Pickle Juice Brined Chicken

Daisy waits for the chicken to be done

I don’t know about you but when I eat the last pickle in the jar, it hurts me to let all that juice go down the drain. I’ve taken to saving it and using it as a brine on chicken. It is great as a base for fried chicken (especially if you’re like me and a fan of Chick-fil-a’s chicken but not their politics). It doesn’t make pickle chicken, though. There is a nice tang, like what you get from a buttermilk soak. I wanted to see if I could translate it to grilled or roasted chicken as well.

I used one of my favorite meat rubs (Emeril’s Rustic Rub) but any kind you have that includes salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper would be delicious.

Pickle Brined Roast Chicken

4 lb whole chicken
2 cups pickle juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry rub, plus additional

Stir together the pickle juice, sugar and rub. Whisk until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Place the chicken and liquid in a zip top bag and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

For grilling: Heat up a chimney full of coals and pour them in a half circle around the edge of your grill.

For the oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat an ovenproof skillet (I use cast iron) over medium high heat.

Remove chicken from the brine. Dry off the chicken and then coat with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with your dry rub.

For grilling: Place the chicken breast side up on the grill and and cook over indirect heat for about an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

For the oven: Place a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Set the chicken breast side down the hot pan and allow it cook for 10 minutes to brown. Flip the chicken over and transfer it right into the oven. Cook for 60 minutes in the oven or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

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Carolina Gold Grilled Pork Chops

My mom has been up in Asheville for the summer so my thoughts turned to the many different Carolina styles of barbecue. I decided to virtually head down I-26 from her and try the South Carolina style (mustard based). I had pork steaks instead of a whole hog so I didn’t need to use a sauce. Instead, I rubbed on a basic mustard based spice mix on the chops and then melted some butter and mixed it with more rub to baste the chops while they cooked. Because these aren’t particularly thick, instead of letting them come to room temperature before going on the fire, put them on the grill right out of the fridge.

Carolina Gold Rub

3 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together. Sprinkle generously over pork or chicken. Store any remaining in an air tight container.

Grilled Chops

4 pork chops
1/2 cup kosher salt
12 peppercorns
2 black teabags

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt, peppercorns and teabags and stir to mix. After 5 minutes, remove teabags and add a cup of ice cubes. Stir to lower the temperature of the water. Mix with another 4 cups of water and add the chops.

Brine the chops for 1 hour – no more or they will be too salty. Rinse and pat dry. Lay out on a rimmed baking sheet and rub both sides with dry spice mix. Place in refrigerator overnight.

Use 2-3 tablespoons of remaining rub to mix with 4-6 tablespoons of melted butter.

Set up your grill for indirect grilling. Start the chops on the cool side for 4 minutes per side. Move to the hot side and baste with the butter/rub mixture for an additional 2 minutes per side or until done.

German Sausage with Crusty Rolls

My brother-in-law, Wayne, contacted me about the upcoming Elberta German Sausage Festival. That reminded me that I had some German sausage I had picked up from my Dad at the beginning of the summer in the freezer that needed to be grilled.

Poaching and Grilling German Sausage and Brats

8-10 links sausage
4 bottles beer (don’t use your good imported stuff here)
1 large onion, quartered

Bring beer and onion to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Nestle in the sausage links together under the liquid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature of fully cooked sausages should be around 160 degrees F.

While the sausages are simmering, build a small fire in your grill. Set it up for direct cooking and finish off the sausages with a couple of minutes per side for about 5 to 10 minutes total or until they pick up a nice char.

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You just can’t eat your wurst on a hotdog bun. You need a roll but not just any will do. You must have a crusty roll – what the Germans call brotchen. They’re hard to find in the states and, especially, in the South. When all else fails, sometimes you have to make your own.

The closest recipe I’ve found can be found on the King Arthur Flour website. Go to their blog for a good step-by-step guide with handy pictures. Be prepared – these take a while but they are so very good it makes it worthwhile.

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Don’t I have beautiful buns?

