Smoke by Thermoworks

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Smoke by Thermoworks

I’m a big fan or Thermoworks. Years ago (maybe 7 now?), I received the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen as a Christmas present. 2-3 second readings, accurate to 0.7F, water resistant. What’s not to like? In all that time, I think I’ve only changed the battery on it once.

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Classic Super-Fast Thermapen 

 

About a year ago, I purchased the Chef Alarm. Originally, I bought it to check on my mash temperatures and to keep an eye on my wort as it came to a boil when I was brewing beer. It does all that well, but also gets used as a timer when cooking and to monitor temperatures of food being cooked in the oven or on the BGE. The ability to set low and high temp alarms is very helpful as you don’t have to open the oven or Egg to check and let out heat. The Chef Alarm will let you know when its ready.

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Chef Alarm

I’ve been looking at Smoke ever since it was first announced, before they ever released it. Monitor meat temp? Check! Monitor Egg temp? Check!! 300 ft range? Awesome!! Way better than my old Maverick ET-73, which crapped out on me anyway and would no longer send a signal to the monitor, and  which never did reach the 100 ft it claimed.

 

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What comes in the box

When I opened the box, I found:

  • Base unit
  • Pro-Series® High Temp Cooking Probe
  • Pro-Series High-Temp Air Probe
  • Grate Clip
  • Wireless Smoke Receiver w/Lanyard
  • Operating Instructions
  • a small bag of jellybeans which I found was a nice personal touch. Duke will enjoy them I’m sure
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Up close view of the Base Unit

You might have noticed, in the first picture the “Open Box Item” sticker. If you keep an eye on their website, or are on their mailing list, you’ll see that frequently they have sales and special offers. While the Smoke is regularly $99, I was able to pick up this open box item last week for only $76!! I wasn’t overly concerned that it was an open box item, but when I did receive it, I took the time to look it overly carefully. The box appeared to me to have never been open. After opening it, I looked over the base unit and the receiver, and it looked in pristine condition. No scratches anywhere or signs of use. As far as I can tell, it is brand new and I saved $23. Score!!

So far I’ve only used it once…and not really in the way the creators probably envisioned. The other day I brewed my first lager. Lager being a beer using lager yeast versus and ale using ale yeast. I needed to cool my wort down to 50F before pitching my yeast. So I sanitized the probe, stuck it in the carboy and put the carboy in my fermentation fridge. I set the alarm to let me know when it had dropped down from 68F to 50F. Then, I stuck the receiver in my pocket and went out and mowed the yard and did some other chores around the house. Not once did it lose signal!! It was nice to know that it was reliable and I can’t wait to try it out on an overnight brisket. Having the alarm sitting right next to me on my nightstand to let me know if my fire went out or got to hot will definitely let me sleep better…not that I usually worry about the temp on my Egg

Buy once, cry once. Don’t buy those cheap units that you might find at Home Depot or Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. Buy quality and you won’t regret it.

The only thing I do regret is that last night I saw an advertisement on FaceBook from Thermopen that it is now offered in 9 different colors. When I purchased this unit, grey was the only color it came in. Oh well, I think the grey looks pretty slick.

Disclaimer: This unit and the other thermometers from Thermoworks were not given to me by Thermoworks. They were purchased with my hard money or in the case of the Thermapen a Christmas present from my parents. I have no affiliation with Thermoworks, nor was I asked to give a review.

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Annual Guy’s Dove Hunting Trip

…and some Smokey Pork Tenderloin Sliders

This past weekend, I headed down to our family’s ranch, The Dos Locos,  outside of Goliad, Texas for our annual Guy’s Dove Hunting Trip. Although this post does not really contain a recipe, I thought I’d share some pictures anyway (there is a link to the recipe for the  Smokey Pork Tenderloin Slider’s that I got from NibbleMeThis. You should really check out his blog.).

You may or may not know that I went to Baylor and am a huge fan. Hard to snap a picture while flying down I-35, but here’s the new stadium they are building right on the Brazos river. It will be sad to see Floyd Casey Stadium go, but its way past time that we got a new one. It should be ready for the 2014 season.

