Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fun With Cold Smoking MacGyver Style

It's that time of year where the temperature is dropping and you can start cold smoking foods. Cold smoking is not the same as "low and slow", it's "lower than low, but not as slow as slow". The point is you aren't using the smoke to cook the food, only to cure it.

Some people who have much more ambition than I (or you, or you, and yeah, you over there, more than you too) like J over at Cowgirls Country Life build their own cold smoking shacks. Then again she raises her own cattle, pork, and even shrimp.

Yes, shrimp. I can't even raise Sea Monkeys without getting the Humane Society and PETA called on me.

But anyway lot of folks over at the BBQ Brethren Forum have been having fun making cold smoke generators with cheap soldering irons so I thought I'd entertain myself today making one. All you need is a drill, a can, and a soldering iron. (Well, technically, some drill bits too.)
TIP:  It is getting harder and harder to find food cans without a BPA or other lining.  I burn mine in a hot fire to burn out the lining thoroughly. 

Drill a hole at one end of the can big enough for the soldering iron to fit into. Then drill about a dozen or so smaller holes along the side that will be the top.

Then fill the can with the wood chips of your choice. Then simply cap the end with aluminum foil several pieces thick.
TIP: Assuming this is a used soldering iron, REMOVE THE TIP. A lot of soldering wire contains lead and you don't want to be adding that to your food. Also, make sure there is no solder on the base itself. If in doubt, use a new, clean soldering iron.

Next, clean out your cooker. Remove the coals and ashes that might have residual flavors from your last meal in there. Besides, when's the last time you cleaned that puppy?

Put your rigged cold smoke generator....errrr, I mean your "thermally neutralized, precision controlled combustion device" at the bottom of your cooker.
I plugged the contraption in and in about 5 minutes, had a nice wispy smoke. Holy shiat! It works! It's ALIVE!!!

Now, smoke something. Cheese is easy.

When I worked in the Risk Management Department of a large grocery chain, the head of the test laboratory once mentioned to me that the biggest enemy to the lifespan of cheeses was bacteria from handling after it was opened. So wash your hands very well before opening the cheese, cutting the cheese, or handling the cheese. Also, scrub the living hell out of your grate or smoke the cheese on a sanitary surface. This will extend the useful life of your cheese.

Since this was an experiment, I used cheap block cheeses including swiss, mild chedder, colby jack, sharp cheddar, pepper jack, edam, and muenster cut into 1" x 1" pieces. Cheenga anyone?

I did the first half with hickory chips, which can be a strong smoke. I didn't want to waste the whole batch if it turned out badly.

Here's the weird thing. There's no internal temp you're shooting for. It's just a matter of dose and exposure, how much smoke for how long. The only general rules are to keep the cooker temp under 80 degrees (f) and smoke the cheese for 1 to 2 hours. I let the hickory batch go 1 hour 15 minutes. The temp shown is the temp of the air inside the cooker, not the temp of the cheese.

The MacSmoker 3000 raised the temp of the Egg about 10 degrees in one hour on a cool day with an ambient temperature of 55f.

With the second batch, I used cherry wood (stacked in the picture above), a much milder smoke. It was a very quick changeover. I unplugged the unit, waited about 10 minutes, dumped the hickory and added the cherry. This time, I also added some raw almonds that I had tossed in some butter, honey, raw sugar, and salt.

When you pull the cheese off, vacuum seal or tightly wrap and let it mellow out in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. It will be very strong at first and needs time to balance out.

  • This works WAY better than what we did last year using 3 or 4 pieces of lump and a handful of wood chips.
  • The cherry smoke was predictably milder than the hickory batch, based on the samples. Time will tell.
  • The almonds? They had the perfect smoky taste but not the texture so I popped them in a 400f oven for 10-15 minutes to crystallize the honey/sugar coating. FREAKING AWESOME.
  • The great thing about this is you don't have to have a smoker to use this. You could put the cold smoker in a grill or any container that will maintain a low, cool temp.

