Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grilled Smoky Mountain Chicken "Cheeseburger"

I grew up on the beaches of Florida and I have missed surfing for the past 10 years but I love living in East Tennessee.

The area is full of natural and historical attractions and the scenery of the Smoky Mountains still awe this flat-lander. A few weeks ago, Trevor and I got to take a two hour zip line tour above the trees in the Smokies.

Trevor heading away.

Another thing this area is famous for is its illegal bootlegging “home based distilleries and back yard breweries” during the prohibition era (and afterward ala Popcorn Sutton). Fortunately, laws are different now and breweries and distilleries can operate in the open and under regulation. There is a legacy of home brew in these parts.

So when McCormick's Grill Mates and Lawry's Flavor Forecast came out this year...

the flavor pairing that obviously caught my attention was...

Smoke & Craft Brews – Regional American beers are gutsy partners for the BBQ inspired smoke notes that can be cleverly infused through a range of smoky ingredients and techniques.

It's no secret, most mass produced American beers are watered down lagers that don't pack a flavor punch. But micro-brews have the freedom and audacity to “bring it”. I used local Downtown Grill & Brewery's White Mule Ale. It's medium body worked well with the bold spices and seasonings in Backyard Brew.

Did they say “smoky ingredients and techniques”?   Since I was grilling this chicken and not smoking it, I used 3 tricks to infuse that smoky flavor into a beer-cheese sauce. The beer-cheese sauce is so good on it's own you'll want to just use it as a dip for bread or sausage.

grilled smoky mountain chicken "cheeseburger", chicken sandwich

Grilled Smoky Mountain Chicken “Cheeseburger”
serves: 4

4 ea chicken thighs, boneless skinless
½ cup of your favorite pale ale craft brew
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 strips hickory smoked bacon
4 slices tomato (optional)
lettuce (optional)
4 onion rolls
1 cup smoky beer-cheese sauce (see recipe)

Beer Cheese Sauce ingredients
3 Tablespoons reserved bacon fat
¼ cup sweet onion, minced
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
½ cup of your favorite pale ale craft brew
½ teaspoon McCormick's Smoked Paprika
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon McCormick's White Pepper
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Tablespoon roasted red jalapeno diced (substitute red bell pepper if you must but it's really not that hot)
¼ cup half and half
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix the Backyard Brew marinade, beer, vinegar, and olive oil according to package directions and marinate the chicken thighs for 4 hours.

Cook the bacon. Reserve 3 Tablespoons of the bacon fat. (Smoky trick #1)

Sear the red jalapeno until blackened and place in a Glad zip top bag for 5 minutes. Split in half lengthwise so it lays flat. Scrape off and discard most of the charred skin on the outside and the seeds on the inside. Finely dice the roasted pepper. (Smokey trick #2)

In a small sauce pan saute the onion in the bacon fat over medium heat until just starting to turn tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the flour and stir constantly until blended into a blond roux which should only take a few more minutes.

Add the smoked paprika (Smoky trick 3), white pepper, and salt. Whisk in the beer. It will look like your roux fell apart for a second. Don't panic and keep stirring for a minute until the consistency is smooth again.

Add the chicken stock and stir. Bring to a very low simmer. Mix in the cheese in small batches until melted.

Add the red pepper, half and half, and worcestershire sauce. Cover and keep warm over very low heat.

Remove chicken from the marinade and grill directly over medium high heat (400f) for 6 minutes a side or until it reaches an internal temperature of 170.

Toast the insides of your onion rolls.

Build each sandwich with a thigh, two pieces of bacon, ¼ cup of the beer-cheese sauce and lettuce & tomato if desired.
grilled smoky mountain chicken "cheeseburger", chicken sandwich

The grilled chicken was great on it's own. But the crisp bacon, rich sauce and the slightly acidic kiss from the tomato put this sandwich over the top.

grilled smoky mountain chicken "cheeseburger", chicken sandwich

Serve with your favorite craft brew, of course!

Standard Disclaimer:  I received the pictured Flavor Forecast kit free from McCormicks.  However, I just counted and I have over 30 McCormick's products in my spice cabinet for which I paid full retail price.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Busy Week

It has been a really busy week.

