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Blackened Chicken Tacos

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Like with the pastrami bacon that had come before, once I had a batch of garlicky and spicy Cajun bacon, I was left considering what to pair this uniquely flavored cured pork belly with. I've already done so many recipes this bacon would have been perfect for, like blackened burgers and blackened chicken sandwiches, but I wanted to cook something I could use for a new recipe for the site, so got to thinking. I didn't venture far off those previous courses and wound up making blackened chicken tacos, which I thought would essentially taste like the sandwiches in taco form, but they really turned out to be something truly distinct.

If you want to go all in on this recipe and recreate just as I made it, I have full documentation on how to make the Cajun bacon at home. While that bacon was incredibly well suited in this situation, it is by no means necessary since, in the end, the bacon really served to add a saltiness, smokiness, and crunch and the chicken was enough to add that Cajun/blackened taste on its own. This one concrete recommendation I do have on bacon selection is to go with thick cut—I found the thicker slices apt to hold their own against the heavily spiced chicken.

If you continue on to wanting the exact taco experience I had, you can also choose to make your own flour tortillas. This is also not a necessity and I didn't include tortilla directions in the final recipe, but I think this is well worth the effort, more so than making your own bacon. Flour tortillas are a favorite of mine and I'll take any excuse to make them, which is the primary reason why I chose them over corn tortillas here. My preference is for the thin and tender Houston-style tortillas that are laden with lard, but the puffier, more common style you can pick up anywhere would be great in this recipe too.

Chipotle mayo has fallen off my radar in recent years, but I resurrected it to make some mighty tasty meatloaf paninis recently and remembered why it was once a condiment king. That smoky, spicy, and tangy flavor of chipotle mayo seemed like it would find another good home in these tacos, so I whipped up another batch of it. A remoulade was also in contention as a sauce here, and I imagine that would work just as well, but it is deeper on ingredients and represents a slight bump in overall effort.

Before I set out on any recipe, I do some comparative research for inspiration, ideas, and to try to find ways recipes may be improved. Blackened chicken tacos are definitely a thing people have explored before, but almost all the recipes I saw called for a pineapple pico as the primary topper. It seemed like an idea one person did and everyone ran with it, and I almost did too, but then paused and wondered if I really wanted to drown that earthy and spicy Cajun seasoning flavor in sweetness, and decided no—I really wanted those traits to shine in the end tacos above all else. What I did want out of a topper was both textural and flavor enhancements more than overt contrasts and decided a red slaw would be a good choice to deliver that.

Extra-crunchy red cabbage and sharp red onions make up the base of this slaw that has a simple dressing of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and pepper. I've used a similar recipe to great success in other dishes previously that tilted to a barbecue flavor profile. In those instances I found a bit of celery seed gave the slaw an extra boost of complimentary flavor, but that didn't feel like the right pairing for these tacos, so I tried tossing in some cilantro instead and instantly the slaw picked up a much fresher flavor that tasted like it would really add what might otherwise could have been a missing component in the final taco.

With a deep bench of recipes utilizing a Cajun seasoning, I have a tried and true spice mixture to turn to in these instances. It doesn't include all that many spices, but when paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne all come together, they form a sharp, spicy, and earthy union that gives anything the mixture touches a Cajun slant.

In this instance, I applied that seasoning mixture to chicken thighs in a heavy fashion. I chose thighs over breasts here for their longer cooking time and increased flavor—I wanted that seasoning to have enough time on the grill to actual blacken while still being able to taste the chicken against that heavy handed spice mixture.

For grilling, I utilized a two-zone fire where all of the coals were arranged on one side of the charcoal grate. I then started by putting the chicken on the hot side of the grill and cooking it uncovered for maximum heat. Before the chicken hit the flames it looked a little dry and I wondered if it might benefit from a brushing of oil, but as it cooked, some fat rendered and juices were brought to the surface, which had the thighs developing a glistening quality with still a slightly dry seasoning appearance, and was what I wanted. As each piece was finished, I transferred it to a cutting board.