Cold Smoking on Foodista

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pork Chop Pineapple Juice Marinade

Ahhh pineapple juice. Poor pineapple juice. I don't know whether to high five you or just shake my head.

When I typed pineapple juice into google to seach for a marinade, out of the top 5 suggested searches, three of them were about whether pineapple juice makes a certain bodily fluid taste "better". Really? Are there THAT many people googling that?

Surely, there's more to pineapple juice than that. It's acidic and sweet, perfect for a marinade. I couldn't find anything that I liked online so I turned to Joy of Cooking and perused the section on marinades for some ideas and made up the following, adapting a citrus marinade. I named it after a lyric in the B-52's song, Stobe Light. oooo-waaaaaah!

"I'm Gonna Kiss Your Pineapple!" Pork Chops
4 ea pork chops, 1" or more thick

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1.5 tablespoons red wine
1/4 cup parsley, fresh chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon, fresh chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/4 ea bell pepper, very thin sliced
1/4 ea red onion, very thin sliced
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Whisk oil into the wine & pineapple juice. Mix in remaining marinade ingredients. Marinade chops for 4-6 hours.

Remove chops from marinade and grill over direct heat at 450-500f for about 4 minutes a side (rotate 90 degrees half way through each side to get nice grid marks).

Check internal temp with an instant read thermometer and pull at 145f. If not done after the 8 minutes, switch to indirect heat and finish roasting until 145f.

Top with the onion/pepper slaw.

I was worried how the flavors would work since I really didn't know what I was doing. But not only the the marinade keep the pork juicy during the high temp cook, it tasted great. And the slaw isn't just a garnish. The flavors bring a little sweet/sour to the party and completed the dish. We'll definitely make this one again.

Christmas Gift Idea: If you have a griller on your shopping list, consider getting them a grilling pan like this one for under $20. They are great for doing veggies like the asparagus I did tonight.

TIP: Layer your flavors. Notice how two of the lemons pieces have been squeezed in the pic but two haven't? I did the first two over the asparagus at the beginning while I let the other two grill. As the pan came off, I squeezed the grilled ones over the asparagus. In theory the high temps help caramelize the sugars in the lemon and give the second dose a different taste. I saw that on Flay or Florence and it made sense to me.

Asparagus is high in iron. Apparently it is high in irony too.

Black Friday

I only have a few minutes because I have a lot to do today. I'm doing some shopping, taking Trevor to see Blind Side, and sadly, it is Black Friday because I am having to go to the Egg dealer because of this....

I noticed the hairline crack between the two pictured vent holes on November 7th but now the fire box has really cracked as you can see going up from the right hole.

It's not a big deal because A) it is covered under the Big Green Egg's lifetime warranty and B) it is still totally functional, it didn't stop me from making our rib roast yesterday.

So I'm going to enjoy a quick leftover Sausage and Swiss Muffin that I got from Steph over at Plain Chicken and then I'm hitting the road. These were really good for breakfast yesterday, quite hearty, and did I mention, easy?

In the mean time, ya'll check out this hilarious video by Brandon Kinney. It's about the very special relationship between a man and his cooker (smoker/grill). Perhaps too special.....

Yes Brandi, I know, I'm a dork:)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fire Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers

Sometimes we "live fire" cookers do things on the grill for the same reason that canines lick their nether regions.....because we can. Case in point, the Bacon Explosion that has been all over the interwebs. Why would you wrap bacon in sausage then wrap it in bacon and smoke it? Because we can.

I love grilling, smoking, and roasting things on my Big Green Egg, but I have to admit that sometimes I question, "Why?" when approaching a recipe.

Actually all things considered equal, I love cooking with live fire. So as long as cooking it by fire doesn't distract from the dish, I guess the question is, "Why not?"

Cooking by fire should be considered like any other ingredient. If or how much of it you add to the dish can contribute to or distract from the final product.

Tonight was a perfect example of the "adding to" and how live fire can really complete a dish! The hint of char sweetened the sugars in the peppers, tomato and topping sauce. You could smell the difference as they came off the cooker and the taste was rich.

