Hawaiian Kabobs

It’s officially grilling season!  Although I grill year-round, some of my neighbors are just getting started for the year.  Beyond the typical burgers, dogs, chicken and steaks I love to mix it up and try new things.  Using kielbasa or smoked sausage, these Hawaiian kabobs get a sweet and salty kick from chunked pineapple and a teriyaki glaze.  Whisk away to the islands and try this recipe for your next grilled dinner.

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HAWAIIAN KABOBS

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb. Kielbasa or Smoked Sausage
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 12 2-Inch-Square Pineapple Chunks
  • 1 Cup Teriyaki Sauce

Instructions

  • Cut kielbasa, on a bias, into 12 even pieces.
  • Core and seed green pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces.
  • Cut 1/2 red onion into quarters and separate layers of onions.
  • Arrange ingredients on metal kabob skewers by alternating sausage, pineapple, pepper and onion.  You should be able to fill 4 12-inch skewers with the ingredients above.
  • Grill kabobs over medium-low heat for 25 minutes.  Turn every 5 minutes to cook evenly, brushing with teriyaki sauce each time.  NOTE:  I love using Trader Joe’s brand Island Soyaki as it has a great blend of teriyaki, soy, pineapple and sesame seeds.
  • Remove from grill and serve immediately over white or brown rice.

A few ingredients, simple preparation and delicious results make this one a keeper.  I know we’ll be making these throughout the summer and especially when we’re camping.  They’re just as easy on a roasting stick over a fire as they are on the grill!  Give them a try and let me know what you think.  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!

Italian Sausage Stuffed Mini Peppers

I was given a pepper roasting rack some years back as a Christmas gift.  And over those years, I’ve perfected this recipe for grilled sweet peppers stuffed with a spicy Italian filling.  Delicious as a football-watching snack and pretty enough as an appetizer to bring to a dinner party.  Try making these for your Super Bowl party tomorrow!  And if you don’t have a special rack, you can use foil to fashion a checkerboard in the same shape to hold these upright on your grill.

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ITALIAN SAUSAGE STUFFED MINI PEPPERS

Ingredients

  • 24 Assorted Mini Sweet Peppers (most groceries sell them by the bag now)
  • 8 Ounces Sweet Italian Sausage
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Instructions

  • Wash and dry the peppers.  Cut off tops and use a paring knife to remove any seeds and white membranes from inside.  Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine sausage (without casing), garlic, oregano, cheese and pepper flakes.
  • Using a small spoon or your fingers, stuff each pepper with the sausage mixture.  Only fill each pepper just to the top and don’t pack it too tight.  The filling will expand when it cooks.
  • Place peppers in your specialty rack or foil grid so that they are standing upright.
  • Grill over low heat for 25-30 minutes.  Peppers will be roasted, blistered and soft while the filling should expand and brown on top.
  • Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Grab yourself an IPA, cocktail or glass of cabernet and savor these salty sweet bites.  I guarantee that you’ll make these a staple snack for the big game or family functions.  And make the small investment in the pepper rack, it’s totally worth the purchase to make this recipe as well as grilled jalapeño poppers!  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!

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!!

Easy Baby (Got) Back Ribs

Is BBQ a food group?!  I believe it should be – a lot of people would agree with me based on America’s obsession with BBQ cooking, restaurants and TV shows.  Baby back ribs are sometimes intimidating for people to cook at home, but they don’t have to be.  Whether braised, smoked, oven-baked or grilled I have a fool-proof method for tender ribs that will make you look like a pro!  The key takeaway from the recipe below is the method.  You can vary rubs and sauces, but by following these steps, you’ll always turn out competition-worthy ribs.

EASY BABY (GOT) BACK RIBS

Ingredients

Directions

  • Remove ribs from packing and pat dry with paper towels.
  • On the back side of the ribs, insert a knife under the silver skin until you can grab enough of it with your hand.  Remove the entire silver skin from the back of the ribs to allow for better cooking and more tender meat.  It may be easier if you use a towel or paper towel to grab the silver skin.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the rack in half for easier cooking.
  • Generously sprinkle all sides of the ribs with your dry rub.  I love using Butt Rub, but there are tons of great dry rubs out there.  I’ll have a future post with several rub recipes you can make yourself!  Rub the seasoning into the meat well.
  • No matter your method of cooking, you want to take two steps.
    • First, place the ribs in a metal rack on your grill or on a cookie sheet for your oven and cook for 2 hours at 275 degrees.  On the grill, cook them over indirect heat – they will dry out and become tough on the outside.
    • After two hours, place both halves into a large piece of doubled-up foil.  Put butter and cider vinegar in the foil and seal completely.  Place back in the oven or on the grill for 1 hour.
  • Remove ribs from grill or oven and from foil wrap.  Discard foil and cooking juice.
  • The ribs are fully cooked and tender at this point.  I like to finish them over low direct flame on the grill and add sauce.  You can also sauce them in the oven if you prefer.  Either way, over the next 15-20 minutes, brush rib liberally with the sauce of your choice turning the ribs often to avoid burning.