Next I laid the bacon strips on the cool side of the grill and covered. My goal was to get these strips extra crispy to keep that crunch retained in the final taco, so I let them cook, turning and flipping occasionally, until they turned a deep mahogany color. Once done, I transferred the bacon to a paper towel to allow it to drain.

With the chicken now rested about 10 minutes, it was time to roughly chop it to turn it into a taco filling. I also roughly crumbled the bacon at the same time.

Finally, I heated up my tortillas quickly on the grill until they were hot and pliable and then assembled the tacos by filling each tortilla with a combo of chicken and bacon first, then a layer of the red slaw, and finally a squeeze of the chipotle mayo.

As I mentioned from the start, I was expecting this to just taste like a blackened chicken sandwich in taco form, but that's not what happened. Sure, the spicy and earthy flavor of the blackened seasoning was upfront like in a sandwich, but the way in which is melded with the crispy and salty bacon felt different, and then the experience took another turn as the slaw provided an alternative crunch, hit of freshness, and tangy contrast that helped balance out the heaviness of the main filling. The smokiness in the chipotle mayo was key in jumping the flavor up another step, then it was the tender flour tortilla that provided a lighter touch wrapper over bread that I think made all the other ingredients shine even more. An added bonus of the taco format was that it made it easier to eat one after another—both the wife and I ate three to make a meal. All-in-all, it was a great way to start out my explorations utilizing my Cajun bacon and I'm excited to see where I'll be led next, which I'm totally open to suggestions to!
Published on Thu Apr 29, 2021 by Joshua Bousel

Print Recipe

Yield 4 servings

Prep 20 Minutes
Cook 20 Minutes
Total 40 Minutes

Ingredients
For the Chipotle Mayonnaise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 chipotle chiles from 1 can of chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can of chipotles in adobo
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
 
For the Red Coleslaw
1/2 large head red cabbage, finely shredded on a mandoline or by hand
3/4 cup red onion, finely minced (about 1/2 a medium onion)
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided, plus more to taste
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro
 
For the Red Chicken
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
 
For the Tacos
1/3 lb thick-cut bacon
8 taco-sized flour tortillas
Procedure
To make the chipotle mayonnaise: Place mayonnaise, sour cream, chipotles, lime juice, adobo sauce, and cumin in the jar of a blender. Puree until chipotles are completely chopped and sauce is smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the slaw: Combine cabbage and onion in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and 1/4 cup sugar and toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to a large colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Transfer vegetables to a salad spinner and spin dry. Alternatively, transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet lined with a triple layer of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and blot mixture dry with more towels. Return to large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, and pepper. Pour dressing over vegetables, add in cilantro, and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and/or sugar. Set aside.
To make the chicken: In a small bowl, mix together paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Season chicken liberally all over with seasoning. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place chicken on hot side of grill and and cook, flipping occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest.
Lay bacon slices on cool side of grill. Cover grill and cook until bacon begins to shrink in size and develop pools of fat, about 5 minutes. Flip bacon slices over, cover, and continue to cook until bacon is deeply browned and crisp, 5-8 minutes more. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
To make the tacos: Roughly chop chicken and roughly crumble bacon. Place tortillas on hot side of grill and warm until soft and pliable, about 30 seconds. Top each tortilla with chicken and bacon followed by coleslaw and chipotle mayo. Serve immediately.

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By: meatmaster@meatwave.com (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Blackened Chicken Tacos
Sourced From: meatwave.com/recipes/grilled-blackened-chicken-tacos-recipe
Published Date: 04/29/21

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https://amazinghamburger.com/bbq-tips/now-that-was-good/

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Nashville Hot Cauliflower

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Say wha?
 
Saw this idea a few weeks ago, don't remember where.  I started with a roasted cauliflower recipe I like to use; boil the whole head in heavily-salted water for no more than 5 minutes, drain for ten, coat surface with oil and black pepper, then roast at 450º for 25 minutes.  I didn't know if I should pre-coat with the oil, as I'd be dipping it after it was cooked, so I painted one-half of the head with oil and marked it with a toothpick.  After 15 minutes on the Egg I had this:
 

 
The left side does show a bit more darkening, but not really worth the trouble.
 
