Watermelon Margaritas

Watermelon Margarita

Kids are headed back to school and Thanksgiving decorations are already starting to show up in stores, sigh, Labor Day weekend might be your one last shot at summer, so before this fleeting season is over, promise me you’ll make up a batch of these margaritas before it’s too late.

Watermelon Infused Tequila
1 part watermelon
2 parts tequila

Cube watermelon into a lidded container. Cover with tequila, close the lid, and let sit on a cool, dark spot for at least 3 days, 5 is better,

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the watermelon from infused tequila. Be careful not to crush the watermelon, as the extra liquid will just dilute the tequila and not add a whole lot of flavor. Discard the watermelon. Note that you will end up with more liquid than you started with, so I refilled the tequila bottle and poured the rest into a mason jar (seemed fitting).

Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Math note: I used one of the body-sized 1.75L bottles of Kirkland Silver Tequila. So 1.75L divided by 2 equals .875L, or pretty darned close to a gringo quart of watermelon.

Watermelon Margaritas
2 double old fashion glasses
4 ounces infused tequila, strained
Juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 teaspoons orange liqueur
Course salt or Tajín seasoning

Simple Syrup
Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Stir in 2 cups of granulated sugar. Reduce heat to low and stir just until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour off into a sealable container (again, I used a mason jar) and store in fridge until ready to use.

Rim the glasses with salt or Tajín (or a bit of both) and fill with ice. Combine tequila, lime juice, syrup, and orange liqueur. Divide into glasses. Enjoy!

Extra Colossal Grilled Shrimp

Extra Colossal Shrimp on the Grill

And you thought Jumbo Shrimp was an oxymoron – meet Extra Colossal Shrimp. Also know as U-10, they are shrimp so big that it takes less than 10 of them to make a pound. In this case, 5 of these bad boys weighted in at 16.75 ounces.

The only preparation worthy of shrimp like these was to season them lightly and toss them on the grill.

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning
5 raw Extra Colossal Shrimp, grill-cut (shell on, but deveined and butterflied)

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and seasoning in a bowl. Mix to combine. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Stash in the fridge while you get the grill fired up.

Set the grill up for a direct cook over medium-high (400°F) heat. Arrange the shrimp on the grate and grill until the shell is pink and the flesh opaque, about 4 minutes per side. These shrimp were big enough that I also grilled them for 2 minutes on edge with the tails up.

Extra Colossal Shrimp on the Grill

The Verdict: ★★★★★
So tasty even my never-had-a-shrimp-that-wasn’t-breaded niece liked them. The shell holds the juices in, so they end up sweet and tender with just a hint of smoke. They were the perfect appetizer.

The Nutrition:
Shrimp are practically free – 2 ounces  are just 1 Weight Watchers point and only  65 calories.

One year ago – Sous Vide Steak
Two years ago – The Manhattan

This Little Piggy is Going to the Fair

Pomegranate Pig Spareribs

Sunday was kind of a big day for me – I entered my Pomegranate Pig Barbeque Sauce in the Minnesota State Fair’s Creative Activities competition. You have never in your life seen a grown man so nervous about the care and well-being of two little jars of sauce as I was that day.

Pomegranate Pig Barbeque Sauce
4 cups raw or dark brown sugar
2 cups honey
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
2 teaspoons coarse-ground black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated onion
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine sugar, honey, paste, vinegar, Worcestershire, molasses and salt. Wisk to combine. Bring to a boil.. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Taste and adjust for sweetness, acid, umami, and salt. Note – I added another 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt at this point.

Turn the heat off and add the garlic, chili powder, paprika, pepper, onion, vanilla, cayenne, sage, thyme, allspice, zest, nutmeg, and cumin. Wisk to combine.

Bring to a boil again then reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Reduce heat to lowest setting and let sauce cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Bottle and store in the fridge. Makes about 3 1/2 pints.

For the competition, I canned the sauce in 1/2 pint jars. I filled the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space, sealed them, and then processed them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes at 10 p.s.i.

I should know the results early next week. Wish me luck!

Tajín Seasoning

Tajín Seasoning

Chile peppers + salt + dehydrated lime juice = Mexican sunshine in a shaker jar.

Just a little sprinkle of Tajín Clásico wakes up all kinds of dishes. I’ve had it on mangoes, fresh coconut, roast sweet corn, nopal (cactus) salads, and (of course) watermelon.

Tajín Seasoning

Tajín adds a tasty salty tang with a little bit of heat that brightens up whatever you shake it on.It’s the perfect seasoning for all of the summer produce that’s ripe right now.

Next up – Tajín Bloody Marys.

The Nutrition:
Calories – nada. Weight Watchers points – nada.

One year ago – Slashed Cornell Chicken Quarters
Two years ago – Spatchcocked Gremolata Chicken

Slashed Chicken Thighs

Slashed Chicken Thighsveroxybd.com

I was so happy with the way the marinade worked its way into my Slashed Cornell Chicken Quarters that I wanted to give the same thing a try with my favorite part of the chicken – thighs.

The Marinade

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small shallot
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh herbs (whatever is fresh – thyme, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, and sage all work)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Make the marinade by putting the garlic, shallot, and salt into a food processor and pulse until the garlic and shallot are minced. Add the vinegar and give it another whirl to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes while the vinegar sweetens the shallot.

Add the oil, herbs, Worcestershire, and peppers to the processor and whirl to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Slash the chicken thighs with a knife, making one deep cut perpendicular to the bone. Trim off any extra fat or skin.

Put the thighs 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.

The Cook
Remove the thighs from the marinade and give them a dash of salt 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 crisp the skin.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook at medium-high (400°F) heat. I used a plate setter on the Big Green Egg to give me nice diffused heat.

Slashed Chicken Thighs

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: ★★★★☆
The chicken was tender, crispy, and very herbalicious. Slashing the thighs seemed to both help the marinade move deepier into the meat and make the skin crispier. Overall though, the marinade lacked some oomph. Next time – less oil, more Worcestershire, vinegar, salt, and red pepper.

The Nutrition:
3 ounces of chicken thigh meat is only about 100 calories and 4 Weight Watchers points.

One year ago – Planked Salmon Nicoise
Two years ago – Cucumber Margarita