recipes that I find easier to start on the stove and then move to the Big Green Egg. You could do it all on the stove top, but then you’re missing out on all the wonderful flavor that smoke brings to the dish.

Set your grill or smoker up for at least a 3 hour cook over indirect heat at 300°F. On the Big Green Egg that means filling the firebox with lump charcoal and using the plate setter inverted with a trivet on it to diffuse the heat. I used a little guava wood for smoke.

On the stove, brown the ground beef in a large dutch oven or other grill-safe pan. Drain if needed. Season with the salt and add the onions, garlic, and green pepper. Cook until the veggies go limp and the meat is fully cooked (about 5 minutes).

Add the adobo, mix and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and beans. Mix well and move the the grill. With the cover of the pan, close the grill lid and cook for an hour. Stir and check your seasoning, adding chili powder, salt or pepper as needed. Close the lid and cook for another hour.  Adjust seasonings again, and serve.

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I served this with some cornbread and honey butter. It was remarkable – great, well-developed, chile flavor with just enough heat for this yankee.  In the end, I only added about a tablespoon of actual chili powder (Penzeys Chili 9000) to the whole batch, and that was mostly just because I wanted to give their new blend a try. It has a lot of great non-traditional ingredients like turmeric and cloves, that added even more interest to the dish.

The Best French Onion Soup

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My dear wife and I enjoyed adapting this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (free online membership required). I know it looks a little putzy and time-consuming (that’s Cook’s Illustrated for you), but the soup is exceptional, and by caramelizing the onions in the oven you really cut down the hands-on time. To make it even easier, we split this into a 2-night cook; preparing the onions the first night while we made dinner, and then finishing the soup in about an hour on the stove top the next night.

It’s been so cold, dark, and rainy around here this week that this soup really hit the spot – rich and filling with a clean onion flavor. It’s so good that the only change I would make (other than maybe trying in on the Big Green Egg ;)) would be to caramelize double the amount of onions and freeze half of them off for a quick meal later.

The Soup

3 tablespoons butter
6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds)
2 – 3 cups water
1/2 cup dry sherry or red wine
4 cups chicken broth (we used Pacific Natural, which is gluten free)
2 cups beef broth (Pacific Natural)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper

The Topping

1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices and lightly toasted (we used Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix)
8 ounces shredded raclette or swiss cheese

Directions

Heat oven to 400°F and adjust the rack to the lower-middle position.

Halve the onions and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Try to stick with yellow onions as this dish needs their lower sugar and stronger, more complex flavor.

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Grease a large Dutch oven and add the butter, onions, and salt. Put in the oven and cook, covered, for 1 hour.  Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, making sure to scape the bottom and sides. Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and cook for another hour. Again, remove the pot and give everything a good stir. Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar continue to cook until the onions are very soft and golden brown (about 30 to 45 minutes).

Remove the pot from the oven. At this point you can let the onions cool in the in the pot and refrigerate for a day or so before continuing with the recipe.

Move the pot to the stove top over medium-high heat. Continue cooking the onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until all the liquid evaporates and the onions brown (about 15 to 20 minutes).

Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust of fond (about 6 to 8 minutes). Scrape the tasty brown goodness back into onions.

Deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until the water evaporates and pot bottom has formed yet another dark crust (another 6 to 8 minutes).

Add another 1/4 cut of water and deglaze the pot again, cooking until the water evaporates and pot bottom has formed yet another dark crust (another 6 to 8 minutes).

One more time – deglaze and cook until the water has evaporated and the onions are very dark brown. Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates (about 5 minutes).

Stir in all the the broths, 2 cups of water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any remaining bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot.

Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

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Adjust oven rack 6-8  inches from broiler. Set individual broiler-safe bowls or crocks on baking sheet and fill each about 3/4 of the way up with soup.  Top each bowl with a few baguette slices and a heavy sprinkle of cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and gotten a little brown ‘n’ bubbly around edges (about 3 to 5 minutes).

Serve immediately with more bread for dipping.

Oil Drum Chicken Breasts

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I’m generally not a big fan of boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the grill. For me, they almost always end up being dry and bland. This recipe is reminiscent of the well-marinated chicken you’ll find sizzling on top of old oil drum grills all over the Caribbean. It uses both a marinade and a baste to keep the breasts  juicy and tangy.

4-5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or lime juice
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire or soy sauce
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3-4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or 1 to 2 teaspoons habanero pepper sauce like Marie Sharp’s

Put the salt and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the remaining ingredients, except the chicken, and give them a whirl until they are well-combined. This makes just under 2 cups of marinade. Reserve a half cup for basting the chicken.

Put the chicken in a freezer bag and coat with the remaining marinade. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, overnight is better, 48 hours is amazing.

Set your grill up for a direct cook over medium-high (400°F) heat. Put the chicken on the grill and close the lid. Cook for about 5 minutes, then flip and baste with the reserved marinade using a basting brush or mop. Flip and baste every five minutes. Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink in the center, or until you reach 160°F internal.

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