With work, football practice two hours a night, and a special project I have been working on, I have not had much time to cook and even less time to take pictures of it.   Dinners this week have been re-hashes of things I've done before or simple things like the beef burritos I made tonight.

Not really a recipe, just used the taco seasoning from Brian and Marilyn's Hot Sauce Daily blog, some garlic and mince onion for the ground beef.  Then throw in some cheese, lettuce, and some homemade salsa.  The dipping sauce is just ranch dressing souped up with a fire roasted red jalapeno pepper. 

The good news is I am off for the weekend and loaded up for some grilling therapy.  

Ya'll have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Creole Roast Beef Wraps

Whether you are at the pool, on the run, or just trying to hide from the heat at home, wraps are a quintessential summer lunch. You can almost feel yourself cooling off as you bite into the chilled crisp veggies and meat. Wraps are convenient for a busy summer lifestyle because they are portable, can be made ahead of time, and can pack a variety of summer time flavors.

Alexis bought a 6 lb beef eye of round roast on sale this week and I slow roasted it on her Big Green Egg. Eye of round can be a little less flavorful than other cuts of beef so I added flavor. I injected it with Cajun Injector'sCreole Butter and gave it a heavy coat of Tony Chachere's CreoleSeasoning.  (For tips on injecting see the previous post.)

The cooking set up was indirect on a roast rack over a dripping pan filled with 2 cups of beef broth. The drippings of rendered fat and seasonings are captured in the broth making an excellent au jus.

There are two things to think about when using a set up like this.
  1. The roasting rack will raise the roast several inches off of the grate. But you always want a roast to cook in the center of your oven or grill for even cooking. So I skipped the grate altogether and had the rack sitting directly on the “plate setter” of the Big Green Egg. For a standard grill if you can't adjust the height of the grates, you will need to flip the roast half way through the cooking time.
  2. For Big Green Egg Users: If the dripping pan sits directly on the hot plate setter, it can get too hot from conductive heat and evaporate a lot of your broth. That will make it too concentrated and salty. I raise the drip pan off the plate setter with some spacers.

I cooked it indirect at 250f until it hit an internal temperature of 135f (about 2 ½ hours) and then pulled it to rest lightly covered for 15 minutes. We could have eaten it then but we wrapped it in foil and put it in the fridge for a few hours before slicing thin. Here's how the time/temps worked out.  I would have liked the roast a bit more on the rare side of medium rare so next time I will pull it earlier, maybe around 130f.  This was twice the size of the normal eye roasts I do so maybe it carried temp longer after it came off the grill.  I normally allow 10 degrees for carry over cooking. 

Grill Temperature (f)
Internal Temperature (f)

30 min
1 hour
1 hour 30 minutes
2 hours
2 hours 20ish minutes

This creole roast beef and a spicy creole sauce add pizazz to these wraps and the spicy au jus finishes it off like a summer dip in the pool. 

Creole Roast Beef Wraps
4 servings or 8 snack portions

4 ten inch wraps (We used MissionSundried Tomato Basil wraps)
½ cup creole sauce (see recipe)
4 leaves green leaf lettuce
1 lb creole roast beef, thin sliced
½ cup roasted red pepper
8 slices French Emmental cheese (or whatever floats your boat)
1 cup au jus

Creole Sauce
2 Tbsp sour cream
3 Tbsp coarse ground creole mustard
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
½ tsp prepared horseradish
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp sugar
¼ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper

Whisk together ingredients for Creole sauce and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors combine.

Spread 2 Tbsp of Creole sauce on ½ side of a wrap. Top with lettuce leaf, ¼ lb of roast beef, 2 slices cheese, and 2 Tbsp of roasted red pepper.

Fold in top and bottom of the wrap and roll up burrito style. Slice in half with a bias cut (at an angle) and serve with ¼ cup of hot au jus.

This has been our lunch for the past two days and I am already looking forward to having them for lunch at work tomorrow too! 

[Standard Disclaimer]  I have no affiliation with the mentioned companies or products and paid full retail costs.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Five Tips: Injecting Meat

Are you trypanophobic?

Trypanophobia is the extreme fear of shots, IV's, and injections. If you are, here is your chance for revenge. Try injecting meat with marinades.

