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Whole Chickens Part One: Basic Grilled Chicken with Grilled Peach Salsa

Summer is a great time of year for us, we are getting a fresh whole chicken in our CSA box every other week, but there is no way I am turning my oven on for 5 hours in Virginia in the summertime, the temperature consistently stays at a level of uncomfortable which can only be described as “Satan’s ass crack.” So, after some experimenting, we have developed a few fool-proof methods for cooking whole chickens that keep my kitchen at a tolerable temperature.

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Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken
  • BBQ rub
  • two peaches or nectarines
  • a small onion or scallion
  • one tomato
  • one jalapeno pepper
  • juice of one lime
  • fresh herbs: cilantro and parsley work particularly well here
  • coconut oil

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Start off by seasoning your chicken inside and out with your favorite rub, we don’t personally make all of our own rubs, because other companies have spent plenty of time and effort discovering the perfect ratios so that I don’t have to. After your coals heat up, I want you to  divide them up so that the coals are pushed over to each side of the grill with a space in the middle.  Weber makes these neat little baskets you can use for this if you have them, but they aren’t necessary.

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If you have guessed that we are going to put the chicken in the space between the hot coals so that they dripping chicken fat doesn’t cause flare-ups then probably don’t even need to keep reading…just go fire up that grill.

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The bird goes in the middle of the coals breast side down, and we cooked it to about 150-160F before throwing on the ingredients for salsa.

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Finely chop the tomato, sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper and the lime juice then set it aside for later.  Then slice the peaches, onion, and jalapeno in half and lightly brush with coconut oil, before putting them directly over the coals.  Let them cook for a few minutes until they soften and nice grill marks form, this happens pretty quick so don’t wander off.  Flip them over and let them cook for another minute or two before pulling them off the grill.  By this point your chicken should have also reached an internal temp of  at least 165F, which means it is also ready to come off. Chop up the remaining ingredients for your salsa and add in the fresh herbs, the skin should easily pull away from your cooked peaches, it is texturally unappetizing if you leave it on.  Now you are ready to eat, we paired our chicken with a nice cool vinegary cucumber salad which turned out to be the perfect refreshing combination on yet another sweltering hot day.

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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Chicken

 

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Grill Mods: Dual Zone Thermometers

So we did this a while back but I never posted it…partially because it was in the winter and I was pretty ashamed that we had no grass at that point.  Our yard looked super white trashy at the time, but after putting a pool in the middle of our front yard and waddling my huge pregnant booty out there in a bikini, I figure that my white trashiness has reached the point of no return, so here goes.

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The common question seems to be “Why the front yard?” Because the dogs are in the back and it would take them all of 3 seconds to have torn this thing apart.

Anyways, we went down to our local BBQ store to look for a couple of thermometers to add to the lid of our 22.5″ Weber kettle so we could monitor the temperature and have better control over our dual zone cooking.  We picked up two thermometers and a silicone sealant safe for high temperatures.  You are also going to need a power drill, marking pen, and possibly measuring tape(if you want things to be all nice and symmetrical)

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We (meaning Derek, I just stood there and took pictures), measured out the desired distance and drilled a pilot hole, which is a small guiding “starter hole” before you start putting holes in your grill lid with a giant drill bit.

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We also noticed that there was a small notch on the back of the thermometer, to keep it from turning I am assuming? Not really sure, but it required the drilling of yet another hole as well.

It doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to work

It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to work

Put your sealant around the top of the holes and install your thermometer.  Then seal up around the inside of the grill and you are done!

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Let this dry for at least 24 hours before using, and enjoy your new customized Weber grill!

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Posted by on July 11, 2013 in Barbeque, Technique

 

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Chicken Cacciatore

As I sit here trying to think of some clever and entertaining way to start this recipe, I remember that I have not done anything interesting for months other than rescue a turtle from the road.  Even on that day I spent half of my hike resting with the dogs instead of being productive.  Pregnant people suck, we are boring, the only thing we talk about is babies, pregnancy and food.  Fortunately you came here for the food right?

