Monday, June 28, 2010

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Obviously, this is not an exotic recipe that I have to share. And this isn't a perfect photo either. This is just an any day meal, that I make quite often when I grill on the week end. Normally, I grill leg quarters for the Pulled Chicken. Dark meat is more moist and is best for this dish. But this time I had a whole chicken that I either needed to cook, or put in the freezer. The grill was ready to go.
So I cut up the chicken into 4 pieces. I had grilled burgers and hot dogs last Saturday and still had lots of life left in the coals, so I put this chicken on the grill and closed the lid. About 35 minutes later, I had some beautiful grilled chicken, perfect for these flavorful sandwiches. I hate to waste any fire that's left, so I like to cook this chicken for the next meal. You could leave the chicken whole if desired, but it will take longer to cook. These grilled, Pulled Chicken Sandwiches are delicious and smokey and are particularly tasty topped with BBQ sauce, or slaw, pickles and onion, or grilled pineapple! Give them a try! PULLED CHICKEN SANDWICHES
from Lynda's Recipe Box
About 4 1/2 pounds leg quarters, or a whole chicken cut into quarters
salt and pepper
spices- I used chili powder, ground cumin and garlic powder (or you may use a purchased rub)
toppings of choice-onion, pickles, BBQ sauce, grilled pineapple, etc.,etc.
Set up grill with a cool spot on one side of grill. I sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and garlic. Or you may use a purchased rub for this. Place chicken over a hot fire and add soaked wood chips, if desired. Close lid and cook until browned and then turn chicken over. Take care not to burn it. When browned, move the chicken to the cool side off of the coals and close lid to finish cooking. Cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken pieces and the heat of the fire. Chicken is done when the meat is pierced and the juices run clear. These pieces took 35-40 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a pan. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones, pulling into shreds. Serve on buns with toppings of choice. This is just a simple, delicious meal that doesn't require much thought on my part. some days, that is very helpful!
NOTE: Pulled Chicken is not as moist as Pulled Pork, so I dilute a bit of barbecue sauce with water, and drizzle it over the chicken and give it a toss. This keeps the chicken moist, especially when reheated. Cover well and refrigerate. Then rewarm for the next meal.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mashed Potato Cakes (what to do with those leftover mashed potatoes)

Yes, I made mashed potatoes this week. I am still baby sitting with my adorable granddaughter and she loves mashed potatoes. I had quite a few left over so I did what my mother used to do when my brother and I were little -I made Mashed Potato Cakes. We absolutely loved them. She always browned them in butter, so they were crispy on the outside. Good stuff! This is not really a recipe, but a quick and delicious way to use up those left-over mashed potatoes. These cakes are made with cold potatoes that are already well seasoned. It does not work well if you added too much liquid to the potatoes when you first mashed them and they were rather soupy. You need mashed potatoes that hold their shape well. I sometimes add an egg to the potatoes and maybe some fresh chives, before I make the patties. The egg helps hold them together better, I think. Here's how I make them.

from Lynda's Recipe Box

In a large bowl, add the cold, left over mashed potatoes-I had about 3 1/2 cups.
Add 1 egg and some fresh chives, if desired. Mix well with a fork. Make potatoes into small patties about an inch thick, and no wider than the spatula you are going to use. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan also. When the oil is hot and butter is melted, place the potato cakes into the pan. Let them cook until brown, then carefully turn them over to brown on the other side. Do not flip them again as they can fall apart with too much handling. When brown on the other side, remove them to a platter. Serve hot. They are a delicious side dish to any meat; crisp and buttery on the outside and soft mashed potatoes on the inside. And you have used your leftovers to make another tasty dish.

Here's my granddaughter at her birthday party earlier this week. She's loving the bags that the gifts came in, while her mother looks at the actual gifts. What fun it was! She looked so cute in her little Tutu that she wore, but it was falling down in this shot.

Have a great week!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Wings! On the Grill or in the Oven!

