Category Archives: Mains

Smoked Chicken with Alabama White Sauce and Pickles

Smoked Chicken with Alabama White Sauce

I first had smoked chicken with white sauce in Alabama about four years ago.  Of course I sneered at it.  Smoked? Chicken?  No no no, you smoke pork!  White barbecue sauce, a combination of vinegar and mayonnaise… how disgusting!  It never ever fails that when I have closed minded thoughts like these I’m proven all sorts of wrong.  It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  I had a bit of the snob knocked right out of me when I ate in Alabama. 

To begin with, smoking poultry is magical.  The meat obviously becomes smoky and enticing, but it also resonates with the beautiful dry rub seasoning and becomes sweeter.  In fact, to this day, my favorite Thanksgiving turkey was a smoked turkey breast we bought from a local Alabama restaurant.  I replicated that this past Thanksgiving and will write that up at some point because I intend to do it again and again. But, what I’m trying to convey is that smoked poultry is fantastic. 

Furthermore, dunking your chicken in tangy peppery white sauce is perfection.  They’re made for each other and I now understand why it’s so famous.

The only “trick” to doing this is making sure you allow yourself enough time.  It’s a two day process because you first brine the chicken and then smoke it.   And while it’s altogether easy, the process can be intimidating the first time around. 

To smoke the chicken I turned my basic grill into a smoker.  I “snaked” charcoal briquettes along one side in three layers to create one side that will remain hot and allow for indirect heat (and smoke) to cook the chicken on the other side.  The briquettes are topped with soaked wood chips, hickory in my case.  You start 8-10 briquettes in a charcoal chimney, if you don’t have one you start them on the opposite side of the charcoal snake.  Once they’re smoldering you transfer them to one end of the “snake” so that they start those briquettes smoking and then it becomes a chain effect and the longer the “snake” the longer you’ll be able to smoke your chicken. 

Smoked Chicken

Adapted from Feeding the Fire

For the chicken

1 chicken (about 4 lbs)

1 pot full of water

1 cup dry rub

Dry Rub

3/4 cup packed dark sugar

1/2 cup salt

1/2 cup espresso powder (ground espresso beans)

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Alabama White BBQ Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar + 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoon brown mustard

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon grated horseradish

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper

Bring a stock pot of water up to a boil and add in the cup of dry rub to dissolve.  Once the brine is cool, transfer it if needed to a container that will fit in the refrigerator, and add in the chicken and let brine for 4-8 hours in the fridge.   After the chicken has brined, pat the chicken dry and let it sit in the fridge for 6 hours to dry out.  Discard the brine.

Using the snake technique described above, preheat the grill/smoker to 275-350 degrees.  Add the chicken to the grill and smoke covered for 3-5 hours.  Mine took 4. 

Mix all the ingredients for the white sauce together.  Stir well.  Adjust with more pepper or vinegar as you prefer, but remember you’re going for a bit of a bite.  Taste with the smoked chicken (if possible) before altering. 

This is great served with white bread or cornbread, coleslaw if you have it, pickles for sure, and salad fixings. 

Peach and Mozzarella Salad

Peach and Mozzarella Salad

Oh how I like salads like these, a few ingredients, minimally prepped, coming together to make something more than the sum of its parts.  I can’t begin to describe how much I love light summery foods that don’t require me to expend a lot of energy, yet are delicious, filling, and satisfying. 

Our house here has no air conditioning and by 10 am I no longer want to move.  I literally take cold baths to cool down. … but I still have no issues making this salad.  Its almost peach season again and I wanted to make sure I shared this recipe before I let it lapse through another season.  I implore you to make this once the stone fruits come around again. 

In this salad the creamy mozzarella compliments sweet soft peaches and bursts of lemon.  This is fantastic to make just as a dinner for yourself, hem hem.  Or it’s lovely as a starter to make for company.  I definitely lump this into company food category, but, as I’ve mentioned, it’s not too fussy!  So, gather your friends around, have that BBQ, and make this salad beforehand. 