6 months down, 3.5 to go!

6 months down, 3.5 to go!

Ok, so this recipe is so amazing we even shocked ourselves.  Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a rustic stew prepared “hunter-style” with tomatoes, onions, and herbs…enjoy

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin removed
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • about 1/4 cup bone broth (or more as needed)
  • am container of baby portabella mushrooms
  • 3 carrots
  • an onion
  • several springs of fresh rosemary
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • a pinch (or more) crushed red pepper
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • handful of fresh herbs, I used parsley and basil, but thyme and oregano would be good too
  • small scoop of cooking fat (butter or coconut oil)
  • and of course, what is a meal without 8 pieces of bacon

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Fire up that grill and start chopping up all of your veggies and rosemary, put those in a bowl and set aside for later, then chop up that bacon.  Put the bacon and a bit of starter cooking fat into a grill friendly pan.  I used the Weber Gourmet BBQ system here, if you don’t have that a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven would work too. Season the thighs on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and go check those coals, they should be ready by now.

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Here is my setup, I seared the chicken thighs for a couple of minutes on each side until they got some grill marks and then set aside.  Do not cook these all the way through because they will finish up in your sauce. I put the bacon on there too, so it can start releasing some of its yummy bacony goodness.  Lets see a close up of that beautiful pork porn…

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Oh yeah baby!

Once your bacon has given you a nice amount of fat in the bottom of your pan add in your chopped veggies, garlic and rosemary and sauté, stirring frequently so they don’t burn.  Once they start to caramelize season them with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper then add in your tomatoes and let everything simmer for a few minutes. I kept a bit of bone broth on hand in case things started to look dried out and added a little bit at a time.  If you are using a dutch oven with a  lid you probably wont have this problem.

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Once those veggies start to get tender nestle those chicken thighs into the stew and let them finish cooking.  Once they hit 165, carefully pull the pan off the grill and serve with fresh herbs.  I even topped mine with a little shaved pecorino romano, but that is because it would take divine intervention to get me to give up cheese permanently.

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Don’t click on this picture unless you have a towel handy to wipe up the drool

The only word that comes to mind when I try to describe this dish is a-friggin-mazing! Derek, who had previously never even heard of chicken cacciatore, devoured it, gushing about how wonderful it was with each bite, and then asked if I would make it again.  An absolute must-have when you are sick of the same old burgers on the grill. Weber should seriously pay me to cook with their products!

Also, have you entered to win your free copy of Beyond Bacon yet?  Get on it!

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Bacon, Chicken, Soups

 

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Better Know a Smoker Part 3: So You’re a Yuppie…

Since it has been a while, you might want to catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 before starting with this one.  This is my final piece of advice for someone looking to buy their perfect summer BBQ; and that advice is not to buy pellet and electric smokers, they are not real smokers.

The Pellet Smoker

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This piece of [worthless] equipment does all the work for you….sounds like a BBQers dream come true, just set it and forget it.  Of course not everything that is easy is better.  Case and point fast food.  Enough said.  Many pellet smokers have built-in temperature control, keeping the smoker between 225 and 250 which is really a problem if you want to cook anything besides pork.  We like to smoke our famous briskets around 300 to break down the connective tissue and trust me we have tried cooking brisket low and slow…it ended up like shoe leather.  Smoked salmon or jerky on the other hand needs to be around 175 so having the ability to control the temperature yourself is imperative.

Also, check out any BBQ message board and you’ll see that people tend to complain about the lack of smoke flavor from these compressed processed pellets.  In fact, even if you have a pellet smoker that you can crank the heat up with, the higher the temps cooking with these pellets, the less smoke flavor you get because they burn very cleanly.

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Just like a big mac is not food…this is not wood!

And don’t forget, since pellet smokers are automatic, they have parts that can break, like a motor and electronics systems.

Even the man himself, Myron Mixon said at a pitmaster competition, “Man I know I got this thing won when I see the other team fire up a pellet smoker.”