Chris' Fire Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 cup long grain rice
1 3/4 cup water
saffron threads
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 ea yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 lb chorizo sausage, casing removed and broken up into small pieces
1 tablespoon garlic, roasted
1/4 c cilantro or parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 ea roma tomatoes
1 cup colby jack cheese (divided in half)
5 ea green bell peppers
8 oz tomato sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Bring water and saffron to a boil, add rice, reduce, cover, and simmer for 18-20 minutes.

Cross cut the tomatoes 1/4 inch on the top and blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds then dump in a bowl of ice and water. Peel skins, quarter and remove seeds. Dice into 1/4 inch pieces.

Cut the top 1/4th off of the bell peppers, remove seeds and ribs. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes and then cool in a bowl of ice and water.

Saute the onion in oil for 4-5 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook until just slightly browned.

Mix the rice, chorizo mixture, parsley or cilantro, 1/2 of the cheese, tomato sauce and tomatoes.

Stuff peppers with the rice mixture.

Mix the ketchup, worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Spoon over the stuffed peppers.

Preheat your cooker to 325 to 350f indirect heat (0r oven). Cook stuffed peppers for 30 minutes.

Top with remaining cheese and cook another 15 minutes. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

And now, the footage. Some of the lead characters.

TIP: Steep the saffron threads in 1/4 cup of hot water (from the 1 3/4 c water) before making the rice. Get the remaining water boiling, add the rice, and then this last 1/4 cup. That way you are not boiling out all the flavor of saffron.

Over stuff the peppers, they will cook down some.

My favorite shot of the night. That's just purdy!

While these would work in an oven, the subtle smokiness that these picked up was immaculate. It was definitely worth doing these on the grill.

My mom's stuffed bell peppers where one of my favorite meals as a kid. I've never been able to get that exact same "wow factor". Tonight, I surpassed it.

In my mom's defense....she never had a Big Green Egg :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beef Fillet with Gorgonzola Sauce

Tonight is the UFC 106 mixed martial arts fights so I wanted to do a "black and bleu" steak for the family and 2 friends over to watch the fights. For the record, my picks are

Griffin over Ortiz
Johnson over Koscheck
Thiago over Volkman (sp?)
Nogueria over Cane

I based the beef dish on this post form the Adventures in The Kitchen food blog. But instead of doing a tenderloin roast, I trimmed the beef tenderloin into a roast and 6 fillets. I seasoned them with my cajun beef rub and then made the gorgonzola sauce.

Gorgonzola Sauce

4 cups heavy cream

3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola (not creamy or “dolce”)
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then continue to boil rapidly for 45 to 50 minutes, until thickened like a white sauce, stirring occasionally.
Off the heat, add the Gorgonzola, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk rapidly until the cheeses melt and serve warm.
I grilled the fillets at 600f on the Big Green Egg.
grilled filet mignon, Big Green Egg beef filet, kamado beef filet mignon
Nice sear marks right? I have a trick (but not a cast iron grate). I use a cheap cast iron griddle plate that I got from Lowes on the Egg for the first 2 minutes. I turn the steaks 90 degrees after one minute.
grilled filet mignon, Big Green Egg beef filet, kamado beef filet mignon
Then I take the griddle out and finish cooking for another 4 minutes flipping them for a total cooking time of 6 minutes (1 minute side A, 1 minute side A turned, 2 minutes side B, 2 minutes side A, remove and rest).

TIP: The cast iron griddle plate will be hot enough to burn right through oven mitts in just seconds, so remove the plate with long handled pliers.

I topped the fillets with some more crumbled gorgonzola cheese and then gorgonzola sauce. (Excuse the picture, I forgot to switch from the custom white balance I was using out side. Plus I was hungry, dammit.)
grilled filet mignon, Big Green Egg beef filet, kamado beef filet mignon, gorgonzola beef tenderloin, gorgonzola filet mignon
The steaks came out as perfect fillets, seared on the outside and barely medium rare on the inside.