A happy Father's Day to all the wonderful Fathers reading this! I hope you had a wonderful day. I grilled today; just some easy burgers, polish sausages and these delicious chicken wings. I don't crave wings like some do, but a couple of the guys in my family are crazy about them. So I looked for a recipe and this one was a huge hit. I had to get a photo quickly before they disappeared! The smoky, grilled flavor was an instant hit with my barbecue lovers, so I'll be making these again. I have to admit, I really enjoyed them too, even though I felt like a fire breathing dragon for a short time. These wings are spicy, but my oldest son said they actually could be hotter! I had left out the cayenne pepper from the sauce, so if you enjoy lots of fire, you might want to add it in. I cooked these wings on a charcoal grill, but I'll give you directions for the oven too. I hope you'll try these and let me know how you liked them. BUFFALO CHICKEN WINGS-On The Grill or in The Oven!
Adapted from this recipe at Serious Eats and Cook's Illustrated

3 pounds chicken wings, tips cut off and discarded, and cut in half at the joint
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Cut off the wing tips and discard, or freeze them to make broth. Cut through joints of wings with a sharp knife. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season both sides with the salt, pepper and cayenne.

Wing Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup hot sauce-I used Franks Original Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Tabasco Sauce-I omitted this, but if you like it hot, use it!
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper- I omitted, but again use it if you want.
In a sauce pan, add all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

For the Grill: Set up the grill with coals on one side for indirect grilling. When fire is hot and ready, place wing portions on side not over the coals. I let them cook about 15 minutes this way with the lid down. The fire was hot and some of the fat was released from the wings. Then move the wings over the coals for another 15 minutes, or so until they are browned and crisp looking, but not burned. Cooking time will depend on how hot your fire is. Remember to turn them over while cooking. I had to move them once because my fire was a bit hot. When done, remove wings from grill and place in a non reactive pan or bowl. Pour the sauce over the wings and stir to completely coat them with the sauce. Serve while hot. Enjoy!

For the oven: Season the wings. Line a shallow baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Place wings on the pan and bake in a 425 degree oven, about 25-30 minutes, or longer until they are golden and the skin is crispy. Turn them over about halfway through cooking. You can even place them under the broiler for the last 5 minutes or so, but you must pour off any accumulated grease in the pan first. Remove wings from oven and place in a non reactive bowl with the sauce. Stir to coat, and serve immediately. Your taste buds will love these!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette

If you love Balsamic Vinegar, you'll love this chicken that is marinated for several hours in it, producing flavorful and juicy meat. With the addition of Dijon mustard and garlic, these chicken breasts are easy enough to serve for a week night meal, but tasty enough to serve to company! However, the chicken needs to be marinated for several hours or it will be bland. The first time I made this dish I only marinated it about 3 hours. The recipe says 2-12 hours, but it's best just to go for the whole 12 hours if possible, especially when using mixed, bone-in chicken pieces. Just mix up the marinade in the morning and throw the chicken and marinade in a large zip lock bag. Place bag in a pan in the refrigerator, and later in the day, this chicken will be ready to plop into the oven or onto the grill. I marinated these boneless chicken breasts for about 5 hours and they were very moist and delicious. But the bone in chicken pieces were marinated about 12 hours. I hope you'll give them a try.

adapted slightly from Giada De Laurentiis

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 1 whole chicken cut-up
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth

Mix balsamic vinegar, garlic, Dijon, lemon juice and olive oil into a large resealable baggie. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place chicken in bag. Place in a pan so that chicken can lay flat and place in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees, place chicken pieces on a baking sheet and bake about 20-25 minutes, or until juices in chicken run clear when pierced ed with a knife. If you like, you can make a quick sauce using the marinade to drizzle over the chicken. Pour the marinade in a sauce pan, add the chicken broth and simmer about 5 minutes. Pour over the chicken. I made this when I baked a whole, cut-up chicken and served it with rice, drizzled with the balsamic. It's very good! But this time, I served the chicken breasts with oven roasted potatoes, so I did not made the extra sauce. Either way, I'' be making this chicken again. I just love easy, delicious meals!
NOTE: If using bone-in chicken pieces, the cooking time will be about 45-60 minutes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Steakhouse Potato Salad

Our wonderful daughter-in-law made this yummy potato salad for Memorial Day and it was devoured by all. After all, it contains bacon and cheese, so whats not to like? This potato salad is mayonnaise based, so sorry to those of you who prefer a lighter dressing. You'll find a lighter potato salad recipe here. I enjoy having more than one potato salad recipe, and this one is so easy to prepare. The potatoes can be cooked in the microwave, if desired. However, I'm not much at using the microwave for cooking, so I boiled them. The dressing is rather thick, so next time I may thin it with a bit of milk, or buttermilk. Be sure to weigh the potatoes, otherwise you won't have enough dressing to cover them if you are very much over three pounds. I hope you'll give this a try! I'll be making this again.

