The Smokehouse – Hilton Head Island, SC

We’ve been fortunate to vacation quite often at Hilton Head Island, along with thousands of other Ohioans.  There’s certainly no shortage of great places to eat, especially those taking advantage of the fantastic seafood.  And even though we love all those places, we’ve come to make BBQ one of our vacation traditions.  The Smokehouse will be celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and we’re thrilled they’ve stood the test of time!

Located on Palmetto Bay Road, not far from Coligny, the newer freestanding location has ample room in the bar, dining area and outdoors.  You’ll feel right at home in the open wood-and-corrugated steel atmosphere.  After ordering a few drafts from their selection of local brews, we moved onto appetizers.  There’s a great selection of ribs, wings, sliders and a variety of other BBQ-inspired bar specialties.  I highly recommend the wings and the crunchy onion loaf!

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While the menu boasts a variety of salads, sandwiches, seafood and grilled meats, there’s no reason you should skip their BBQ.  We ordered several samplers and were impressed with the pulled pork, brisket and ribs.  The smoked chicken was a little dry, but the flavor was spot-on.  All of the traditional sides were simple and perfectly-made.  Be sure to order the macaroni & cheese as well as at the collards!

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A stop here is going to be your new family tradition for trips to the island.  Whether you dine-in or carry out bulk orders for beachside eating, you’ll be sure to have happy bellies from The Smokehouse!  Stop in for live music or check out their Sunday brunch.  You can learn more about this award-winning personal favorite at smokehousehhi.com.  Dig in!

Sticky Chinese Ribs

Have you ever had sticky ribs from your favorite Chinese takeout or local restaurant?  While I’m a purist most times about BBQ, I have to admit my latest creation for oven ribs is near the top of my all-time favorites.  From the citrusy marinade to the rich tangy sauce, there’s enough going on to forget that these never touched a grill or smoker!

 

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STICKY CHINESE RIBS

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Lbs. Rack of Baby Back Ribs

Marinade

  • 6-8 Slices Fresh Ginger
  • 2-3 Cloves Chopped Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • 1 Tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil

 

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Sticky Sauce

  • 3 Tbs. Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Ketchup
  • 1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tsp. Sriracha
  • 1 Tsp. Chinese Five Spice Powder

Instructions

  • Remove silver skin from the back side of ribs and cut rack in half.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients.
  • Place ribs in a gallon zipper bag and pour marinade over them.  Remove as much air as possible and seal.
  • Marinate for 2-6 hours, turning occasionally to ensure marinade penetrates all of the meat.

To Cook

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Remove ribs from marinate and shake off excess liquid.  Place in a glass 13×9 baking dish.
  • Add a half cup water, cover tightly with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours.
  • With 20 minutes left of cooking time, place all of the sticky sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat.  Stir frequently and cook for 15 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.
  • Remove ribs from oven.  Turn your oven’s broiler to low.
  • Transfer ribs to a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spoon 1/2 half of sticky sauce over ribs and place under broiler for 3-4 minutes.
  • Spoon the remaining sauce over the ribs and place back under the broiler for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove ribs from oven, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

The sticky sauce and warm spices cut through the fat of the ribs while enhancing the flavor of the pork.  You’ll be amazed how much these remind you of versions you’ve had from restaurants – only it’s better!  I know we’ll use this sticky Chinese-inspired sauce on wings in the near future too – I think a little sliced scallion would be the perfect finish.  Give them a try and I guarantee you’ll want to make them for your friends and family during these NFL playoff weekends.  Dig in!

Sweet & Crunchy BBQ Potato Chips

I’ve always wanted to make my own potato chips!  And frankly, for as easy as they were, it’s silly that I haven’t up to this point.  Grilling steaks for Father’s Day made for a great excuse to come up with a BBQ potato chip recipe.  It took a little taste-testing, but the recipe below had the right amount of sweet, savory and salty to stand up to the bold flavor of a perfectly medium-rare NY strip!

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SWEET & CRUNCHY BBQ POTATO CHIPS

Ingredients

  • 2 Lbs. Russet Potatoes
  • 1/4 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Salt
  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Smoked Sweet Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder

Instructions

  • Peel and wash potatoes.  Slice about 1/8-inch thick using a sharp knife or mandolin (much easier).
  • Place potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cold water.  Toss with your hands, let sit for 10 minutes and then drain.
  • Pour vinegar over potatoes and then cover the rest of the way with cold water.  Allow to soak for 2 hours.
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar, paprika, pepper and onion powder.  You’ve created BBQ seasoning!!  Set aside for when potatoes are cooked.
  • Drain potatoes and dry thoroughly.
  • Fry in small batches in 300 degree vegetable or canola oil.  Stir occasionally for even frying until light golden brown.
  • Remove and allow to drain on wire racks or brown paper.  Sprinkle with BBQ seasoning mixture and then place in a large bowl.
  • Continue with this process until all potatoes are fried, dusted and cooled.
  • Finally, toss the remaining seasoning over the bowl of potatoes and serve.

