Search This Blog


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Grilled Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato Pizza

We been going to the Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh for many years.  Since 1996 in fact.  It is an old, restored Catholic church in the Lawrenceville section of town.  Some might say that the opening of this brew pub was the catalyst for the revitalization of this section of town.  The beer is outstanding and so is the food.  While they have a diverse menu to choose from, I have two "go to" choices for dining: their French Onion Soup (made with the Pious Monk Dunkel) and their Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato pizza.  I have been meaning to recreate this pizza at home.  Finally, after almost 20 years, I got around to giving it a whirl at home.  So, here is my shot at recreating this masterpiece at home.

The base is a classic white sauce.  So, while the dough was rising, I took about 1/4 cup of olive oil and added thyme, minced garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to steep for awhile.  Al of the ingredients were added to personal taste.

Then, coated a chicken breast with olive oil and seasoned with thyme, granulated garlic, basil, and oregano.  The breast was grilled to an internal temperature of 160 F, brought inside to rest for about 10 minutes, then diced into bite sized pieces.  Now time to build the pie.

Hope stretched out the dough, then I spread the white sauce all over the skin, including the crust.  Next up was a layer of shredded mozzarella, followed by the chicken, sun dried tomatoes that had been packed in oil, sliced almonds, thinly sliced red onion, and a light sprinkling of dried parsley.

The pizza was slid into my hot pizza oven, lets say about 700 F, to cook for about eight minutes with a 180 degree flip halfway into the bake time.

Next, bring the pie inside and devour.

Good stuff and a fair recreation of one of my favorite pizza pies in town.  Now, if I get a craving for this pie, no need to drive 40 miles to get a fix.  Now, I just have to work on that French Onion Soup...

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Smoked Goose Breast with a Citrus Glaze

BBQ Silly Season is upon us.  These are the cooks where we leave behind traditional meats, rubs, and sauces and try new recipes that are different and exciting.  Our first cook did not disappoint.  The Oldest had an outstanding first day of goose season and we were lucky enough to procure some beautiful looking breasts.  I brined the breasts, seasoned, then glazed with a recipe I found on line.  Let us head out to the smoker and see how this goose was cooked.

After some Google searches, I found a recipe for a glaze that looked pretty good.  You can find it here at  I didn't any honey on hand, so I substituted hot pepper jelly in place of the honey.  I changed up the method by brining the goose and using the marinade as a glaze.  After trimming up the breasts, removing as much silver skin as possible, and inspecting for any tooth cracking buckshot, I whipped up a batch of my poultry brine and let the breasts go for a six hour swim.  The brining process will remove most of the blood from the meat, infuse some flavor, and generally remove that gamy taste that you can experience when eating goose.  After removing the breasts from the brine, I rinsed them with cold water, patted dry, and applied a thin coat of olive oil.  Then, I seasoned two of the breasts with Oakridge BBQ Game Bird and Chicken rub.  The other two breasts were simply seasoned with pink salt and fresh cracked pepper.

I sit the breasts on the counter to come to room temperature, then I lit my smoker and brought to a temperature of 300 F. Then, I placed some pecan splits in the ash pan for smoke flavor.  Pecan is a nice mild smoking wood that pairs nicely with any kind of poultry or game bird.  The breasts were placed on hotter side of cooking racks.  After allowing to brown up for about 15 minutes, I applied my first application of glaze to all sides of the breast.

After allowing the first application of glaze to set for 30 minutes, I glazed the breasts a second time and allowed the goose to cook for 15 more minutes.  Total cook time was 60 minutes.

After removing the breasts from the smoker, I allowed them to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Twenty-four hours from field to table.  You can't get much fresher than that.  We were very happy with how this goose turned out on the smoker.  No gamy flavor and tender, juicy meat.  The glaze would even work well for standard chicken on the grill.

Hunting season is young.  Stay tuned as hopefully we will have a few more opportunities to fire up the smoker with some local game.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Stuffed Pterodactyl Breasts

A couple of weeks ago, Hope stopped by the local Restaurant Depot to purchase some chicken to replenish the ice cave.  When she came home and we started trimming up the beasts in preparation for the vacuum sealer, I was amazed at their size.

These specimens could not have come from some standard barnyard, corn fed bird.  They were huge, almost prehistoric in stature.  These birds had to have escaped from some government run genetic engineering lab.  My mind started contemplating the possibilities of grilled stuffed chicken breast.  With the last plum tomatoes of the season staring at me from their counter top bowl, a plan came together.  The weather is still warm and our grilling days are few.  Grilled chicken breasts stuffed with tomato, mozzarella, and Italian spices were in order.

