A summer side dish staple. baked beans are as popular at cookouts and camping trips as the burgers, steaks, or grilled chicken they accompany. Sweet and smoky, and sometimes spicy, baked beans get their flavor from a rich tomato-based sauce filled with spices, sugars, and (here's the best part) - bacon, and often, whiskey.
What's fun about baked beans is the endless ways people have of jazzing up the basic recipe. From mustard to molasses, onions to peppers, baked beans don't ever have to be made the same way twice.
That said, you'll probably want to make this particular recipe over and over again, because it's that good.
A note about the whiskey: Any type will do, really, but for a deeper, richer flavor, you might try bourbon. Experiment and see which you like best.
4 strips bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cans Rotel brand diced tomatoes with chilies
½ cup molasses
1 small can tomato paste
½ cup whiskey
¼ cup brown sugar
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can black beans
1 can white kidney beans
1 can red kidney beans
Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Set aside, cool and crumble. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.
Add onion and green pepper to skillet and sauté for about 8 minutes until soft and translucent.
Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, and
whiskey. Bring to a boil. Stir occasionally, then simmer for about 3 minutes.
Add beans and crumbled bacon, mix.
Pour into a shallow baking dish and cook at 350 degrees in the oven for 45 minutes.
Serves 4 as a side. Feel free to double or triple as needed.
If there's anything Alaskans know, it's not to let weather interfere with good food. Especially when it comes to grilled or smoked meats. Who says you can't fire up the grill or, in this case, the smoker, when it's -20 F outside? This guy.
This smoked chicken recipe takes some time (a three-step process, actually), so plan it for a day when you have little to do (like, say, a pandemic lockdown).
An important thing to remember with smoking any meats or fish is to appreciate the process; low heat and slow smoking to bring out the flavor of the meat, and the wood used for the actual smoke. Look for hickory, apple, oak, or cherry for a milder flavor, mesquite for a power smoke. Keep the wood burning and the temperature consistent, and you'll end up with the base to a wonderful meal.
I'll be talking up this recipe, along with a few sides, in my next appearance on Anchorage's KFQD radio later this week. Stay tuned, because you'll want to know what I usually pair with this fabulous smoked chicken.
First, the brine
The idea behind brining is to bring out a meat's juicy flavor. Tried and true, the extra step of brining before cooking will take a smoking game to the next level.
If you do not have a brinier there are several models on the market; “The Brinier” by Turkey Tom Products is my choice, but if you have a 5-gallon, food grade plastic bucket with a lid, that will work too. For that matter, so will a large zip-type bag, but in any case, be sure the meat you are brining remains submerged and it is kept at temperature below 40 F.
As far as brine mix, there are several brands producing a good formula, including Turkey Tom, but mixes are also available at local grocery or outdoor stores. If you are new to smoking meats, I suggest using packaged brine until you get the swing of things.
If you want to make your own brine, start with the basic and then add new spices as you gain skills. The recipe below is one that I have used with great success on chicken.
When not using a whole bird, I prefer to use chicken thighs for smoking. Fairly inexpensive and full of fat, this cut is very forgiving when it comes to smoking.
4-5 pounds chicken thighs (bone in preferred)
5 quarts water
½ cup canning salt or salt with no iodine contained in the package
¼ cup brown sugar
3 Tbs garlic powder
3 Tbs onion powder
2 Tbs ground black pepper
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups orange juice
In a large pot bring water to a boil.
Add salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Stir well.
Boil for about 10 minutes and cool to a temperature of less than 40F <---- KEY. It must cool.
Once brine is cool, add to the brining device (bucket, bag, or actual brining device), then add cranberry and orange juices.
Remove skin from chicken and place in brine. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Use a thermometer to ensure the temperature of brine and chicken stays at or below 40 F. This is critical, as bacteria can grow on chicken very quickly and make you sick, then you can't enjoy your masterpiece. So, be safe.
Now, about that rub.