The Electric Smoker

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Is that a mini-fridge? Nope, that is the saddest excuse for a smoker that you can possible waste your money on.  Sure, they do have a place in resturaunts, since the people cooking can’t maintain the temps on dozens of racks of ribs at a time…unless of course you are in the south, we still cook over open flame pits down here. However, these have no place in your backyard.  In fact, if you own one of these get off my blog, close out this window immediately, you are not allowed to use any of my recipes.

The flavor on these is inferior to even the pellet smoker, and don’t ever expect to get that beautiful bark or crispy chicken skin on one of these machines.  Hell, most competitions wont even allow electric smokers.  Enough said…just dont do it.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Barbeque, basics

 

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Leftovers: Italian Pulled Pork Two Ways

Ok, so you just made a whole pork shoulder over the weekend, now what the hell are you supposed to do with all the leftovers? If you are like me, you will get sick of eating that much BBQ, there is only so much of the same food I can eat before saying f*ck it, and end up giving the leftovers to the dogs.

Please please please can we have some? Look we are sitting pretty!

Please please please can we have some? Look we are sitting pretty!

Anyone who knows how big an entire pork shoulder is knows how necessary these leftover recipes are.  You will need:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 TB dried basil and oregano
  • 1 tea of onion powder
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped(I get mine dried like raisins, but packed in oil will work too)
  • 1/2 an onion
  • a sprinkle of parsley
  • crushed red pepper (to taste)
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes(I buy the tetra-paks that are 26 ounces, but the cans are usually 14 ounces)

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Heat the sauce in a dutch oven and stir until everything is combined.  Add in your leftover pulled pork and heat thoroughly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve!

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Wait….there’s more! No BBQ? No problem(I am talking to you Megan).   You can take a pork shoulder roast or picnic roast, and cook it indoors too.  I have had it both ways and it is equally delicious!

Like so

Like so

Preheat the oven to 250F and start warming up your dutch oven on the stove with a bit of cooking oil.  If you don’t have a dutch oven use a heavy for browning skillet and then transfer the pork to a roaster or oven safe pan with a lid or covered in tin foil(maybe even a crock pot if you want to throw it on before work and come home to a perfect dinner). Add in the balsamic vinegar and deglaze the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan, then add in your sauce ingredients.  Stir until combined, then cover and put that awesomeness in the oven for 4-5 hours.  After a few hours, check the pork, it should start to pull apart easily.  Pull the chunks you can apart, give it a quick stir, and back in the oven for another hour or two.

I did not really time this, I just left it in the oven all afternoon.  Once it breaks apart into pulled pork easily it is done! I usually check periodically, then turn the oven down to 175 or off and leave it in there until my hubby gets home to enjoy that deliciousness.  Chances are you will not burn this if it stays in for a few extra hours.

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Also the SousVide and TX Bar Organics recipe showdown voting is up, please take a minute to vote for Primal Smoke and get yourself entered to win a great gift card! What BBQer wouldnt want 200$ of free beef?

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Pork

 

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SousVide Surf and Turf Benedict

In case you haven’t heard, the SousVide  and TX Bar Organics paleo blogger challenge is in full effect.  Please take a minute and vote(for me of course).  Anyone who votes is automatically entered to win one of the $200 gift cards.  Here is the badass breakfast recipe I created for the challenge…

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5lbs of cooked snow crab legs or approx one cup of crab meat
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 12 tablespoons of minced red onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of duck fat + extra for frying
  • 2 TX Bar Organics grass-fed filet mingons
  • salt and pepper

Ok, I am going to commit a meat sin here for the sake of competition, I am going to take the worlds most perfect cut of beef and slice it open and mutilate it prior to cooking…please don’t be afraid, I am a professional.

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Start by gutting your crab legs and mixing the meat with one egg, garlic, jalapeno, onion, and the spices. Add in one TB of coconut flour and check the consistency, you may want to add a bit more (slowly), so that it holds together.

