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Long Road Chili: Smoked pork belly chili

Smoked Pork Belly Chili: the crown jewel of autumn

Rain has plagued your journey down the Long Road. For days, you have slogged along, some days in a light mist, others a torrent that almost obscured your hand before your face. The air carried a constant chill. The brilliantly colored leaves stood in stark contrast against a slate sky. When you finally found shelter and a warm fire, a bowl of delicious smoked pork belly chili was waiting for you. Your bones were warmed; the journey was worth it for this savory bite.

This dish is meant to be shared, as it yields over a dozen cups. It’s perfect for tailgating, or sharing with friends while sessioning some new microbrews.

Recipe Notes

I would recommend playing with the spice rubs; this was made with Dash Cunning, but you could easily substitute any of the other rubs, and it would be just as good, albeit with a different taste profile.

For the beer in this pork belly chili, I used Elysium Immortal IPA, though you could substitute just about any beer you want. Please, for the love of little apples, use good beer, preferably a local microbrew or respected brewery. Don’t subject your food, mouth, or liver, to bad beer.

This is another dish inspired by the Acquisitions Intoxicated series on Twitch (Tuesdays, 12 noon PCT). I highly recommend it.  And I believe that Jerry Holkins’ (@TychoBrahe) reaction to the dish says it all:

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Long Road Chili: Smoked pork belly chili in your belly
pork-belly-chili
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
pork-belly-chili
Instructions
  1. Cut diagonal slits through the skin on the pork belly, 1" apart, then cut intersecting slits at the same spacing so that you create an "X" pattern. Take care not to cut into the fat. This is to allow the rub to penetrate more of the meat.
  2. Cover the pork belly with the Spice Rub.
  3. Heat your smoker to 250 degrees. If your setup includes some kind of liquid pan, add 2 bottles of beer (these are over and above the beer called for in the recipe). Put the pork belly in the smoker, and add the wood of your choice, according to the smoker instructions.
  4. Smoke the pork belly until it reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the heat, and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.
While the pork belly is smoking
  1. Prepare your other ingredients.
Once the pork has completed its rest
  1. Chop the pork belly up into 1/2" chunks.
  2. In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the pork belly. Cook until the fat renders and the pork belly has browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the ground beef and ground pork. Add some salt and pepper, and cook until the meat is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  4. Add the peppers and the onions. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until onions start to become translucent and begin to brown.
  5. Add the garlic. With a spoon, push the ingredients in the pot to the sides to expose the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the beer to deglaze the pot, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits off the bottom. Redistribute the ingredients and stir. Cook until the beer has reduced by about half.
  6. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and beans. Return to a simmer, and reduce heat to medium low. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste along the way, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  7. Mix the water, masa harina, and chili powder into a thick paste.
  8. When the chili has cooked down, slowly add in the masa harnina paste. This will start tot thicken the chili.
  9. If you desire thicker chili, start adding in the corn starch 1 teaspoon at a time and stirring in, allowing to incorporate. Take your time with this, as if you add too much in, the chili can get too thick.
  10. Cut the tops off of the rolls, and carefully dig out the insides, taking care not to pierce the outside of the crust.
  11. Heat your grill to high. (If you don't have a grill handy, you can use a broiler with the shelf set to the highest placement.) Place the bread, hole side down, on the grill (or facing up if using the broiler). Toast the roll.
  12. Fill the bread bowls with chili. Add a few pieces of plucked cilantro, and a teaspoon of sour cream. Squeeze a 1/8" slice of lime onto the chili. Add cheese, if desired.
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Easy Grilled Chicken Wings

Thanks for requesting a complimentary consult for our private chef services.  We certainly hope that we will be able to find a cost-effective solution to help you free up more time to spend with your family and pursue your passions, all while letting you eat good food.

As promised, here is your bonus recipe. Chicken wings are an easy food to prep and cook, but also easy to overcook. Follow the steps below to get amazing wings, every time.

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Easy Grilled Chicken Wings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
wings
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
wings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Using a sharp knife, separate the wing flats from the drumsticks. You will be able to feel where the bones join; this is where you should insert the knife, and you should be able to slice through. Cut the wing tip off of the flat, and dispose of the tip.
  2. Put the wings in a large, non-reactive bowl, and toss with the sea salt. Add enough water to cover the wings. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
  3. Remove the wings from the brine solution, and dispose of the brine. Pat the wings dry with a paper towel,
  4. Preheat your grill to high (500-600 degrees Fahrenheit).
  5. Toss the wings with the Saint Brian's Spice Rub until coated.
  6. Oil the grill grates. Place the wings on the grill, and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes. The wings will release easily from the grill when they are ready to flip. If you need to scrape under them with the spatula, then they aren't finished cooking on that side.
  7. Flip the wings once, and cook for another 3-4 minutes until cooked through. The meat will feel firm to the touch, and the internal temperature on an instant read thermometer will be 165 degrees.
  8. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and serve with Saint Brian's Barbecue Sauces for dipping.
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Why Not Both Sandwich: Pork, Poultry, and Pickled Slaw

Why limit your choice of meat to one, when you can have two?

