Honey Mustard Hot Wings

wings
1 1/2 pounds chicken wings
1/4 cup mustard (I did 50/50 spicy brown and dijon)
1/4 Louisiana-style hot sauce
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon of your favorite rub (Penzey’s Ruth Ann’s Muskego Ave Seasoning in this case)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

Put wings in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Dust with the rub and then toss again. Set a cooling rack on a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Lay wings out on a rack and let them sit uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight to let the rub do its work and for 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.

While the wings are cooking, make your sauce by combining the mustard, hot sauce, honey Worcestershire, garlic, and salt in a small saucepan. Stir to combine and bring to simmer. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Baste the wings on both sides with the sauce. Let them cook for another 10 minutes, then baste again.

Serve with bleu cheese dressing and/or any remaining sauce for dipping.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
Wings came out crispy and sticky. The sauce ended up a little too sweet for my tastes. Need a touch more heat and some acid to balance it out.

-1°F Wings

Screenshot_2016-01-09-20-59-29

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays…” sorry, that’s the USPS’s motto, but anyway, I’m not going to let a little cold come between me and some hot wings.

wings

3 pounds chicken wings
Penzey’s Ruth Ann’s Muskego Ave Chicken/Fish Seasoning
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup Sriracha hot sauce
1/3 cup honey
2-3 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Toss wings in oil and then season heavily the Penzey’s seasoning or your favorite rub. Set a cooling rack on a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Lay wings out on a rack and let them sit uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight to let the rub do its work and for the skin to dry out a bit.

wings

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.

While the grill is eating up, combine the butter, hot sauce, honey, chili sauce, and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, them remove from heat but keep warm.

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.

Baste the wings on both sides with the hot sauce. Let them cook for another 10 minutes, then baste again.

Serve with bleu cheese dressing for dipping.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
The sweet/hot/tangy flavor of the wings was perfect. Just when you thought one of the flavors would drown the other out, the others came through to create a great balance. I really like the brightness that the rub added.

Despite the cold, the BGE performed like a champ. I noticed no change in cooking times at all.

Piri Piri/Peri Peri/Berbere Wings

Whatever you call it, this spice mix is hot. Portuguese sailors brought the piri piri (pepper pepper) with them to North Africa. There the locals incorporated it into their cooking and this fiery dish was born. These wings get a double dose of heat both from the berbere seasoning and shot of hot sauce.

6 chicken wings, separated at joints, discard tips
1 tablespoon sea or kosher salt
1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon True Lemon Crystallized Lemon
1/2 teaspoon Penzey’s Berbere Seasoning (cayenne red pepper, garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, black pepper, allspice, turmeric, cloves, Ceylon cinnamon, and coriander)
1/4 cup Nando’s Medium Peri-Peri Sauce

Make a rub by combining the salt, sugar, garlic, onion, pepper, lemon, and berbere in a small bowl. Dust the wings with the rub, making sure to cover both sides.

Piri Piri Wings

Set a cooling rack on a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Lay wings out on a rack and let them sit uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight to let the rub do its work and for 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.

Baste the wings on both sides with the hot sauce. Let them cook for another 10 minutes, then baste again.

Serve with bleu cheese dressing and the reserved sauce for dipping.

truelemon

New product – I enjoyed True Lemon’s powdered drink mixes this summer and was glad to see that they had come out with powdered flavorings too.

The crystallized lemon gave the rub a nice bite in addition to a fresh lemon taste.

I’m looking forward to trying out their Orange Ginger seasoning next.

Peach Pork Chops

I used the absolute last peaches of the season to make this sweet and tangy dish. I really like this grill and baste technique to keep the meat moist, particularly with leaner cuts of pork and chicken.

2 pounds thick-cut pork chops
1 pound of peaches, quartered and pitted (2 -3 peaches)
1/2 large red bell pepper, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (whatever is in the garden, I used thyme and rosemary)
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
2 cups barbecue sauce (Pomegranate Pig in this case)

Combine peaches, pepper, onion, and herbs in a food processor or blender. Add just enough water to float everybody’s boat and then give it all a whirl until well-combined, but not pureed. You want it a little chunky.

