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.

“Slab o Meat” aka Beef Round Top London Broil

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I’ve been itchin’ to cook something this whole week. I originally was going to make some pulled pork. However, I never got to the butcher shop so I went shopping in my deep freezer.

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I found a “slab o meat” that my wife bought on sale at the supermarket. I guess the technical name is Round Top London Broil. All that I learned after researching this cut of meat is; it is lean, tough, and usually not worth the few dollars it costs. So I figured I’d throw this on the grill slow and low, and see what happens.

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I used my standard rub:

Classic BBQ Spice Rub:
  • 4 tbsp Kosher Salt
    2 tbsp brown sugar
    2 tbsp garlic powder
    2 tbsp paprika
    1 tbsp celery seed
    1 tbsp ground cumin
    1 tbsp black pepper

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Liberally season with the rub…

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While the meat is resting after being rubbed, I set up my grill the in the “Ring of Fire” formation. Two single rows of briquettes in a circle, with a single row on top. This configuration should give me 250 degrees for at least six hours. I placed small Mesquite chips around the ring so there would be light smoke continuously throughout the cook.

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Putting on the slabs…

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1 Hour in, a solid 250 degrees…

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5 hours later, and the temp is just starting to dip a bit from 250…

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This is what the meat looked like when I opened the grill. I took a “Chef’s Privilege” piece from the piece on the right. Man was it good!

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I wrapped the 2 in foil and left them on for one more hour. In hindsight I probably should have moved the whole wrapping back an hour. But whatever, it’s “Slabbo meat!”, as my six year old calls it.

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Finally pulled off the grill… I let them rest in the foil a bit before unwrapping. About 15 minutes.

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Unwrapping the meat… I swear every fly in NE Philadelphia started slamming into my screen door once I unwrapped these bad boys! They filled my kitchen with the smell of beef and mesquite.

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Slicing her up on my favorite cutting board…

Lessons learned: If my wife buys “Slabbo” meat again, I may try an overnight marinade and maybe spray it throughout the cook session. But overall, not too bad.

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!

Blackened Tilapia

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I love Cajun food, particularly Blackened Redfish, but since I didn’t have any Redfish, I substituted Tilapia. I made these the same time as I made my Cedar Planked Lemon-Pepper Tilapia. As before, I had this bag of Tilapia just sitting in the freezer, so I figured I’d do something with it.

The raw materials…

I split the bag in half. I blackened 6 fillets and cedar planked the other 6.

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I used a variation of a recipe from Terry Thompson’s The New Cajun-Creole Cooking cookbook. Here is the recipe I used to “paint” the fillets.

Dry Ingredients “Wet Ingredients”
  • 1 tbsp. Paprika
  • 1.5 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 6 Tilapia fillets
  • 2 cups butter melted
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed, never the stuff from the plastic lemons, EVER!)

I melted the butter in the microwave on low heat, then stirred in all the rest of the ingredients and allowed the mixture to cool. Once cool I painted each fillet on both sides with the mixture and let it marinate for about 3 hours.

Painting the fillets…

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While the fillets were marinating I started a full chimney of Kingsford briquettes. I used half of the lit coals to fill a Weber basket, and the rest I spread in a single layer to toast cedar plank for the other fish I cooked.

Lighting the coals…

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Laying ‘em down…

I let the cast iron griddle heat for about 15 minutes over the weber basket. You’ll know when your griddle/skillet is ready, because the cast iron will get a bit of a gray haze on it.

As soon as you put the fillets on they will produce prodigious amounts of smoke. They will sear and begin to cook immediately. Be careful that the spits and sputters from the fish and butter don’t burn you. You may be tempted to lift the fillets or move them. DON’T! You will touch this only once, when you flip it over. It took these about 3 minutes per side.

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The finished product…

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These tasted as good as they look. One fillet never made it in the house. I brought out a fork and plate and ate it there at the grill.

Lessons Learned/For next time…

The Tilapia was a little too tender for this recipe. A couple of fillets got mangled in the turning. In addition, the weather was cold that day so I had to watch the heat on the second round of fillets. I can’t wait to try this with some Redfish or Red Snapper next time!

Cedar Planked Lemon-Pepper Tilapia

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I cooked these the same weekend I did the Smoke Roasted Round Roast. I had a bag of Tilapia that was taking up space in the freezer. Plus this fish cooks relatively fast. So I decided that I would blacken some, and then use up  my last cedar plank on these fillets.

A bit of courage…

This cook’s official sponsor was a Polish Mule. A great cocktail and easy to mix. 2 oz. Chopin Rye Vodka, juice of half a lime (freshly squeezed, not that green plastic grenade), two dashes of Angostura Bitters and 6 oz ginger beer over ice.

The funny thing about grilling in the middle of winter in Philly, when I take my drinks outside, they actually get colder!

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Step 1: Season…

These fillets got a simple dusting of equal parts kosher salt and ground black pepper. Nothing too complicated here, as the flavor is going to come from the wood and the lemons during the cook.

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Step 2: Gimme some heat…

I lit a full chimney of briquettes, filling one weber basket and then spreading the rest next to it. Below you see me toasting the cedar plank while cooking some blackened tilapia along side. It took about 5 minutes for the cedar plank to toast up nicely.

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Step 3: Laying on the fish…

After toasting the cedar plank, I flipped it, rubbed it with a bit of olive oil and laid the fillets on top. Then as you can see, I added 2 – 3 lemon slices on top of the fillets. Closed the lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes over a hot grill. The smell of the cedar and the blackening tilapia next to it, had my neighbor from down the street come down to see what I was cooking. That and it was 32 degrees outside!

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Step 4: Pulling the fish…

I ended up putting a third fillet on this plank, but the poor fillet never made it inside! He was sacrificed for the sake of cooking science.

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Results/Lessons Learned:

These fish came out very lemony. I guess this would work better with a fillet that had a more robust base flavor, like maybe Sword Fish or Sea Bass. One of the fillets was too lemony, the other two were great though. If I decide to plank these again in the future, I may just go for a spritz of lemon juice at the beginning and just be done with it.

But no worries I gave these a good home!

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Big Green Egg Half-Moon Cast Iron Griddle

I first saw this tool pictured in Adam Perry Lang’s BBQ25 Cookbook. Below is a picture of the griddle on my Weber One Touch Gold. The Griddle is actually made by the Big Green Egg Company. I found one on Ebay for sale and quickly ordered it. I love this tool!

WHY DOESN’T WEBER MAKE THIS?! As you can see below the half moon doesn’t fit exactly. But it’s close enough, and works so much better than trying to use circular cast iron frying pans or griddles on the grill. Until Weber wakes up and makes one that fits 50% of the surface area. I’m using this!

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Flat Side: Perfect for sautéing vegetables, blackening chicken or fish.

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Raised Grill Side: Perfect for grill marks, and giving a place for your meat to hide from flames.

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If you got a Weber One-Touch, do yourself a favor and find one of these. You won’t be disappointed.