adapted from Kraft

3 pounds small red potatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise- recipe calls for Miracle Whip
1/4 cup Ranch dressing
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 green onions, sliced- I used 2 very large one from the farmer's market

Place potatoes in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and add 1 teaspoon salt to the water. Reduce heat and simmer, covered until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Drain off the water. Cool the potatoes completely. I placed them in the refrigerator to chill. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the sliced green onions, cheese and bacon. Stir together the mayo and the Ranch Dressing and pour over the potato mixture. Gently stir together and chill completely before serving. Enjoy!

I've had such a rushed week; we made 2 trips to Kansas City to the airport this past week. That was a 6 hour round trip for us, but we took our DIL so she could fly to her parents home in Florida. On our first trip, I got to spend some time with a friend from school, that I hadn't seen in quite a while. It was such fun to catch up!
My wonderful Mother-in-law was in the hospital again for a few days. She is 90, so that's always a cause for concern.
And, son Number 2 is getting married, so there is going to be a wedding in July! So as you can see, my week has been full. I haven't cooked much at all! Have a wonderful week, my friends!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Smoke-Roasted Pears

Like many people here in the U.S., we grilled yesterday for our Memorial Day enjoyment. We had the usuals, like Barbecued Chicken, hamburgers, potato salad, Cole Slaw and Baked Beans.
And we also had these amazing Smoke-Roasted Pears, which were also done on the grill. It all started Saturday as my daughter and I were watching PBS. They had an all day marathon of Steven Raichlen shows, with scenes of glorious barbecue calling to us and making our stomachs rumble. In case you don't know, Steven Raichlen wrote the Barbecue Bible, and How to Grill, and other cookbooks. My daughter really wanted to try his Smoke-Roasted Pears, so that's what she made on Monday. Oh my, They are incredibly delicious! The pears are cored and filled with a struesel like filling which when smoked, gives the flavor of a rich, smokey, caramel filling. Yum! The photos do not do these pears justice, but they are delicious!
The cored pears are put in a foil baking pan, filled with the brown sugar mixture and then put on the grill over an indirect fire. In other words, don't put them directly over the coals, or they will burn. I cooked them with the BBQ chicken, setting the pan at the far edge of the grill, opposite the chicken. Doing it this way, I had to rotate the pan a couple of times to ensure even cooking. If you cook the pears only, the coals can be placed on each side of the grill and the pears in the center. The grill is covered, and the pears were done in about 35 minutes. It will depend on the temperature of your grill as to how fast they cook. I put hickory chips on the coals, which gave Hailey's pears the smokey brown appearance. They are done when you squeeze them and they feel soft, but not too soft, and the brown sugar butter mixture is bubbly. It should take 40-6o minutes, according to the book. You've got to try these! Although we ate them alone, they'd be irresistible with vanilla ice cream.

adapted from Steven Raichlen's, How to Grill

6 ripe pears- we used anjou

5 tablespoons butter, room temperature

5 tablespoons brown sugar

5 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (or ground hazelnuts)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

juice from 1/2 lemon

To make filling:
Beat the butter and brown sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Stir in the graham crackers, cinnamon and vanilla.

Prepare the pears:
1. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each pear, so that it will stand upright in the pan without wobbling.

2. With a paring knife, cut out the stem end and remove it.

3. Using a melon baller, scoop out the core and the seeds of the pears.

4. Rub the bottoms and tops of pears with lemon juice. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice inside each pear to prevent browning.

5. Stuff each pear with the filling and place in an oiled foil pan. Place the stem cap back on top pf the pears. Can be prepared several hours ahead, if desired.

6. Set up your grill for indirect heat. I use a charcoal grill, and I placed a handful of hickory wood chips in the coals after I placed the pears on the grill.

7. Close the grill and smoke roast the pears until browned and soft on the sides, and the stuffing mixture is bubbly. This took 35 minutes for us, but the recipe calls for 40-60 minutes. Serve immediately, if desired. Ours were served about an hour later and they were wonderful! These smoke roasted pears were to die for! We will be making these smoky, caramel flavored pears often!

Note: The recipe also calls for nutmeg, ground cloves, and 1 T. rum, but my daughter didn't want to use them. I wouldn't change a thing in her method.