Pour peach mixture into a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until it has reduced by about half (about 10 – 15 minutes depending on how much water you used). It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat. Add the barbecue sauce and stir to combine.

Set your grill up for a direct cook at medium high (400°F) heat. On the Big Green Egg is used an extender to raise the cooking grate a bit to give me a more even heat.

Pour about half the peach barbecue sauce into a shallow, flame-proof pan (a disposable 9×13 foil pan works great). Set the pan on the grill and heat until it starts to bubble. Remove from heat and keep warm (I nestle mine right next to the grill).

Season the chops with a little salt and pepper on each side. Grill for about 5 to 10 minutes on each side to give them some nice grill marks and a bit of char.  Remove the chops to the pan and turn to coat each side. Put pan full of chops on the grill and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the chops hit 145°F internal.

Peach Pork Chops

Let rest 5 minutes then serve with remaining sauce on the side.

Root Beer Ribs

My love for a good root beer goes back to my childhood when we would pull into the only drive-in diner in town and the carhop would bring out a big tray of frosty root beer floats.

2 racks baby back ribs
1 (12-ounce) bottle root beer (get the good stuff without any ingredients that you can’t pronounce)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 (4-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup raw or brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon sea or kosher salt
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the root beer to a boil and cook until the volume is reduced by half (about 5 minutes). Add the vinegar, paste, sugar, honey, salt, and Worcestershire. Wisk to combine. Return to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer for 1 minute. Taste and adjust for sweetness, acid, umami, and salt.

Turn the heat off and add the paprika, pepper, onion, garlic, chili powder, pepper, and cayenne. 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.

Set your grill up for a raised direct cook at low (300°F) heat. I set the Big Green Egg with a Woo2 extender to raise the cooking grid up about 4 inches further from the heat.

While the grill is getting up to temp, season both sides of the ribs with your rub of choice. Toss in a chunk of smoking wood (sassafras this time), and when the smoke changes from white (bad) to blue (good), put the ribs on bone side down for an hour.

Flip the ribs bone side down and let them go for another hour. After 2 hours total, start checking for doneness. The slabs should bend and crack when you pick up one end with a pair of tongs and the meat should have also started to pull back from the bones.

Root Beer Ribs

When the ribs are showing signs of being done, sauce the meat side with the Root Beer Barbecue Sauce and let them cook for another 10 minutes. Flip them and sauce the bone side and let them go for another 10 minutes. Flip them meat side up and give them a final coat of sauce and let them cook for a final 10 minutes.

Remove the ribs from the grill and let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving with more sauce on the side.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
The sauce is a winner and I really like the way the sassafras added to the anise flavor. The end result was very rich, sweet, and spicy. The bark ended up being a little too thick and dry for my tastes, probably from flare ups caused by cooking directly over the coals.

Sunny Bang Hot Sauce Review

I have been trying my hand at lacto-fermentation – making kimchi, sauerkraut, hot sauce, and veggie pickles the old-fashioned way using little more than salt, time, and  gut-friendly lactobacillus. It’s a little putzy and time-consuming, but I’m enjoying the results and am glad to be adding more probiotics to our diet.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find Sunny Bang Private Label commercially producing a lacto-fermented hot sauce that is still “alive” when you get it. Of course, I had to give it a try.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
The bright, orangey-red sauce comes in a very cool swing-top bottle. It has a nice, thick texture and a bright, fresh veggie aroma. There’s not much heat to it, but what there is comes all up front and doesn’t build up over time or linger. It has a bit if zip from the lactic acid and vinegar, but nothing harsh. The finish is all fruity sweetness with a little effervescence.

In short – this ain’t no bubba-slurping, taste-hiding, vinegary hot sauce. It’s harmonious (not a word I would ever imagine using to describe a hot sauce) – all the flavors work together to give everything you put it on a bright and tangy bit of heat.