Once again in the Acquisitions Intoxicated trend (you can catch this show on the Penny Arcade Twitch channel, Tuesdays at 3:00 pm EST), the Why Not Both Sandwich combines the forces of Cornish Game Hen with bratwurst, and tempers the savoriness with a quick pickled slaw. We promise to use this power for good, not evil.

The backstory: this week on Acquisitions Intoxicated, Jerry Holkins and Eric Benson brewed a Dunkel Weisse in honor of the character Jim Darkmagic. For those who haven’t followed their ongoing D&D game (hosted by Wizards of the Coast writer/project lead and dungeon master extraordinaire Chris Perkins), Jim (as played by Penny Arcade artist Mike Krahulik) has a penchant for flamboyancy, egoism, purple capes, and entering every room with a flourish of doves.

The Why Not Both Sandwich goes off of this by combining a lovely grilled bratwurst, Cornish game hen (because I couldn’t find any doves, and pigeons are hard to catch), and quick pickled slaw for some acidity to act as a counter note to the savoriness of this sandwich.

One last line of credit goes to the one, the only, the indomitable Jerry Holkins, aka Tycho Brahe, aka Omin Dran, for naming this bad boy.

 

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Why Not Both Sandwich: Pork, Poultry, and Pickled Slaw
Quick Pickled Slaw
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
sandwich
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
sandwich
Ingredients
Quick Pickled Slaw
Instructions
  1. Prepare the quick pickled slaw according to the recipe in the link above.
  2. Prepare the Cornish game hen according to the recipe in the link above. (OPTION: substitute the Cornish game hen with the salt-encrusted chicken recipe).
  3. When the game hen has completed cooking and is resting, cook the bratwurst, turning every couple of minutes to ensure even cooking, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Cut the roll open, and toast.
  5. Cut the breasts off of the game hen (or use the Caveman Method). Alternative: carve the whole bird, and use a mixture of white and dark meat.
  6. Build the sandwich: put a layer of the slaw on one side of the toasted roll, and a layer of game hen on the other. Nestle the bratwurst in the middle. Devour.
    Quick Pickled Slaw
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Grilled Cornish Game Hen in 6 easy steps

6 steps to an awesome dish

Grilled Cornish game hen is a real crowd-pleaser. It may taste like chicken, but the presentation possibilities can really elevate a meal; imagine serving each of your guests their own bird, plated perfectly.  Cool, right?

This recipe is very simple, and uses Saint Brian’s BBQ Savory Saturday Spice Rub to really bring out the flavors without any overpowering heat; it’s definitely a crowd pleaser.

Quick tip: pay close attention to the internal temperature while cooking. These guys cook fast, and can dry out very quickly if they overcook.

As an added bonus, you can carve Cornish game hens the same way you would a full-sized chicken: caveman style.

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Grilled Cornish Game Hen
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat your grill to high (500-600 degrees Fahrenheit) and set up for direct grilling.
  2. Using your hands, combine the butter and spice rub in a bowl until combined.
  3. With your finger, gently separate the skin from the meat along the breasts and legs, taking care not to break the skin.
  4. Take half of the butter and spice mixture and form into a ball. Place the ball under the skin. Holding the opened end of the skin down so that the butter doesn't come back out, use the skin to push the butter over the breasts and legs. Rub the remainder of the butter on the inside of the cavity.
  5. Place the game hen on the grill, and cook with the lid down for about 20 minutes. It's best to use a thermometer probe to monitor the internal temperature, as these birds cook fast. Cook until the internal temp on the breasts is 165 degrees.
  6. Remove from the heat, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
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Quick Pickled Slaw

With the savory flavors of grilling and barbecue often being the primary, and sometimes overpowering, flavor note, having something on the acidic side, such as this quick pickled slaw, can cut the richness with a counterpoint that enhances the flavor. It seems counter-intuitive, I know, but having a balance of flavors highlights the flavor notes on all sides, and keeps the food from becoming overwhelming.

