Football Food – Chili & Wings

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I gotta admit that (outside of maybe women’s beach volleyball) I have pretty much zero interest in watching sports. So I view the upcoming Superbowl as mostly an excuse to grill, drink beer, and hang out with friends. To that end, here are a couple of my favorite foods to serve for the big game:

Black Bean Chili

1 pound ground chuck (coarse grind if you can get it)
1 pound ground turkey (white and dark meat )
1/2 pound chorizo (I used Supremo)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 ounce) diced tomatoes with liquid
1 can (15 ounce) diced tomatoes with liquid
3 cans (15.4 ounce) black beans, drained
2 cups beef broth
1 cup beer
2 ancho peppers, dried
4 guajillo peppers, dried
2 chipotle peppers, dried
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Chili powder to taste (I ended up using 1 tablespoon Penzys Chili 9000 and 1 tablespoon of their Medium Hot)

Wearing rubber gloves, stem and seed the chiles. This is easiest to do with a pair of kitchen shears. Gently pull the stem  until it pops off (taking  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.

Get some ventilation going with an open a window or an exhaust fan. Fill a bowl about half full of hot water and have this ready beside the stove.  In a dry skillet with no oil, fry the chiles  in small batches over medium heat for just for about 15-20 seconds a side until they start to change color and become fragrant. When they are done 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 10-15 minutes.

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.

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.

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This is a recipe that is easier to start on the stove and then move to the grill. 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 all the meat  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 jalapeños, beer, tomatoes, and beans. Mix well and move the uncovered pan to the grill. Close the grill lid and cook for an hour. Stir and check your seasoning, adding chili powder, salt or pepper as needed. Cook for another hour, or until it has cooked down to the desired thickness.  Adjust seasonings again, and serve with a sharp grated cheddar cheese and a dollop of crema.

Grilled Buffalo Wings

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3-4 pounds fresh chicken wings (about 16-24 wings), whole
1/2 cups  Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Season wings with garlic salt and black pepper. Lay wings out on a rack or jellyroll and let sit uncovered in the refrigerator while you set up the grill.

Set up your grill for an indirect cook at 400°F. Use a pan under the grate to catch any drippings and further diffuse the heat. I added a raised rack and to get the wings further up in the dome of the Big Green Egg.

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Combine the hot sauces, butter, garlic powder, sugar, and celery salt in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Heat until the butter is melted and stir to combine all the ingredients. Remove from heat, but keep warm.

When the grill is ready, put the wings on the grill and cook undisturbed for 30 minutes. Check for any hot spots, rearrange as needed, flip only if the wings are cooking unevenly. Cook for another 30 minutes, or until brown and crispy.

Pour sauce into a large container with a lid. Add the wings and toss to mix well. Move to a plate and serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Making More Bacon

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Our local Mega-Mongo-Mart had a sale on full pork loins, so I decided to cure a couple and replenish our dwindling supply of Canadian-style bacon.

Ingredients

2 boneless pork loins (8 to 10 pounds each)
1 tablespoon Morton Sugar Cure (Plain) per pound of loin
1 teaspoon white sugar per pound of loin
2 tablespoon black pepper, ground
1 tablespoon Dizzy Pig Raging River
1 tablespoon Dizzy Pig Red Eye Express
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons molasses

Instructions

Trim any excess fat from the pork loins, then cut them in half.

Just to jazz things up a little, I made up 2 batches of cure, one for each loin.

For loin #1:  combine the Morton Sugar Cure, white sugar, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the pepper, and Raging River. Mix well. Place 2 of the loin pieces in a large freezer bag and coat with the cure. Rub the cure into the meat, covering all sides. Add the maple syrup, and turn the loins in the bag to distribute it. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal.

For loin #2:  combine the Morton Sugar Cure, white sugar, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the pepper, and Red Eye Express. Mix well. Place 2 of the loin pieces in a large freezer bag and coat with the cure. Rub the cure into the meat, covering all sides. Add the molasses, and turn the loins in the bag to distribute it. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal.

Place both bags in the refrigerator for 5 days, flipping the meat over once a day. Liquid will begin  to collect in the bag almost immediately, indicating that the cure is working.

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On the 6th day, remove the meat from the cure and soak in cold water for 1-2 hours to remove some of the salt. Dry off the meat and refrigerate uncovered for an hour – this helps the meat dry and form a pellicle, or glaze, to keep moisture in and help hold the smoke.