2 tsp dried parsley
2 Tbs onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs white sugar
½ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste. Less is better in this case
½ cup vegetable oil, to brush on chicken so that is will hold the rub.
Mix all ingredients, except the oil, in a bowl.
Remove chicken from brine and pat dry. Discard brine, do not re-use.
With a brush or paper towel, coat chicken in oil.
Dust chicken with dry rub.
Set on smoking racks.
The smoking process
Heat smoker to 230F (your smoker has a temperature gauge, follow it)
Wood used is a personal preference. For this recipe I used mesquite.
I prefer a Bradley Smoker, but use what you have.
Smoke the chicken at 230 F for three hours, with smoke running the entire time and the vent at the top cracked about ¼ inch. Venting is just a function of regulation, (remember, it was 20 below zero outside so I did not want too much heat to escape).
After 3 hours check the temperature of your chicken thigh meat; it should read 175F to be safe. <----There's that thermometer thing again.
Remove from racks, plate, and serve with sides.
*NOTE* If you are smoking meats in bear country (pretty much everywhere in Alaska), please be nearby to ward off any bruins that might come running when they smell this deliciousness. They can get their own dinner.
If last weekend's summery weather didn't convince you to fire up the grill and take advantage of fresh Alaska halibut, maybe this delicious grilled 'but recipe will.
Halibut season has begun, and there's nothing better than a slab of this firm, mild fish on the barbeque. The salsa, made to add a sweet-spicy flavor that compliments the fish, is easy and is also tasty on snapper, cod, or rockfish.
Serve this one up with a margarita, and maybe the guacamole recipe I posted last week. Make sure you have extra chips.
Halibut filet at least one inch thick, sliced into desired portions.
2 mangos, peeled and chopped
¼ cup crushed pineapple (fresh or canned. If going fresh, whirl in a blender for a bit)
½ cup chopped bell or sweet pepper
3 Tbs chopped shallots or red onion
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely sliced
½ Tbs chopped basil or cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs FRESH lime juice
Salt to taste
First a few thoughts: I left several options open for ingredients, depending on your taste or whatever you have on hand in the cupboard or refrigerator. These are by no means rules, so feel free to make it your own.
Combine mango, pineapple, peppers, shallots/onion, jalepeno, garlic, and lime juice in non-reactive bowl.
Reserve the cilantro for garnish.
Grill the halibut over medium heat until the fat turns white (about 4-5 minutes). Time will vary with thickness. I like to make a foil boat and add a little butter to protect against burning. Don’t overcook halibut; it can go from tender to leather in the blink of an eye.
When done, remove halibut from grill and get ready to plate. In the photo above I used jicama strips to add a crunchy texture. Coconut rice would work great too.
Think you know guac? You don't know nothin', at least not where guacamole infused with the spirit-ual flavors of Alaska's own VooDoo Jams is concerned. Handcrafted in small batches, this small company's jams, marmalades, and finishing sauces are too good to pass up, so I went bold and whipped up a batch of The Flying Chef's guacamole, spooning in a few tablespoons of mango-vodka-peppery goodness known as "You Juicy Devil."
Go ahead, take a twist on a favorite summertime snack -- it'll change the way you think about avocados, and guac, forever.
3 to 4 ripe avocados, depending on size
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced diagonally into quarters
1/3 cup diced red onion or shallot
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime (FRESH lime juice, please. This is a masterpiece we're working on.)
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, seeds in for hotter flavor, or remove for a milder punch
2 heaping TBS of "You Juicy Devil: Ghost pepper, vodka, and mango jam"
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, mash the avocado with a fork, making sure to leave a few tasty chunks.
Add lime juice, tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, VooDoo Jam, salt and pepper.
Mix to desired texture. Make sure not to overmix, otherwise guacamole will become mushy.
Reserve some cilantro and jalapeños for garnish.
Serve with chips or sliced red bell pepper as "scoops."
