Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spatchcocked Ginger Ale Chicken

This recipe for Ginger "Beer Can" Chicken was in this month's Southern Living (June 2015) and it looked good so I decided to give it a whirl.  I was intrigued by the ginger ale glaze.  It's a keeper. 

Ginger Ale Chicken, spatchcock chicken, kamado spatchcock, BGE spatchcock

I did it pretty much as written except for one major difference - I didn't stick anything up my chicken's butt.  I'll explain why later.  Instead I spatchcocked my bird and cooked it "raised direct" (elevated above the heat).  Spatchcocked chicken cooks faster (1 hour versus the 90 minutes the recipe called for) and more evenly because the backbone is removed and the bird is flattened out. 

The rub is salty and sweet finishing with the flavorful mild heat of ginger.  It also goes on rather heavily - don't forget to season the backside (or inside if you're going can style) too.

I loaded the Grill Dome kamado grill with lump and preheated it to 375°F.  The set up was "raised direct".   This gets you closer to the reflective heat of the dome to get a really nice and even browning. It also helps you keep from burning the bottom. You can achieve this many ways but basically you are just trying to raise your cooking grid another 3-4 inches.  Today I used the Grill Dome raised rack.

Confession - I was working on something else and my cooking temps crept up on me, getting to 400°F.  No problem, I shut the bottom vent slightly and slid a pizza pan under the bird to keep the backside from getting too done.  This is also a good way to catch your grease drippings if you start getting too much greasy smoke.

I thought the glaze was going to be a mistake.  It seemed way too thin for a long time but then it finally reduced as the recipe calls for.  Just make sure to keep it boiling, not just simmering.  This turned out to be a fantastic glaze and dipping sauce.  It is powerfully sweet and then spicy and tasted wonderful glazed onto this bird.

 chicken recipe Grill Dome, spatchcock BGE, butterfly chicken grill,

This one is definitely going into our rotation. The flavor of this rub/sauce combination makes the chicken come alive with flavor.  It would work great with drumsticks or wings for tailgating too - I know I'll be trying that.  I'd probably double the sauce if you are doing two birds like the recipe calls for, but I like having extra sauce for dipping.

Whether you go beer butt or not, whether you have a kettle, gas, kamado, or other should give this recipe a try this summer. 

So why don't I do beer can chicken?
In my opinion, beer can chicken is one of the very few things that doesn't translate well to a kamado grill.  It's not a defect, it's just that standing a chicken up in a kamado set up for indirect heat (not over the flames) puts the chicken breasts in the higher heat near the dome while the thighs are down where cooking temps can be up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit lower.

Hope you like these super fancy graphics from my Graphic Arts department.

So, why does the beer can chicken technique work okay for kettle grills and gas grills?  When you do indirect with those grills, your heat source is coming from below and the sides, so the thighs are getting the higher heat.  In that case, the thighs and breasts will be done about the same time as the white meat up top.

The kettle grill indirect set up on left heats from the side and below, so the thighs will cook and be done about the same time as the breasts further away from the heat.  The kamado indirect set up on the right has a heat deflector (black line) so it's getting more heat from the top down. which would cook your breasts before the thighs are done.

That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't do beer can chicken on a kamado grill.  I've seen people do it and they like it.  But for my money, I prefer to flatten my whole chickens out so that they cook evenly whether I am direct grilling, raised direct grilling, or indirect grilling.  It's just my preference.

But you know my motto - cook what you want, how you want, on what you got.  Anyone that tells you that there is only one way to grill something is full of it.  That includes me. 

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I have no affiliation with Southern Living.  We are proud to be sponsored by Grill Dome for our competition team and this blog. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

How To Cook Pizza on a Kamado Grill

My neighbor and BBQ teammate, John, makes the best pizzas.  If it is Saturday evening, you can book that he is out by his Grill Dome firing up this week's version.  They do them differently each time but the one constant is that they are crispy and delicious.

