Jul 23 2006

We're Baaaaaack!!

If I have been noticeably absent in the last week, it has been for a pretty good cause! TLW went back to Atlanta to play Florence Nightingale by tacking care of our son Ben who had some elective shoulder surgery. She is proud to report that all is well.

Just about the time I was ready to get back bloggin’, our server paid us a left handed compliment by telling us we were using too much bandwidth…and we were going to have to go to the next level…that means more $$$$…oh well! When we started this blog in December, we had no idea where we were going with it…but just last week we had our 10,000th hit! Now TLW tells me that some sites get that many hits in an hour…but The General is happy with his small victory! It appears that a blog has a mind of its own and ours seems to be growing exponentially. TLW and I are certainly enjoying the process.

Jul 13 2006

Hot Diggity Dogs

TLW hails from Boston in which of a barbecue really consists of hamburgers and hot dogs. All too often the hot dog for other culinary delights. According to the Nation’s Restaurant News (July 3, 2006), the hot dog is making its way into some really upscale restaurants. How about a hot dog served on a silver platter? Try one at Wynn’s new casino in Las Vegas!

Two examples of the dressed up dog in NRN are the “Reuben Dog” featuring pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing, as well as the “Hawaii Five-O Dog” wrapped in bacon, deep fried, and topped with pineapple, sesame seeds, scallions and teriyaki sauce.

This is an issue like pizza toppings…let your imagination run wild and have some fun!

Our favorite hot dog is the
Hebrew National All Beef Kosher Dog. It is generally sold at Sam’s and Costco. Regular hot dog buns just don’t do these upscale dogs justice…they are way too small. You need to look for more of a sandwich bun of a larger variety.

Jul 10 2006

Boneless Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Olive Tapenade, Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Our friend, Sir Charles, gave us a boneless leg of lamb with the request that The General brine it before cooking…because that is the way he likes his lamb. A simple brining solution consists of about a quart of water and a half a cup of Kosher salt or sea salt. Put the two ingredients in a blender and blend for about thirty seconds. Put the lamb in a zip-loc bag and pour the brining solution over it and let it sit overnight.

The next day, make sure you remove the meat from the brine and thoroughly rinse the meat with cold running water. The jury is still out for The General on brining…but so far so good. I am beginning to think that it does add to the overall texture of the meat.

I cut the lamb almost all the way through…straight down the center and stuffed it with olive tapenade and something new I found at Fresh Market…minced garlic with sun-dried tomatoes. Then using butcher string, I tied the lamb back together and was ready for grilling.

I set the grill up for indirect grilling and placed the roast on the indirect side and let it cook until it reached an internal temperature of 135*.

After untying and cutting the lamb, it turned out to be a real crowd pleaser.

I made a simple orange glaze to accompany it.

Jul 10 2006

Kielbasa Stuffed Cabbage

The Kansas City Barbecue Society’s Georgia State Championship is coming up in Dillard, GA this August 5. The General and TLW only cook two contests a year these days…down from 12 to 15 or more a year just a few short years ago. The Dillard contest is special to us since we won it in 1999. Its setting is in a beautiful part of the state near the North Carolina border.

Again this year we look forward to our participation in the contest! The main part of the contest includes chicken, ribs, pork butt and beef brisket, but Dillard plays host to three side contests including cabbage, grits and dessert…all native to the North Georgia region.

Our neighbor, Wild Bill, showed up at our door this weekend with his copy of the July/August edition of the AARP magazine. (Of course, we are tooo young to get this esteemed publication!) He was excited about it because it had a whole section on barbecue by our friend Steve Raichlen. And guess what? One of the recipes was stuffed cabbage with kielbasa roasted on the grill! We tried it last night with very satisfactory results.


Kielbasa Stuffed Cabbage

1 medium-size head of cabbage

3 T unsalted butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 oz. kielbasa (about 3 inches), cut into 1/4 inch dice

1/4 C of your favorite BBQ sauce

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory or pecan), soaked for an hour in cold water to cover, then drained

Crumple a 12 inch long piece of aluminum foil and shape it into a ring about three inches in diameter. Use this ring as a base to hold the cabbage upright while stuffing and cooking.

Set the cabbage on a cutting board on its crown. Cut out the core by angling your knife about 3 inches down toward the center of the cabbage and cutting in a circle about 3 inches in diameter. Pull out the core and discard it. The piece you’ve removed should look like a cone. Prop the cabbage upright on the aluminum-foil ring, cavity facing up.