Next, take that beautiful TX Bar steak and cut it lengthwise almost all the way through, to form a pocket for all your tasty crab stuffing. Salt and pepper both the insides and outsides of the steaks, if you don’t salt your food you don’t love the people you are cooking for! Top each steak with 1/4 teaspoon of duck fat and seal them into a SousVide pouch. Before you go to bed, throw the steaks into a SousVide water oven, at 54 degrees Celsius(just over 129F).

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In the morning, your delicious breakfast will be ready and waiting. Heat up a cast iron skillet and sear the steaks on each side in a bit of fat to get a nice brown crust. Now, I know that benedict style breakfasts are usually served with a poached egg, but I haven’t poached a d*mn thing since I went paleo…why bother when fried eggs are so much better(and easier). Place one egg, fried in duck fat, on top of each steak and smother with coconut hollandaise.

Creamy Coconut Hollandaise ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup coconut cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put the egg, lemon juice, and coconut cream into a bain marie(glass bowl over a pot of boiling water), and whisk like your life depends on it. Seriously, just keep whisking until you think your arm is going to fall off. Slowly steam in melted coconut oil and continue to whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Mix in your chives and spices to taste, this sauce will thicken up as the eggs cook. Garnish your meal with some chopped chives and fresh grated horseradish(optional) This is the only breakfast delicious enough to stand on it’s own without the addition of bacon, that is no small feat, but feel free to serve with bacon if you’re feeling frisky(your tastebuds will thank you).

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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Beef, Breakfast, Seafood

 

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Better Know A Smoker Part Two: The Offset Box

There is one main reason why people what an offset box smoker…because they look really f*cking cool! You look like a serious BBQ professional with one of these big bad boys in your backyard.  Lets figure out what an offset box smoker really is, and the pros and cons of owning one.

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On the left you see where the barrel where charcoal or wood is burned, we use ours almost exclusively as a stick-burner.  The larger barrel is where you cook all of that delicious meat.  One can imagine that the obvious problem with these grills is one side ends up much hotter than the other, this can lead to some pretty depressing sunday afternoons when you end up eating takeout staring at all of the beautiful meat you ruined.  There are dozens of cheap offset box smokers out there, and you really do get what you pay for.  Cheaper metals, and poorly designed leaks and gaps around the door and chimney can cause you to lose heat, and have temperature variations of up to 100 degrees from end to end.

Don't use your good bone-broth for this, as you are just going to discard it later

Our big boy BBQ

If you already have one of these you are in luck, you can use any heat safe silicone sealant to close up the gaps.  Remember, the only place smoke should be coming out of the smoker is the chimney, so if you see it leaking out the door, run to the hardware store as fast as you can and seal that thing tighter than a pair of hipster jeans.  There is also a great way to test for hot-spots found here, those can easily be fixed with a convection plate in the bottom of the smoker.  If you are in the market for one of these smokers but don’t feel like doing modification, there are several high-quality brands that will make a great addition to your backyard.

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Ok, maybe you don’t have to go that high-end, but please consider that a smoker is a serious investment.  If you get one that does not work properly, you will not use it, and then you have just wasted a substantial amount of money on something that will turn into a rusty eye-sore that could probably get you fined by the home-owners association.

Don't be a victim!

Don’t be a victim!

Horizon and Oklahoma Joe make an incredible product, definitely worth the investment, or you could swallow your pride and get yourself barrel smoker, you wont have the ego inflating large size that we love to brag about in this country, but you get consistent temps and a very user-friendly design with little to no modification needed.  If you still have your heart set on an offset box smoker, look for one that is made out of thick metal, to help keep temperatures consistent.  A little shopping around at any BBQ store and you can feel which ones are made with high-quality materials and which ones are Chinese pieces of crap.  Thin metal simply cannot hold the heat the same.  Inspect the smoker and look for tight seals, or prepare to modify the smoker yourself with a little sealant, it really takes less than an hour to give yourself a superior meat machine.

 

And remember…BBQ is not a hobby, it is a way of life

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in Barbeque, Random

 

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