Creole Chicken and Rice

I recently did a Latin American chicken and rice dish (see recipe here) and now I’m going to do a Louisiana Creole version. This one has the Louisiana holy trinity of onion, green bell pepper and celery with a different set of seasonings and long grain rice instead of the short grain of the arroz con pollo.

It had the right amount of heat from the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes for my palate but you can always put a bottle of hot sauce on the table for those who need more.

I make my own Creole seasoning (see recipe here) as I can more closely monitor the salt content.

Chicken cut off the bone and stirred into the rice for serving

This is a very tasty and comforting meal in a pot. My taste testers, Charlotte and Thomas, both enjoyed seconds and we all were members of the clean plate club.

Creole Chicken and Rice

Marinade:

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Chicken and Rice:

2 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs or 4 skinless breasts with rib bones
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 cup long-grain rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

Combine all marinade ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl or zip top bag. Add chicken and turn to coat. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Brown chicken about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer chicken to plate and lower heat to medium low. Add in chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Place in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in bell pepper and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle on Creole seasoning and stir.

Add rice and stir to toast for 2 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, give it a stir, and bring to a simmer. Nestle chicken on top of the rice (pour in any of the juices that are left on the plate as well). Return to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed into the rice and chicken is done. During this time, cut the chicken off the bones and stir it into the rice for the final moments of cooking.

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Sausage, Potato and Cheddar Stew

My sister, Kathy, and her husband, Wayne, go to the Elberta Sausage Festival every spring and fall. Luckily for me, they pick up some delicious German sausage for me when they go.

While I typically poach the sausages in beer and finish them on the grill, this time I’m going with a recipe modified from the kitchen of my favorite Two Fat Ladies. Sausage and beer were made for each other and when you put in potatoes and cheese, you’ve nearly reached heaven.

I’m using German sausages here but you can use spicy Chorizo or Italian sausage or even Kielbasa. I took the sausage out of the casing as it can get too chewy. Just be gentle when browning it so it stays in large chunks.

Sausage, Potato and Cheddar Stew

2 lbs good quality sausages, cut into 2 inch lengths
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bottle beer
1 14.5 can diced tomatoes
6 medium potatoes, quartered
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a heavy Dutch oven, brown the sausages. Remove the sausages from the pot and set aside. Heat up the oil and then add the onions and a little salt and sauté for about ten minutes or they start to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes or until fragrant. Pour in the beer and tomatoes with their juices. Season with pepper. Add in the potatoes. Return the sausages to the pot and stir to combine. Bring the stew to a boil and drop the heat to keep it on a simmer. Cover and cook for about an hour. You are looking for the potatoes to be fork tender. Uncover and add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring well between each addition to mix and melt. Cook for about 10 additional minutes for all the flavors to come together.

Serve this with plenty of crusty bread to sop up all the juices.

Slow Cooker Root Beer Pork Butt

This is an easy (but not quick) recipe for pulled pork. It takes just a few ingredients – a Boston Butt (I prefer bone in), an onion, some salt and a bottle of Abita Root Beer. I love the taste of Abita’s Root Beer but, even more importantly, that it is made with cane sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup.

Slow Cooker Root Beer Pork Butt

6 lb Boston butt
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 large onion, quartered
bottle root beer

Place the onion quarters in the bottom of your slow cooker. Cut off most of the visible fat off the outside of the pork and sprinkle with salt. Place it on the onion layer. Pour over a bottle of root beer.

Set your slow cooker on low and cook for 7 to 10 hours, depending on how hot your slow cooker gets. The pork is done when it reaches 200 degrees F. Remove from liquid and place on a rimmed pan for 20 minutes to cool slightly before pulling apart. Discard the liquid and solids left in the slow cooker.

Serve on buns with root beer bbq sauce (recipe follows) or any favorite barbecue sauce.