This is a very simple process that turns out delicious results!  My family said we will absolutely have to make these again in the future.  It was definitely a treat and a great causal side dish to serve with steaks.  The recipe above was easily devoured by a group of 8 people.  You can probably double it and still not have much left over.  Make ’em for your next occasion or when you’re experimenting on a weekend.  Dig in!

Crunchy Asian Slaw

BBQ season calls for coleslaw nearly every time, at least it does in our family!  I love traditional mayonnaise-y versions as well as vinegar-based slaws.  One of my very favorites is one my wife started making years and years ago.  This Asian-inspired version is tangy, crispy and nutty.  I honestly can’t get enough of it!

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CRUNCHY ASIAN SLAW

Ingredients

  • 1 Lbs. Bag Cabbage/Slaw Mix
  • 2 Packages Beef Ramen Noodles
  • I Cup Salted Sunflower Seeds
  • 1 Cup Slivered or Sliced Almonds, Toasted
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions, Chopped

Dressing

  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Envelopes Beef Flavor Packets (from ramen)

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Instructions

  • In a dry frying pan, lightly toast almonds over low heat until slightly browned.  Remove from heat and cool.
  • In a large bowl, mix together slaw mix, almonds, sunflower seeds, green onions and crushed ramen noodles.
  • In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk together until dissolved and smooth.
  • Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss to combine.
  • Chill for 2-4 hours and serve.

This is an easy and delicious version that goes well with any grilled protein.  Try it as a perfect acidic side dish to fatty short ribs or pork shoulder!  Do you like thinks a little spicy?  A thinly-sliced or finely-diced jalapeño or serrano pepper would be great here.  I also like to add a little sriracha for a kick.  Either way, I hope you love it too.  Dig in!

Cold Smoked Salmon or Steelhead Trout

If I’m near a bagel shop, I’m hard-pressed to not snag a smoked salmon bagel.  There’s something about the melty salty salmon combined with onions, whipped cream cheese and capers that gets me every time!  Naturally, I said to myself recently, “I can do this at home”.  Sure enough, I figured out a great process to make my own smoked fish that’s fresher and tastier than anything I’ve had before.  This recent recipe was made with a steelhead trout fillet, but can be replicated with salmon as well.

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COLD SMOKED SALMON OR STEELHEAD TROUT

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Lbs. Salmon or Steelhead Fillet
  • 1 1/2 Cups Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Inspect your fish for any pin bones and remove.  Rinse fillet and dry completely with paper towels.
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Spread 1/3 of salt mixture in a glass baking dish to completely cover the bottom.
  • Place fish on the salt mixture, skin-side down.  Cover the fish with the remaining salt mixture and pat lightly to make sure it adheres.
  • Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
  • After curing, remove fish from fridge, take out of glass dish and rinse under cold water to remove salt mixture.
  • Dry completely and place on paper towel on a cookie sheet.  Put in fridge and allow to dry for 3-4 hours uncovered.  Flesh will be firm and slightly tacky.
  • Cold smoke fish with alder or another mild wood at 120 degrees for 90 minutes.  I smoke mine over a foil pan filled with ice to prevent the fish from cooking.  The goal is to impart the smoke flavor only.
  • Remove from smoker and refrigerate.  Slice thinly and serve.  It will remain fresh in a ziplock bag for 7-10 days.

I love when a recipe relies on just a few ingredients, but tastes like a million bucks.  The technique here isn’t difficult, but the result is delicious and better than most store-bought versions.  Imagine the oohs and ahhs when you serve your homemade smoked salmon for your next brunch!  Take the time and give it a try, I think you’ll love the process and I know you’ll love the end product.  Dig in!

Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly

My wife came home with a huge slab of pork belly the other day and I decided to split it in half and start experimenting.  The result of one half was this ridiculously delectable Asian-inspired pork belly.  Packed with flavor, melt-in-your-mouth soft and perfectly crispy on the outside, it made for great sliders.  While it’s a little out of your comfort zone, it’s actually really easy to make and execute well.

