Oven-Fried Chicken

Who doesn’t love the homey goodness of crispy fried chicken??  Besides the grease and mess, it’s healthier to try my oven-fried version as you look to add recipes to your winter lineup.  The combination of herbs and spices along with a little parmesan cheese give this recipe great flavor and texture while cutting down on the oil from a traditional fried chicken recipe.  Give this a try on your next chicken night and you’ll be fixing this family favorite regularly.

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OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN

Ingredients

  • 4 Lbs. Chicken Pieces or Boneless, Skinless Breasts
  • 1/2 Cup Milk (skim, 2% or buttermilk)
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Self-Rising Cornmeal
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tsp. Dried Parsley
  • 1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp. Ground Thyme
  • 1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Butter, Melted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, cornmeal, parmesan and spices.  Mix with a fork to distribute evenly.
  • Pour milk into another shallow dish.
  • Dip chicken pieces into milk and then dredge in coating mixture.  Press gently to coat each chicken piece well.
  • Place chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet with enough space so pieces are not touching.
  • Continue process until all chicken is dipped and coated.
  • Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove baking sheet and drizzle chicken with melted butter.  Return to oven and bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.
  • Serve immediately.

You may need to adjust cooking time depending on the size of your chicken pieces and whether they’re boneless or not.  You may want to adjust the seasoning depending on how spicy you want it – a little more black pepper and two teaspoons of paprika would go a long way!  Have some holiday parties coming up?  Try making this recipe with wings or chicken legs for a great finger food.  Let me know what variations you come up with – I’m sure they’ll be great.  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!

Chicken Apple Sausage

I’ve been making my own sausage for several years.  And while you definitely need some special equipment, i.e. meat grinder and sausage stuffer, it’s a really fun and actually pretty easy process.  The thought of store-bought sausage makes some people wince – what in the world do they put in that stuff??  Whether you make fresh or smoked, you can control ingredients, flavors and salt content by making your own.  Below is a recipe for fresh chicken apple sausage, flavored with onions, garlic and allspice.  I hope you love it!

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CHICKEN APPLE SAUSAGE

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 Lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 2 Lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Medium Honeycrisp Apples, Peeled
  • 1/2 Large White Onion
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Kosher Salt
  • 1 1/4 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Allspice
  • 1/2 Tsp. Ground Thyme
  • About 9 feet of fresh hog casing

Instructions

  • Slice chicken into 1-inch strips.  Place in freezer for 15 minutes while you prepare apples and onions.
  • Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate peeled apples and onion.  Sauté in a large frying pan with butter for 10-15 minutes.  They should be soft and moisture should be evaporated.  Allow to cool in bowl.
  • Using a meat grinder, or grinder attachment on your mixer, grind semi-frozen chicken on the finest grind.  Grind into a large mixing bowl so that you have room to mix in spices, etc.
  • Add apple and onion mixture to ground chicken an mix with your hands to incorporate evenly.
  • Sprinkle all seasonings evenly over mixture and then mix again with hands until combined.
  • Place ground mixture into a sausage stuffer.
  • Stuff into hog casings and link into 3-4 inch sections.  Allow to dry on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes.
  • You can now cook immediately on the grill or in a pan.  However, the flavors will be better if the sausage rests for a day or longer.  We freeze ours in a vacuum sealer.

The sweetness of the apples combined with the savory onions, garlic and thyme make for a delicious combination!  You’ll find that this recipe has a lot less fat than store-bought sausage so be careful not to overcook and dry it out.  If you have the time and tools, give it a try – I think you’ll find yourself making sausage more often than buying it.  Either way, dig in!!

Roasted Chicken, Leeks & Apples

Looking for an alternative to plain baked chicken?  The sweet and savory combination of apples and leeks roasting in the rendered chicken fat are a tasty fall delight.  You’ll love the single-pan simplicity of this dish that’s just good rustic comfort food.  And fall is the perfect time to make it with October and November as the prime season for both apples and leeks.

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ROASTED CHICKEN, LEEKS & APPLES

Ingredients

  • 4 Bone-in Chicken Thighs
  • 3 Large Leeks
  • 3 Medium Apples (Jonamac or another sweet/tart baking variety)
  • 3 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 8 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tsp. Black Pepper

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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Brush a large heavy cookie sheet with 1 Tbs. of olive oil to coat lightly.  Place chicken thighs on sheet, but leave space between them.
  • Wash and dry leeks and apples.  Leeks can get gritty with sand/soil so be sure to wash them thoroughly.
  • Core and slice apples into 6-8 slices each.  Cut the tops off the leeks, cut the bottom in half and then in half lengthwise to get 4 pieces per leek.  Place all leeks and apples on the cookie sheet.  Again, spread out evenly to allow for even roasting and caramelization.
  • Drizzle all ingredients with the remaining 2 Tbs. of olive oil and then salt and pepper.  Top with sprigs of fresh thyme.
  • Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.

As the chicken renders and the skin crisps, the fat will spread through the pan to give everything some delicious “chicken love”.  Mild onion flavor and sweet/tart apples perfumed with thyme are the perfect accompaniment to a perfect chicken thigh.  You can easily double this recipe and use a whole cut up chicken, but you’ll need to use two cookie sheets.  The key is to give everything enough space to roast and caramelize properly.  I have no doubt that this will be a regular in your family’s weekly menu once you try it.  Dig in and enjoy!

Savory BBQ Rub

The secret’s out – I love to barbecue!!  Whether I’m cooking at home or eating out, I love wings, brisket, ribs and all manner of meats seasoned with dry rub.  There are tons of great varieties available in stores and online and I use lots of them. (people tend to give them to me as gifts – awesome, right?!)  I have a few favorites that I’ve talked about before, but I also like to make my own.  Try the all-purpose rub below for a perfect blend of sweet-savory-spicy.  There’s a depth of flavor with maybe a few surprises in the ingredients, but the overall flavor is reminiscent of really great BBQ potato chips.