I only divided the dough into 8 pieces – I like a slightly larger bun to wurst ratio! I increased the cook time to 25 minutes.

Serve your German sausage with a good mustard and Hot German Potato Salad.

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Guten Appetit!

Rosemary Smoked Boneless Pork Loin with Honey Glaze

I have a very large rosemary bush in front of my house that desperately needed pruning. I didn’t want to just throw away the branches, so I decided to use them to add flavor and smoke to a pork loin I’m grilling for Labor Day. I took a few of the newer growth branches and tied them together to make an herby basting brush for the glaze. The rest I spread over the cool side of the grill grates, so they would be under the meat for the final ten minutes or so of cooking.

I choose a boneless pork loin and cut my own pork chops, as I can make them thicker than the grocery usually sells them for a lot less cost. I served these chops with grilled sweet potato fries.

pork on grill

Rosemary Smoked Boneless Pork Loin with Honey Glaze

Brine
3 lb boneless pork loin roast
5 cups water, 1 cup ice
1/2 cup coarse salt
1/2 cup honey

Glaze
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine the brine ingredients in a saucepan over medium low heat with 2 cups of the water. Stir until the salt and honey dissolve. Remove from heat and stir in remaining water and ice. Allow to cool completely. Cut the loin into 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick chops (around six to eight). Cover the pork chops with the cooled brine and put in the refrigerator for one hour.

Combine the honey glaze ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well combined.

Prepare the grill for two zone cooking by putting the hot charcoal on one side of the grill. Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Let them sit on the counter while the coals get ready.

After sprinkling a little salt and pepper on the chops, place them on the hottest part of the grill, directly above the coals. Sear all the chops for about three to four minutes per side, rotating them about 90 degrees after 2 minutes if you want cross hatch grill marks. Once you turn the chops over to cook the other side, baste with honey glaze.

When both sides of the chops are seared, move them to the cooler (indirect heat) side of the grate on top of a layer of rosemary branches. Baste again with the glaze. Close the top and allow the fragrant smoke to flavor the chops. After five minutes, flip the chops and baste again. Grill for another 5 minutes. The chops are done when they reach an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F.

Remove to a serving platter and brush a final time with the honey glaze. Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Shish Kebob with Risotto

One of my favorite, quick dinners is grilled shish kebobs. Meat plus bell peppers, onions and mushrooms is a great combination and it only takes about 10 minutes cooking time. I also make the dinner easy on myself by using a Good Seasonings Italian Dressing packet for my marinade.

This is one of the few dishes that I grill over direct heat and also one where I not only don’t pull the meat out ahead of time to come to room temperature, I also freeze the metal skewers in advance. All goes to help the meat stay medium rare and not get tough as shoe leather.

While I used venison in my kebobs tonight, you can use 1 1/2 to 2 lbs of your favorite meat cut into chunks (or even drop the meat out altogether, as the marinaded and grilled veggies and mushrooms are super tasty).

I serve the kebobs with rice. This time I prepared a risotto with sherry and chicken stock and some of the extra mushrooms, sliced thin.

venison kabobs

Venison Shish Kebob

1 1/2 – 2 lbs meat, cubed into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 onion, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 1/2 lbs small mushrooms
2 packets of Good Seasonings Italian Dressing

Make dressing according to the package directions. Pour 1 portion over the meat, bell pepper and onions and seal into a zip close plastic bag. Pour the next portion over the mushrooms and seal them in another bag. Marinate for at least three hours, turning occasionally.

Place metal skewers in the freezer.

When ready, prepare grill for direct cooking, with a cooler area along one side to move the kebabs to when there are flareups.

Skewer the meat and veggies, alternating meat and onion and pepper. Be sure to leave some room between the items so that all sides can get heat. I usually put all the mushrooms on their own skewers. Grill for about 2-4 minutes per side (four sides means about 10 minutes total cook time for medium rare). Do not cover the grill and do not step away – move skewers to the cooler area if there are flareups but this is a quick cook so stay vigilant.

Let the kebobs rest for about five minutes before removing from the skewers. Serve with rice.