BGE pizza, kamado pizza, kamado joe pizza, vision pizza, primo pizza

One reason that their pizzas are always so good is that they get a LOT of practice. But a key to their fantastic pies is cooking them on a kamado ceramic grill.  The ceramic dome and wood coals mimic a wood fired pizza oven like all of the trendy pizza places use these days.  You can cook a pizza on just about any grill but a ceramic grill gives it that perfect crisp crust and subtle smokiness.

Like I said, John's "house pizza" varies from week to week but here are his general guidelines for cooking pizza on your backyard pizza oven, also known as a kamado grill.  If you are doing a pizza during the week, you can make this a 20 minute recipe by either making the dough ahead of time or cheat like I do and buy the dough at your local pizzeria.  Most only charge a few bucks for a ball of dough.

John's House Pizza
source:  John Makela

For the dough
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour (plus extra for dusting surfaces)
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (plus a bit more if required)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the sauce
  • 28 ounce canned crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 leaves fresh basil cut into small ribbons (chiffonade for you fancy types)
  • salt to taste
desired toppings

For The Dough
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together.  Mix the wet ingredients together.  Combine the two in a large bowl until in forms together in a ball.  
  2. Move to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, adding more water if it gets dry and begins to break.  
  3. Cover with a towel and let rize until it doubles in size, anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on humidity, etc.  
  4. Then roll out as thin as possible into a 12 inch circle.  He suggests putting the dough on parchment paper to cook and move  to the pizza peel easily - idiot proof.  He underestimates my idiocy.
For The Sauce
  1.  Combine ingredients and bring to a slow boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.
For The Toppings
  1. Whatever floats your boat.  For basic pizzas, John likes to start with a layer of thin sliced mozzarella or provolone on the top of the raw crust and then spoon a light amount of the sauce over this.  Then top with shredded fresh mozzarella and your favorite toppings.  See Variations for ideas.
For Grilling
  1. Either indirect with a pizza stone on the cooking grid or raised direct with the main grid raised above the felt line and a pizza stone on it.  It is very important to let the stone and ceramics of the kamado grill preheat to 500°F for 45 minutes to get the full "pizza oven" effect.  The air temp will be 500°F quickly but it takes time for the ceramics to warm all the way up.
  2. Place pizza on the stone and cook until the toppings brown slightly and the crust is nicely browned, 5-15 minutes depending on the toppings, crust, and cook temperature.  This will be about 5 minutes for Margherita style, 8-10 minutes for thin crust, and 10-15 minutes for thick crust.
  • Buffalo chicken - substitute pizza sauce with buffalo wing sauce, top with about 1/2 cup of cooked shredded chicken, your favorite cheeses (make sure to put some blue cheese in there) and some banana peppers.
  • BBQ pizza - Use BBQ sauce as your base, leftover chicken, pork or beef BBQ,  cheese, and other toppings.
  • Margherita - Tomato, fresh basil, fresh mozarella, and a simple tomato sauce.  You can do at the same temperature (500°F) or go higher for true Neopolitan style at temps north of 750°F and very short cook times.
  • Can't decide?  Do a half and half!
Using the freshest ingredients make the best pizza so John and Anna Mae grow their own basil and tomatoes.

Have your kamado grill pre-heating while putting your pie together. 
BGE pizza
Rollin' rollin' rollin', get those pizzas rollin'!

John swears by using only high quality for his pizzas, says it makes a huge difference in the crust.

rolling out pizza dough
When moving the dough, Anna Mae rolls it up on the rolling pin to keep it from stretching out.

Notice the specks in the dough?  That's because another variation they like to do is to sometimes add some Italian seasoning, rosemary, oregano. or other herbs to the mix.  About 1-2 teaspoons total.

John says that sauce is one of those "less is more" things.

topping a pizza
Dress it up the way you like it.

pizza peel, pizza, parchment paper
The parchment paper and pizza peel make transferring the pizza to the grill or oven easy.

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Pizza ready to go on the grill while the poor basil plant has to watch.

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Raising the pizza up above the felt line and closer to the dome lets you take advantage of the reflective heat from the dome.

pizza set up Grill Dome, pizza set up kamado joe, pizza set up primo,
Notice that while the parchment paper browns, it doesn't ignite during the cook as long as you trim the edges so they don't stick out too far past the pizza stone.