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Follow this method and you should turn out beautiful ribs that have tender meat pulling away from the bone!  I use one of our local Cincinnati favorites – Montgomery Inn BBQ Sauce for a rich sweet flavor.  Try these with your own local favorite or homemade sauce.  I’ll have a few recipes in future posts for that too!  Send me pictures and stories of your best effort – I’m sure you’ll wow friends and family with this recipe…

Asian-Glazed Grilled Swordfish Skewers

When you travel a lot for work, it feels great to be home for a week and get creative in the kitchen.  Feeling the heat of summer means keeping it light with this twist on traditional grilled kabobs.  Swordfish is meaty and will stay on a skewer and hold up on the grill.  It feels like a stick-to-your-ribs meal with the addition of Brussels sprouts and cremini mushrooms al covered in a tangy Asian-inspired glaze.  The combinations are endless, but give this a try for something new and different without stacking on the fat and calories.

ASIAN-GLAZED GRILLED SWORDFISH SKEWERS

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb Swordfish Steak(s)
  • 8 Cremini Mushrooms
  • 12-16 Brussels Sprouts
  • 3 Green Onions, Sliced Thinly

Asian Glaze

  • 3 Tbs Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbs White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tbs Honey
  • Juice & Zest of 1/2 Lime
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tsp Grated Fresh Ginger

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Directions

  • Clean and trim Brussels sprouts.  Steam on stovetop or microwave for 7 minutes, until slightly soft.
  • Cut swordfish into 1 1/2 inch cubes.
  • Alternate fish, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms on skewers.  DO NOT overcrowd them or they won’t cook evenly!
  • In a small bowl mix all ingredients for the Asian glaze.
  • Grill skewers on medium heat for 5-6 minutes, turning twice.  Lightly brush skewers with glaze and continue to cook for an additional 5-6 minutes.  Turn and glaze every minute or so.  Fish should be opaque and firm to the touch.
  • Remove skewers from grill, glaze once more and serve over white sticky rice.  Finish with sliced green onions.

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These don’t take long to grill, so it’s important that you steam the Brussels sprouts ahead of time or they won’t cook through.  Also, there is an absence of salt and pepper in this recipe because the glaze seasons everything really well.  If you like things a little spicy, I would replace the garlic clove with a tablespoon or two of sriracha.  Either way, this is a healthy dinner that’s filling and good for you too.  Let me know how it goes and what you changed!

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!

Southwest Turkey Burgers w/Guacamole

Weekdays are tough to create interesting dinners with busy work schedules, activities, etc.  Even firing up the grill, something like a turkey burger can be pretty pedestrian, but it doesn’t have to be.  Try this Southwest twist on the ol’ bird-patty, we loved it!

SOUTHWEST TURKEY BURGERS

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4-Lbs Turkey Burger Patties
  • 1 Tbs Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Medium Red Onion
  • 1 Tsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 slices Colby Jack Cheese
  • 2 Buns, Lightly Buttered

Directions

  • Preheat grill and dust both sides of each turkey burger with taco seasoning.
  • Slice red onion into 1/2 inch thick slices, brush lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper each side.
  • Grill turkey burgers and onion slices over high heat for 4-5 minutes per side.  Juices should run clear for the burgers.  Onion slices should be charred and soft, but hold together.
  • Place cheese on burgers and place buns, buttered side down, on the grill.  Take everything off grill and assemble burgers on buns.  Top with a slice of grilled onion and a healthy dollop of guacamole.

These are super easy to make and always turn out like a restaurant-quality burger.  Don’t be afraid to play with the toppings and add/substitute salsa, hot sauce, pickled jalapeño or pepper jack cheese!

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EVERYDAY GUACAMOLE

Ingredients

  • 2 Ripe Avocados
  • 1/4 Red Onion, Diced
  • 4 Campari Tomatoes, Seeded & Diced
  • 2 Tbs Fresh Lime Juice
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Instructions

  • Core, scoop and dice avocados and place into bowl.
  • Pour lime juice over avocado and add tomatoes and onions.
  • Liberally season with salt and pepper and mix well.  I like mine a little chunky, but mix and mash with a fork to your desired consistency.

This is the basic recipe for guac in our house.  It’s easy to multiply if you need more for a party.  I also like to add garlic and/or jalapeño depending on what I’m using it for.  Seriously, always keep these ingredients on hand because it couldn’t look more like culinary genius when you pull this together last-minute for guests or just an impromptu beer or margarita on the patio!