Monday, November 29, 2010

Best Cast Iron Grill Grate: Ultimate Giveaway

You know that feeling when you have found that memorable gift for someone and are so excited about it that you can hardly stand it?

That's how I feel tonight. Why?

It's because I'm thrilled to be hosting the best giveaway my blog has ever done - one of the modular Cast Iron Grate systems from the folks at Craycort!

Yes, the grill grate system that I use almost every night! It works on a Big Green Egg, a Weber grill, or just about any standard grill.

This giveaway is just in time for the holidays because we are doing the drawing in time so it should arrive BEFORE Christmas. (Hint hint: Makes a 'grate' Christmas gift! Or, if you already know someone that has one, you could buy them an accessory insert like the chicken throne or pizza stone.)

Tonight I used mine to make a quick dinner of bruschetta, beef tenderloin medallions, and grilled peppers and onions. I took out one of the grids and put in the griddle plate, ridge side up (it also has a flat side).

Then I grilled the beef medallions (think of them as 1/2 of a fillet) on skewers over a 450f fire for 2 minutes per side. I also did two skewers of veggies that I had marinated in olive oil and Dizzy Pig Tsunami Spin rub.

Meanwhile, I used the griddle plate to make a roasted red pepper bruschetta.

I received my grate from Rolf at Craycort (we are both members of the BBQ Brethren forum) as an early Christmas present last year. Since then I have used it hard core 4-5 times a week. You can see my original review here but here are my updated quick thoughts/experiences.
  • durability - the cast iron grate is a work horse! It has taken 1 year of heavy (ab)use from me and remains in excellent condition.
  • strength - it can support a full #12 cast iron dutch oven under heat. I tried that with a different mild steel grate and it began bending during the cook.
  • variety - the available inserts give you a lot of options. The griddle insert has flat and ridged sides.
  • functionality - Cast iron grates do deliver a nice sear to meats but there is more to them then that. They act like a heat capacitor, storing up heat energy and then passing it evenly to your food. My personal opinion is that they cook more evenly. I also like that you can add a little wood or more coal by just opening one of the inserts.
  • maintenance - besides a brief scrub with a wire brush at the beginning of each cook, these are low maintenance. I have only truly cleaned mine once. (Unless you leave your insert out on the table over a damp weekend an it flash rusts......not that I ever did that. But even then, I just had to reseason it. In theory, because I never did that.)
  • non-stick - The grates came preseasoned and hold their seasoning well.
The Giveaway Prize
One cast iron grid system (the base frame with the grates), one griddle insert, and a handle. The size is the winner's choice because they can fit just about any round grill. They have expanded their line and can cover you all the way from a Smokey Joe to an XL BGE or large Weber.
14.5" - Smokey Joes, Medium Egg
18.5" - Large Egg, standard Webers
22.5" - WSM, Webers
26.75" - Weber
XL Big Green Egg

How To Enter
Each person can receive up to a total of 3 entries as follows:
  1. leave a comment below stating which size grate you would want if you win. (NOTE: If you use the "anonymous comment" option, be sure to leave an email or your screen name in the comment so I can contact you if you are the winner. Something like "EggerinFL from the Egg Forum" or "swibirun from the BBQ Brethren forum" is enough.)
  2. Do a Twitter or Facebook post linking to this giveaway post and then leave a separate comment below with the URL of your post.
  3. Mention this giveaway and link to it in a post on your blog. Then leave a separate comment below with the URL of your post.
The Rules
  1. Giveaway entry period begins Monday, November 29th and ends Tuesday, December 14th 2010 at 11:59pm. Drawing will be held Wednesday, December 15th 2010 at 7:oopm (All times are Eastern Time zone).
  2. Comments will be numbered by order received and will generate a random number for the winner.
  3. Limited to residents of the current Craycort markets (including US, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Europe, etc, see their site) unless you wish to pay the extra shipping charges.
  4. I am the final judge regarding any discrepancies, interpretations, grievances, etc about this drawing.
  5. Craycort LLC is sponsoring the prize. They are not responsible for the drawing or the giveaway.
  6. Winner must respond and claim the prize within one week of the winning announcement. If a winner does not claim the prize during the specified time, a reserve winner will be drawn from the original entries.
  7. Employees, Board Members, indentured servants, and family of Nibble Me This are not eligible to enter. That means YOU Alexis! :)
I want to thank Rolf and the folks at Craycort for sponsoring this amazing giveaway. This grate has been my favorite grill accessory and I am so excited about giving it to one of you!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Leftover Turkey Hot Brown Crostini

Some people dread Thanksgiving leftovers.