Fillet should never be cooked past medium. If you like yours medium well or more done, get a different cut of steak, like sirloin or burn a ribeye. But don't do that to a fillet :)

We served them up with baked potatoes, spinach maria, and a salad.

Urgent Request - Fort Hood: A Day Of Healing
BBQ for Our Troops does an amazing job coordinating BBQ's for US Armed forces. These are folks spending their time and their money to show our gratitude to deploying and/or returning troops. They have fed thousands of our military in the past few years. This isn't any big organization. It's a couple of guys like Pete and Del doing a TON of work on their own. They are the real deal.

They have been asked to put together a special event for the Fort Hood in the wake of the recent tragedy. They need your help. Money is good, you can donate at their website via paypal or credit card. But more importantly, if you live nearby, they could use your labor. Even if you don't know how to BBQ, they could use your help serving, prepping, moving, and whatever. If you have a smoker, they could definitely use your cooker space.

Please consider supporting this event with your time or money. Check out their website for what they are about.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Potlatch Cedar Plank Salmon

No offense, Nemo, but I hate fish.

The only problem is the my wife and the boys love it so I have to make it from time to time. Tonight was one of those times. Cedar Planked Salmon is a very popular dish and it's one of my family's favorites.

The first step is prepping your cedar plank. You need to soak it in water for at least two hours so it won't burst into flames during the cooking process. I buy my planks from food retailers. If you get yours from a lumber yard, MAKE SURE THEY ARE UNTREATED pieces of wood. You don't want to be poisoning your family with heavy metals and poisons, do you? [Don't say yes, if you do, I don't want to be an accessory to a crime.]

Another tip: Wood floats in water (as do witches and ducks). No really. So weigh it down with a heavy pot.

My favorite seasoning for salmon is "potlatch seasoning". I first found this seasoning in the plentiful forests of Williams-Sonoma which is where I imagine the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest first found it for their Potlatches, an annual ceremony much like Thanksgiving.

Williams - Sonoma's version is very good, but if you want to make your own, Bobby Flay's version seems to be very close in the ingredients and texture, I just add a bit of dried tarragon to his recipe:
  • 4 parts kosher salt
  • 3 parts each chili powder and black pepper
  • 1 part each ground cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, celery salt, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano
Place the salmon fillet skin side down and season your salmon liberally with the potlatch seasoning.

Top with thin slices of lemon and place over direct heat on a 350-400f grill. The plank will serve as your indirect barrier and start to smoke from the bottom up, but not burn.

Cook for 20 minutes with the grill lid closed. You can check with a temp probe for an internal temp of about 140f, but I know it's done with you start to see the fish oils start to leach out and turn white like this:

The fish will be perfectly cooked and flaky.

If your fish skin sticks to the plank, don't worry. Just use a thin spatula to separate the fish and remove to a platter. It should come apart easily.

The odd thing is that cedar really sucks as a smoking wood. It's not a hardwood or fruit wood and it contains resins. It's offensive if you ask me. Want proof? Why do you use cedar wood for closets? Because it repels bugs.

Fortunately, you aren't really "smoking" the salmon here, you are grilling it on a partially burning plank of wood. You aren't exposing it to a high "dose" of smoke for a long period of time (all you toxicologists, industrial hygienists, pharmacologists, and medical personnel will appreciate the dose/response relationship thingy).

But if you can find them, alder wood planks are a much better option. It's a milder and more appropriate smoke flavor.

When I make fish for the family, I don't eat any. Is there a dish that you can't stand but you make it for others? If so, what is it and do you eat any of it, other than to taste for seasoning?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Truth In Advertising?

Doesn't this......

Imply that a hog wandered into a hickory forest that caught on fire....under natural circumstances like lightning?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pot Roast

I was going to start this post with a smart ass remark (Moi? Smart ass?) like, "Sorry, stoners, no actual 'pot' or cannabis was used in this recipe."

But my curiosity got the best of me. You know how saffron threads are the most expensive spice or herb in the world? Yeah, well apparently not.