Brined, Grilled, and Basted Pork Tenderloins

Pork Loin

I have to admit that I’ve never been a big pork tenderloin fan. They’ve always seemed kind of pricy, bland, and finicky. Not qualities I look for in food or friends, so I tend to gravitate to more complex and tasty cuts of pig like shoulder roasts and ribs.

Part of the problem with tenderloins is that pork has gotten leaner and cooking an already lean piece of meat to the old USDA recommend 160°F left you with a pretty dry and flavorless hunk of meat.

Thankfully, the government has seen the error of its ways and since lowered the recommended temp to a pink and juicy 145°F. So when the local MongoMart ran a sale on some nice-looking tenderloins, I decided to give them a try.

Dead Simple Brine
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 cups ice water
2 pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds each)

Combine the salt, sugar, and un-iced water in a small pan and cook over high heat until salt and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add the iced water and stir till the ice is dissolved.

Put the tenderloins in a zip-top bag, pour in the cooled brine, squeeze the air out, then seal the bag, Stash in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.

Rojo Baste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
4 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
1 tablespoon sea or kosher salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

While the pork is brining, put the oil, butter, garlic, salt, juice, chili powder, cumin, and oregano in a large grill-safe pan (a 9×13 cake pan works fine).

Set up your grill for a raised direct cook over medium-high (400°F) heat. I used a Woo2 extender ring to raise the cooking grate up a bit.

While the grill is heating up, remove the tenderloins from the bag. Pat them dry, then rub them down with a little olive oil and dust them with your favorite rub or seasoning. We’re going south of the border for this meal, so I used Dizzy Pig’s Swamp Venom.

When the grill is ready, put the pan with the baste on the grill grate and heat until the butter melts and the garlic becomes fragrant, then move it off the grill but keep it warm and nearby.

Put the tenderloins on the grill and cook for about 2 minutes per side, until the tenderloins are starting to brown and show grill marks.

Move the tenderloins off the grill and into the basting pan. Roll them in the baste and return them to the grill. Grill them for another 2 minutes per side, then move them back into the basting pan.

Pork Loin

Roll them in the baste then put the whole pan with the tenderloins in it on the grill. Cook the tenderloins in the pan, rolling them in the baste every few minutes, until they hit 140°F internal (about another 6 to 10 minutes).

Pork Loin

Remove the basting pan and tenderloins from the grill and let them rest for 10 minutes. Slice the tenderloins crosswise into 1/2 inch thick medallions and serve drizzled with the remaining baste.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
These were the best tenderloins I think I’ve ever had – rosy-hued and juicy with great flavor. Not as rich (or fatty) as ribs, but they didn’t take hours to cook either. The mild flavor of the pork really benefited from the layers of flavor that the brine, flames, and baste brought to the game.

Grilled Ribeyes with Steak Butter

Ribeye

I have been very happy with my “hot off the grill” technique for steaks. There’s something very primal and satisfying about cutting into a still sizzling steak. The only thing that could make it better? Butter, of course!

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1 – 2 anchovy fillets

In a small saucepan, melt half the butter over medium-low heat. Add anchovies and simmer until they melt into the butter, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the herbs, Worcestershire, paprika, salt, and pepper.

Remove from heat and let cool until mostly solid. Add the remaining butter and whisk to combine. Spoon mixture onto a large ramekin, cover with a sheet of waxed paper, and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Season the ribeyes with a heavy coating of sea salt (2 to 3 teaspoons per side) and a few grinds of black pepper blend. Stash uncovered in the fridge while you get your grill set up for a direct cook at a sub-nuclear 700°F.

Sear steaks for 60 seconds, then rotate the 90 degrees and give them another 30 seconds on that side. Flip and repeat the process on the other side. After both sides have been seared, keeping flipping them every minute or so while checking for doneness. These steaks only took another 2 minutes of flipping to hit a nice medium-rare 125°F internal.

