Posts by griffinsgrub

Bratwurst Burgers

This past weekend, I was cleaning out the freezer and found some home made bratwurst (using this recipe) hiding in the back. This package of brats was in bulk form (ie wasn’t stuffed into casings) and I thought it would be perfect to make some burgers.  Now, if you don’t happen to have fresh, home made bratwurst in your freezer (I do feel sorry for you), then you can always grab some links from your grocery store, slice open the casings and form them into your own burgers. I happened to have a pound of bratwurst which was perfect to make 3 patties as I like my burgers around 1/3 lb each. Feel free to make your patties to whatever size makes you happy.

Bratwurst patties on the grill

Bratwurst patties on the grill

I set up my Egg for a direct cook around 500F. The bratwurst burgers were grilled for about 2 minutes, then turned 90 degrees, grilled another 2 minutes, then flipped and repeated on the other side. Grill until the temp reaches 160F (carryover will take it to 165F). Even though the FDA says pork is safe at 145F, with ground pork (ie sausage), I like to play it on the safe side, especially if I didn’t grind it myself and it’s store bought.

Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns

Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns

I know pretzel buns are probably “so last year”, but while at the store getting some other things, I spotted them at my bakery for the first time. I’m not always the first to jump on every food bandwagon. Often times, I just watch it pass by and shake my head. Some of them make no sense to me, but pretzel buns with bratwurst burgers? Seemed like they were made for each other. Made me take a short trip down memory lane. Sitting at a biergarten in Germany. Drinking beer and snacking on pretzels and sausages.  Good times. Sorry. My minds started to wander there for a bit.

So how to top these bratwurst burgers? I decided to keep it simple. Some spicy, brown mustard and a bit of sauerkraut. And why not some more pretzels on the side and a cold beer to wash it down (not pictured)?

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

Taking a food that is normally eaten as a link and serving it in a burger form was different, to say the least. I mean I knew on a mental level what to expect it to taste like, but picking it up, it was like some kind of mental muscle memory kicked in and I almost expected it to taste like a burger. Like the eyes and sense of taste and mind just weren’t meshing up. It’s hard to explain. I think I had the same experience when we made King Ranch Mac and Cheese. I expected that to taste like Mac and Cheese, but then got all the flavors of King Ranch Chicken. Weird what the brain can do to you sometimes. Regardless, it was a pretty tasty burger/bratwurst burger. The only thing I think it was missing was some kind of cheese. What kind of cheese would you serve on a bratwurst burger?

Fajita Chicken Wings with a Creamy Chipotle Dipping Sauce

     Some of you may know that yesterday was National Chicken Wing Day (7/29/14). If you lived in my house, you would have known for sure. One of my favorite food holidays of the year. What’s not to love? Crispy, bite sized food? You’re expected to use your hands? People don’t frown down on you if you get a bit messy? And most often come with some kind of tasty dipping sauce? Check, check and check. Sounds like the perfect food group to me.

     I’m always on the look out for a new wing recipe. This time, I used a little influence from growing up in South Texas and a nod to Chris over at NibbleMeThis to come up with my version of fajita chicken wings and a creamy chipotle dipping sauce. A little fusion of Tex-Mex and chicken wings.

Fajita Chicken Wings for National Chicken Wing Day

Fajita Chicken Wings for National Chicken Wing Day

     While Chris’s recipe is a little more in depth with more ingredients and a marinade process, I kept mine fairly simple by just using Fiesta Chicken Fajita Seasoning for two reasons. I like the flavor and I find that marinades can prevent the skin on chicken wings from getting crispy.

Ingredients

  • chicken wings
  • Fiesta Chicken Fajita Seasoning (or any brand you may prefer)
  • cornstarch (optional)
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2 chipotle peppers, chopped + 1 tsp juice
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • juice of half a lemon or lime
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash of ancho chile pepper
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Chicken Fajita Seasoning and my lil devil bottle opener

Chicken Fajita Seasoning and my lil devil bottle opener

Directions

  1. Lightly dust your chicken wings with corn starch (optional – this will help the skin get crispy as it cooks). Then dust the wings with fajita seasoning. Arrange the wings in a single layer on a platter and cookie sheet and place in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 12 hours. This process will allow the wings to air dry and will also help them crisp up.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set the bowl in the fridge and allow flavors to marry for an hour or two.