Continuing the root beer theme, I’m posting changes to my favorite homemade bbq sauce. This is a rich and spicy sauce that goes well with roast beef as well as pulled pork.

Root Beer BBQ Sauce

1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 12 ounce bottle root beer (I prefer Abita)
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon hot sauce – I used Louisiana hot sauce

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Keep at a boil for about 15 minutes until reduced and thickened.

Remove from heat. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator for several months or use immediately.

Butter Grilled Turkey Breasts

I’ve been wanting a fairly simple recipe for boneless, skinless turkey breasts so I can slice them for lunch meat. I wandered through my cookbooks and the interwebs and came up with a hybrid.

My local grocery store had a sale on bone-in turkey breasts for President’s Day, so I bought one, removed the bones (which I used to make stock) and was just left with the breasts to play with. You can add additional herbs – rosemary would be a nice touch but I wanted to keep things plain. I also didn’t want to brine so I used a dry rub of salt.

The turkey came out moist and delicious. The smoke added a subtle flavor and the turkey sandwiches were excellent. Of course, the added avocado helped there!

Thanks to Michelle and Stacey for being my taste testers.

Butter Grilled Turkey Breasts

5-7 lb turkey breasts
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 stick butter, softened

1 deep grill pan

Remove bones and skin. Sprinkle with salt and cover in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours. Reserve bones to make stock.

Prepare grill for indirect cooking. Soak hickory or other wood chips for smoke flavor. Remove turkey from the fridge and discard wrapping. Slather with softened butter and set in the grill pan. Place any remaining butter on top of the breasts.

Put the grill pan on the grill on the side away from the coals with the thickest part of the turkey breasts closest to the fire. Cover the grill with the vent over the meat so the smoke swirls around the turkey before escaping.

Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting occasionally with the butter and meat juices. Turkey is done when it reaches 165 degrees F. There is very little carryover as there are no bones, so you want it to hit that temp before removing. You can place it on the grill grates over the coals for a final touch if you want grill marks on it but that isn’t essential.

Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Rotisserie Standing Rib Roast

For my Mom’s birthday, we had a standing rib roast that we cooked using the rotisserie on Dad’s Weber charcoal grill. We were serving six, so we bought one that was a little over 8 lbs (3 ribs). We needed some leftovers for steak sandwiches!

For a side, after we pulled the meat off, I put the rack on the grill and smoke warmed twice baked potatoes. We used an extra set of ribs from the butcher to make a beef stock in the slow cooker and used that plus the meat juices to create an au jus.

Rotisserie Prime Rib Roast

6-8 lb rib roast
kosher salt
olive oil

Season the rib roast with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and let sit in the refrigerator, uncovered, 24 hours before you are ready to cook. Remove from fridge 4 hours before grilling.

Rub the roast with olive oil and sprinkle salt on the meat, leaving the fat cap unsalted.

Run the rotisserie skewer through the center of the meat. Secure with the forks once it is balanced. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking and medium high heat. Place a drip pan down. Use chunks or chips of seasoned wood for smoke. I chose hickory.

Place the rotisserie on the grill and start the motor. Let it turn for one to two hours or until the internal temperature of the meat (not hitting bone or skewer) reaches 120 degrees F for rare. It takes about 10-15 minutes per pound. Ours was done in 90 minutes.

Using heavy gloves, remove the spit from the grill and then the spit from the meat. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Add the drippings to your gravy or au jus.

Grilled Chicken for Remembrance and Courage

As we close out 2018, I’ve been thinking back about the past year. It has been quite a yeasty time – personally, politically, environmentally and even culinarily. We’ve lost some powerful voices but have also seen many new champions step up to answer the challenges facing us.

In the spirit of endings and new beginnings, I decided to make a grilled chicken recipe to celebrate the art of constructive remembering and helping gird our loins to face another year. As the flower folks tell us: rosemary for remembrance and thyme for courage.

So, my New Year’s wish is for you to have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going and the insight to know when you’ve gone too far.