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Pizza al fresco - the best way to eat pizza! 

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Nice crispy bottom, ingredients perfectly melted on top.  If you like an extra crispy crust you can either A) cook the pizza lower in the grill so that the bottom is getting more heat or B) pre-cook the rolled out dough for 2-3 minutes before adding sauce, cheese, and toppings

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Italian style

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Breakfast Pizza

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Buffalo chicken pizza being put together.

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Buffalo chicken pizza - one of my person favorites that John makes.

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Two faced pizza being put together.

how to cook pizza on kamado grill, Big Green Egg pizza, Kamado Joe pizza, vision kamado pizza, primo grill pizza
Two faced pizza - half Buffalo chickens and half Italian.
So many pizzas - so little time! 

[FTC Disclaimer]  Grill Dome is a sponsor of our competition team and blog. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Burnt End Potato Bombs

This is one of my favorite ideas in a long time - Burnt End Potato Bombs.

They are burnt ends inside of a twice baked red bliss potato and drizzled with au jus.  Yeah, I know, right? 

Burnt ends are one of the best things in BBQ.  If you frequent Kansas City BBQ joints or have ever smoked your own briskets, then you have probably had these magic morsels of meat. They are the "point" from a smoked brisket that are cut into 1 inch squares, re-seasoned, possibly sauced, and then put back on the smoker.  As they say around here, they are "to die for".

This past weekend I was doing a practice cook for my brisket for BBQ competitions.  It was a 13.5 pound packer brisket.  I separated the point and the flat.  I injected both with Butcher's beef injection and then seasoned them with a combination of 4 rubs. 

I put it on the Grill Dome at 3 in the morning.  Wood was 3 splits of hickory.

It was a stubborn brisket and it cooked longer than any I have done with this method.  At 202°F it was still firm as a brick so I let it ride.  It got up to 205°F and stayed there another 90 minutes before it was probe tender.  Thank goodness this was practice!

Burnt ends going back onto the Grill Dome for another spin.

Practice brisket turn in box.  Yep, we actually go to the trouble of building blind boxes in our practice cooks.  We do EVERYTHING we do at a competition.  This was "turned in" right at 1:30PM on Saturday, just like if we were at a competition.

So here we were Saturday afternoon with two dozen burnt ends with no place to go when my muse bitch slapped me upside the head with the idea of a burnt end inside of a twice baked potato.  Well, when the muse hits you like that, you don't wait around.  

Baked some medium size red bliss potatoes for about 45 minutes at 425°F.  Before cooking I rubbed them with oil and seasoned with garlic salt.

The first batch we used a 4 cheese Mexican blend.  The second batch I used Boars Head 3 chile colby jack which was spot on perfect with this dish.

I sliced off the tops and scooped out the insides into a bowl with the cheese.  It was about 1/2 cup of cheese and half a stick of unsalted butter. I also add some salt and BBQ rub. Mash all of this together.

I placed a reheated burnt end into each potato, filled around it with the potato mix, and then over stuffed it on top with more of the potato mix.  Then I seasoned the tops with more of the BBQ rub.  You can make these ahead of time up to this point and refrigerate them. 

Back onto the Grill Dome kamado grill until golden and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes longer.

These were drizzled with au jus but we have also liked them topped with sour cream and drizzled with BBQ sauce too.

These are pretty flippin' fantastic if I do say so myself.

Sure there are BBQ places that serve a "loaded baked potato" or "hawgback potato" which is a big baked potato stuffed with bbq (pork or brisket), cheese, butter, sauce, and more but if you eat one of those, it's your meal.  These aren't just smaller versions of that.  They are twice baked and the burnt ends put them over the top. 

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  Grill Dome is a sponsor of this blog and our competition team.  We have no affiliation with Boars Head.  We also have no affiliation with whoever makes that melon ball scooper and I'm too lazy right now to go downstairs to find out who makes it. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Salsa Verde Cremosa - Creamy Green Sauce for Fajitas, Nachos, etc

How in the world I have made it until now without having this easy and fast recipe is beyond me. 