Why would you do such a thing? Injecting a marinade into meat does a few things, depending on the marinade used.
  • Fast flavor – Marinades and brines take time to work and penetrate the meat. Injecting gets instant penetration and gets flavor throughout the meat in 5 minutes.
  • Tender texture – Some marinades help the heat in breaking down the structure of the meat, making it tender.
  • Adds moisture – injecting liquid into a piece of meat obviously increases the moisture in the roast

Today I am playing with three marinades. I'm smoking two pork butts on my Big Green Egg. One has Chris Lilly's world championship pork butt injection doctored with a little Apple Pie Moonshine. The other one has a creation of my own. 

Fat cap down.

On Alexis' Big Green Egg I'm slow roasting a beef eye of round and used a commerical creole butter injection for a creole roast beef. (She's at football practice with Trevor. She won't be happy when she finds I did a low and slow in her Egg but better to beg forgiveness than ask permission!)

Drip pan for collecting the au jus

I don't always inject, but when I do....I do Dos Equis – errrr, I mean - here are Five Tips for injecting meat.

Tip 1: Push-me-pull-you
This isn't injecting like a shot in the doctor's office where you hit a vein and inject all the medicine in one spot. Inject the needle all the way in. Then as you push the piston to inject, slowly pull the injector out at the same time still pushing the piston.

Tip 2: Keep it under wraps
If the meat is packaged in cryo-wrap, leave it in the wrap and inject it through the plastic. This helps cut down on the accidental sprays that happen when you pull the needle out of the meat.
Tip 3: Smaller is better
When making your own injections, use finely ground spices or your injection will frequently clog your needle, a total pain in the butt.

Tip 4: What cuts of meat benefit from injecting?
Typically cuts that are large, lean, or bland. I will sometimes inject pork butts (large), pork loin (bland & large), beef eye of round (lean), and whole poultry (bland, lean).

Tip 5: Clean Needles Save Lives
The hollow tip of the needle will get meat caught in it as the needle is pulled out each time. Simply washing the needle when done won't get that out and you'll have icky creatures growing in there for your next use. Use a paper clip or wire to clear this area out.

If you haven't ever tried injections, don't be trypanophobic...give it a shot! (snicker) You can buy a cheap injector with a jar of commercial injection sauce for about $7 at many grocery stores.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rick Browne's Bangkok Satay

Football is messing with my grilling time.

Trevor just started his 2 hours a day, 4 days a week practices yesterday. That means I have to do meals that allow for advance prep before practice and then short cook times after practice ends at 8:30.

This dish from Rick Browne's new book 1,001 Best Grilling Recipes: Delicious, Easy toMake Recipes From Around the World fit the bill tonight. I prepped everything before I left so all I had to to when I got home was fire up the grill and cook it.

Bangkok Beef Satay
Yield: 4–6 servings
Although recipes and ingredients vary, satay usually consists of chunks or slices of meat on skewers that are grilled over wood or charcoal fires. Satay is usually served with a spicy peanut sauce or peanut gravy and accompanied by slivers of onion and cucumber in vinegar.

6 tablespoons (90 mL) dark soy sauce, divided
6 tablespoons (90 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 3 limes), divided
6 tablespoons (90 mL) smooth or chunky peanut butter
3 tablespoons (45 mL) chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons (30 mL) brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon (15 mL) sweet rice vinegar
2 teaspoons (10 mL) Sriracha or other Asian hot chili sauce, divided
3 green onions, white and green parts, minced
1 (1-inch [2.5-cm]) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon (15 mL) vegetable oil
1 (11/2-pound [681-g]) beef steak (round, sirloin, rib-eye, or chuck)

1. Soak about 18 wooden or bamboo skewers in water for 1 hour.

2. In a medium bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of the soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of the lime juice, the peanut butter, the cilantro, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the vinegar, and 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of the chili sauce, and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the sugar, stirring until it reaches a smooth, thick, gravy-like consistency. Cover and set aside.

3. To make the marinade, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the soy sauce, the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the lime juice, the remaining 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the remaining 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of the chili sauce, the onions, ginger, garlic, lime zest, and oil. Process until puréed and set aside.