First, I grabbed a sharp knife and split the breast almost in half right down the long axis to create a pouch.

Next, I thinly sliced the plum tomatoes and some fresh mozzarella as well.  I set this aside, then rubbed the chicken with some olive oil, then seasoned inside and out with a blend of oregano, basil, thyme, granulated garlic, dried parsley, salt, and pepper.  After seasoning I stuffed the pocket with the tomato and mozzarella.

While I brought the sides of the breast together, Hope inserted toothpicks into place to close up the pocket and hold the breast together.

Yes, we did go a bit overboard with the toothpicks, but I didn't want the cheese to ooze out during the grilling process.

Next, I touched up the Italian seasoning on the outside and headed out to the hot grill to cook these behemoths.

To grill these breasts, I seared them for about five minutes a side, the moved them to indirect heat.  While on indirect heat, I placed them with the cut side up to minimize the amount of cheese that might escape.

I closed the grill lid and came back 20 minutes later and poked them with a thermometer.  Overall the cook time, including the 10 minutes of direct heat, was 40 minutes total to bring the meat to 165 F internal temperature.

One of these was big enough for me and Hope to split for dinner.  The Youngest dusted a whole one.

I was very happy with how these turned out.  To my surprise, the cheese ooze was minimal and probably would have been zero with some butchers twine.  In hindsight, these could be a great base for some sort of healthy grilled chicken parmesan.   I do know that since the Ice Cave is filled with these pterodactyl sized breasts, you might be seeing a few variations on this theme in the coming months.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cajun Style Baby Back Ribs

It happens to almost everybody who takes part in competition BBQ.  Starting in mid-winter and continuing well into the early fall, after numerous practice cooks and competitions, you run into that wall.  You want ribs for dinner, but you cannot stand the taste of rub and sauce.  The sting of smoke in your eye and the smell that permeates your clothes is too much.  I made it to August this year before I ran into that wall.  I wanted some baby backs and it was time to experiment.  Last year it was Italian style vinegar pepper ribs.  This year, it was Cajun.  The guys at work have found this new Cajun seasoning that they have been putting on everything at lunch.  I was drawn to the smell one day and I strolled over to the table to conduct the finger test.  Good stuff this seasoning.  While I have not been pulled into their Cajun Cult and starting seasoning everything with a dash of blackening powder, I was inspired to try this combination with some baby back ribs.

The rub they have been using is Cajun Foreplay by Dinosaur BBQ.  It is nicely balanced with some heat, some sweet, and other familiar Cajun flavors.  You can get it at the local grocery store they said.  But, our local Grocery Monopoly had other ideas.  In a fit of madness they reset the store shelves and in the process, reduced their inventory.  Cajun Foreplay did not make the cut.  After some aimless wondering through the completely illogical rearranging of the store, I found the spice aisle and settled on a bottle of Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic.  I have used this product in the past and I have been very satisfied.  So, I grabbed a bottle, checked out, and went home to peaceful afternoon of culinary experimentation.

First, I removed the membrane from the back of my baby backs and added a liberal coating of the seasoning to my ribs, front and back.

I briefly considered using the smoker to cook this rack of ribs.  But, at the last minute, I decided to cook these ribs on a hot grill using indirect heat.  On one side of the grill I dumped a full chimney of hot coals, dialed the vents back to about 1/4 open, placed the ribs on the far side of the grill, and closed the lid.  After an hour, I placed some kale tossed in olive oil into a cast iron skillet and placed on indirect heat and moved the ribs above the fire on the top rack.

For a finishing glaze, I mixed equal parts stone ground creole mustard with honey and mixed until spreadable with a grill brush.

For the last half hour of cooking, I moved the kale and ribs over the hot coals and applied the rib glaze in two applications, 15 minutes apart.

Once the glaze had set, I removed from the grill and let them rest for 15 minutes before slicing.  Then I served with the kale and some fresh corn on the cob.

These ribs turned out pretty good.  The heat from the seasoning was nicely balanced with the tart from the mustard and the sweetness of the honey.  I had also forgot how good ribs could taste when cooked slowly on a hot grill versus low and slow on a smoker.  Most importantly, not one hint of traditional BBQ flavor.  Just what the doctor ordered for my acute case of BBQ fatigue.

Thanks for stopping by,