    Creamy chipotle dipping sauce

    Creamy chipotle dipping sauce

  3. Preheat your grill to 400F. If using a Kamado style grill, set it up for a raised direct cook. If using other grills, set it up for a two zone cook (one side with the coals or burners on and one side without) so that you can shuffle the wings back and forth in case of flare ups.
  4. Grill wings for 30 minutes, turning two or three times to ensure even cooking. Keep an eye out for flare ups and move wings to the unlit side of the grill if necessary.
  5. Wings are safe to eat at 165F, but I usually like to take mine to 175-180 to get that crispy skin. Not to worry. The wings will not dry out.
Wings cooking at 400F raised direct. Almost done.

Wings cooking at 400F raised direct. Almost done.

     I went back and forth on what to serve with my wings. On the one hand, I wanted to keep with the Tex-Mex thing and thought about going with Mexican rice. Maybe some boracho beans. But that would require using a utensil and would counter balance part of the fun of wings…eating with your hands. Or I could just go with one of my other favorite foods…Tater Tots!! Yep, tater tots won out.

Wings and tots makes me happy.

Wings and tots makes me happy.

     It’s always interesting to switch things up on wing night. That first bite you expect to get some heat. These wings don’t bring the heat, though. They bring those flavors that you have come to expect from fajitas. Cumin, garlic, onion and a hint of citrus. The Chipotle Dipping Sauce doesn’t serve the same purpose as the normal bleu cheese or ranch that you get with Buffalo Wings. It’s not there to cool off your mouth from the heat from the wings. Most people enjoy their fajitas with sour cream. This sauce gives you that sour cream along with the smokiness of the chipotle peppers and some heat from the cayenne and ancho. Completely optional, but it adds that extra dimension to the wings that really set them off.

Demolished

Demolished

     Next time you are thinking about wings, try thinking outside the box. How could other cultures influence your wings and take them to a whole nother playing field? You might surprise yourself. You just might come up with a recipe that replaces Buffalo Wings as your favorite type of wings.

 

How To Build Your Fire For a Low and Slow

Over the years, I’ve seen and heard countless people ask about how to build a fire in a Kamado style grill in order to get smoke through out a low and slow cook. In fact, just this morning I was asked in a PM about this very topic. If you just put wood on top of the coals, it will burn up at the beginning of your cook. You can always take out your plate setter or your heat deflector and add more wood, but you lose heat, its awkward (where do you place that hot plate setter?) and will end up adding time to your total cook. Who wants that?

The answer is pretty simple. When filling up your firebowl, add wood mixed in with the lump charcoal. Place a layer of charcoal on the bottom, then add your wood chunks (or chips. Or a mixture of both), add more charcoal, then more wood chunks and repeat until your firebowl is full. As the fire burns down, it will continue to hit fresh wood which will ensure smoke through out the cook. Voila! Easy peasy. Simple as could be.

Note that on a low and slow, you will have a small fire and it will be contained pretty much too a small cylinder in the middle of you bowl. For that reason, just add the wood to the center. No need to spread it out towards the edges as the fire probably won’t ignite any wood there.

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I’d like to be able to take credit for creating the above illustration, but in truth it’s been floating around the ole interweb for years on various forums. I believe credit should go to a guy named Stike, but sadly he is no longer active on the Egghead forum.

Happy Smoking!

Happy Friday the 13th!! And Happy Father’s Day!!

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You may not know this about me, but my name is Jason.  No. Not Voorhees. If it was, this would be Voorhees Vittles or something like that.  Growing up, I heard all the jokes about Friday the 13th and Jason. It got old. Fast. But in life, you can choose to either ignore things or embrace them. I decided to embrace them.

friday-the-13th

Here’s a little guide to help you survive the day.