4. Cut the beef against the grain into pieces 6 inches (15 cm) long and ½ inch (1 cm) wide. Thread the beef lengthwise, piercing it in several places in an accordion fold, on the prepared skewers. Transfer the skewers to a large, shallow pan and pour the marinade over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

5. Make sure the grill is clean and generously sprayed with nonstick grilling spray. Preheat the barbecue to medium high (350°F [180°C] to 400°F [200°C]).

6. Place a strip of heavy-duty aluminum foil across the front 3 to 4 inches of the grill. The bottom part of the satay skewers can rest on this, protecting the part you handle from burning.

7. Remove the skewers from the marinade and drain, discarding the marinade. Place the skewers on the grill over direct heat for 2 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Meanwhile, warm the peanut sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it just barely begins to bubble.

8. Serve the satay on the skewers with small bowls of the warmed peanut sauce on the side, for dipping.

Reprinted with permission from 1,001 Best Grilling Recipes, by Rick Browne, Agate Surrey, 2011.

I prepped everything after work. I did it as written except I used cubes of strip steak instead of strips of sirloin steak.

As soon as we got home, I put 4 quarts of lit Kingsford in my SmokeHollow grill.

I grilled the kabobs for 8 minutes total since I wasn't using thin strips.  Then I “stir-fired” some peppers and onions for a side.

We were able to be eating this just about 30 minutes after getting home...

Not McDonalds. Not a frozen pizza. We ate a fresh and kick butt grilled dinner and it completely disappeared into a chorus of “that is soooo good!”.  The dipping sauce is mild, don't worry about the sririacha sauce making it too hot.  If you want hot, use more sriracha.  

I'll be posting more about 1,001 Best Grilling Recipes next week including a review, an interview, and a giveaway, so stay tuned.

Monday, July 18, 2011

On Our Grills July

Each month, a group of bbq/grill enthusiasts participates in the “On Our Grills Challenge”. The challenge is to make a meal with a list of 4 random ingredients and at least the protein has to be cooked by some form of live fire.

Typically the ingredient list presents a difficult obstacle for us. This month's On Our Grills 4-Ingredient Challenge was mercifully easy:

hot dogs
baked beans
dill pickles

We focused our efforts on the blueberries. I thought about doing odd things with the dogs, beans, and pickles but no matter what I did, it was going to distract from the essence of those items – their simplicity.  So I let those items be what they are. 

Hot dogs
The only thing creative I did here was that I grilled these beef franks direct over the gaps in the plate setter (Big Green Egg divider) while the beans cooked indirect at the same time.

Baked Beans
I did the basic doctored version of canned beans. I added the usual suspects: red bell pepper, green bell pepper, onion, bbq sauce, mustard, brown sugar and BBQ rub. Baked on the grill for 1 hour.

Dill Pickles
I thought about frying them, but nah. They are good enough on their own.  I can't wait to see what the others did because I know those guys came up with something whacky.

Alexis made a version of my mom's camp site cobbler. Biting into the crispy crust and sweet filling reminds me of camping in rustic Cades Cove with my parents several years ago, when I first had this dessert.

Dutch Oven Cobbler
½ stick butter, unsalted, melted
1 c sugar
½ c self rising flour
½ c milk
1 can blueberry pie filling

Start one half chimney of coal (about 30 briquettes). 

Mix together the butter, sugar, flour and milk.

Line the bottom of a #12 cast iron dutch oven with parchment paper. (Not a must but helps) Pour in the blueberry pie filling and spread evenly.

Pour the topping over the pie filling, covering as evenly as you can.

Put about 10 briquettes in a circle below your dutch oven.

And about 20 briquettes on the lid.

Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Rotate the bottom ¼ turn clockwise and the top ¼ turn counterclockwise every 15 minutes for even cooking.

Serve with confectioners sugar on top. 

Guaranteed camp site winner!

The On Our Grills group has grown a bit and I don't have the “bios” or “intros” for all the participants so this month, I will just list the links. Please stop by these other sites and see their spin on this month's 4 ingredient challenge. While I think this month is pretty straightforward, these folks always come up with something interesting!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reverse Seared Cowboy Steak Sandwich

This sandwich defies a bit of conventional wisdom. 

Instead of throwing the steaks over rocket hot flames for a few minutes per side, I used the “reverse sear”. The “reverse sear” is a technique championed by Chris Finney where you slow roast the meat first and THEN sear it at the end. Reverse searing gives the most evenly cooked steaks I have had.