I figured that somebody at some point tried to make a "pot pot roast". A google search quickly found a recipe for Lamb of God Pot Roast that calls for 1/8th ounce of cannabis. A little research later I found that an ounce of saffron threads costs about $73 an ounce. Further research revealed local prices of cannabis in Knoxville is $100-120 a quarter ounce.

So, after further, what was I talking about? Damn, I'm hungry, you got any Doritos?

Oh yeah, pot roast. Here's our pot roast. And ours is completely cannabis free.

3 lb beef chuck roast
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons Grove's Cajun Beef Rub (or substitute [On edit]: commercial Cajun seasoning like Emerils, etc,. )
2 teaspoons oil
2 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, peeled of skins, but leave whole
1 ea bay leaf
4 ea carrot, cut into 1" chunks
1 stalk celery, diced
4 ea red bliss potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1 ea onion, diced

Mix flour and beef rub together. Rub into all sides of the chuck roast.

Preheat a heavy cast iron pan. Add oil and sear all sides of the chuck roast, which should take about 90 seconds for the two flat sides and 30 seconds for the edges.

Add the vegetables, bay leaf, wine, stock, and water.

Cover tightly and place into a 350f oven for 2-3 hours, until the meat pulls apart easily.

Serve on a platter with toasted bread.

Heh heh.....I said "toasted".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Hot Brown

There are a lot of recipes out there to use up your leftover Thanksgiving turkey. But this one is different. I will smoke a turkey breast just to make this classic sandwich. We first made this about 10 years ago based on the Joy of Cooking's version.
The Hot Brown has a storied history. Back in the 1920's, guests flooded the ornate Brown Hotel and it's magnificent ballroom in downtown Louisville, KY, over a thousand a night. (Picture below is of the lobby, not the ballroom.)By the end of a night of dancing, they were famished and Chef Richard Schmidt wanted to provide an alternative to ham and eggs at midnight and the Hot Brown was what he came up with.

According to Robert Parker's Haunted Louisville, the Brown Hotel has some ghosts. If you ask me, the dearly-not-so-departed hotel guests are probably just hanging around for one of these awesome open faced turkey & bacon sandwiches. The broiled cheesy mornay sauce would make me want to come back from the dead!

The Legendary Hot Brown Recipe
Courtesy The Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY

Ingredients (Makes Two Hot Browns):

2 oz. Whole Butter
2 oz. All Purpose Flour
1 Qt. Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, Plus 1 Tablespoon for Garnish
Salt & Pepper to Taste
14 oz. Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast
2 Slices of Texas Toast (Crust Trimmed)
4 slices of Crispy Bacon
2 Roma Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
Paprika, Parsley

In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk whipping cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 ounces of turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

We did ours a bit different, only because I liked how the Joy of Cooking version layered the sandwich as bread, bacon, sliced tomato, and then the sliced smoked turkey. We also sliced our tomatoes instead of just halving them.

The sauce was enough for more than 5 sandwiches for us. Also, the previous version we are used to is much thicker and browned all bubbly on top under the broiler.

Here you can see a lot of the Mornay sauce tonight ran off and drooled onto the plate. Next time, I'd cut the cream amount to about half so more of the sauce stays on top. You want some to drip off but you want it on top too. We topped ours with more diced bacon, cheese, and green onions.

This is a definite fork and knife sandwich. It contains 100% of the USDA's recommended daily allowance of delicious.

Keep this one in mind when you have some extra turkey laying around. And if you find yourself in Louisville consider a visit to the historic Brown Hotel.

PS: Handy traveler tip - If you do go to the Brown Hotel, you get a Hot Brown, and a ghost tries to steal a bite of it, tell it to either "go to the light" or get its own damn sandwich. It's kind of like bears, don't feed them it only encourages them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Turkey Injection

We did a quick test run on a turkey breast for Thanksgiving today. I've done a lot of different turkey preparations over the past few years. One even involved brining the turkey for 2 days in a bourbon, pickling spice & maple syrup concoction. They've been good, but one of my favorites is also one of the easiest.