It might seem a chore of how to use up that leftover turkey. Another turkey soup or turkey tettrazini? Meh!

But not at our house, we actually look forward to having leftover smoked turkey. In fact I usually make extra on purpose. Our leftover weapon of choice is none other than the vaunted Kentucky Hot Brown, perhaps the second most perfect sandwich ever created.

I don't ever do them the same way twice but it is an open faced sandwich of thin sliced turkey, bacon, and tomato topped with a mornay sauce and then popped under a broiler for a few minutes.

Tonight we didn't have a ton of leftover turkey so I made them as crostini instead of claiming them to be big open faced sammies.

Leftover Turkey Hot Brown Crostini

6 slices french bread, thin slices, cut on a bias
6 slices of tomato
1/2 lb turkey, white meat thinly sliced
6 strips bacon, fully cooked
3 Tbsp butter
1 ea shallot, small, diced fine
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a sauce pan and saute shallot for 1-2 minutes until softened. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp butter.

Whisk in the flour and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, until well blended into a blond roux. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes, letting it thicken.

Slowly stir in the cheese until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toast the bread in the oven (see? I do have an oven!) at 400f for 4 minutes. You don't want it to brown, you just want it to get a little crispy.

Top each piece of bread with a slice of tomato...

slices of turkey...

crumbled bacon...

and spoon some of the mornay sauce over the crostini.

Place under a broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, just long enough for the cheese sauce to start to brown.

Garnish with whatever you like. I went with more shredded gruyere cheese, green onion, and more bacon.

The crisp toasted bread under that smoky, gooey, bacony topping made leftovers disappear.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving leftover?

Fire Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Today is my weekly Fire Day Friday guest post over at Our Krazy Kitchen and I wrote about the Fire Roasted Acorn Squash Soup (click to see that link) that we made yesterday.

Thanksgiving dinner was excellent and I hope yours was as well. I didn't take any pictures except of the cooking turkey and the soup appetizer because it was busy enough already.

Here is the brine recipe I used for 13 hours (1 hour per pound):
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup bourbon
2 Tbsp whole peppercorns
5-6 bay leaves
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
enough water and ice to cover the turkey

Rub was Bill and Cheryl Jamison's Poultry Perfect Rub from the book Smoke and Spice. I mixed it with butter too and smeared on the breast.

Baste was a 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup wine, 2 garlic cloves mince, and 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.
Technically it wasn't "smoked" because I cooked it at a higher temp but the cherry wood still gave it a nice light smoke flavor, deep skin color, and a smoke ring.

Here's the cooking log for the turkey for all of you BBQ geeks like me. (Click the picture to view larger.) If you want the template in an Excel spreadsheet, here: NMT Cooking Log

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chili Today, Hot Tamale

Thanksgiving for me often meant traveling with my family to North Carolina to spend the holiday with my mother's extended family. One of the memories from that was a game that I played with my brother and sister, trying to be the first one to spot the next South of the Border sign.

Anyone who has traveled I-95 through the Carolinas has seen these signs every 20 miles or so. They count down the miles to a kitschy tourist trap and have punny slogans like......

South of the Border sign 23 - Pedros Weather Report Chilli Today Hot Tamale

Which brings me to this non-recipe post. Until three years ago, I was a tamale virgin. I'd never had a real tamale. I know, criminal right?

Last week I finally made my first tamales from scratch and much to my surprise they turned out great.

I used Alton Brown's Hot Tamale recipe with an assist from Chilebrown at Mad Meat Genius with the following changes:
  • I used Maseca corn flour since I didn't have enough cornmeal.
  • I used bacon fat instead of lard.
  • I used my leftover smoked Jamaican Jerk pork butt, chopped up with chipotle & adobo sauce for the meat filling.
  • I used chicken stock for the "cooking liquid" since I didn't boil the pork.
  • I steamed the tamales instead of the simmering method.
  • I topped them with a quick cheating chili with beans
These might not have been authentic or perfect, but they were damn good and I can't wait to make another batch before making my first ever Christmas tamales.