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Quick Pickled Slaw
Quick Pickled Slaw
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Quick Pickled Slaw
Instructions
  1. Add the cider vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and sugar to a pot and bring to a boil. Make sure that the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
  2. Strain the vinegar into a glass or non-reactive bowl. Discard the peppercorns and bay leaves.
  3. Add the shredded cabbage and jalapeno slices to the vinegar. Cover, and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
To Preserve
  1. Stuff sterilized mason jars with the cabbage and jalapenos, and fill with the vinegar. Seal tightly, and refrigerate.
Recipe Notes

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War Hammer Burger

Warning: this burger is not for the faint of heart. It requires commitment. It requires a steady hand. It requires gastronomic fortitude.  Are you worthy?

The genesis of this burger came from watching Acquisitions Intoxicated on the Penny Arcade Twitch channel. They are brewing a different D&D-themed beer each week, based on the characters of a long-running D&D game the Penny Arcade crew (with other such luminaries as Wil Wheaton, Patrick Rothfuss, and Morgan Webb) has been playing in conjunction with Wizards of the Coast, and run by Chris Perkins.

This week, they brewed a black IPA called WarPriest. When I asked what food would pair well with the finished product, they said a burger, and “meat”. The result is the War Hammer: beef, chorizo, prosciutto, bacon, and a fried egg with Zombie Punch Sauce (cause a cleric’s burger should be able to turn the undead).

I’ll be honest, I got the meat sweats while eating it. I’ve decided that this is a “sometimes” burger.

See my question and Eric’s answer for pairings at the 35:25 minute mark below. Adult language.

Watch live video from PennyArcade on www.twitch.tv

 

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War Hammer Burger
war-hammer-burger
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
burger
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
burger
Ingredients
war-hammer-burger
Instructions
  1. Preheat your grill to high.
  2. Mix the beef, chorizo, and Dash Cunning Spice Rub in a bowl with your fingers. Form into a patty about 1 inch thick, and use your thumbs to put a divot in the middle of the top.
  3. Add the bacon to a cold skillet, and place over medium/medium-high heat. Cook until crispy; keep the rendered bacon fat in the pan
  4. Put your burger on the grill. Turn after 4 minutes. Remove from the grill after another 3 minutes, or once desired doneness has been reached. Quickly toast your bun on the hot grill.
  5. Start building the burger: patty, Zombie Punch BBQ Sauce, prosciutto, bacon.
  6. Heat the bacon fat over medium heat, and crack the egg into the pan, taking care not to break the yolk. Fry for about 1 minute until the egg white and yolk are set, then place on top of the burger.
  7. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top, and then dig in.
    war-hammer-burger
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How to Marinate or Brine: Wet and Dry Methods

how to marinate meatProperly preparing food prior to it going into a smoker or on the grill is of the utmost importance. There are many methods, but at the core is either brining or marinating before applying heat. This not only imparts flavor, it also ensures that your food doesn’t dry out over the course of a long time in the dry heat of a smoker. Properly marinating or brining your meat before cooking is the difference between dry, tough meat, and melt-in-your-mouth, fall-apart meat.

How does it work? While scientists do not have a consensus for what the exact chemical reaction is, the gist of it is that by using one of these methods that salt gets drawn into the food and help trap water, as salt is hydrophilic.

So, what are the options?

On the wet side of things:

  1. Brining: This is the process of soaking your food in a solution of water and salt (I prefer to use sea salt, but really any salt will work). You will need a vessel large enough to contain your food and enough water to submerge it. Generally, I use a ratio  of 1 cup of salt for every half gallon of water, but you can adjust this based on your taste. The upside to this method is that it is super easy (and relatively inexpensive). The downside is that you need to have a larger vessel for larger items, such as turkeys or pork shoulder, and you need to find room in the fridge if you intend to brine it for more than 30 minutes. Larger cuts should brine for longer, so this can be problematic. A bucket full of water and meat can also be very heavy.
  2. Marinating: The same process as brining, only using other flavors as well. This can be as simple as buying a bottle of marinade off the shelf, or making one of your own; either are valid options.  Get your food coated in the marinade, allow to soak for at least 30 minutes (again, larger cuts of meat will take longer). This could be a good use for one of the Saint Brian’s BBQ sauces; a friend of mine soaks beef roasts in Sweet Victory prior to slow cooking them. The result: a super-flavorful dish that melts in your mouth.