Baylor's New Football Stadium
Baylor’s New Football Stadium

The wife asked me to stop and get her a new Baylor shirt for the upcoming Homecoming game. While I was there, I spotted this. If anybody is looking for ideas for a Christmas present for me…

Chili Pot
Chili Pot

After hunting Thursday night (I got 2 dove, they weren’t really flying), it was time to pull out Old Faithful, my offset that retired down to the ranch after getting the Egg. On the menu was just some simple wings.

Old Faithful (Brinkman Pitmaster or something like that)
Ole Faithful (Brinkman Pitmaster or something like that)

It felt odd using charcoal briquettes. I haven’t used them since…ummm…I guess since the last time I was at the ranch. Felt good to fire the old lady up once again, though.

Chicken Wings indirect on the old offset with hickory for a touch of smoke.
Chicken Wings indirect on the old offset with hickory for a touch of smoke.

Maybe it was the ambiance, being down at the ranch all by myself, no distractions, just a cold bourbon and coke in one hand and a book (actually a Kindle) in the other, or maybe I did something right, but these were the best wings I have put out in a long time. It wasn’t the recipe as I did them the way I always do. Just plain ole Buffalo Wings. The skin came out extra crispy, yet they were till moist and tender on the inside. Might sound sacrilegious, but better than any I’ve done on the Egg in a long time. I really don’t have any excuse as to  why I forgot to take a final picture. You’ve seen wings before, though, so I’m sure you will forgive me. Regardless, it was a good, quiet first night before everybody was scheduled to come in on Friday.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon. I wanted to cook up something for lunch that would hold us through the evening hunt until we could get back, start a fire and grill steaks for dinner. Awhile back, I saw Chris of NibbleMeThis do some Smokey Pork Tenderloin Sliders on his blog and I knew it would be perfect (check out his blog for the full recipe). 

I started off with 4 yellow onions (he used Vidalia, but I couldn’t find them), sliced thin for carmelized onions. He did his on the grill and I was planning to as well, but at the last minute, just did them on the stove.

4 yellow onions, sliced and ready to be carmelized
4 yellow onions, sliced and ready to be carmelized

Next up was the tenderloins.

I added in an extra step that was not on the original recipe. A quick brine. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add in 1/2 cup of salt, 1/8 cup of suagar, 8-10 peppercorns, a tsp or two of the rub you will using, a dash of sriracha and a few by leaves. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add two cups of cold water and allow to cool. Place your tenderloins in a gallon Zip-lock bag and pour the brine in. Place in the refrigerator for 2 to 5 hours. Before smoking the tenderloins, drain the brine and rinse the tenderloins, before adding the rub. I used Salt Lick rub in lieu of what the orifginal recipe called for. Good, but it was a bit peppery. Would probably use a different rub next time.

Pork Tenderloins on the smoker
Pork Tenderloins on the smoker

He glazed his with a bacon honey mustard sauce. I was planning on doing that, but there was no honey to be found at the ranch, so mine got a glaze of bacon mustard sauce right at the end. Pulled at 140F. Sliced super thin, as thin as you can get it. Either use a really sharp knife, an electric knife or a kitchen slicer if you have access to one.

Slicing up the pork tenderloins.
Slicing up the pork tenderloins.

My plate up picture wasn’t the best, because I wasn’t sure I was even going to post anything about it, but at the last minute I figured what the hell. Served up on King’s Hawaiian Roll sliders, pork tenderloin, coleslaw, carmelized onions and bacon mustard sauce. This stuff was the bomb. Off the hook and the chain both. No, seriously…it was really freakin’ good.

Smokey Pork Tenderloins served up on the finest paper plates. Who wants to do dishes while on a hunting trip?
Smokey Pork Tenderloins served up on the finest paper plates. Who wants to do dishes while on a hunting trip?

So good, I’ll probably serve it at the next Eggfest I attend. Or tailgate party. Heck, there’s still a bit leftover and I’m having it for lunch today and I’m still excited about it.

And just in case you wanted some proof that we did do some hunting, here’s a few I got. Ended up only getting 8 total. I’m telling you, they really weren’t flying, but I did take my oldest and best friend and saw him shoot his first dove. He was super excited and now I think he is hooked so it was all worth it. That about wraps it up for another successful Annual Guy’s Dove Hunting trip.

