Apple Roasted Honey Drumsticks

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After the less than stellar outcome with the Butterflied Turkey I wanted to do something easy with this cook. So I figured I would go back to a basic, drumsticks. I recently bought a new grill cookbook, Myron Mixon’s Everyday Barbeque and was dying to try the brine recipe in it.

Lessons Learned:

  1. These could have been fine smoke roasted in the 325-350 range. They didn’t need to have the slow and low treatment that a roast would need.
  2. A continuous supply of Apple chips was the perfect amount of smoke.

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Brine: I used Myron Mixon’s apple juice brine, and brined the drumsticks overnight.

Brine Recipe: (enough for 2 1 gallon freezer bags)
  • 6 cups apple juice
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cups kosher salt

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Drumsticks fresh out of the brine and being toweled off…

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My favorite part, applying the rub…

Rub Recipe:
  • 1 cp. light brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. black pepper

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Drumsticks all rubbed up and resting. My kids, who don’t like anything with spice or flavor, actually requested some “blank” drumsticks. No rub, just smoke and sauce!

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For this cook I went for a slow and low setup with about 3 hours of fuel. I have a continuous ring of Apple chips on top of the coals. This should get me a nice steady stream of smoke but not too much to overpower the meat with a sooty taste.

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For the sauce I went with a straight 2:1 mixture of Sweet Baby Ray’s and Raw Honey. Heated and mixed together. I mixed this about 2 hours before using.

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This is what the Chicken looked at the 2 hour mark. You can see that the ring of coals and chips have burned through half of the fuel. The grill was in the solid 225-250 range. A bit lower than necessary for chicken. But since this was going to be a long smoke I had plenty of time and fuel.

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I went ahead and added some sauce on the drumsticks. And left them on for about 30 minutes more. I ended up not having to go the entire 3 hours at all. Temps on the drumsticks at saucing were at 160.

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Close up after applying sauce:

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I pulled the chicken off, gave another coating of sauce, and covered with foil and let sit for 30 minutes. These were so good, and fall off the bone soft! A couple didn’t even make it to the photo shoot. Sacrificed to Cook’s Privilege! The apple wood left a mild taste, more subtle than cherry. It was a great compliment to the brine!

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Apple brined Cherry Roasted Butterflied Turkey

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The outcome of this recipe was a bit of a let down. I think I dropped the ball in execution of the final roast/smoke. It tasted good and was very flavorful, but I wanted a butterflied bird with deep crisp mahogany skin and juicy flavorful meat. As you can see from the pic above not all of the bird came out perfect. Now the meat was juicy, but I think the air was too humid, and in my rush to get the bird onto the grill, I sacrificed some crispness in the skin. Much to my dismay, my family pulled the skin off and left it in the plate. = FAIL!

Lessons learned:

  1. Brine for full 24 hours, not just 18
  2. Only 1 water pan in the grill area, not 2
  3. Let bird air dry in refrigerator for 24 hours

Let’s get on with the play by play.

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This cook is sponsored by my favorite beer of all time! Sam Adams Octoberfest!

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I took this 13 lb turkey out of my freezer to thaw in my refrigerator on Tuesday. The bird wasn’t ready to work with until Saturday.

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Ingredients for the Apple Brine
2 quarts apple juice
1 pound brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt*
3 quarts cold water
3 oranges, quartered
4 ounces fresh ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
15 whole cloves
6 bay leaves
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

* Substitute 3/4 cup Morton Kosher Salt or 1/2 cup table salt for Diamond Crystal.

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Pouring in the apple juice…

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Squeezing lemons, crushing garlic, slicing fresh ginger root, and stirring in all up….

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The turkey going for a dip… I only brined it for 18 hours,  I should have done a full 24. But with me losing a day not pulling the turkey out of my deep freezer earlier I didn’t want to be pulling this off my grill at 11 Sunday evening, so I cut it short by 6 hours.

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18 hours later, I’ve rinsed the bird and patted it dry with paper towels. Just going after the last few stubborn feathers with the first pair of pliers I found laying around.