HOISIN GLAZED PORK BELLY

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Lbs. Pork Belly (No skin)
  • 1/4 Light Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Hoisin Sauce (Plus additional for glazing)
  • 1/4 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • 1 Tsp. Fresh Grated Ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Five Spice Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Sesame Oil

Instructions

  • Place pork belly in a zippered plastic bag.  Set aside.
  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Whisk well and pour over pork belly.
  • Seal plastic bag, removing as much air as possible.  Place in a glass dish and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
  • When you’re ready to braise, remove from refrigerator and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove meat from plastic bag and place into a glass baking dish.  Pour marinade over meat and add enough water to bring liquid up halfway on pork belly.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees.
  • Lower oven temp to 200 degrees and continue to bake for 3 additional hours.
  • Remove from oven.  Use a spatula to remove pork belly from cooking liquid and place on a platter.  Allow to cool for 1 hour.
  • Cover platter with plastic wrap and place cooked pork belly in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  • When ready to grill, remove from fridge and slice with a sharp knife into 1/2 to 3/4-inch slices.
  • Grill over medium-low heat to crisp pork belly brushing each side lightly with additional hoisin sauce.  Grilling should take roughly 15 minutes.  Be careful not to burn!

You can serve this fantastic meat on its own as a main dish, in an Asian-style taco or in sliders.  We devoured sliders made with Hawaiian rolls, the pork belly and topped with spicy kimchi – wow!  I know you’ll love trying this out and I’m sure you’ll look like a professional chef when you serve it to your family and friends.  Get this belly in your belly.  Dig in!

Southwest Blackened Chicken Rice Bake

Do you ever have a taste for something, but not quite sure what?  Working from home today I really wanted to put something on the smoker, especially in 60-degree weather.  I was craving spicy Tex-Mex flavors though too and wanted to come up with something that would combine the two while using ingredients we already had in the house.  The result was a cheesy spicy rice casserole with smoked chicken.  While you don’t have to fire up the smoker to make this dish, the flavor was outstanding!

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SOUTHWEST BLACKENED CHICKEN RICE BAKE

Ingredients

  • 2 Bone-In Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Tbs. Blackening Seasoning – I love Hog’s Breath
  • 1 1/2 Cups Uncooked White Short Grain Rice
  • 1 1/2 Cups Black Bean Salsa
  • 1 Cup Medium Salsa
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • 1 Cup Corn Kernels (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 6-8 Green Onions, Chopped
  • Sour Cream & Hot Sauce For Garnish

Instructions

  • Wash and dry chicken breasts.  Rub in blackening seasoning on all sides.
  • Smoke offset from heat over mesquite or your favorite wood for 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees until internal temp is 180 degrees.  You can also bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or they reach the same internal temperature of 180 degrees.  Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a 2-quart baking dish place rice, both salsas, water, corn, salt and pepper.
  • Remove skin and take chicken off bone.  Shred into bite-size pieces and add all meat to the casserole dish.  Mix all ingredients with a spoon until well combined.
  • Cover dish with foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour.
  • Remove from oven.  Check rice to make sure it’s tender.  If not, you can add a bit more water or chicken stock, stir, cover and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  • Spread shredded cheese over top of the casserole and place under a broiler until cheese is melted and slightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.  Top each plate with chopped green onion,  sour cream and hot sauce to taste.

When I first baked this, I didn’t allow for enough liquid and had to add more to finish the rice cooking.  However, the recipe above should yield a perfect result!  I know you and your family will love this stick-to-your-ribs dish that gives just the right amount of bite set off by the bright flavors of green onion and sour cream.  And if you like to smoke, I would highly recommend the smoked chicken over the baked, it was awesome.  Dig in!

Pork Burnt Ends

I love to grill, smoke and BBQ – even through the winter!  I’m always looking for new recipes, methods and cuts of meat to try some experiments.  Thankfully, I always have plenty of willing taste-testers.  The recipe below was inspired by one I read in The Smoking Bacon & Hog Cookbook by Bill Gillespie.  Burnt ends are traditionally beef, but I really like this take using pork.  They make a perfect dinner, appetizer or snack for the Super Bowl next Sunday!

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PORK BURNT ENDS

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Lbs. Boneless Pork Country Ribs
  • 1/2 Cup Yellow Mustard
  • Savory BBQ Rub or Any Dry Rub (I used Butt Rub on these)
  • 6 Tbs. Butter
  • 2 Tbs. Cayenne Hot Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed

Instructions

  • Coat country ribs evenly with yellow mustard.  Dust liberally with BBQ rub of your choice.  The mustard will help tenderize the meat and help the rub to stick.
  • Using a smoker, charcoal grill or gas grill, cook ribs directly on the grate offset from the heat at a temperature of 250 degrees for roughly three hours or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.  I used my charcoal grill, natural oak lump charcoal, this time with applewood chips for smoke.
  • Remove ribs from smoker or grill and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
  • While the ribs cool:  In a small saucepan, melt butter and add hot sauce and honey.  Stir to combine well.
  • Cut ribs into 1-inch cubes.  Using an injector fill each pork cube.  The butter mixture will run out some, but that’s OK.  Place cubes into a shallow foil pan.  You will have some butter pool in the pan as it runs out of the pork.
  • Sprinkle the cubed meat with brown sugar and another light coating of rub.
  • Return foil pan to the smoker or grill and continue to cook on offset heat at 275-300 degrees for 1-2 more hours.  Stir every 15 minutes to evenly coat pork with rub and sauce.
  • Your burnt ends are ready when they reach your desired darkness.  Given the fat content and butter in the meat, you can create a great bark without drying out the meat.

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So this was my first run at making these and I couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out!  You could easily finish these with your favorite BBQ sauce instead of the rub and brown sugar, but be careful of the sugar content.  It could cause them to burn quickly.  Served as a main, in a sandwich or as an appetizer, you’ll look like a BBQ pro for your family and friends.  Give them a try and let me know what you think.  Dig in!!

Thai BBQ Short Ribs

While I’ve never had a chance to travel to Asia, I absolutely love all kinds of food from the region.  This recipe for short ribs draws inspiration from Thai cooking and uses satay sauce as the base for the marinade.  Satay is usually made with coconut milk, peanuts, garlic and spices.  It’s an easy marinade that’ll make you devour these short ribs with all their fatty goodness!  You’ll want to try it on chicken as well – the peanut, coconut and spice all make for a warm nutty bbq treat.

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THAI BBQ SHORT RIBS

Ingredients

  • 3 Lbs. Sliced Beef Short Ribs
  • 1/2 Cup Prepared Satay BBQ Sauce (available in most grocery stores with Asian foods)
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
  • 4 Tbs. Lite Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tbs. Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh Lime Juice
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes

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Instructions

  • In a small bowl, stir together satay bbq sauce and remaining ingredients until smooth and brown sugar dissolves.
  • Brush both sides of each short rib with marinade and stack in a 13×9 baking dish.
  • Pour any remaining marinade over the short ribs.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  • Remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove each rib from the baking dish and shake off an excess marinade as you place them on a hot grill.  Grill short rib slices over medium heat for 5-7 minutes per side.  Flip them several times to avoid burning the marinade.
  • Serve immediately.

If you’re a fan of Thai food or this is your first foray into the world of satay, I think you’ll be glad you made this recipe!  You can also use the recipe above and substitute an equal amount of peanut butter for the brown sugar and use it as a dipping sauce!  The combination of richness, warmth and a hint of sweetness make this delicious on beef and chicken and any time of the year.  Dig in!

Tupelo Honey Cafe – Myrtle Beach, SC

You don’t often find me writing reviews of chain restaurants because most people have exposure to places they can find everywhere.  When we stepped into Tupelo Honey Cafe, we had no idea they had about a dozen locations around the southeast.  And let me tell you, this place is anything other than ordinary mass-produced food!  Their focus on locally sourced ingredients with beautiful southern dishes offer a twist on many classics.

This restaurant offers a ton of seating, indoor and out, with a full bar and ample large tables for groups.  The atmosphere feels more like a small southern kitchen though with comfortable chairs, soft lighting and a warm color palette.  There is a large local beer selection and some great craft cocktail choices.  After settling on a Westbrook IPA, brewed in South Carolina, we ordered the SC Pecan-Encrusted Goat Cheese.  Warm and creamy as you spread it on toasted bread, the cheese is complimented by a mixture of figs, grilled apples and pimentos.  We loved every bite!

Warm buttermilk biscuits are brought to your table before dinner, but won’t last long after they’re smothered with blueberry compote and buttery honey.  The small plates and dinner choices are vast and varied.  My wife settled on Cackalackie Pulled Pork with a tangy vinegar-y mustard BBQ sauce.  Served with fried onion straws and house pickles, she loved the creamy rich baked mac-n-cheese and roasted brussels sprouts.  There wasn’t a bite on that plate that either of us didn’t love.  I chose the Carolina Mountain Trout seared with brown butter – a huge filet with great texture and crispy edges.  My basil sautéed green beans and eggy Appalachian corn souffle were outstanding and Sunday-supper-feeling.

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The only regret here is that we didn’t get to try more!  The menu definitely will have us coming back again.  Banana Pudding served with fresh whipped cream and crumbled vanilla wafers was an awesome treat we brought home to enjoy later in the evening.  I highly recommend visiting their website and checking out where you might find them on your next trip around the southeast.  You can find them here at tupelohoneycafe.com.  Mostly, just find them and dig into a taste of the south!