Rosemary Thyme Gilled Chicken

8 bone in chicken thighs

4 black tea bags (I used Lemon Lift)
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make 1 quart of strong tea by steeping tea bags for 15 minutes. Add in salt, brown sugar and peppercorns and stir until salt and sugar have dissolved. Add in 1 quart of ice and stir until all the ice has melted. Pour over the chicken and brine the chicken overnight in the fridge.

Rinse the chicken and store in the fridge until an hour before you set up your grill.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together the rosemary, butter, thyme, garlic, zest, and salt and pepper, until combined well. Use your hands to smear the butter mixture all over the brined chicken. Melt the remaining butter.

Over a grill set for indirect cooking, place the chicken skin side down. Cook for 15 minutes before flipping the chicken so the skin is up. Baste the chicken with the butter mixture. Continue grilling for 45 minutes more or until it registers 170 degrees F. Baste after 30 minutes and again as you pull the meat off the grill.

 

Grilling My Free Turkey From Winn Dixie

I walked in my local Winn-Dixie and saw a great offer: Now through 11/21/18 you get a free Thanksgiving turkey when you get a no cost flu shot. As I had been planning to get a vaccine anyway, I headed over to the pharmacist and got a jab and my coupon. Because my health insurance covers annual flu vaccines, I walked out with a 10lb bird for absolutely no cost.

I decided to cook it on the grill. The only way I was going to fit the bird on my Weber was if I spatchcocked it first. A bonus for cutting out the backbone and pressing it flat it it cut down the cooking time. By putting the legs closest to the coals, it also makes sure the white meat and dark meat reach 165 degrees F at the close to the same time.

I cut the backbone and wings off and added them and the neck to a pot with 3 quarts of water, a quartered onion, 3 stalks of celery and 2 carrots, broken in half. After about two hours of simmering, I strained out the solids and had around two quarts stock, perfect for making gravy.

I took a picture at an hour and then forgot to take another. Trust me, it looked prettier in person when done and tasted marvelous – juicy and flavorful.

Grilled Spatchcocked Turkey

1 10-12lb turkey
1 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 teaspoon coarse salt
salt and pepper to taste

To spatchcock the turkey, use poultry shears to cut out the backbone. Flip the bird over and press down to snap the breastbone. Set aside the backbone and neck (and I also cut off the wings, as they tend to get dry and burn) to make a stock.

Mix half the herbs with the softened butter. Divide butter mixture in half. Gently lift the skin up and work half the butter over each breast. Massage it around for good coverage. Sprinkle both sides of the turkey with remaining herb mixture. Place the bird in the refrigerator, breast side down overnight to dry out the skin.

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator about an hour before ready to grill. Coat with olive oil.

Build an indirect fire and place a wood chunk on the coals to smoke. Place a drip pan on the cool side and replace the grill. Set the turkey on the grill, bone side down and with legs closest to the coals. Grill for 60-90 minutes depending on the weight of the bird. Safe temperature is 165 degrees F. If you check it and find any parts getting too brown, cover those areas with aluminum foil.

Once turkey has been grilled to golden perfection, remove to a carving board and tent with foil. Let rest at least 15 minutes and as long as thirty while you make the gravy.

You need two cups of liquid for the gravy. I usually pour about 1/2 cup of stock in the pan with the drippings and use that to help loosen all the brown bits. I pour it in a two cup measuring cup and skim off the fat. I then fill the rest of the measuring cup with stock.

Turkey Gravy

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Pan drippings and stock to make two cups
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet. Whisk in the flour and stir until well coated. Keep stirring until lightly brown and the flour taste has been cooked out, about 5 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the liquid, adding only small amounts in at a time and stirring until incorporated and lump free. Once all the liquid is added, continue to stir and cook until bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Let thicken and then begin to season.

Should you get it too salty, you can add more stock, stir well and let thicken again. This is why I recommend not seasoning until the gravy has thickened.