Mushroom Risotto

1 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine or sherry
4 -5 cups chicken stock (heated)
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

In a large pot heat oil and add mushrooms. Cook through, until almost all the liquid has been cooked away. Remove from pot and set aside.

Using the same pot, add butter and sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in minced garlic for just a couple minutes more. Add the rice and toast it about two to 5 minutes.

Add the wine or sherry and stir frequently until all the liquid has been absorbed into the rice.

Add 1/2 cup of the heated chicken stock and stir frequently until absorbed. Cook at a slow simmer, continuing to add chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. You may need only 4 cups of stock but I tend to keep extra on hand in case the risotto needs it.

Taste the rice – after about 25-30 minutes it should be soft and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Just before the last batch of stock has been absorbed into the rice, add the mushrooms back into the pot. Stir well. Add the parmesan cheese and stir until creamy.

Serve immediately as risotto tends to get gummy the longer it sits.

For those of you who don’t want to spend so much time stirring, Martha Stewart invented an oven-baked method. You can adapt any Risotto recipe to this method.

Hot Honey Shrimp

I was over at my parents’ house and we decided to experiment on grilled shrimp. We were looking for both hot and sweet, so we decided to go with honey and hot sauce. But what sort of heat? For this trial we divided the shrimp in half and used Sriracha in one batch and for the other we used good old Louisiana hot sauce.

The Sriracha had a rounder, more full flavor, although the Louisiana hot sauce was still pretty tasty. Try it with your favorite hot sauce!shrimp in bowls

Hot Honey Shrimp

1 lb uncooked shrimp, look for medium or large
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) hot sauce
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon lime juice

Use scissors to cut the back of the shrimp shells and remove the vein. Place the rinsed and drained shrimp in a quart bag.

Microwave honey for about 15 seconds until it has loosened a bit. Mix with a hot sauce of your choice. Pour over the shrimp and massage to coat. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Set up the grill for direct cooking. Place the shrimp on the grill and baste with melted butter and lime juice. Grill one side and flip over after 2-3 minutes and the shrimp are starting to go pink. Baste again and cook until done through.

You can serve this with rice or make tacos with it or, be like us, and just sit and peel and eat until you’re ready to bust. Mmmmhmmm, good!

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries

I’m grilling up another 10lb bag of chicken leg quarters (using the Rosemary Buttermilk soak) and decided that a good accompaniment to the meal would be sweet potatoes. For tonight’s dinner, I’m going to cut them into wedges and grill them. I’m putting a Creole spice mixture on them but feel free to spice them up to your liking – a teaspoon salt, paprika, cumin, chili powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper goes great, too.

You can cook these entirely on the grill – it will take about 40 minutes indirect. However, since most of the grill space will be taken by the chicken, I’m cheating by starting these with a parboil. This way, I can put them on as the chicken comes off and, by the time it is done resting, the sweet potatoes will be ready to serve.

These went so fast, I barely got to grab one for a picture!

potato

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries

4 medium sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning, use your favorite or the recipe below
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot of cold water, add a pinch of salt and cook until potatoes are tender, but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.

Have your grill set up for both direct and indirect cooking.

While the potatoes are cooling, mix together the seasoning and brown sugar. Fingers work best to take the lumps out.

Slice each potato in half lengthwise then slice each half into four pieces to form wedges. Toss the wedges with 3 tablespoons of oil and season with seasoning mix.

Place over the coals for 2-5 minutes a side to get some nice grill marks. Move to indirect cooking and grill until lightly golden brown and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes more per side.

Remove to a platter and serve.

Creole Seasoning Recipe

1/3 cup Kosher Salt
1/3 cup Paprika
1/4 cup Granulated Garlic
4 tablespoon Onion Powder
1/3 cup freshly ground Black Pepper
3 tablespoons White Pepper
2 tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
2 tablespoons dried Thyme
2 tablespoons dried Basil
1 tablespoon dried Oregano

Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight jar or plastic container. Makes about 2 cups and is good on darn near everything.