What is the last dish that you made where you surprised yourself and thought, "Wow...I can make this!"?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thai Grilled Steak with Basil Fried Rice

If you're like me, you have a "try this recipe soon" collection that is growing faster than the US national debt. My "try soon" list is like the universe, it is infinitely expanding.

"try soon" is a misnomer, because usually it's a year or more before I get around to trying any of them.

This is one I saw in a guest post at In Jennies Kitchen, that was written by Alice of Sweet Savory Life. A year and two months later, I finally got around to it. She just seasoned her steak with salt and pepper, which is fine, but I wanted to add a little more heat to balance out the sweetness of the sauce.

Thai Grilled Steak with Basil Fried Rice
adapted from Coconut Peanut Sauce Beef

1.25 lb flank steak
1/2 to 1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cayenne pepper, finely diced (can substitute red bell pepper)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups of cooked Jasmine rice, cooled
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp sugar
15-20 leaves basil, halved and stemmed

Garnish: Toasted coconut shavings and cilantro

Set up your grill for direct heat cooking and start the fire to preheat the grill to 450-500f. I was using natural lump charcoal in the Big Green Egg, no wood chunks.

While the grill is warming up, make your sauce by stirring all of the sauce ingredients over medium high heat until well blended and thickened. This took about 10 minutes, I think.

Season your steak with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I used a hot blend of chilies that I dehydrated and ground up this summer. But cayenne would be a good substitute.

Grill the steak for about 4 minutes a side until it hits an internal temperature of 125f. Remove to a cooling rack and rest, loosely covered with foil.

While it is resting, put the wok on the grill and add about 1/2 TBSP of a high temp cooking oil such as safflower or peanut oil. If you are using a kamado style cooker like the Big Green Egg, go ahead and shut off your bottom vent. Your coals will get plenty of air as is.

Cook the eggs first, watching it closely. This takes only about a minute or two compared to the stove top.

Remove to a plate and chop.

Add another 1/2 TBSP of oil and then stir fry the onions and cayenne for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the cooked rice, stirring and flipping for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the soy/water/sugar mix and stir together.

When the rice looks done, at the last minute return the chopped egg to the wok and add the basil leaves. Toss together. The heat from the rice should wilt the basil leaves.

Thinly slice the steak. Serve with the basil fried rice, ladle the sauce over the steak and garnish as you wish. The recommended toasted coconut definitely contributed to the taste, it didn't only look pretty.

This sauce is so good I think I could almost eat it as a soup! It has a velvety texture and the flavor seems to shift as you're tasting it. It is a little sweet, so I am glad that I added the heat to the steak, it worked out ideally.

The meal delivered on all points, it wins "meal of the week/weekend". It's a true keeper. I might add some spring rolls next time just because they'd be the perfect excuse for using more of that sauce!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Black and Blue Steak Salad With a Twist

Contrary to online appearances this week, I have not disappeared from the face of the Earth.

Any semblance of a routine that I have was replaced with a bowl of upheaval and a side order of adjustment. Some of it was planned, some of it spontaneously erupted. But now the tumultuous waters are settling and I have surfaced for air.

Obviously, meals this week were confined to simpler things. Last night I wanted to time dinner for when Alexis got home after her first day at her new job. I thought I'd make her one of her favorites, black and blue salad.

Yeah I know that this "black and blue salad" has been done an infinite number of times by an infinite number of monkeys in an infinite number of kitchens. But in my defense, I don't think Bill Shakespeare could grill his way out of a paper bag.

Black & Blue Salad

1.5 lb flat iron steak

Marinade (source: I threw it together)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup marsala wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 spring rosemary, fresh chopped

Gorgonzola vinaigrette (adapted from Southern Living)
3 Tbsp gorgonzola cheese
2 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, coarse ground
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil

4 cups baby spinach

1 leek, white part only, sliced on a bias in 1/4" chunks
1 egg
1 tsp Fire Ant Juice (or your favorite hot sauce but Fire Ant is more bettah and SHOULD be your favorite hot sauce....I'm just saying.)
2 Tbsp cold water
1/2 cup self rising flour

Mix the marinade and marinate the flat iron steak in a zip top back for a few hours.