P.S. Do check out the VooDoo Jams website for the complete list of products, you won't be sorry.
The cut of beef known as "tri-tip" is a griller's dream. This thick, triangular hunk cut off the sirloin section of a beef actually originated in the Santa Maria Valley of California's wine country. In fact, yours truly learned how to prepare this beautiful cut of meat right there in Santa Maria.
Typically, a tri-tip weighs between two and three pounds, making it perfect for the average family, or a single or couple wanting leftovers.
As our weather changes to reflect spring and summer, it's time to fire up the grill and spend some time outdoors, and this tri-tip recipe is perfect for some at-home dining.
So let's do it.
2-to 3-pound tri-tip roast
Your favorite barbeque rub
Remove roast from refrigerator and coat with rub. Cover and let sit at room temperature for about an hour.
To grill: (I used a gas grill in this example so the heat will be medium high with the lid open.)
Sear the roast on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Grill for 8 minutes, then turn and grill for another 8 minutes. Repeat this until the internal temperature reads approximately 120 degrees F for rare and 130 F for medium.
Remove from heat and let rest for 20 minutes. This is very important!
Note: the internal temperature will rise by about 5 degrees when resting. Plan accordingly.
Slice across the grain and serve.
One of the most popular comfort foods is now available in a cup. That's right, a cup. Perfect for a snack or even a full meal, this microwaveable "pizza in a mug" is easy to make and takes only a few minutes.
Continuing the Pandemic Pantry series with KFQD radio in Anchorage, this recipe is also great for using up the last bits of vegetables, meats, cheeses, or spaghetti sauce in the refrigerator. Have kids? Let them make their own individual pizzas and teach them the power of the "nuker."
*Tips: No spaghetti sauce? Tomato sauce works, too, but you may want to add a few more spices to jazz it up. Pre-mixed pizza crusts are perfect for this recipe, especially if you are out of all-purpose flour.*
1 microwavable coffee mug
4 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/8 Tbs baking powder
1/16 Tbs baking soda
Pinch of salt
3 Tbs milk
1 Tbs olive oil
1-2 Tbs jarred or homemade spaghetti sauce
2 + Tbs parmesan or mozzarella cheese
Fresh peppers for topping
Sliced olives for topping
A dash of died oregano
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in microwaveable mug.
Mix dry ingredients together.
Add milk and oil. Mix until well combined.
Add spaghetti sauce, and trowel over the top to form a complete layer.
Sprinkle cheeses on top.
Top with peppers and olives or whatever else you desire on top.
Sprinkle with oregano.
Microwave for 1-1.5 minutes (based on the wattage of an average1200-watt microwave).
NOTE: Not sure of your oven's wattage? Look inside at the data plate. If it not listed the take a microwave safe vessel and fill it with one cup of water.
Turn on your microwave: If the water boils at 1.5 minutes than you have a 1200-watt microwave.
2 ½ minutes to boil ? 800 watts, hence a 1 ½ minute cook time for the cup o pizza
The Flying Chef's Pandemic Pantry series continues (listen to the whole segment on KFQD HERE) with this can-do soup, made with ingredients you've probably got in your cupboard already. Even if you don't and have to go to the store, canned beans and soups are still easily found on store shelves.
Try this fast, tasty meal with a tossed green salad. Add a crusty artisan bread instead of corn chips if desired.
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can sweet corn
1 can chicken
1 can green enchilada sauce
1 can diced green chilies
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
1 packet taco seasoning
Cilantro to garnish
Open cans ( it's just that easy).
Drain and rinse cans of beans and chicken.
Add all ingredients except cilantro and chips, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve and plate with chips or warmed bread.
Garnish with cilantro.
There's a challenge afoot, readers of The Flying Chef Journal. How many recipes can yours truly come up with involving canned ingredients from the pantry? Mission accepted, especially when the results are broadcast on KFQD radio in Anchorage. The full episode will air tomorrow morning (Tuesday), but in the meantime, here's the first of four 'can-do' recipes (see what I did there).