It is simply an injection of equal parts of honey, white wine and butter. Combine over medium heat, let it cool slightly and then inject it in about a dozen spots all around the breast. Sometimes I'll put a spring of fresh rosemary in the injection while it's heating, to infuse the herb's oils into the injection.

Reserve about a 1/2 cup of the mixture to use as a baste once the bird hits 155f in the breast, it'll give you a gorgeous and tasty skin.

The turkey breast was juicy and silky rich in flavor. Not sure if I'm going to do a whole bird or two breasts, because right now our planned guests all prefer white meat.

I have noticed that what I season, brine, or inject the turkey is not as crucial as how I smoke it. It's always juicy and a nice crisp skin as long as I handle business on the smoker. Here's the cooking log for today's cook, it finished early:

We nailed some roasted tarragon carrots w/ brown sugar and rosemary & Parmesan potatoes. We'll be making those for sure.

I also tried a chorizo and rice stuffing. It was very good, but I wouldn't call it "stuffing" as much as a baked rice. I'm going to try tweaking that one again before the big day.

Question: Are you doing a practice cook before Thanksgiving or are you just going to wing it?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fire Roasted Sriracha Chicken Wings

The leaves have turned from green to golden, red, and yellow. The morning air is crisp, fragrant with a scent of autumn.

Crap. Summer really is over.

But on the bright side, college basketball is gearing up. Tonight several games were on and Brett, his girlfriend, and a friend were over watching a few games. And what better game food is there than chicken wings?

I've been wanting to try Iron Chef Michael Symon's Spicy Sriracha Chicken Wings ever since I saw them over at Hot Sauce Daily when they did their version. I just hadn't gotten around to it but tonight I gave it a spin. They dropped the cinnamon from the marinade and I subbed basil for cilantro (which made sense, given it was a Thai based recipe).

I used my basic 30-20-10 recipe for wings on the Big Green Egg. (375f degrees indirect heat, 30 minutes-flip, 20 minutes-flip, toss in sauce, 10 minutes, remove). That technique has given me consistently great results. It would probably work in an oven, but I KNOW it works on a grill.

Fire Roasted Sriracha Chicken Wings

24 ea chicken wingettes and drumettes (see this post for video on how to cut them)
1/8 cup coriander, ground
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1/8 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Sriracha sauce
8 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup basil, fresh chopped
1 ea lime zest
4 cloves roasted garlic

Make a marinade with coriander, cumin, salt, and oil. Marinade wings for 4 hours in a ziploc bag.

Over very low heat, melt butter and wisk with basil, lime zest, sriracha sauce, and garlic.

Get your Big Green Egg or grill up to 375f on indirect heat and cook for 30 minutes. Flip chicken.

Cook another 20 minutes and toss in the sauce.

Cook 10 more minutes, to crisp up the sauce. Serve with the usual suspects (celery and blue cheese or ranch).

TIP: To get a nice crisp skin when roasting your wings instead of frying, start with a "dry" wing. Let them sit exposed in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

TIP: Don't crowd your wingettes and drumettes. You want your hot air to get around all sides to avoid the dreaded "rubbery skin". (I love the flames jumping up at the bottom of this shot.)

TIP: "Grid Extenders" or a raised rack are great ways to increase the capacity of your cooker, but just remember that the higher rack is a good 10-15 degrees (f) hotter than the lower rack. So rotate the wings from top to bottom about half way through.

TIP: When serving appetizer portions, serve with individual dipping cups of ranch/blue cheese dressing. No one likes a "double dipper".

I was surprised. The flavor was not just a simple insult of heat. It was much more complex. In fact, it started off with the taste of the spice. Wow, it really wasn't that hot at all after the first bite. It took a few bites for the "kick" to build , layer after layer. Then the warmth crescendo-ed into a torrid heat. This will sound completely dorky, but it reminded me of The Ride of The Valkyries, one of my favorite songs to perform in symphonic band, back in the day.

But it was a damn good wing.