I had printed out a Nashville Hot Chicken recipe some months back, but haven't made it yet.  I looked it up, and the first two ingredients for the sauce were 1) half-lb of lard, and 2) two sticks of butter!    I thought that may be a bit overwhelming so I made something up:  melted 3 Tblspns of butter, added a clove of garlic, then whisked in a tsp of cayenne, 1/4 cup of Frank's Red-Hot, 2 tsp soy sauce, and 2 tsp of a cornstarch/water slurry.  Once thickened, I poured it in a bowl big enough for the cauliflower head.  
 
After 15 minutes on the Egg, I put the cauliflower in the bowl and rolled it around; was just the right amount to totally coat it.  Returned it to the Egg for ten more minutes to "set" the sauce:
 

 
Kinda purty, like a 7 pound meatball.  I sliced it into "steaks", not florets, and let the pieces fall where they may.  Served with Kimchee:
 

 
The kimchee added nothing as far as color contrast, and nothing to do with Tennessee barbeque, but Ron's recent thread had me hungry for kimchee so…  The meal could've used a big pile of white rice, however.
 
Thanks for looking.  

EggHead Forum

By: Botch
Title: Nashville Hot Cauliflower
Sourced From: eggheadforum.com/discussion/1228032/nashville-hot-cauliflower
Published Date: 06/06/21

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Grilling Tips

A brief caveman pic tutorial

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For those on the reverse sear/caveman fence, this may or may not seal the deal; (all temps *F on the dome)
Low and Slow around 250*F to around 7-8 *F below your desired finish temp. (Expect this step to run around 45 minutes for 1 1/2" and reasonably up steaks-half inch excluded  )

Now time for the hot and fast:  Open the dome and shut the lower vent-let the fire produce a hot lava bed across the coals,

Time for some long tongs and nimble-flip at around 60-90 seconds and pull when your finish temp is there.

You will be justly rewarded.  Add to your arsenal.
Stay healthy and safe out there- (Same steak for the whole show!)

EggHead Forum

By: lousubcap
Title: A brief caveman pic tutorial
Sourced From: eggheadforum.com/discussion/1228033/a-brief-caveman-pic-tutorial
Published Date: 06/07/21

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https://amazinghamburger.com/outdoor-cooking/grilled-flatbread-with-charred-shallots-and-figs/

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Grilled Flatbread with Charred Shallots and Figs

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Figs are something I have let fall to the wayside in recent years. There was a time when I eagerly awaited the short windows of time when I was able to walk into my local grocery and purchase tender and sweet figs, and over the years they've worked their way into dishes on this site and off. The shift to almost entirely home cooking during the pandemic reminded me of the virtues of figs and the additional fodder they provide for recipes that offer something different from my usual rotation. So I picked up a package back in the fall and used some pantry staples to put together these grilled flatbreads with charred shallots and figs, then I wrote it up and scheduled the post for seven months from that date to remind to eat more figs when their first season hits in early summer.

This recipe was really born out of finding something new to do with figs that I purchased on a whim, and a pizza making session the day before I made these flatbreads left me with a desire to keep rolling with grilling dough. I have made many variations of flatbread dough throughout the years, but they were all doughs specialized for a specific cuisine, so I was looking for a more all-purpose recipe here and decided to try one out I saw on Food52. The hallmark of this high hydration dough is the large amount of extra-virgin olive oil in it, which I hoped would make this a flavorful bread without the long fermentation time I normally use to achieve that goal.

The first rise for the dough to double in volume took just under and hour, and during that downtime, I put together a balsamic glaze to use as a finishing drizzle on the flatbreads. I had a very small bottle of balsamic vinegar in the cupboard, so I poured the entire contents into a saucepan and added a little brown sugar to it. I then let the mixture simmer over medium-low heat until it reduced by half and had a spoon-coating thickness. When done, I removed from the heat and set aside.

Once the initial rise was finished, I transferred the dough to a well floured cutting board (it was a very sticky dough), divided it into four, and then formed each of those pieces into a ball. I set the portioned dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, covered with a damp cloth, and let it start the second rise, which took about 30 minutes.

