Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hot Wings

     There's just something about eating a plate of hot wings that makes me feel good. Maybe it's the spicy tangy-ness in the mouth or the dipping into ranch dressing to cool it off...or maybe it's the licking of the fingers in between servings. Whatever it is, I keep craving more when they're gone.

Hot Wing Rub
(you could just toss them with salt and pepper, but try this rub to give them an extra kick)

1 t garlic powder
1 t cayenne
1/2 t ground mustard
3/4 t white pepper
3/4 t black pepper
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 t dried oregano
1 T paprika
1 T kosher salt

2 lbs chicken wings (drummettes separate from wingettes)
1/3 c melted butter
1/2 c hot sauce (Use your favorite. I love Cholula in general, but I prefer Frank's for these wings.)
  • Toss the wings with the rub.
  • Chose your cooking method - oven or barbecue. Each has its own benefits. The oven method produces a crispier skin while the barbecue adds a touch of smokiness. I like both ways.
  • If you choose to cook the wings in the oven: heat to 425. Place the wings on a lined sheet pan, skin side down, and bake for 30 minutes. Flip to skin side up and finish cooking for 20 - 30 minutes. The skin should be nice and crispy.
  • If you choose to barbecue: grill skin side down, using indirect heat for 30 minutes. Flip to skin side up and grill for an additional 20 - 30 minutes.
  • When finished cooking, put the wings in a bowl and add the hot sauce & melted butter. Toss to coat.
  • Put them on a platter for you and your friends or just eat right out of the bowl. They're good on their own but best dipped in homemade ranch or blue cheese dressing. Make sure to have plenty of paper towels.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tacos Al Pastor & the Testing of the Barrel Barbecue

Despite the 80-degree days leading up to Barrel-Test-Day, it rained (hard) when we were all set to grill. With the addition of a friend's sun umbrella we went ahead with the test and we were very pleased with the results. I'll add more air vents and a smoke stack (for flare) before the next test. Thank you Washington State Unemployment Insurance for this wonderful barbecue.

Tacos Al Pastor
(it's enough for a big party, about 15 people, so if you're not serving a hoard cut this recipe in half at least)

1 onion, roughly chopped
1 c fresh lime juice
1/2 c white vinegar
1/4 c ground ancho chilies
1/4 c chili powder
1 rounded T kosher salt
1 T dried oregano
1 T cumin
2 large chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 T adobo sauce

6 pounds pork loin cut into 1/2 inch chops

  • Grind all the marinade ingredients together in a food processor.
  • Put the meat into 2 ziplock bags and divide the marinade between them. Squeeze the meat and marinade around to coat.
  • Let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  • Barbecue on your Barrel (or other BBQ, but charcoal will make a difference in the authenticity of the flavor) using direct heat until nicely charred on both sides - about 5 minutes per side.
  • Have your friend chop the meat into small, taco-sized pieces.
  • Serve with corn tortillas, cilantro pesto, a sprinkle of cojita cheese, and diced white onion that has been mixed with fresh cilantro. Good sides are spanish rice and pinto beans.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Making the Barrel Barbecue

Lucky for me on my last day of work at The Bakery, the 55-gallon honey barrel I'd been waiting for was finally empty. Getting laid off wasn't going to stand in the way of my dream to make my own barbecue.

First, I had to empty out all the excess honey and clean the inside (not exciting enough for a photo). Then I borrowed a grinder from a friend and cut the opening.

I had to make a base and the only things around were some old chain-link fence posts that I'd never taken to the dump and some scrap plywood I'd demoed out of a creepy room in my basement.

It all comes apart so that I can bring the barrel up to my deck or to a party at a friends.

I added brackets to hold the grills and to keep the lid from falling inside, as well as a lower rack to hold the coals and allow for air circulation.

I lit a fire in it to burn off any paints or coatings or who knows what. There may or may not have been a burn ban going on this day so I made burgers on my gas grill to disguise the smoke.

Last steps in the construction were to add a handle (plain wooden dowel from the hardware store), air vents, and a temperature gauge. I also decided to spray the barrel with a high heat resistant pant. Besides customizing the color a little, the paint helps prevent rust on the barrel. The only thing left was to test it in a real-life BBQ situation.