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And did you realize to compound the matter that there’s a full moon? Technically, it was at 12:13 ET this morning, but close enough. Won’t happen again until 2049. So be careful and be safe. ;)

But on a more serious note before I log off for the weekend, I just wanted to say Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there and especially to my Dad who has always been there for me and who has been a role model, somebody I can look up to and my hero. Love you Dad!!

Super-Dad2

Check Your Thermometers!!

Summer is upon us and people are firing up their grills across the country. Whether they be year round grillers or just fair weather grillers, I bet more grills get fired up this month than any other of the year. Regardless of which camp you fall into, it’s always a good idea to periodically check your thermometers to make sure they are reading accurately. Both your grill thermometers and instant read meat thermometers.

Firing up the Mini BGE for some brats

Firing up the Mini BGE for some brats

I was reminded just how important that was last night when I went to fire up the MINI. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mini Egg, but it hasn’t seen a lot of action lately. If you told me I had used it less than five times this year, I wouldn’t be surprised. The Large has been seeing all the action lately as we’re usually grilling both proteins and veggies.

Last night, however, I was only doing brats and so it got the nod. I lit it per my normal method (paper towel soaked in oil, shoved through the bottom vent and lit), sat down with an ice cold glass of tea and started to read while occasionally tossing the ball to Oliver, our German Shepherd, when he would actually bring it back. I’d glance over at the Mini every so often to see how it was doing. 200F. Gonna be a bit longer. Read some more. Still at 200, maybe a bit higher.

OK…something is not right here. Peeked down the top vent and there was plenty of red hot coals. Held my hand over it. NOPE. That ain’t 200F!! Thermometer must be completely out of whack. Closed my vents to where the normally are for a 350-400F cook and tossed the brats in anyway.

Happy to be using the Mini Egg

Happy to be using the Mini Egg once again

So basically I cooked the brats blind, I had no idea what temp I was at, but I forged ahead anyway. Wait a few minutes, turn, wait a few minutes, turn again. Listen for any sizzling that would be an indication that they were too hot, the skins had split and juice was leaking down into the coals, which is a bad thing, of course. While this was happening, I thought back to grilling pre-BGE. Years grilling on kettles, offsets and gas grills. Grills that either did not have thermometers or ones that read LOW-MED-HIGH. I reminisced about holding my hand over the heat and counting how long I could hold my hand there to give me an indication of how hot my grill was. A great trick every pitmaster should know and one I’m glad I learned. I figure I was somewhere in the 350-400F range. Thankful that I have those skills and don’t need to rely on a thermometer.When the brats were done, I pulled them and checked the thermometer one last time. Dead on 200F. Yep, definitely out of whack.

Definitely not reading accurately

Definitely not reading accurately

So how do you know if your thermometer isn’t calibrated? There’s two easy ways. You can submerge it in a glass of ice water and it should read 32F. Obviously, with my thermometer, that trick won’t work since it only goes down to 50F and who really cares if its accurate at that end of the scale? The other thing you can do is to submerge your thermometer in boiling water. You remember science class, right guys? What temperature does water boil at? That’s right. 212F. Plus or minus a bit depending on altitude and barometric pressure and all that. You can try and get all precise, but if you are in the 210F ballpark, I’d call that good enough.

What do you do if your thermometer is off? I can’t speak to all thermometers as there are so many out there, but if its one like this or a Tel-Tru, there should be a nut on the back. Use a wrench and turn the nut until the dial reads 212. Clockwise will make it read higher, counter-clockwise will make it read lower. Only slight adjustments should be necessary to dial it in to 212F.

As for me? I’m probably just going to toss mine. It’s the old school thermometer that used to come with the Egg. I’m not sure its even a Tel-Tru, which is what they come with now. To be quite honest, I kinda recall that the stem got bent awhile back and I had to put quite a bit of force into it to bend it back. I don’t exactly recall what I did to bend it, but ever since I’ve been moving my new Tel-Tru thermometer from Egg to Egg depending on which one I am using. I just forgot last night. After bending the stem, I’m not sure it even works anymore. I’ll just replace it with a more accurate thermometer. Heck, maybe I’ll even look into seeing if there is a digital version out there I could use….

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