I received a free sample of McCormick's Grill Mates Cowboy Rub, one of their new flavors for 2011. It is an audacious rub with ground chilies, garlic, onion and other seasonings. It has a touch of coffee in it which may sound weird but that has been a big trend in beef rubs. I dislike coffee as a drink. However, a hint of ground coffee in a beef rub brings out a rustic edge to your steaks and I like it.

Are you ready for this? I cooked it on the gas grill side of my Smoke Hollow grill combo unit. Yes, I used a gasser. My Big Green Egg friends are laughing at me right now, but 70% of Americans that grill use a gas grill. I just want to show that you can replicate the techniques of what I do on my Big Green Eggs on other types of grills.

Reverse Seared Cowboy Steak Sandwich
serves: 4

4 teaspoons McCormick's Grill Mates Cowboy Rub (divided)
½ cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tablespoons steak sauce
2 ea strip steaks, 1” thick
8 slices French bread, about ½ thick and cut at a sharp angle
8 slices manchego cheese
4 leaves green leaf lettuce

Mix together the mayonnaise, steak sauce and 2 teaspoons of the Cowboy Rub in a small bowl. Let it chill in the refrigerator.

Rub the steaks with the remaining 2 teaspoons of the Cowboy Rub. Use a little more if needed to cover the entire steaks.  Let the steaks rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
Flavor you can see.  I like the coarse texture of this rub.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook at 250f. For a gas grill, this would be turning on one burner at one end and leaving the others off. Adjust the single burner until your cooking temp is 250f. 

Only the burner on the far right is on and it is on low.  The pan & rack rig was not needed after all.

Slow roast the seasoned steaks at the other end of the grill (thus “indirect) with the lid closed until the steaks hit an internal temperature of 125f. This took about 40 minutes for mine but cook according to the internal temperature, not time. Don't worry, the steaks will not look done at this point.

Now sear the steaks for just about a minute per side. For charcoal, you would just move them from the indirect to direct heat. For gas grills, crank up the burner to high for a few minutes with the lid open and then move the steaks over the direct heat.
I used the Smoke Hollow's sear burner.  Worked great!

Remove the steaks from the grill and let them rest for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile toast the bread slices on the grill.

Slice the steaks as thinly as you can. Try not to eat it all while's for the sandwiches.
Medium rare all the way through. 

Top one piece of toast with lettuce and two slices of the manchego cheese. Add one fourth of the sliced steak. Top with another piece of toast that has been slathered with the Cowboy mayonnaise. Repeat for the other three sandwiches.

Biting through the crisp toast into the tender steak is Nirvana. The tang of the bold mayo and the hint of saltiness from the manchego cheese balance each other. We've made this three times and it is even better when the steaks are grilled over coals and oak.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fire Roasted Chicken Enchiladas

You can do this recipe 100% in your kitchen and without a grill. Just insert the word “oven” or "stove top" every time you see “grill”.

Sure you'll lose out on the smoky flavor but it's more than that. You are missing out on the experience of cooking out doors while the sun is setting, the cicadas are singing their summer song, and all of your neighbors are outside soaking up life.

Like the Kingsford commercial says, “Slow down and grill.”

We served these with the Texas Ranchero style of Bush's Grillin' Beans, a perfect match. Earlier this year I did a sponsored post with Bush's and I had to do the standard “FTC disclaimer”. Well that was over months ago and now I can say freely, I love Bush's Grillin' Beans, no disclaimer required. They really are my favorite beans.

Fire Roasted Chicken Enchiladas

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup onion, finely diced (I used a mix of red and yellow onion)
¾ cup red bell pepper, finely diced
¼ cup diced fresh chilies (see note)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken, shredded or chopped (leftover grilled chicken works the best)
2 ea green onion, chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh chopped
½ cup Monterrey jack cheese, shredded

White Enchilada Sauce Ingredients
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
¾ tsp chili powder
¾ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp cumin, roasted
¼ tsp coriander
½ cup Locust Grove Farms La Mancha cheese (the best American manchego cheese)
1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
10 ea fajita size flour tortillas

Preheat your grill to 350f.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp of butter. Saute the red and yellow onion, bell pepper, and chilies for 5 minutes or until tender. 