Set up your grill or smoker up for an indirect cook at 250°F for at least 4 hours. Once the cooker is up to temperature, add your smoking wood (I used pecan for this recipe).

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Put the loins on the grate and cook until the internal temperature of the loin hits 160°F. Remove from the smoker and let cool before cutting into slices. I ran this batch through our food slicer and made both 1/4 inch slices for breakfast as well as some deli-thin ones for pizza topping and sandwiches.

What’s that Smell?

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Barbecue is all about the combination of smoke, heat, and meat.

Here are some of the smoking woods that I’ve used and what flavors they impart…

Alder has a light, sweet flavor that goes well with fish and poultry. I prefer alder to cedar for planking salmon as it adds a nice touch of smoke without overwhelming the fish.

Apple is mild with a slightly sweet and fruity flavor. Good with poultry. Great with pork, particularly ribs.

Cherry has a nice sweet and mild flavor that goes great with virtually everything. Very popular smoking wood. Can turn  meat a deep red.

Grapevines are good for a lot of tart smoke. Fruity, but can be heavy. Use it sparingly with poultry, game, or lamb. I like it for paella.

Guava is a fruit wood from the tropics. Very versatile. Its semi-sweet aroma goes well with beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and fish. My go-to wood for most smoking.

Hickory is the most commonly used wood for smoking. Sweet and strong, great for that heavy bacon flavor. Good with pork, ham and beef.

Maple is mellow and slightly sweet. Good with pork, poultry, wild game, and cheese.

Mesquite has a strong earthy flavor. Can be overpowering, so it’s better for shorter cook times. Good with beef.

Oak is versatile and goes with just about any barbecue meat. Strong, but lighter than hickory and not overpowering.  Very good wood for beef , lamb, or pork.

Pecan is sweet and nutty, kind of a softer version of hickory. Great with beef, pork, and poultry.

Country-Style Ribs

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These “ribs” are really cut from a pork shoulder roast (a.k.a. Boston butt). There’s a lot of meat on them along with enough fat to keep them tender when you cook them low and slow. I like to cut them into 2-3  inch chunks and serve them as appetizers.

3-5 pounds of country-style ribs, boneless if possible
2-3 tablespoons barbecue rub (I used Dizzy Pig’s Dizzy Dust)
Barbecue sauce (I used Carnivore Robust)

Trim the ribs to size and remove any excess fat or gristle. Coat generously with  rub, working it into all sides of the meat.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook that will burn for at least 5 hours at 250°F. Use a drip pan under the ribs to catch the fat. I added some hickory for smoke.

Once the grill is up to temperature,  put the ribs on the grill and close the lid. Give the ribs a flip after they have been on the grill for 1 hour. At 2 hours, give the ribs a flip again and start checking internal temperature. Continue cooking until they reach 160°F internal (about 2-3 hours, depending on thickness). Now it’s time to sauce.

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Flip the ribs and baste them with barbecue sauce. Cook for 20 minutes, flip and baste. Cook for another 20 minutes, flip and baste a final time. Check the internal temperature – it should be right around 180°F. If not, flip them again and cook until they reach 180°F.

Serve the ribs as finger food with a couple of dipping sauces.

Spicy Orange Wings

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I’m always on the lookout for new ways to do chicken wings. This recipe is a a bit of a collaboration between the Orange Marmalade Sriracha Wings from Larry at The Wolfe Pit, the Sriracha Chicken Wings from Chris at Nibble Me This, and my own Teriyaki Wings.

The end result is a very tasty, vaguely Asian, spicy-sweet wing with plenty of kick. These were a hit at our recent New Year’s Eve party.

3-4 pounds fresh chicken wings (about 16-24 wings), whole
1 (16 ounce) jar orange marmalade (Get the good stuff without the high-fructose corn syrup in it.)
1/3 cup Sriracha (a.k.a. Rooster) sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (nuoc nam)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients (except the wings) in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and everything is well-combined. Remove sauce from heat, but keep warm.

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Set up your grill for an indirect cook at 350°F. Use a pan under the grate to catch any drippings and further diffuse the heat. I added just a little guava wood for smoke.

Grill wings with the tips down for 30 minutes, flip and cook for another 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Mop the wings with the sauce and cook for another 15 minutes. Flip, mop and cook for another 15 minutes.  Repeat one or two more times until the wings are have a thick and sticky glaze on them.

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