Ribeye

Move the steaks straight off the grill and onto your plates, pausing ever so briefly to spoon a dollop of steak butter onto them.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
I was expecting the butter to be a umami bomb – rich and savory, but I was pleasantly surprised that the herbs gave it a much brighter taste. Between the anchovy and the herbs it had a fresh, almost briny, flavor to it that really woke up the steak.

Peach Spare Ribs

ribs
My dear wife saved me two of her precious peaches for this sauce. In the end, she said it was worth the sacrifice.

The recipe uses a wet blending technique that I’ve become very fond of. Rather than chopping up all of your ingredients individually, just cut them to a manageable size (quartering is usually enough), add a bit of liquid to float the goodies, and then pulse them in a food processor or blender until you reach the desired consistency.

Peach Barbecue Sauce
1 pound of peaches, quartered and pitted (2 -3 peaches)
1/2 cup red bell pepper
1 small onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup honey
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients into a food processor or blender. Give it all a whirl until well-combined, but not pureed. You want some chunks of this and that floating around.

Peach Spare Ribs

Pour into a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until it has reduced to about a pint (about 15 minutes depending on how much water you used). It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Let cool, bottle, and stash in fridge.

Spare Ribs
Set your grill up for a raised direct cook over low (250°F) heat. On the Big Green Egg I used a Woo2 ring to get the cooking grate further from the heat. When the grill is up to temp, add some wood for smoke (apple this time).

While the grill is heating up, trim the rack down as much as you care to. I like a St.Louis-style rack, so I remove the chine (breast) bone and the connective tissue between the chine and the ribs themselves. I also removed the tough membrane that covered the bone side of the ribs to let more flavor in.

After the ribs are trimmed, season them with a dusting of your favorite rub. I went with just salt and pepper on these to let the sauce shine through.

When the wood smoke goes from white (bad) to blue (good), move the ribs to the grill.

Spare ribs take a good 5 to 6 hours to cook. Start them bone side down and then flip them end-to-end and top-to-bottom ever hour. This helps even out the hot spots that can happen when you cook with direct heat. At hour 5 they should start showing signs of doneness – meat pulling back from the bone, and meat cracking when you lift up the rack at the end. When in doubt, check the internal temperature of the meat between the bones – it should read at least 180°F prior to saucing.

ribs

Sauce the ribs with the Peach Barbecue Sauce – and let them cook for 10 minutes. Sauce the meat side and let them go for another 10 minutes. Then sauce the meat side again and move the ribs off to a plate to rest for 10 minutes. Serve with remaining sauce.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Wonderful, clean peach taste with just enough sugar and just a tiny hint of rosemary. It’s very versatile and is great both spread on toast and dolloped on pork chops. Must make gallons of this next year.

Sweet Heat Buffalo Shrimp

Buffalo Shrimp

More fun with shrimp on the grill. This time it’s a sweet and spicy version.

2 pounds large, grill-cut shrimp (shell-on, butterflied)
1/3 cup hot sauce (Frank’s RedHot Original is traditional, but any Louisiana-style sauce works well. Feel free to experiment.)
1/3 cup raw or brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine the hot sauce, sugar, butter, Worcestershire, and garlic powder in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly (you want it just warm enough to keep the butter melted but not so hot that it cooks the shrimp).

Pour the hot sauce into a large bowl and keep it warm and close to the grill.

Set your grill up for a direct cook over medium-high (400°F) heat.

Grill the shrimp 2 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Flip again and cook until just pink and curled – about another 2 minutes, or 6 minutes total.

Buffalo SHrimp

Move the shrimp to the bowl of hot sauce and toss to coat.

Buffalo SHrimp

Move to a serving platter and drizzle with remaining sauce before serving.

Buffalo Shrimp

The Verdict: ★★★★½
As much as I love wings, I have to say that I’d take these shrimp over buffalo wings any day. The sweeter sauce works really well on shrimp and plays nicely with the tang and heat from the Franks’. These were perfect as part of a meal but if I were doing these as appetizers I think I’d add some salt and a little more heat. Maybe a touch of Marie Sharp’s just to make things interesting.