Sunday, July 24, 2016

Still here, still smokin'... (Stovetop Smoker Chicken Drummies)

Hello, friend.

I bet you thought this blog was dead, didn't you? Yeah, well -- so did I for the longest time. The technology and time required to do a proper cooking blog got overwhelming. At some point, I had to choose between focusing my time on The Naked Vine and being The Man Who Cooks. The former won out, and I think I made the right decision, considering.

Just the same, I hate to neglect something I started. After three years, I needed a new angle. I think I've found one. I was reading recipes not long ago and came upon a notation on a smoked salmon recipe that said, "If you're using a stovetop smoker..."

My eyebrows shot up. I don't own a traditional smoker -- while they're awesome inventions, they're a little bit of a pain to use. If you're a serious 'cue-head, I can understand the appeal. But for me, when I smoked things -- I just rigged up a little Weber grill, which eventually rusted and I put out to pasture. But the idea of a stovetop smoker appealed. I did a little research and found this little guy, the Cameron's Stovetop Smoker:

Nothing complicated here. It's a pan within a pan, with a small rack that sits in the smaller pan, with a slide-on lid. Using the smoker couldn't be easier. In the bottom of the larger pan, you would put a tablespoon and a half of some very fine wood chips (that come with the smoker). You put the smaller pan on top of the wood chips, put in the rack, and put the food on top.

Then, you put the whole contraption on a stove burner, crank up your kitchen fan, and put the burner on medium heat. As soon as you see some smoke, close the lid. That's it.

For larger items like, say, a turkey breast, you'd tent a double layer of foil over the food instead.

This isn't cold smoking, mind you. If you're looking for that particular flavor that comes from smoking meats for hours and hours, look elsewhere. But if you want to actually eat in a reasonable amount of time and still get really, really good flavor -- I gotta say, I'm a huge fan so far. There are numerous woods available, but I honestly can't tell much of a difference between them when smoking for this short a time period.

For recipe purposes, the temperature in the box is around 375. So, figure out how long it would take to cook whatever you have in a regular oven and go from there. Oh -- one VERY important note. When you open the smoker, don't lean over to look in. You'll get a big cloud of hot smoke and steam in the face. You don't need that.

My brother from another mother, the Wizard of Covington, turned me on to Knockback Nat's in downtown Cincinnati -- home of some of the best wings on the planet. Knockbacks smokes them instead of deep frying.

I decided to try making some myself. For my first attempt at these guys, I have to say I was pretty happy. Here's what you'll need:

Smoked Chicken Drummies (or just plain ol' wings, if that's your thing)

  • A couple of pounds of chicken drummies or wings
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • a generous helping of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. oregano

  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a big ziploc bag. Add the wings, seal the bag, and mix thoroughly. Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes-1 hour. 
  2. Prepare the smoker as above. Arrange wings on the smoker rack. Put the smoker on the stove over medium heat. When smoke begins to rise, close the smoker and cook for 40-45 minutes. Shut heat off and let wings sit in closed smoker for another 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Serve with your favorite sauce. BBQ, Sriracha, hot sauce...just whatever you like. These will go with anything. And beer.

I'll continue to update my smokin' adventures here from time to time. Hope you enjoy...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Quinoa the Reich -- The Naked Vine's Quinoa Chili

My happy cooking accident led to a new vegetarian favorite.

This little bit of deliciousness started out as a humble side dish. Between not having a couple of the original recipe's ingredients, a misread of a couple of amounts, and several "You know, I bet adding this would taste gooood" inspirational flashes, I ended up with a big potful of vegetarian-friendly chili that I'll happily recreate.

Since we're in the low 60's in the beginning of frickin' August, I didn't even have to wait for football to crank this up:

The Naked Vine's Quinoa Chili

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
6-8 garlic cloves, diced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2 cubes
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
3 chipotle chilis from a can in adobo, diced, plus 1 tsp. adobo sauce
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or 1 tbsp. fresh, diced
1 roasted red pepper (jarred is fine), diced
4 c. vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 bottle stout beer
salt to taste (I start with 1 tbsp, but YMMV)
1 tsp. sugar

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium  heat. Add the onion and celery and saute until the onion starts to brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir. Cook 1 minute. Add chili powder, coriander, and cloves. Stir and cook 1 minute.

Add everything else. Bring to a boil. Cover and cut the heat back back to a simmer. Cook for a couple of hours, until quinoa is done and the sweet potato and beans are very soft. Add additional liquid if your quinoa is extra-thirsty.