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Instead of the usual slow and low, I set my grill for a slow and high configuration. Looking to get a solid 300 –350 degree ranges for 2.5 to 3.0 hours. The 2 bricks allow for more coals on the side, and the added benefit of radiating the heat toward the rest of the grill.

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In addition to the drip pan under the turkey, I grabbed a spare pan to provide additional moisture to the side. Hindsight, this secondary pan probably made it too moist. Also, I don’t think I used enough wood chunks. Although the bird had a smoke ring, it was very light.

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The butterflied turkey splayed out, rubbed with a couple of tablespoons of a generic poultry blend I had purchased. <- Again mistake, I should have mixed my own blend and not taken the lazy way out. Do you see a pattern yet with these mistakes? I rushed my own barbeque and wasn’t satisfied with the results. Shocker!

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Butterflied turkey barely fitting in the remaining space on the grill…

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Here you can see the second water pan. For some reason I was really afraid of the temperatures getting away from me. With the secondary pan it probably turned the inside of the grill into a sauna instead of a moist environment.

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3 hours later…

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Bird pulled off the grill and sitting in a tray on its way to the kitchen.

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Another shot of the bird close up…

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Event though I wasn’t too fond of it, this is what we did to that bird in one night! The rest were leftovers I took to work the entire week.

Hong Kong Chicken

I picked this recipe from Weber’s Charcoal Grilling: The Art of Cooking with Live Fire last week, because I wanted something on the grill, but didn’t feel like going out to the store to pick anything up. So I defrosted some chicken legs the night before and set to preparing this. This is a relatively quick recipe to prepare for. Total time from unwrapping thawed legs to plate was about 5.5 hours. The majority of that time (4 hours) was the brine time for the chicken legs.

Let’s move on to the cook!

Dry Ingredients Wet Ingredients

Seasoning Blend:

2 tsp. Kosher salt

1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Brine:
2 qts water
1/2 cp. Kosher salt
1/2 cp. sugar

Grill Sauce:
2 tbsp. Hoisin Sauce
2 tbsp. Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Soy sauce
2 tsp. grape seed oil
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

This cook, is brought to you by Bacardi White

Step 1: Brine the chicken for 4 hours in the brine mixture and place in the fridge.

Step 2: Remove chicken from brine, rinse off, and pat dry with paper towels. Then liberally season with seasoning blend.

Step 3:

Set up a medium heat grill. I used 3/4 of a Weber chimney full of Kingsford coals. I filled one Weber basket with lit coals, and then poured the rest to cover half the charcoal grate. (see below)

Step 4: Place chicken directly over coals for a 5 minute char to get the drumsticks started. (2.5 minutes on one side, then 2.5 minutes on the other)

Step 6: Move to cool side of grill

Step 7: After 20 minutes

Step 8: After 40 minutes

Step 9: At 40 minutes, apply sauce to chicken and put the lid to cook for an additional 20 minutes

Step 10: Last 20 minutes

Step 11: Pull and let rest for 15 minutes. I made some sautéed vegetables and brown rice with a Moscow Mule. Excellent! Chicken had a bit of heat to it, a little too much for the kids, but me and the wife loved it!

Cherry Roasted Thighs and Brats

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It’s the first of the New Year and I had to create a bit of Summer. Right now it is 35 degrees, grey, and a bit dreary here in Philly. But that doesn’t have to stop me. Mind you, my wife and neighbors are sure I’m insane. Besides, its been a couple of months since I’ve been able to grill. Let’s see Hurricane Sandy, an unnamed storm, traveling to Detroit and Chicago for work,  a couple of bouts with some good chest colds, and voila!, There goes your time.

Official sponsor of today’s cook

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Winter in Philly…

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So as before, let’s get started with the players:

Dry ingredients for rub: Wet Ingredients:
3 tbsp Paprika
1 tsp Garlic salt
1 tsp Onion powder
t tsp Coarse black pepper
3 tbsp Brown sugar
Potato Rolls
Johnsonville Bratwurst
12 chicken thighs
2 tbsp EVOO

Since I only thought of barbequing this morning, I didn’t have time to brine the thighs, so I used this basic rub and let it sit for a couple of hours while I grilled some bratwurst and potato rolls. Also, I will do a complete slow and low cook without starting the chicken directly over the coals first. This way they get a chance to absorb as much of the cherry smoke as possible.