During this time, I got everything else together needed for the final flatbreads so I could assemble them very quickly while the bread was still hot and at its very best. After lighting the fire, I cut up my figs into somewhat thin slices and also halved and peeled six small shallots.

The grill was ready to go after twenty minutes of ignition time, and I began by grilled the shallots, which I did over direct heat, placing them cut side down and just letting them cook until well charred. At this point they were somewhat tender, but not fully, so to finish them off, I flipped them over and grilled them until second side was also charred, which took less time than the first since they were already more than partially cooked. Once done, I transferred the shallots to a cutting board, removed the root ends that were holding them together on the grill, and then cut them into thin slices.

The shallots cooked pretty quickly, which was a good thing because the fire was still blazing hot to grill the bread, and a hot fire makes for the best flatbreads. I've rolled out other flatbreads I've made before, but this dough was so soft and stretchy, I went with freeform hand stretching this time. I did as best I could to get the bread even throughout, but, like with pizza dough, it was hard not to have a little extra heft around the edges with the center being thinner.

Happy enough with my globular oval shape, I carefully put the dough over the fire and let it cook until it began to brown a bit. I then flipped it over and browned on the second side and by then the bread was mostly cooked through, so I just kept flipping and moving it as needed to get it across the finish line and add a little extra color too.

As soon as the bread was off the grill, I brushed it with olive oil and assembled the final dish. I started with a layer of arugula, which I ended up going heavier on with subsequent flatbreads for an increased peppery character. Next went on the slices of figs and strips of shallots followed by dollops of a soft goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. After slicing it up, I dug in and ate it while still pretty hot.

My first taste was of the bread, which had a nice crunch and chew, although it was not as flavorful as dough I let ferment for many more hours at room temperature or days in the fridge. That lighter touch though meant the toppings were more prominent, and for me it was the sweet and fruity figs that served as the centerpiece. Although there wasn't one in every bite, their presence was lasting and was elevated by the tangy and sugary glaze and given savory contrasts by the cheese, arugula, and shallots. I consumed a couple slices of this first flatbread before moving on and cooking the rest—wanting each one to be as fresh as possible when served. All-in-all, this was a good reminder that I need to get figs back into the rotation more, and having written this post mainly as a nudge to myself, you may see at least one more recipe featuring this dual seasoned fruit on the site before the year is out.
Published on Thu Jun 3, 2021 by Joshua Bousel

Print Recipe

Yield 4 servings

Prep 15 Minutes
Inactive 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Cook 20 Minutes
Total 2 Hours 5 Minutes

Ingredients
For the Balsamic Glaze
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
 
For the Dough
3 cups bread flour (396 g)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (3.5 g)
1 teaspoon instant yeast (4 g)
1 1/4 cups warm water (292.5 g)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (43 g)
 
For the Flatbread
6 small shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8oz fresh figs, thinly sliced
2 handfuls arugula (about 2 oz)
5oz soft goat cheese
Procedure
To make the balsamic glaze: Whisk together vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer until reduced by half and thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the dough: Whisk together flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add water and oil and knead with dough hook on low speed until dough comes together. Increase speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer stand, cover with plastic wrap, and let dough rise at room temperature until roughly doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and cut into 4 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes more.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals evenly across charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Place shallots on grill, cut side down, and cook until well charred, about 5 minutes. Flip shallots over and continue to cook until well charred on second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer shallots to a cutting board, remove root end, and cut into thin strips.
On a floured surface, stretch one piece of dough out into an oval roughly 1/8″ thick. Place dough on hot side of grill and cook until browned and lightly charred in spots. Flip bread and continue to cook until second side is browned and lightly charred in spots. Transfer bread to a cutting board and brush with olive oil. Place 1/4 of the arugula on top followed by slices of figs and shallots. Spoon on dollops of goat cheese and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut into slices and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining dough and toppings.
Dough recipe from Food52.

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By: meatmaster@meatwave.com (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Grilled Flatbread with Charred Shallots and Figs
Sourced From: meatwave.com/recipes/grilled-flatbread-with-charred-shallots-and-figs-recipe
Published Date: 06/03/21

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https://amazinghamburger.com/outdoor-cooking/maple-plank-bacon-wrapped-meatloaf/

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