In either case, make sure to rise off any excess liquid before cooking so that the food isn’t over seasoned, and in the case of a marinade to get the sugars off so that they don’t burn. Also, discard any of the liquid remaining after you take the meat out, as it is not safe for consumption.

On the dry side:

  1. Dry Brine: coat the entire outer surface of the meat with kosher or sea salt. And I mean cover it. Not a light sprinkling. Wrap it in plastic wrap or seal it in a resealable plastic bag, and allow it to sit overnight. This will perform the same function as a wet brine, only without the need of a bucket and water. It’s a space saver. Be sure to brush off the excess salt (or even rinse it lightly) to prevent the food from tasting too salty when you cook it. A variation on this is the Salt Roasted Chicken recipe we just posted the other week.
  2. Dry Rub: a staple of the barbecue community. Every pitmaster has his or her own secret blend of spices (I’m partial to Dash Cunning Rub myself) that they slather onto the meat for a few hours before cooking. My personal preference is to leave it on when I throw ribs or pork shoulder into the smoker; it forms an amazing, flavorful crust over the hours it spends smoking.  Why does this work with a rub, as opposed to a dry brine? Less salt over all.

Check out our videos on rib prep for an example of how to use a dry rub.

BBQ Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Use Lighter Fluid

Don’t use lighter fluid to light your barbecue. Or match light charcoal. Ever.

No pitmaster worth their salt wants the taste of lighter fluid in their food, and that’s exactly what you get when you use it to start your fire and when you use match light charcoal (which is essentially charcoal soaked in lighter fluid). Stop it! Light your coals the right way:

  1. Only use natural lump charcoal. (If you are feeling especially creative and motivated, you can make your own.)
  2. Use a chimney starter:
    1. Put a pile of coals in your barbecue, smoker, or fire pit
    2. Load more coal into a chimney starter
    3. Put 2 pieces of crumpled up newspaper in the bottom of the starter
    4. Place the chimney on your grill, or some other fire-proof location
    5. Light the paper

The chimney will naturally draw the fire up into the coals and light them. When they are all lit, you can pour them on top of the pile of charcoal in your cooker and your’ll be ready to go.

Elevate your grilling game even more with the Saint Brian’s BBQ Pitmaster Collection

Easy Grilled Guacamole

This is an easy guacamole recipe that anyone can make, with the added dimension of grilling the ingredients ahead of time. This will jack the flavor level up to 11. Everything is better when it’s cooked over fire, right?

Pork Recipes
Beef Recipes
Chicken Recipes
Side Dish Recipes
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Easy Grilled Guacamole
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Prep
  1. Set up your grill for direct cooking, and preheat to high.
  2. Cut the avocado and tomato in half. Remove the avocado pit and discard. Leave the avocado in its skin.
Cook
  1. Grill the tomato and avocado halves cut side down for about 5 minutes, or until it just starts to char. Remove from the grill.
Combine
  1. Scoop the avocado out of the skin into a non-reactive bowl. Mash with a spoon. Dice the tomato. Add the tomato, cilantro, and the juice from the lime, and mix thoroughly. Salt to taste. Serve immediately.
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Salt Roasted Chicken

Indiegog-backer-party

Grilling a whole chicken on a gas grill can be challenging: too long, and you dry it out, too soon, and you have undercooked chicken. This recipe will guarantee you perfect chicken every time, and will wow your guests as well.

I found this technique in a few different places, and adapted it for a barbecue I hosted for my Indiegogo backers.  The leg bones literally pulled straight out of the bird with no resistance.

Pork Recipes
Beef Recipes
Chicken Recipes
Side Dish Recipes
Print Recipe
Salt Roasted Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1-2 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1-2 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat your grill to 500-600 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavities in the chicken. Put the lemon, onion, and garlic into the main cavity.
  3. In a large, clean pot or in a sink with the drain plugged, slowly add water to the 3 pounds of sea salt, mixing with your hands until it has the consistency of snow. Cheat on the drier side if you aren't sure how much water; you can always add more later.
  4. Put a remote thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.
  5. In a foil catering pan, create a bed of the sea salt about 1" thick. Place the chicken on the salt bed, and then pack the remaining salt around the chicken so it's about 1" thick all around, and that there are no cracks. The chicken should be completely encased in the salt.
  6. Place the pan in the middle of your grill, close the lid, and let it roast for 1-2 hours, depending on how large the chicken is, how thick the salt pack is, how much water is in the salt, etc. The chicken will be done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Remove the chicken from the grill, and using a meat mallet, heavy knife, or your buddy's skull, break open the salt crust and reveal the chicken. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes, and then carve and serve.
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