I rubbed the thighs with the EVOO first then liberally sprinkled and rubbed in the dry rub. The rub is very basic so go with as heavy as a hand you like.

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The temperature outside is a bit on the cold side, 35 degrees and about 10 mph wind. So I don’t have to worry about temps getting away from me at the beginning of today’s cook. I lit one full Weber chimney of coals that I split between a weber basket and the rest heaped against the other side of the kettle.

This allowed constant heat for the cast iron griddle for the onions, mushrooms, and green pepper, as seen below. I used a bit of smoked sea salt and dried porcini mushrooms while cooking the vegetables.

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After about 30 minutes:

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Best Potato Rolls in Philly!

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Toasting the potato rolls:

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PART II: Thighs

During the brats, the temperature of the kettle wavered between 350 and 300 degrees. About an hour into the cook I added 20 unlit briquettes on top of the burning coals and gave it ten minutes to catch. I poured out the basket onto the side as well as I wouldn’t be needing it for the chicken

At about 30 minutes later in I added in 15 additional unlit briquettes to ensure I had enough heat for the planned cook time of 1:45 minutes totals.

Final Pics of Thighs

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Thighs came off and were perfect. Meat fell off the bone. They went great with a 1:1 mix of Sweet Baby Ray’s and Srirachra Chili Sauce.

Crispy Pastrami Wings

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After my recipe regarding the crispy grilled chicken breasts, I decided to work on a similar recipe for wings. But the past 3 weeks have been a bit hectic here in Philly; a trip to DC for work, then Hurricane Sandy, then I caught a nasty cold during the Hurricane, and now a Nor’easter is blowing through with rain and snow tonight. So, since I had this recipe on deck the week before all of this started, I’m finally posting it.

This is a variation of a recipe from Chef John of AllRecipes.com. His stuff is usually pretty good. I had no problem changing this and adapting it to my purposes. Let me give you the run through and play by play.

The Line Up:

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The Dry The Wet
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 pinches chili pepper (Aleppo is what I used)
  • 4 tsp. corn starch
  • 24 chicken wings, separated at joints. (tips thrown away)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Step 1: Mixing the spice rub

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Add all the dry ingredients (except the corn starch) together in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. I used a small whisk to mix and blend the ingredients together. Nothing like a bowl of freshly mixed spices!

Step 2: Splitting the wings

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Here I’ve split the wings into the drummettes and flats. I’ve tossed the tips, as I never really use those for anything. Some people like them I guess, but as for me, NOPE! I’ve lightly coated the wings with olive oil and rubbed them down with my fingers.

Step 3: Season with the spice rub

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In this shot I’ve just begun seasoning the wings from above. I usually take a few fingerfuls of spice mixture and “Make it Rain” from above. With this recipe you’ll season the wings twice. So be sure to make sure you pace yourself with the rub so you have enough to last 24 wings twice. I just flipped these in the bowl a few times and they were evenly coated.

Step 4: Adding the corn starch

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Here I’ve lightly sprinkled some of the corn starch on this set of wings. Since I’ve cut back on my consumption of wheat I needed something to take the place of the flour in Chef John’s recipe. In my previous recipe I used ground rice to give a bit of “crunch”. The ground rice was able to stand up to the direct heat well. But since I’m cooking these indirect I wanted to see if the corn starch would perform as well as all-purpose flour as a binding agent. Toss or stir these well to coat with the corn starch. Once finished…

Step 5: A Final toss…

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Here’s what the wings look like with the final coating of spice and one last toss session.

Step 6: Cook ’em!

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Cook these at a medium-high heat 400 to 425 range worked for me fine. I used some parchment paper to keep them from sticking to the pan. 20 minutes into the cook, flip them over and cook on the other side. In the picture above you see them just as I was about to bring them to the kitchen. Let them rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. The juices will re-distributed and the skin will crisp up a bit.

Step 7: Hide ‘em!

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These were unbelievably good! I’ve since made them twice since I first tried this recipe and have been able to produce consistent results with them. The whole family blew through these in about 2 days. But it was well worth it!

Try ‘em out and let me know what you think!