Melt 2 T of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Brush a little melted butter (about 1/2 tablespoon) over the outside of the cabbage. Add the onion, garlic, and kielbasa to the skillet and cook over medium heat until lightly browned…3 to 5 minutes. Spoon the kielbasa mixture into the cavity of the cabbage. Pour the barbecue sauce on top and top with the remaining 1/2 T butter. Season the outside of the cabbage with salt and pepper.

Set up for indirect grilling. Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill with the coals ringing the outside.

When the coals are ashy grey, toss all the wood chips or chunks on the coals. Place the cabbage on its aluminum foil ring in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat and cover the grill.

Cook the cabbage until very tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours; when done, it will be easy to pierce with a skewer.

To serve, peel off any dried-out or charred outside leaves and discard. Present the cabbage on its ring to your guests, then cut in wedges and serve.

Jul 10 2006

Grilled Potatoes with Shallots

The General has a fairly large cookbook library here in Savannah and one book I keep re-discovering is “The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Barbecues, Grills & Outdoor Eating (Cook’s Encyclopedias)” (Christine France). I like this book because Christine brings a woman’s approach to outdoor cooking. I also keep it close at hand ever since we were visited by the vegetarian. She has a whole chapter devoted to grilled veggies.

I used one recently for grilled new red potatoes and shallots.

2 1/2 lbs. of small new potatoes or red potatoes

7 oz of shallots, halved

2 T olive oil

1 T sea salt

Get a head start by parboiling the potatoes in salted boiling water for about 5-7 minutes.

Drain well and then thread the potatoes onto skewers alternating with the shallots.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Place on grill (either direct or indirect) depending on the intensity of heat in your grill and turn often.


Jul 6 2006

It's a Southern Thang

Three years ago Williamson Bros. restaurant in Marietta, Ga (north of Atlanta) hosted a dinner for the Board of Directors of the National Barbecue Association of which I was a member. You need to understand that they do a huge BBQ restaurant business as well as a catering business…both are very successful. However, on that evening, the thing that they were the proudest of is their “Fried Pickle.” They went on and on about how great the fried pickles were.

Now you can’t have fried pickles without fried green tomatoes. It’s a ritual in the South. There was even a movie called “Fried Green Tomatoes.”

Here is an easy how-to for both:

Use Kosher dills for the pickles and sliced green tomatoes (regular hamburger sized tomatoes).

Take a couple of eggs beaten for your dip or bath for both the pickles and tomatoes.

I used Zatarain’s Seasoned Fish Fry and after dipping in the egg wash, coat the pickles and tomatoes in the breading.

Zatarain’s can be purchased in Sam’s Club or most grocery stores around here in the flour section. You can also use a simple combination of all purpose flour and corn meal (1/2 to 1/2) and don’t forget to season with black pepper!

Use your black iron skillet and heat your peanut oil to 375*. When your oil reaches that temperature, put in your pickles and tomatoes. Fry until golden brown on both sides.

When frying on the stove top, never leave the skillet unattended…even to go check your grill! And never let your temperature exceed 375*

As Paula Deen says, “Put some South in your mouth!”

Actually that saying didn’t originate with Paula Deen…it came from Jack Black owner of the Old Hickory House restaurants in the Atlanta area. When The General was a kid
(back in the dark ages) this is where we went to get our BBQ!


Jul 4 2006

Pork Loin Stuffed with Olive Tapenade and Parmesan Cheese

Having a crowd over?

A real crowd pleaser for your friends and your wallet is a whole pork loin. Even better, kick it up a notch and stuff it with an olive tapenade. For the marinade The General used “mojo” found in most ethnic sections of supermarkets. Let it marinate over night. The next day, drain the marinade and rub it down with your favorite spice rub (I used Mojo Seco by Konriko.) TLW commented on how good it smelled…even though she could distinguish the cumin…and she is not a cumin fan. You might want to try some also. I then spread the pork loin out and cut it from end to end right down the center of the top of the loin…being careful not to cut all the way through. You will then have a V shaped piece of meat ready to be stuffed. I then spooned in the olive tapenade that I bought at Sam’s, some minced garlic, along with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.


Then using butcher string I tied it back together in four or five different places.


Here’s a little something I learned at this part of the process. If you are doing prep and stuffing, generally your hands are going to be pretty messy. Leave the ball of butcher string on the counter and just pull from the end to get your desired amount of string. If you try to pick up the whole ball of string, you are going to have some contaminated string!

Set up the grill for indirect smoking and place your masterpiece on the grate. Depending on what temperature you are cooking at, it should take two to three hours to reach an internal temperature of 165* in the center of the meat.



Your sliced pork loin will feed 12 -15 people and will be make an attractive presentation when plated.