NOTE: I used a blend of mild and medium heat chilies from my local farmers market. Use a blend of chilies that suits the heat level you like. If it is offseason, you can use a 4 ounce can of green chilies. You'll need twice the amount to get the same flavor of fresh.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Take off heat and let cool for another minute.

In a large bowl, add the veggie mixture, chicken, green onion, cilantro and ½ cup Monterrey jack cheese. This will the filling for your enchiladas.

Using the same skillet from before, add and melt the 3 Tbsp butter. Whisk together with the flour for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let it burn.

Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking until blended. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the spices and manchego cheese, whisk until blended. You might have carpal tunnel syndrome by now. Quit whining and keep whisking. Now add the sour cream and....yes, whisk until blended.

Add ½ cup of this enchilada sauce to the filling and toss to coat.

Take a tortilla and dip in the rest of the enchilada sauce. Top with about 1/3rd cup of the filling. Roll up and place seam side down in a 9 x 13” stoneware. Repeat until you have all the enchiladas rolled.

Ladle the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and scrape any goodies left in the filling bowl on top. Sprinkle with the last of the cheese.

Fire roast the dish over indirect heat for 35 minutes, uncovered. 

TIP FOR BIG GREEN EGG folks:  The plate setter does provide indirect cooking but if you put a pan directly on it, you will have conductive AND convective heat so the bottom gets hotter, quicker.  Use some kind of spacer between the plate setter and pan to minimize the conductive heat.  I just use some stainless chain links.  Egg "feet" work great too.  

It is done when it is all melted together, bubbling, and the exposed edges of the tortilla are starting to turn crispy brown. 

Garnish with sour cream, green onion, and cotija cheese.

[Standard Disclaimer]
No compensation was received for this post from any mentioned companies, brands, or varieties.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Grilled Peppers and Sausage with Cheese Grits

The smell of sausages, onions, and peppers grilling over coals is hard to resist.

Whether at a festival or in your own back yard, the aroma created by the roasting veggies and the rendered fat dripping onto the sizzling red hot coals below is captivating. So when I saw this recipe in the July issue of Southern Living I knew I had to try it. 

grilled peppers sausage and cheese grits
Grilled Peppers and Sausage with Cheese Grits
I'm not going to post my adaptation of the recipe because the only things I did different were
  1. Used a blend of green bell pepper and red ancient sweet peppers
  2. Used mild Italian sausage instead of “garlic pork sausage” but I added some grilled garlic

It was sooooo hot and humid out when I started grilling at noon....
[Audience: “How hot was it?”]
….that even the vegetables were sweating!

I started my coal and got my Big Green Egg going at 400f. While the grill came to temp, I cut the veggies and tossed them in the oil and herbs.
I ended up adding more thyme than the 1 tsp the recipe indicated.
I leave them veggie pieces in big 2” sizes like this to make them easier to handle on the grill. Less pieces to flip and less likely to fall through the grill grates. I cut them in half diagonally after they cook.
grilled peppers sausage and cheese grits

I also butterfly the sausages lengthwise so they cook more evenly all the way through. I find at 400f, 8 minutes total time is perfect. I flip every two minutes during that time. 

grilled peppers sausage and cheese grits

When they are finished grilling, it's hard not to just skip everything else and just eat these on hoagie rolls!
grilled peppers sausage and cheese grits

Served over the basil cheese grits...

grilled peppers sausage and cheese grits

The dish was “pretty good”. There was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn't WOW.  I mean how can you go wrong with sausage peppers and onions? Well, I guess you could go wrong by using quick cooking grits like the recipe called for.  

Damn! If quick cooking grits are what you “Ewww I hate grits” people tried, I don't blame you. I'd hate them too! I know Southern Living was including this under Quick Fix Suppers but this would be so much better using proper stone ground grits. The grits portion of this dish was underwhelming.

I'd also like some type of sauce to marry the sausage and peppers to the grits. I'm spoiled by Puleo's Grille and their Shrimp and Grits which is similar to this dish, except they add shrimp, real grits, and a tasso gravy that is so addicting that it should be classified as a narcotic. Or maybe just tossing the grilled ingredients with a creole butter at the end would have pulled the two components together better.

Anyway, like I said, not a bad recipe. But when I make it again, I'll make those two changes.