Two of my hall. Look for them in an upcoming post.
Two of my haul. Look for them in an upcoming post.

Chicken Thighs with a Crabmeat Stuffing

Chicken Thighs with a Crabmeat Stuffing
Chicken Thighs with a Crabmeat Stuffing

     Wow!! It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything! I do believe that’s the longest I’ve ever gone and I’m sorry for that. We’ve been going through some trying stuff (close family and friends will know what I’m talking about) and cooking just hasn’t been much on my mind lately. Not that we haven’t been cooking, but its been stuff like burgers or fajitas or stuff that wasn’t really blog worthy. Or stuff we’ve already done here. Been doing quite a bit more cooking inside, more than is normal for us.  But we’re back!! And today we are bringing you these bundles of chicken with a crabmeat stuffing. And never fear…I’ve got about six cooks lined up that I am super excited about. So stay tuned and see what we’re cooking up.

     We’ve been trying to clear out the freezer a bit lately. I came across these chicken thighs and I didn’t want to just throw them on the Egg with a bit of rub or sauce. No…I wanted to do something else. We’ve all seen stuffed chicken breasts….why not thighs? Dark meat has more flavor than white meat and is less likely to dry out. Sounds like a winner to me, so I started looking around for recipes, found one I liked and modified it a bit to fit our tastes.

Applying the stuffing to the boneless chicken thighs.
Applying the stuffing to the boneless chicken thighs.

     Before we get started, if you can find boneless chicken thighs, do yourself a favor and buy them. Not that its hard to debone a thigh, it’s just a pain in the but. That’s what was in the freezer though, so that’s what I used. I’m keeping my eyes out for boneless from now on.

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, skin on
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced fine
  • 1 6oz can lump crabmeat, drained (if you can get fresh, go for it. Not kitchen tested as I couldn’t get any)
  • 2 tbsp white wine (we used Pinot Grigio as that was what Mrs. G was drinking)
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups bread cubes
  • your favorite bbq or chicken rub (We used Dizzy Pig’s Tsunami Spin, a rub with mid and far Eastern influences)
Layering the stuffing on is the easy part, wait till you get to rolling them up.
Layering the stuffing on is the easy part, wait till you get to rolling them up.

Directions

  1. Add the vegetable oil and butter to a large skillet and over medium heat.
  2. Add the celery and onion and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Sautee until soft, about five minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add poultry seasoning and pepper. Next, stir in crabmeat, bread cubes and wine. Allow to cool.
  4. Preheat your grill to 400F. If using an Egg or other ceramic cooker, set it up for a direct cook with raised grates. For other charcoal or gas grills, you want a 2 zone cooking set up with flame on one side and none on the other. (This will allow you a safe area to move chicken in case of flare ups.)
  5. Lay the chicken out skin side down and spread an even layer of the mixture over each one.
  6. Now the tricky part….roll the chicken up and secure with toothpicks. We didn’t get any pictures of this as we had nasty chicken stuff all over our hands and didn’t want tot get it on the camera. You understand, don’t you and forgive us? I knew you would.
  7. Once you’ve got them all rolled out, season the outside with your rub and place on the grill.
  8. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning every so often to ensure even cooking (I went about every 5 minutes)
  9. Cook until chicken hits about 165F. Sure, that’s high for chicken breasts, but the thighs can take that kind of heat without drying out.
Onto the Egg at 400F
Onto the Egg at 400F

     We’ve talked about wood and smoke before. Have you been paying attention? What kind of wood would pair well with chicken?

About 10 minutes in.
About 10 minutes in.

If you answered a light wood, possible a fruit wood such as apple or cherry, then you are correct! Give yourself 10 points. Not sure what you are going to do with them, but 10 points has to be better than none, right? Notice those two small pieces of chicken off to the side? Casualties of my poor deboning skills. I like to call them chef’s treats as I get to eat them while the chicken is cooking. 😉

Finished after 20 minutes.
Finished after 20 minutes.