Make the vinaigrette by mixing everything except the oil and then while whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil. Refrigerate.

Bathe the leek in the egg wash (whisk egg, water, and hot sauce together) and then toss in the flour. Place on a raised rack in the fridge. This will help the batter stick in the frying.

Prepare your grill to 450f (medium-hot to hot). For me, I'm using natural lump charcoal in a Big Green Egg and a Craycort cast iron grate. Don't just throw the meat on as soon as you hit your target cooking temp. Let the grill preheat for at least 10-15 minutes at that temp.

Remove the steak from the marinade and grill for 3 minutes.

Flip the steak and grill another 3 minutes.

Flip and grill another 1-2 minutes.

Flip one last time and cook another 1-2 minutes until the steak hits an internal temperature of 125f for medium rare (temp will raise slightly while resting).

While that steak rests, deep fry the leek rings at 350f until they turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Place rinsed spinach in 4 bowls and drizzle the vinaigrette over them. Slice the steak very thin and top each salad bowl with 4 slices of the steak.

Here's the twist. I like to twist each piece as shown in the picture to
1) highlight the medium rareness of the steak and
2) add some visual height to the dish.

Top with the fried leek and serve it immediately.

Note: If you have an infinite number of monkeys to feed, you should adjust the quantities a bit.

PS: If you have an infinite number of monkeys, your local codes enforcement department probably also wants to have a word with you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Festival (Jamaican Hush Puppies)

I smoked a Jamaican Jerk Pork Butt this weekend.

Done laughing yet? No seriously, I smoked a pork shoulder (aka butt) using a jerk wet rub. Wow, that just doesn't sound any better.

I wanted to serve it with something authentic, I was thinking some kind of flat bread. But reading Steven Raichlen's Planet Barbecue! and a few other sources talked about a sweet dumpling called Festival that is served with the spicy jerk foods to help balance out the heat.

source: Jamaica Travel & Culture

1 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbsp corn meal
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Sift the flour and add the corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Mix the water and vanilla.

Add small amounts (1-2 Tbsp at a time) of the wet mix to the dry mix, constantly working with your finger tips. When you get to the point where 1/2 cup of water has been added, they said it should look like bread crumbs. Well.....close.

Keep adding water until the mixture becomes a slightly sticky ball of dough. You won't need the full cup. We used about 3/4 cup.

Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

Divide the mixture in 8 even portions and form into sausage like shapes. It helps to have flour covered hands when doing this.

Roll each Festival in a mix of flour and cornmeal.

Deep fry. The recipe said "until golden brown - this should take 1/2 hour". But they were using pan frying. We were using a deep fryer and knew 1/2 hour would give us stones. We found that doing them at 325f for 6 1/2 minutes gave a nice crispy outside and moist, cooked inside.

Raichlen mentioned that jerk pork and festival were served on plain butcher's paper, nothing more, so that is how we served ours.

These were so good NEXT to each other I had to try them together. So I sliced a festival in half and filled it with jerk pork.

The festival are like a hush puppy but just different enough that they aren't the same thing. They aren't as sweet, don't have so much corn flavor, and the hint of vanilla is there. We all liked these.

The pork I did on the other hand was a perfectly cooked pork butt

but it was underwhelming as "jerk". Part of that was that I substituted out the habanero (just didn't have any) but the other traditional jerk flavors (allspice, cinnamon, thyme, etc) were also shy. Next time I'm going to try Raichlen's jerk pork recipe since it is very different from the one I tried in ingredients and processes.

BBQ Techno Geek Warning: Here is the log from the pork butt cook.
I like using logs like this for my longer cooks because it helps me track variables but it also makes me pay attention more during the cook.

So have you ever had festival?
What are the best hush puppies you have ever had?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hearty Garlic-Potato Soup

Warning: This recipe is "plant your butt on a sofa" comfort food.

Which is good because I need some comforting. I have been relocating our Johnson City office to Greeneville this week and I am worn out. I have jokingly called this week my "on schedule, under budget, in pain" tour.

But when I got back to Knoxville last night, as tired as I was, I found myself wanting, no needing to cook. So it was off to the back deck for a little Big Green Egg therapy.