Getting creative is one of the hallmarks of this COVID-19 craziness, and the first recipe out of the gate sure did deliver. Canned black beans and brownie mix. What could go wrong?
Turns out, nothing! The beans provided an earthy, nutty flavor and density that made these brownies something to be proud of. So give it a try and let me know what you think.
1 box brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker brand)
1 can low-sodium black beans
Water - according to package directions
Egg - according to package directions
Oil - according to package directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or as recommended on box for your pan type).
Follow package directions for mixing brownies.
Open can of beans, and rinse thoroughly in a strainer.
Place brownie mix and beans in a blender or food processor.
Blend together until no chunks of beans remain.
Pour into greased baking pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean.
Cool, cut, and serve.
We've talked a lot about ramen in The Flying Chef Journal because it's such a versatile staple for many kitchens. In our current situation, however, ramen is fast becoming a staple of many a lunch or dinner meal. Fresh or dried, ramen is good stuff, but not just for soups. This recipe is a fresh twist on the usual, with pickled ginger, mandarin oranges, green onions, and crunchy Napa cabbage. The dressing's sweet-tart flavor comes from honey and rice vinegar, with a dash of soy.
Turn your Pandemic Pantry around and surprise your people with this colorful ramen salad.
1 head Napa cabbage
1 package instant ramen noodles, crumbled
½ cup sliced almonds
1 can mandarin orange slices, drained
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 handful sliced, pickled ginger
2/3 cup oil, vegetable works best
1/3 cup honey or agave
1/3-cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp sesame oil
A dash salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place sliced almonds on cookie sheet, and add the dry uncooked, crumbled ramen.
(You can throw the ramen seasoning packet away; you won't need it.)
Place ramen and almonds into oven and bake for about seven minutes, or until all crunchy bits are lightly toasted.
Do not burn.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Rinse, drain, and chop cabbage into bite sizes pieces.
Chop green onion and slice pickled ginger.
Drain mandarin orange sections.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl
Whip up dressing and toss the salad.
Eat promptly; the ramen will get soggy if held too long.
If you want to prepare the salad ahead of time wait until it is time to serve to add the dressing.
See, cooking is easy!
If you, like most of us, are spending more time at home, it's probably a sure bet that you've started cleaning stuff, and this cleaning might include the freezer. Spring is finally here, which means we can look toward (I hope) another salmon fishing season. But first, last year's fish needs to be used up, especially if space is at a premium. These salmon burgers are a perfect way to use up that fish. A rich blackening seasoning, made from ingredients you probably have at home already (or hey, why not clean out the spice cupboard, too?), provides a nice summery flavor that will help us think of better times ahead.
For the burger:
2 salmon fillets, skin removed, cooked, and shredded
2 TBS chopped onion
¼ tsp fresh chopped parsley
¼ cup bread crumbs (Italian seasoned is the best, but use what you have)
½ tsp dried basil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs vegetable oil
Red pepper flakes, to taste
For the dressing:
3 Tbs mayonnaise
1 pinch dried basil
Chopped fresh dill to taste (dried is fine, too)
In a bowl, mix all of the burger ingredients except the oil, and form six patties about ½-inch thick.
In a large heavy pan over medium heat, add the oil.
Just as the oil starts to smoke, add salmon patties, and cook about 4 minutes per side, or until browned.
For the dressing, mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, basil and dill.
It’s just that easy. Smear some atop your burger and enjoy.
Homemade Blackening Seasoning
1 Tbs paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
½ tsp dried oregano
It is perfectly OK if you don’t have all seasoning ingredients on hand. Wing it with what you have and make your own flavor.
Mix it all up and store in an airtight container. This seasoning would be good on halibut or chicken, too.
Use as a rub and let set in on the salmon before cooking.
Favorites from Chef Mark Bly
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