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SAVORY BBQ RUB

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Tsp Sweet Smoked Paprika
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Granulated Garlic
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Ground Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Ground Mustard
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger

Instructions (not really necessary)

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Rub desired cut(s) of meat on all sides and allow to marinate for 30 minutes before grilling, smoking or baking.

It’s not complicated, but this recipe turns out some great BBQ.  The amount above is enough to cover a 5 lbs. brisket, but you can multiple the recipe for greater quantities of chicken, ribs, etc.  It’s also a great basic recipe that you can add or exchange ingredients to develop your own flavor profile.  Like it hot?  Use hot paprika and cayenne.  Like a little more savory?  Use rosemary or oregano.  Want some southwest flair?  Try adding chili powder and cumin.  Have fun with it and share any of your great ideas.  Mostly, just fire up the smoker and dig in!

Beer Butt Chicken

I’ve tried making beer butt/can chicken more times than I can remember over the past 10 years.  From crushed cans to underdone dark meat, I’ve made plenty of mistakes.  I’ve even read that the actual process supposedly imparts no flavor on the finished product.  Let me tell you, I have perfected the process and am telling you that this is some of the best chicken you will ever have!!  From the initial brine to the cooking liquid, your birds are assured to be moist, tender and full of flavor.  Give this recipe a try and you’ll believe me.

BEER BUTT CHICKEN

Ingredients

Brine

  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Whole Lemon, Quartered
  • 3-4 Bay Leaves

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Chickens

  • 2 Whole Chickens, 4-5 Lbs Each
  • 4 Tbs Ultimate Roast Chicken Rub or Similar
  • 2 Cans Crispin Hard Cider
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 6 Sprigs Fresh Parsley

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Instructions

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all of the brine ingredients and stir until completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Rinse chickens thoroughly and place in a large pot or jumbo size ziplock bag.  Cover them with ice cubes (about 25-30) and then pour brine over top of chickens.  Add enough tap water to make sure that they are covered completely.
  • Seal and allow to soak in brine in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 24 hours.  The longer the better, but even 4 hours will do a lot to flavor and tenderize your birds.
  • Remove chickens from brine, rinse thoroughly and pat dry.  Discard brining liquid.
  • Use Ultimate Chicken Rub or your favorite rub mixture to coat birds inside and out.
  • I have “beer butt stands” that I can pour cider, vinegar and herbs into.  If you don’t have these, pour about a quarter of the cider out of each can, add half of cider and herbs to each can.
  • Slide birds over your cider can or stand.  Either tie a piece of cooking string around the wings or create 2 “pockets” in each bird that you can tuck them into.  Place on a charcoal grill – you can cook with or without wood chips for smoke or on a gas grill as well.  Cook offset from heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 275 degrees.  Skin should be nicely browned and juices should run clear.
  • Remove from grill, place on a cookie sheet and cover with foil.  Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.
  • Carve into pieces or de-bone and serve.

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This recipe is pretty simple, but you have to know your grill and make sure these birds are cooked through.  Use a meat thermometer and make sure the internal temp gets to 165 degrees.  I take it off the grill between 155 and 160 and let the temp continue to rise while it’s covered with foil off the grill.  There are many variations you can try once you master the process of brining and cooking “beer butt style”.  I like using beer, but the hard cider really imparts apple flavor that you can taste in the chicken.  Try experimenting with different flavors in the brine, the rub or the cooking liquid.  I’d love to hear your ideas!  Also, please click on the links above to find out where you can get the Ultimate Roast Chicken Rub and the Beer Butt Stands.  Happy grilling!!

The Best Special-Sauced Grilled Chicken

I have a decent “poker face”, but it’s tough to hide my disappointment when I see someone grilling/serving dried-out, boneless skinless chicken breast.  I know it has its place on some menus, but chicken on the bone is so much more flavorful!  If you take your time and master the technique, you’ll be saying adios to the “old beige standby”.  I love all kinds of seasonings and sauces, but this tried-and-true recipe I use all year long on grilled chicken and wings.  You’re going to love it!

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Best Special-Sauced Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Chicken, Cut Into Pieces (2 Each – Wings, Thighs, Breasts and Legs)
  • 1 Tbs Seasoned Salt
  • 1 Tbs Black Pepper

Special Sauce

  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Crystal Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup The Original Tiger Sauce

Directions

  • Rinse and dry chicken pieces.  Season all sides liberally with seasoned salt and pepper.  You can season with anything, but one of my favorites is Butt Rub.  You can find it at buttrub.com or you can also mix your own.  I’ll provide some rub recipes in a another post.
  • Grill chicken on medium-low heat turning often to avoid burning skin.  Know your hot spots on your grill and rotate pieces as needed.  You can put put the breasts on 10 minutes before the rest of the pieces since they are larger.  Cook all pieces for 25 minutes.  They will need another 10-15, but you can sauce through the last of the process.
  • In a microwaveable bowl, melt butter and then add both sauces.  I recommend Crystal Hot Sauce for spice and The Original Tiger Sauce for a sweet/hot addition.  Stir together until fully mixed.  This spicy-sweet sauce is not quite buffalo, but close enough that you’ll want to put in on wings too!
  • Brush sauce on chicken pieces and allow to cook2-3 minutes.  Turn and continue this process 4-5 times using all sauce and juices run clear in chicken.

If you follow this simple process, you’ll have savory grilled chicken with crispy skin and a spicy/sweet sauce.  It might take some practice, but once you master it, you’ll make this a standby for your grilling season.  Dig in!