Once the chicken is done, remove it from the grill and loosely cover with foil for about 5 minutes to rest. This gives you some time to make a salad or some other side dish.

Is your mouth watering yet?
Is your mouth watering yet?

     We kept it simple and just went with a wedge salad. We figured the bread crumbs in the stuffing already counted as carbs, so we didn’t need a potato or rice or couscous.

Dinner is served!!
Dinner is served!!

     The chicken turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Juicy, with a nice flavor from the rub and just the right amount of smoke. The first bite gave you that familiar stuffing taste with the bread and onions and celery and poultry seasoning, but then you noticed it was just a bit different from Thanksgiving stuffing. I’d really like to say that the crab meat stole the show, but in all honesty…it was kind of lost with all the other players. It didn’t jump out and you and say, “Hey!! There’s crab in here!!” Maybe fresh crab would give it that extra UMPH. I don’t know.

     I do know that it was fun writing a blog post again. Expect one again real soon. Like maybe tomorrow. Or Monday. And expect venison. 🙂

The Not So Perfect Prime Rib Cook

A message left for me from my Uncle David.
A message left for me from my Uncle David.

     Lord knows not all my cooks come out right. Well…maybe that might be a bit presumptuous. He probably doesn’t care how my cooks go. But my family and close friends know they don’t always go right or according to plan. This particular cook turned out fine fantastic if my family is to be believed. It just didn’t go quite as planned. Now don’t get me wrong. The prime rib turned out fine, it was my timing of the cook that was totally off, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

13.98lb bone in prime rib!
13.98lb bone in prime rib!

     For many, Christmas time is a time for family and friends to spend time together. To bask in the love of others we are so blessed to have in our life. And when you get people together, food is always an important part of it. Showing your love for others by feeding them (both physically and emotionally). At least that’s the way it is in our family. This year, I decided to step it up and take some of the burden off my Mom by volunteering to cook the main entrée. Nobody wants to be stuck in the kitchen all day on Christmas cooking. 

Mmmm...look at all that meaty goodness!
Mmmm…look at all that meaty goodness!

     This year we decided to do a prime rib. Seems like for more and more people, prime rib is the way to go for Christmas dinner. And of course, you know we had to do it on the Egg! Which involved a trip over to their house earlier in the week to get it there and all set up. Let me tell you, these things are HEAVY!

Were you aware that it snowed on Christmas Day in Dallas?
All set and ready to go at my parents house. Were you aware that it snowed on Christmas Day in Dallas?

     Before you get to thinking that I know everything about grilling and smoking and cooking in general, let me just clear that up for you. I don’t. Far from it. I have no culinary training, just a passion for making good food. And enough sense to know when I don’t know how to do something and when it is time to seek out some help. You see, I have only cooked one prime rib in my life. Last year. And it was smaller. And it was done in the oven. So this was new territory for me. So I asked and asked and asked on The Egghead Forum everything I could possibly ask. And then I asked some more until I figured I could stumble my way through this cook.

The prime rib all seasoned up and ready for the Egg.
The prime rib all seasoned up and ready for the Egg.

     For this cook, I kept it pretty simple. I wanted the meat to be the star and to shine through. That being said, there’s not a lot of surface area as compared to interior on a prime rib. So rubbed it down with some canola oil (to help the spices stick) and then sprinkled on some coarse Kosher salt, some fresh cracked black pepper, freshly chopped garlic and finished off with a light dusting of Dizzy Pig’s Cow Lick (which is a steak seasoning).

On to the Egg with the prime rib
On to the Egg with the prime rib

     The Egg was set up to cook at 250F using my new Adjustable Rig from the Ceramic Grill Store that my In-Laws had gotten me for Christmas. I just had to break in my new toy. If you don’t have an Adjustable Rig, you can use your place setter (legs up) and set your grate on top of that. If using another grill or smoker, set it up for an indirect cook just like you would for brisket, ribs or pork butts. I did toss in one hickory chunk, but for the most part wanted this to be pretty much a smokeless cook. I didn’t want heavy smoke to overpower the meat. (I may or may not have a post in the next week or so on what the Adjustable Rig is and what it’s for. Let me know if you are interested in that)

Mmmm....drool.
Mmmm….drool.