Top with sour cream, chopped cilantro, and some diced chives or scallions around. If you've got a bottle of something Bordeaux-ish with a slight chill on it around, crack it. You'll thank me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sauer Times (Mike's Sorta Sauerbraten)

There's nothing quite like finishing a major school project and soothing the aching eyeballs with a big honkin' dish of comfort food. In this case, my take on a slow-cooker recipe for sauerbraten. Mmm...beef in thick, vinegary gravy over noodles. What's not to love?

  • 3 lb rump roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 sticks celery, sliced
  • 5-6 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 tart apple, cored, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 c. dry rose wine (or 3/4 c. white wine and 1/4 c. red wine)
  • 2 tbsp. malt vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 c. gingersnap cookies, broken into large chunks
  • egg noodles

Put everything but gingersnaps in a large ziploc bag. Marinate in the fridge overnight. Before leaving for work, dump everything (except the gingersnaps) into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

About a half hour before serving, remove the beef from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Increase the heat to high and toss the gingersnaps into the liquid. Make your noodles. When the noodles are almost done, take an immersion blender and pulverize the heck out of the stuff that's still in the slow cooker. Slice your beef into thick chunks and add to the slow cooker to reheat.

Serve over noodles. Eat with a contented smile on your face and, if you've just finished a midterm, a couple of ibuprofen. Wine pairings are tough with this one because of all that yummy vinegar. A Riesling's probably your best choice, but if you want red wine, think Zinfandel/Primitivo.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mod Ozzfest 2013 -- Australian Fry-Up with Spicy Bacon

  • Eggs
  • Toast
  • Baked Beans
  • Bacon
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bacon slices on the paper in a single layer. In a small skillet, combine the honey, coriander and cayenne and cook over high heat until melted, about 1 minute. Brush the spiced honey on one side of the bacon and bake for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer, depending on the thickness and fattiness of the bacon, until sizzling and browned. Transfer the bacon to paper towels, glazed side up, to drain and cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, make your eggs and toast however you like. Heat the beans. Serve.

Mod Ozzfest 2013 -- Chicken & Kumara (Sweet Potato) Curry

(This recipe accompanies Naked Vine New Year 2013 -- A Taste of Australia.)

  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp of canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into thin slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 lemongrass stem, white part only, thinly sliced (although if you use the stuff in a tube, few will notice)
  • 2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 medium sweet potato (kumara), cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth or white wine
  • 2 Tbsp of Thai fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Cut the chicken thighs into strips or chunks.

Heat the oil in a wok on a medium-high heat and partially brown the chicken for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add onion to the wok and fry for about 2 minutes or until translucent. Add a little more oil if the wok gets dry. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add the lemongrass and fry for another 30 seconds. Add the tumeric, curry powder and chili powder and fry for 1 minute.

Add the sweet potato (kumara) and sugar. Stir well. Add the coconut milk, broth or wine, fish sauce and cilantro. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil.

Once the curry is boiling add the chicken and then turn the heat down to low and cover. Simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Serve curry on a bed of jasmine or basmati rice and garnish with more cilantro.

Mod Ozzfest 2013 -- King Prawn Salad with Peas, Asparagus, and Sweet Almond Dressing

  • 1 lb. king prawns (big freshwater shrimp)
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 4 c. rocket (also known as arugula)
  • Sweet Almond Dressing
Light your grill. Preheat oven to 425. Toss red onion wedges with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Roast until soft and starting to caramelize, stirring a couple of times -- about 10-15 minutes.

Toss asparagus with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Grill until crisp-tender and slightly charred -- 5 minutes.

Shell prawns. Toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Thread on skewers and grill until cooked through -- 2-3 minutes per side.

Blanch peas by dropping into boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water.

Cut asparagus on the diagonal into 3-4" pieces. Toss rocket, peas, onion, and asparagus with dressing. Remove prawns from skewers and arrange on top. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Mod Ozzfest 2013 -- Sweet Almond Dressing

(This recipe accompanies Naked Vine New Year 2013 -- A Taste of Australia.)
  • 1/2 c. slivered almonds
  • 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tbsp. egg white
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Put almonds and sugar in a food processor. Process to an even consistency, stopping from time to scrape almonds from sides and bottom of processor.

Add egg white and almond extract and process to a paste.

Add olive oil, salt, and pepper and process until emulsified.