I love Tex-Mex and Mexican dishes because they often use up leftovers and are easy to whip up in 30 minutes or less.  My usual go-to condiment for those is a fire roasted salsa, red or green.  This weekend my sister was visiting and mentioned a Salsa Verde Cremosa that Julio E posted on a Facebook forum.  We started looking up recipes and found that many folks use different things for creating creamy salsa verde, such as cream cheese or avocado.  I fired up my Grill Dome kamado grill, modified my salsa verde recipe, and within 20 minutes had my new all time favorite condiment for Tex-Mex foods. 

creamy green sauce for fajitas nachos tacos, quesadilla

Like the name implies, it's got the flavor of salsa verde with a fantastically creamier texture.  You can use any chiles that you like in place of the jalapeno or serrano.  For example poblano chiles are only about 1500 Scoville units and would be good for a milder sauce.  I find that usually one of each (jalapeno/serrano) is a good mild heat but you can add up to 3 each to really get it hotter.

Salsa Verde Cremosa
inspired by Julio E.

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks peeled
  • 1-3 jalapeno chile
  • 1-3 serrano chile
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 avocados, peeled and seed removed
  •  1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Kosher salt to taste (we used about 1 tsp)
  • ground black pepper to taste (we did about 3/4 tsp)
  1. Preheat your grill to high heat (500° or higher)
  2. Roast the tomatillos and chiles until charred and blistered, 5-10 minutes.  Grill the onions until you have defined grill marks on the sides.
  3. Place the chiles and tomatillos in a medium sized bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes, which will steam the veggies and loosen their skins.
  4. Slice the chiles in half, remove the seeds, and roughly scrape off the outer skin with a knife.   Remove the stem core from the tomatillos and scrape off the outer skin with a knife.  Don't worry about this being perfect, you want some char in this for flavor.
  5. Place the tomatillo, chiles, onion, garlic, cilantro, chicken stock, and lime juice.  Pulse several times until you get a salsa consistency.  If you get it too watery, just simmer it in a small sauce pan until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the avocados, sugar, and pulse a few more times until smooth and creamy.  
  7. Season with salt and pepper. 

grilled tomatillos, grilled salsa, how to grill vegetables
You can char the veggies in a roasting basket such as this.

Or you can grill them directly on the grill grates like this.  I'd like to say I planned this so you could see examples of each, but honestly, we had to run to the store for more stuff so the veggies got cooked in two batches.

There's not a lot to show after this since it all just goes into a blender but here's some of the stuff we ate with it.  I marinated a skirt steak with 2/3 cup oil, 1/3 cup lime juice, and a tablespoon of my Fajita Rub.  I grilled some bell peppers and onions on my Grill Dome at about 450-500°F. 

grilling fajita vegetables, Grill Dome

skirt steak on grill dome, skirt steak on big green egg, skirt steak kamado joe
Then grilled the strip steak for about 3-4 minutes a side.

fajitas with salsa verde cremosa
After a long day of cleaning out the BBQ trailer, this was a great quick meal.

For the quesadillas, I had some beef brisket left over from a practice cook.  I put about 1/4 cup of chopped brisket, 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, and 1/4 cup of leftover peppers/onions on a tortilla.  Then I pan fried that in shallow oil for about 1 minute per side until golden brown.

brisket quesadilla with creamy green sauce

I love this stuff by itself on chips or as a condiment for dishes like these.  The avocado takes an already good salsa and takes it over the top.  If you're not into making your own, I guess you could add avocado to store bought salsa verde, but I definitely prefer the homemade version! 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

One Day Giveaway: Thermoworks TimeStick

I'm doing a very quick giveaway over at my Instagram page, just a one day deal.  I'm giving away a Thermoworks TimeStick tomorrow (6/2/14 5pm Eastern).

All you have to do is like that post on Instagram.  Then tomorrow I'll draw a random winner from all the people who have liked it.