You do use the lemon peel here, so unsprayed and unwaxed lemons are best; if you can’t find any rinse them with some vinegar and water to scrub off the wax.  Also, I prefer the smaller basil leaves for their concentrated flavor and softer texture. I substituted burrata for buffalo mozzarella because the stores were out. I’m glad they were, it’s fantastic!

Peach and Mozzarella Salad

Adapted from Borough Market

Ingredients

2 large unsprayed lemons

3/4 cup olive oil

4-6 fairly ripe peaches, depending on size

2 balls buffalo mozzarella

8 sprigs of basil

In a small frying pan heat the olive oil on medium-high heat.  While that is warming up, peel the zest from the lemons; remove any of the bitter pith still attached.  Cut the zest into thin strips.

Place a paper towel lined plate near the stove.  Once the oil is hot, add the zest for about 30 seconds.  You’re looking for the zest to curl, color, and crisp up.  Scoop and drain on the paper towel lined plate.  Allow the oil to cool.  Once cooled, juice the lemons, about 4 tablespoons, into the oil.  Add in some salt and whisk all together. 

Slice up the peaches, dividing them among plates if you’re sharing.  Sprinkle the peaches with the lemon juice and olive oil, then tear up the mozzarella (if using burrata) or cut up nicely and cleanly if you want to be more prim about it.  Spoon more dressing over the mozzarella and sprinkle with the lemon zest and basil.  Enjoy!

watermelon and feta salad

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Watermelon and Feta Salad with mint and a lemon juice and olive oil dressing

This recipe has been in my files for a while now, however I’ve yet to write it up.  I don’t want another summer to go by without mentioning that this is one of my favorite summer salads and that it pleases everyone in the house. 

Watermelon and Feta Salad is an oldie but a goodie.  It’s classic for a reason.  My favorite rendition here strictly tosses watermelon, feta, and mint in a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.  That said, there are versions that have olives for a fruity, salty kick or jeweled pomegranate seeds for a a nice pop of flavor. Feel free to add either of those in (but not at the same time). I will say the pomegranate goes better with a lime-olive oil dressing rather than lemon, but truly both work gorgeously.

This is absolutely perfect to bring to a BBQ. It’s a crowd pleaser, but I will say, make this the same day you want to serve it or at the very least hold off on adding in the feta. The salad doesn’t age well, in terms of looks, but will still be tasty. Eat within a few days.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

1 medium watermelon, cubed 

about 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

a half clamshell of mint, chopped

1/2 – 1 lemon

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Peel and cube the watermelon, crumble up and add in the feta, add in the chopped mint.  Using a reamer, juice the lemon over the watermelon, feta, and mint.  Your looking for a good tablespoon of lemon juice here, I usually only need half a lemon, but if yours is stingy use the whole thing. Drizzle over the olive oil.  Toss everything together to mix well.  Eat with gusto. 

Fennel and Sausage Stuffing with bacon, wine, and good things

Fennel and Sausage Stuffing

Fennel and Sausage Stuffing with bacon, wine, and good things

I wasn’t going to post this, but I feel like I owe it to you.  This is the best stuffing I’ve ever eaten.  It’s the one I’ve been making for years, but this year it tasted especially good.  Was it the wine?  Was it my technique?  Doubtful.  It’s just a good recipe.  I follow it, don’t alter it…..