You could also make this on your stove top but like Jim Morrison of The Doors always said:

"You know that it would be untrue. You know that I would be a liar. If I were to say to you, I'm not in the mood to cook with fire."
[Authenticity of this quote might be questionable]

Hearty Garlic Potato Soup
Adapted from: America's Test Kitchen Magazine Best-Ever Recipes

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 leek, white and light green parts only (see instructions for processing note)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
3 cloves garlic minced
2 whole bulbs garlic, paper removed and top 1/3rd cut off like you do for roasting
6 cups chicken broth, low sodium
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and 1/2" diced (about 3 medium potatoes)
1 lb red bliss potatoes, peeled and 1/2" diced (about 4 large)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp thyme, fresh
1/4 cup fresh chives, snipped

The original recipe called for fried garlic chips but I found them to be bitter. Fortunately, I had also made fried leek rings and they worked out better so I'm leaving out the chips although you'll see them in the picture.

Fried Leek Ring Garnish
Cut the roots and green tops off of the leek. Cut off about 1" from the white end and then cut it into about 4 slices. Push the middle rings out with your pinky and discard the smallest inner rings. Separate the outer layers into individual rings so you'll have a bunch of tiny "onion" rings. Toss lightly in the flour. The dampness of the flour should help the flour stick to the leek rings, you aren't trying to batter it.

Heat the oil in a small skillet and fry the leeks about 60 seconds, flipping once. You just want a light, crispy brown color. Remove to a cooling rack over a paper towel.

Now this step is very important, especially when you have had a bad week. Notice that the leek roots you cut off remind you of the Flock of Seagulls hair cut and have a "I Love The 80's Mr. Potatohead moment".

Dice the rest of the piece of leek. That should give you about 1/2 to 3/4 cup. You could substitute a mild onion.

I set up Alexis' BGE for direct heat at 325f and preheated our #12 Lodge cast iron dutch oven. You'll notice the absence of potatoes. That's because they don't go in for a while.

Add the butter and let melt. Saute the leeks for 5-8 minutes until softened. This will test your fire management skills, because when you are frequently opening the grill to stir, it's letting air in and feeding the fire. Watch your temperatures and adjust accordingly.

Add the minced garlic and saute another minute. Add the whole garlic bulbs (cut side up), bay leaves, salt, and broth.

Now I get to use one of my favorite words ever. I could say "ajar", "askew", "tilted" or or even say "partially covered" like the magazine did. But no. Place the Dutch oven lid on so it is catawampus.

Close the grill, stabilize the temperature at about 350 - 375f, and bring the soup to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes. I find that with the hot cast iron in there, it really doesn't take much air flow at this point to keep the temps up. I only had the bottom vent open this much for the first 20 minutes or so.

After the 40 minutes, add the diced potatoes, cover (catawampusly, of course) and cook 15 to 20 more minutes.

Carefully remove the Dutch oven from heat. Don't worry that it doesn't look creamy yet.

Find and discard your two bay leaves.

Remove the two heads of garlic and squeeze the bulbs out like you would do to roasted garlic. Mash them with a fork and add about half of that paste to the soup.

Fold in the cream and thyme, cover with the lid (tightly this time, not all catawampus), and let rest for 5 minutes. The cast iron's carryover heat is still cooking.

Taste for seasoning and add salt (I added maybe 1/2 tsp), pepper (~1/2 tsp), and more of the garlic paste (I didn't add any more).

Use a slotted spoon to get about 2 cups of potatoes out of the soup into a blender. Add about 1 cup of the liquid. Puree for about 20 seconds. Be careful using a blender with hot liquid, I actually did this in two small batches of 1 cup potato/ half cup soup. Return to the soup mixture and stir it in.

Garnish with fried leek rings and chives.

Without hesitation, I will tell you that this is the creamiest, best tasting potato soup I have ever had. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if it was 30 degrees colder outside.

America's Test Kitchen wasn't lying when they added this to their currently available special collector's edition Best-Ever Recipes. Alexis found our copy at Food City for $9.95. It's available until December 13th so keep your eyes out for it. [Standard FTC Disclaimer].