     From what I am told (and my limited experience), prime rib is not a difficult cut of meat to cook. Nothing like a brisket. You just need to make sure not to overcook it. It’s supposed to be on the medium rare side with lots of pink (although if you want to cook it further, feel free to do so). The only hard part about it is figuring out the cooking time.

     From my research, it didn’t seem like there was a rule of thumb for how long it would take (like pork butts which should take an hour and half to two hours per pound). What I was told, or came to understand, was that it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours to cook at 250F. My plan was to cook it indirectly at that 250 until it reached an internal temperature of 115F. At that point, I would pull the prime rib off the Egg and wrap it in foil. Then, I would remove the adjustable rig, place the grate directly on the Egg, open the vents and raise the temperature to 500-550F. When it reached that temperature, I would unwrap the prime rib, return it to the Egg and sear it until the temperature hits 130. At this point, I was planning to remove the prime rib, loosely tent it in foil and let it rest for 30 minutes and the temperature would climb to 135.

Reverse searing the prime rib
Reverse searing the prime rib

     Everything seemed to be going according to plan. I cooked it until it hit 115. I pulled it and set the egg up to sear the prime rib. Schedule wise, we looked great. I started to sear the prime rib and this is where it started going wrong for us. Fat was dripping off the prime rib, smoke was pouring out the top of the Egg, if you opened it to check, flames would shoot up! But it was starting to look great. It was developing a nice outer bark, the color looked amazing, the smell was out of this world. I wasn’t quite sure how long it was supposed to sear, though. And that was my mistake. I never asked how long the sear was supposed to be. I began to get worried about overcooking the prime rib. I began to worry about burning the outside. I let it go as long as I dared, I think maybe 5 minutes and pulled it off, wrapped it in foil and began to let it rest. As we were waiting, I had a probe thermometer in it. It started to slowly creep up. 117…118…119. Oh no….this does not look good! This can’t be right! This is under done! I can’t serve it like this!

Pulled (for the second time) and resting.
Pulled (for the second time) and resting.

     I’m starting to get nervous, panic is creeping in, something has to be done. At least it wasn’t overcooked. So I sucked it up, bolstered up my nerves with a bit more bourbon (did I not mention I had a few already?), set the Egg back up for an indirect cook and threw that hunk of beef back on. And let it cook. When it finally hit 130, I pulled it off (yet again) and let it rest. Let me tell you, the natives were not happy and were growing restless. Dinner was supposed to be ready at 4:30…5 at the latest and here we were waiting on the meat. Meat that was on the counter and was as far as they knew ready to cut. 17 people! I did some talking, I did some explaining and tried to stretch it out and after 15 LONG minutes (it was 5:30 at this point), I gave in and began to carve, nervous as hell, hoping and praying I didn’t screw it up.

Sliced and to my relief not over done.
Sliced and to my relief not over done.

    I know the picture does not do it the justice it deserves. Not used to taking pictures in my Mom’s kitchen…with 17 hungry people breathing down my neck. It was pinker than it looks in the picture. Take my word for it…or don’t. We served it up with some au jus (see bottom of post), horseradish cream sauce, garlic-chive mashed taters, green bean casserole, the Pioneer Woman’s 9 hour mushrooms, broccoli and other stuff I can’t recall right now.

The feeding masses
The feeding masses

     If family can be believed, it was well worth the wait. Including me, there were 18 people and only one minor complaint. One of my uncles (and I’m not sure if he was kidding) said prime rib should be able to cut with just a fork. Of course, this is my uncle that won’t eat pink meat at all and took the end piece, so yeah, it may have been more done, but that’s the piece he picked and there’s no accounting for some people’s taste.

A personal message to me.
A personal message to me.

     Do you recall this picture from the beginning of the post? That was a note that was left for me from my Uncle David, stuck under the cutting board where the prime rib was resting. Think it was some type of hint? He drew that from scratch. I think I’ll be keeping that as a memento.