Simply put this is fantastic.  This is the stuffing you want to eat on the holidays, it will make you weep because it’s that good and because you’ve been making lesser versions all your life.  There’s no breakfast sausage, no sage, no apples, no greens, no dried fruit.  Thank goodness!  There’s Italian sausage, bacon, and fennel.  The fennel mellows, so even my fennel-ly challenged husband enjoys this.  Yes, there’s both bacon and Italian sausage, but not so much that it’s overpowering.  It’s the kind of stuffing you want the next day and the day after.  Then you remember, it’s not exactly health food, so maybe it’s best to only make it for the holidays.  Yummy holidays. Continue reading

Kimchi Pancakes with rice and dipping sauce - Kimchijeon

Kimchijeon – Kimchi Pancakes

This is my new football food go-to.  Kimchi pancakes.  Salty and crunchy and entirely addictive.  These are best enjoyed with an ice cold beer, hence my labeling them football food.  They can be made in small pancakes, as I did here, or one large pancake.  I like the smaller size because they can be turned into appetizers or in my case a bar-type snack.   Continue reading

Venetian Ghetto Taglietelle with Chicken, Raisins, and Pinenuts

Venetian Ghetto Tagliatelle With Chicken – Lovely Remnants of a Birthday Dinner

Venetian Ghetto Taglietelle with Chicken, Raisins, and Pinenuts

The other night I roasted two chickens for my birthday dinner with the idea to have lots of chicken for leftovers.  I normally stick extra chicken in a quesadilla or taco – a dinner I happily return to again and again.  Rarely do I put chicken and pasta together.  Most of the time, it reminds me of “family style” restaurants who’s food is always too…. much….too much cream, too much sodium, too much everything but taste.  It’s a lot of bland calories.

However, I was watching some “old” Nigella on TV, an episode where she tore apart a roast chicken with her bare fingers – and somehow made that look alluring and delicious.  When I tear apart a chicken, which I do often, it’s a bit more of a cavewoman going at a carcass.  But when Nigella does anything…. well you know.  She’s Nigella!  And she was talking about a Claudia Roden recipe she swears by called Tagliatelle Frisinal.  The ingredients are minimal; the dish is simple.  You do, however, need to roast your own chicken.  This is crucial because all those delicious succulent juices comprise the sauce.  Truly, the pasta dish is out of this world. Continue reading

Slices of Angel Food Cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting For A Big Birthday

I had a birthday. A big one. The big 4-0. And I’m loving my new decade. I don’t feel older than I normally do. I’d say I don’t feel old, but my kids ensure I get no more than three hours of sleep a night…. so in that way, I feel oooold and tired. But, that’s it. I do feel wiser in a “screw what the world thinks” kind of way. Of course, I didn’t pay much mind before, but even less now. I already see myself turning into the batty old woman that others mutter about when they see me coming “Oh God, here comes Dana again. What’s that lunatic up to this time?” I love that feeling and I truly hope I’m the village nutter. Continue reading

Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi Fried Rice with Bacon Fried Egg

Kimchi Fried Rice

Have you ever had kimchi fried rice? For reasons unknown to me, I was hesitant to make this dish. I think it was because I thought I couldn’t work with fermented foods. I’ve eaten kimchi quite a few times before and loved it. In fact, banchan, the little dishes that accompany a Korean meal, are my favorite part of the meal. Plus, I would go so far as to say that kimchi is my favorite fermented food. But, could I handle working with fermented food?

As it turns out, yes! Kimchi doesn’t bite and kimchi fried rice is amazing and easy. Oh so easy. I worked up the “courage” because kimchi is sold at my farmers market as is kimchi fried rice. So, I not only had tried their kimchi before, but I tasted the complete dish. It gave my confidence a boost. Plus, the vendors are encouraging and helpful.  I can’t wait to tell them about this success.   Continue reading

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas with Chipotle Sour Cream and Asparagus Hominy Salad

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas with Chipotle Lime Sour Cream

 

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas with Chipotle Sour Cream and Asparagus Hominy Salad

Well, this post is long overdue.  Overdue by at least two years, I think.  These sweet potato and black bean quesadillas are one of the cheapest, easiest, most satisfying, and tastiest dinners I make.  At least I think so.  And the fact that you can make the filling ahead of time and make enough for a few dinners, makes for a relatively fast weeknight meal. Continue reading