Giveaway Reminder:
Both Larry of BBQ Grail and Curt of Livefire are each giving away a Masterbuilt Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer. Larry's giveaway ends Sunday and I think Curt's ends on Wednesday, so you can have it in your grubby little paws by Thanksgiving. Click on the links and enter both of them today.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MAPP Gas Cylinder Disposal

"Household hazardous waste disposal" is NOT the result of one of your failed recipe attempts. Well, okay, sometimes that might also require a Level A encapsulated suit.

A lot of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts use MAPP or MAP/Pro gas torches for lighting our lump coal and wood. This is especially true with owners of kamado style grills like the Big Green Egg, because you are lighting the coal inside of the cooker. I use mine 4-5 times a week and enjoy their benefits of being hot, fast, and easy.

But what happens when you get an empty cylinder?

You can buy these at any Home Depot, Lowes, or hardware store, so you must be able to toss them right? Nope. They are not disposable and tossing them in your trash is not only illegal in most areas - it puts other people at risk of injury. The "empties" aren't always really empty.

So what do you do with them?

To tell you the truth I wasn't sure either. That is why I have accumulated 3 empty containers.

So I contacted my local municipality's Solid Waste Office via email and within 24 hours had a prompt, professional, and courteous reply. Both representatives were very helpful.

In Knox County, TN, the answer is that the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center will accept these MAPP gas cylinders for drop off from residents of Knoxville and Knox County. (Obviously this is contingent upon their normal terms and conditions, not commercial use, etc, etc see their web site for details.)

I just wanted to post this as a kind of public service announcement to encourage you (If you use MAPP or MAP/Pro gas cylinders) to find the proper route of disposal in your area. Don't just toss them in the trash.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Can The Canned Enchilada Sauce

I smoked a pair of chickens on the Big Green Egg this weekend to use for dinners this week. During the fall/winter, I find that I do a lot more of "batch cooking" on Sundays where I cook a lot of food for the rest of the week.

I won't repeat the whole detailed process but it's my standard smoked chicken technique. For my fellow BBQthusiasts, I used a mix of cherry and hickory chunks and smoked them for a little over 3 hours at 250f until they hit 180f in the thighs.

So far we have used them to make
  • chicken salad for lunch yesterday
  • chicken alfredo for dinner last night,
  • and tonight's enchiladas
You could use leftover rotisserie chicken for this recipe but I find that the smoked chicken just gives it that little extra oomph. (Oomph is American southern dialect for "je nais se quoi".)

But what really blew us away was the homemade enchilada sauce. So many recipes call for canned enchilada sauce. I can tell you after tonight, I will never crack a can of that stuff ever again. We adapted Alton Brown's enchilada sauce and it made all the difference in the world. It is rich and rocks the taste buds with a bit of heat on the way down.

Smoky Chicken & Bean Enchiladas

Sauce adapted from Alton Brown's Enchilada Lasagna
Enchilada recipe adapted from Southern Living

3-4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
2 ea chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and diced
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp roasted cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz can tomato paste
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar

3 cups smoked chicken, diced
1 15 oz can beans, rinsed and drained (I used Bush Brothers Mixed Beans but the original recipe called for black beans. Kidney beans work too.)
1 10 oz can rotel (tomatoes with chilies)
1 cup corn kernals
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
8 ea flour tortillas (8" size)
2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce

Cilantro, chopped
Green onions, chopped

Mix all of the enchilada sauce recipes in a sauce pan and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and reseason as needed with more salt and pepper. Cook another 15 minutes. This yielded about 3 cups of sauce when done.

Mix the chicken, beans, rotel, corn, and 1 1/2 cup of the cheeses in a large bowl. Place 1/8th of the mixture on each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a 9 x 13 baking dish. If you can't find a 9 x 13 baking dish, a 13 x9 will do. Well, it will work if it is a right handed 13 x 9 inch model. I'm not sure about those left handed 13 x 9 ones, I don't have any.

Top with the sauce and remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 350f for 20 minutes.

Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.

Let rest 5 minutes, garnish with the cilantro and green onion, and serve.

This was ridiculously good. Alexis and I both agreed that the enchilada sauce was the best we have ever had. You won't find a canned enchilada sauce in our house again.

So do you start doing a lot more "cooking for the week" on weekends when the temperatures turn South for the winter?