     So when all was said and done, family was well fed and happy and we got to spend a wonderful day together. I’ve relearned to never cook something new for a group for the first time. Always do a trial run, although if you can’t practice on family, who can you practice on? I’ve decided in the future, I will probably do boneless prime ribs. And after doing some more research, I learned that the sear should have taken anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes per side (20 minutes being the minimum). Live and learn, right?

     Even though it is late, from me and mine, I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas. I hope that everybody out there was able to spend time with family and loved ones and had a wonderful and safe holiday.

Simple Au Jus

Ingredients

  • 20 ounces of beef stock
  • 1 package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 3 Tbsp of butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp of dried rosemary
  • 1 or 2 tbsp of drippings from prime rib

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes
  3. Strain au jus and serve with prime rib
     

Slashed Chicken Quarters

Slashed Chicken Thighs

     The other week, I was at my brother’s house for dinner. As he was cooking, I noticed his copy of Weber’s Way to Grill that I got him for his birthday last year. It looked like it hadn’t even been opened! So I started paging through it, seeing if anything would catch my eye and decided to borrow it from him. Don’t worry, Michael, I’m almost done with it. You can have it back next time I see you.

     One thing that really piqued my interest was the recipe for Provencal Marinated Chicken Legs. OK….really the recipe did not interest me that much, but rather their illustrations of how to prep whole chicken legs. Cutting an opening between the drumstick and the thigh to expose that innermost meat and speed up the cooking time. I’d never heard of that before. And making slashes on the outside of the leg and thigh to allow the marinade to penetrate deeper? New to me as well, but it made sense. And with leg quarters running (no pun intended) about $0.99 a lb here, I felt this was something I could experiment with and not feel bad it if didn’t work out.

Chicken getting ready to take a swim in some marinade

     Digging around the pantry, I found this chicken marinade from Stubb’s. I don’t remember when I picked this up, but it sounded like a plan to me. The chicken got “slashed” yesterday morning and went into a Zip-lock bag around 6:00am right before I headed out the door to work. Yeah, I know, I get up way too early for work. I figured it would get about an 11 hour marinade, although the bottle says 2-6 hours.

Slashed Chicken Quarters going on the Egg

     I set up the Egg for a direct cook at 375F, using my Grill Extender to raise the cooking height further up and away from the coals to prevent it from burning (this is how I do most of my cooks with chicken). If you are using another type of grill, I would suggest cooking the chicken indirect or having two zones where you can move the chicken away from your heat source if it begins to have flare ups from the drippings. For smoke, I went with apple wood chips as I think it offers a more delicate flavor than some of the other woods like mesquite or hickory that can easily over power chicken.

Close up view of the slashes I made. Looks like Wolverine or Freddy got hold of my chicken.

     The marinade from the chicken was reserved and used to marinade the chicken throughout the cook. I know some people feel a little uneasy and squeamish about that, but I boiled the marinade for 5 minutes before using. Food borne bacteria die at or below 165 and a boil is way hotter than that, so I feel like it is a safe practice. And I haven’t gotten sick or died from it yet. The chicken took around 45 minutes to cook and was pulled around 170.

Chicken’s done

     Seeing as how my spatchcock chickens generally take about an hour to cook, I figured the slashes might have sped up the cooking process by about 15 minutes. Not really enough to consider a big difference.

Plated up with some corn

     The chicken came out pretty good. It was moist and flavorful. Maybe the slashes didn’t speed up the cooking much, but they really did make a difference with the marinade. Which makes sense. The more surface area exposed, the more flavor you are going to get with each bite. The marinade itself, it wasn’t mind blowing or stellar. It was average in my book. It did give the chicken a hint of sweetness, but I really wasn’t picking up on the citrus it claimed. Now that I’m looking at the bottle, I think what I couldn’t put my finger on was the sesame it claims.

     Would I do it again? Maybe, if the price was right. Come to think of it, I think I picked up the marinade because I had a coupon. I guess I’d pick it up again if I had another one.

     As for the slashes, if you can get past the fact that it looked like Wolverine got ahold of you chicken before it was tossed on the grill, it’s not a bad trick to have up your sleeve. More flavor per bite. But if you are into aesthetics, this might not be the way for you to go.