Jul 1 2006

Some Like It Hot

Some like it hot…not just hot, but really HOT! There is a cult like following out there of people who relish in just how hot they can get their food. In many instances, food is just a “prop” for the hot sauces.

The General will tell you that he is a real sissy when it comes to this category. After all, look at some of the names for some of the hot sauces out there: Original Death Sauce with Chipotle, Dancing Fire Chipotle, Voodoo Magic Hot Sauce, Howling Fire and Spice Mango Habanero, Man on Fire Stunt Sauce, Pain is Good Harissa, Ass Kickin’ Horseradish Hot Sauce and Dyin’ For Cayenne. Believe me, people take their hot sauces very seriously.

We turn to the ultimate authority on HOT for this week’s Carnival of the Recipes….

Chile Pepper Magazine which gives one a glimpse of the whole world of hot out there. You can even get your own Chile Grill for smoking stuffed jalapenos!


Here is a recipe for shrimp stuffed jalapenos that Chile Grill gives in its ad for the grill:

1 dozen 20 count shrimp peeled

3 strips of bacon

Seasoned salt

1 dozen Jalapenos about 1″ across

Cream cheese

1 dozen round toothpicks

Cut the top off the jalapenos and “de-seed” them. Salt the jalapenos on the inside. Put the shrimp in head first. Cram a little cream cheese in the open places around the shrimp. Cut the bacon strips in quarters; place each quarter over the top of the jalapenos and put a toothpick through it. Place the Chile Grill in your smoker for 1 hour or until bacon is done. Most of the heat will be cooked out at this point, but if you want them fiery, leave some seeds in!

In the June 2005 issue of

Chile Pepper Magazine, there is an article on p. 60 about Nashville, TN aka “Music City” and their hot chicken restaurants. It turns out that in Music City there is a whole pocket of restaurants that serve “hot pumped” chicken. Here are a few you might want to visit….Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, HotChickens.com, and South Street Original Smokehouse Crab Shack and Authentic Dive Bar. At the HotChicken.com their number one menu item is named “The Atomic Bomb!”

Here are a couple of interesting recipes The General plans to try very soon!

Pumped Chicken

This is a signature dish of South Street Original Smokehouse Crab Shack and Authentic Dive Bar. The chicken is rubbed with the blackening spice, pumped with marinade and smoked. This recipe will make plenty of blackening spice-store any extra in an airtight container for later use.

1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) chicken cut in half

For the blackening spice:

1T paprika

2 t white pepper

2 t cayenne pepper

2 t black pepper

2 t dried thyme

2 t celery salt

1 T garlic powder

1 t dried basil

1 t dried oregano

1 t salt

1 t onion powder

For the marinade:

1 C olive oil

1/4 c red wine vinegar

1 t sugar

1/4 t salt

1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

1/8 t granulated garlic

Prepare your smoker, preferably using hickory wood, and heat to about 225*. In a small bowl, combine the blackening spice ingredients. Rub this mixture liberally onto the chicken halves. In another bowl, combine the marinade ingredients. Use a meat injector syringe to “pump” the marinade into the chicken halves, varying the points of injection.

Smoke the chicken at 225* for 2 hours until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170* Remove from the smoker, and serve with potato salad, cole slaw or baked beans.


Smokin’ Thighs

This recipe is adapted form the South Street Original Smokehouse. This unique hot chicken recipe adds the smoky flavor of barbecue to the meat before it is fried.

2 pounds chicken thighs

4 C of your favorite hot barbecue sauce

6 C orange juice

1 C soy sauce

3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) butter

Vegetable or peanut oil for frying

2 Eggs, beaten

1 C flour

Prepare a smoker, preferably using hickory wood, and heat to 225*. Put the chicken thighs in the smoker for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 170*.

Combine the barbecue sauce, orange juice, soy sauce, and butter in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, turn off heat, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large iron skillet, heat the vegetable oil to 320*. Place the flour in one bowl and the eggs in another. Dredge the smoked chicken thighs one by one in flour. Dip them in the egg, then dredge in flour again. Shake off any excess.

Fry in the vegetable oil until the thighs are golden brown, about 10 minutes, turning once. Drain on paper towels to remove the excess oil. Toss the cooked thighs with the prepared barbecue sauce, and transfer to a serving platter.

Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing and some carrot and celery sticks.

Here are a few rules that might be helpful on your “HoT” odyssey to de-fuse the intensity of heat in peppers:

1. Take the seeds out…they are the source of the heat.

2. Always wear food service gloves so the heat from the pepper will not get on your hands.

3. Never touch your face or eyes with your hands after touching the peppers.

4. Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

5. Don’t drink carbonated beverages or your stomach may explode.

Numbers 4 and 5 include a little humor (TLW made me add this!)