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Smoked Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

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The absence of going to bars this year due to the pandemic has also meant a lessoning of the type of food I usually partake in while downing a few beers. From time to time, I've been making things likes wings and sliders at home, but it's not quite the same and never in the vast assortment of goods I end up ordering while out and under the influence. So when my brother-in-law requested a night of pub food while we were vacationing together over the summer, I was only too happy to oblige. On that evening, I pulled out my recipe for potato skins, which I haven't made in a really long time and became instantly re-enamored with them, so much so that I had a hankering to cook them again just a month later while back at home. This time though I took things a little further than the standard cheddar and bacon topping and filled them with smoked buffalo chicken, and they were every bit as delicious as that sounds.

For your average appetizer, these represent a bit of extra effort, but if you approach them like I did and make them when you might already have the grill and/or smoker going for other things, they're a nice bonus to a meal. The extra time really comes from the need to smoke the breasts, which you could easily shortcut by picking up barbecued chicken from a smokehouse or swap in one of those rotisserie birds available at most supermarkets. Of course, doing every step at home allows for close attention to details, and for me, one of those is ensuring that the chicken, which ends up being cooked twice, remains as juicy as possible in the end dish. To help get me to that outcome, I started by brining bone-in chicken breasts to inject some added moisture in the meat.

After brining, the breasts went in to the smoker that I had running at 225°F with a chuck of cherry wood on the coals. You can see the ribs I also had on at the same time, which was the real reason I had the smoker fired up that day. Getting the smoker up and running for just a couple of chicken breasts might feel a bit excessive, so I wrote the final recipe to include the grill too—if you go with the grill, just use a small amount of charcoal for a low heat fire and cook using indirect heat.

Another way I set out to ensure the final chicken would be moist was to undercook it from the usually recommended 165°F. That temperature is the FDA standard because it's the point at which most nasty bacteria die instantaneously, but those same bacteria also die at lower temperatures, it just takes longer. I pulled the breasts out when they hit around 145°F, and at that temperature it takes just over nine minutes for common food-based bacteria to die, and since the chicken was going to rest for more than 15 minutes before I pulled it, combined with a little extra carryover cooking, it would be just as safe to eat and a whole lot juicier than chicken cooked to 165°F.

With the chicken done, it was on to the potatoes. Over my many years of recipe development, I've tried over and over again to use the microwave to speed up spud cooking, and usually the end results are never as good as if they were solely roasted. The one exception I've found has been for potato skins. This is due to the fact that the potatoes will still be cooked a lengthy amount of time on the grill, which renders the exterior nicely crisp, while a large portion of the interior is scooped away and discarded, so there's not a huge amount of flesh left to make a noticeable textural difference.

After zapping the russets in the microwave for eight minutes, I transferred them to the grill to finish cooking. I needed to cook them until they could be pierced with a paring knife and there would be little to no resistance, which took about 20 minutes more using a freshly lit batch of coals and indirect heat. Depending on the size of your spuds, this could take longer or shorter, so it's a good practice to start testing after about fifteen minutes, then every five minutes there after.

It was during this roasting time that I prepared the buffalo chicken filling. I used the standard Frank's and butter combo, going in heavier with the hot sauce, and then adding in the meat that I had pulled from the bone. I took a taste and the chicken was a juicy as could be and with a nice background smokiness, but the heat was not as prominent as I thought it would need to be to create a little mouth burn in the end dish. So I added a bit of cayenne into the mix and that fixed things up nicely.

Once the potatoes were done, I removed them from the grill, split them open, and let the rest to cool off. I was losing the light I needed for ideal photos, so I attempted to scoop out all but about 1/2-inch of flesh while they were still pretty hot and ended up mangling more than one spud because of it. Still, I had enough to venture forth and did so by next brushing the potatoes all over with melted butter, seasoning them with salt and pepper, and putting them back on the still hot grill. This second roasting session is meant to really crisp up and lightly brown the potatoes, making them the ideal potato skin vessel.

They seemed pretty perfect after seven minutes, at which time I finished them up by filling each potato boat with the chicken, topping with cheddar cheese, then replacing the grill lid and letting them cook until the cheese was well melted. All that was left to do to them now was to plate them up, squeeze on a bit of ranch dressing, and garnish with chives.

I've tried this potato skin method with many different filling variations, and it always delivers. The multiple roasts on the potatoes renders them with a skin that has a nice crispness to it and enough creamy innards to add heft and more potato character to the final dish than many potato skins I get at restaurants. This particular filler was high on the flavor scale with that tangy, rich, and spicy buffalo sauce which got bonus boosts from the mellow smokiness and sharp cheddar cheese.. I'm a ranch man, so the herbal and garlicky tang was the fitting pairing for me, but if you're of the blue cheese persuasion, by all means, use a blue cheese sauce instead. Now that I've let these potato skins back into my life twice this year, I keep thinking of new topping ideas and imagine the longer I'm stuck at home over the winter, the more likely they are to make repeat appearances.
Published on Thu Dec 31, 2020 by Joshua Bousel

Print Recipe

Yield 4-6 servings

Prep 30 Minutes
Inactive 1 Hour
Cook 2 Hours 10 Minutes
Total 3 Hours 40 Minutes

Ingredients
For the Chicken
2 quarts cold water
1/3 cup Kosher salt
1/4 cup white sugar
2 lbs bone-in chicken breasts
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
 
For the Potatoes
4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup ranch dressing
3 tablespoons finely sliced chives
Procedure
To make the chicken: In a medium bowl, whisk together water, salt, and sugar until solids are dissolved. Place chicken breasts in brine and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
Fire up smoker or grill to 225°F, adding chunk of smoking wood when at temperature. When wood is ignited and producing smoke, place chicken in smoker or grill, skin side up. Smoke until an instant read thermometer reads 145°F when inserted into thickest part of breast, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from smoker and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove skin and pull meat. Discard bones.
Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add in hot sauce and cayenne pepper and whisk to combine. Add in pulled chicken and toss to coat. Remove from heat and set aside. Adjust heat with more cayenne pepper to taste.
To make the potatoes: Prick potatoes all over with a fork. Microwave potatoes on high for 4 minutes. Flip potatoes over and microwave on high for an additional 4 minutes.
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 potatoes on cool side of grill close to, but not over, the coals. Cover and cook potatoes until a paring knife glides easily through the flesh, about 20 minutes. Remove potatoes from grill, slice each in half lengthwise, and let sit until cool enough to handle.
Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the flesh of the potatoes, leaving a 1/2-inch layer of potato flesh on the inside of each skin. Brush the potatoes all over with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Place potatoes back on cool side of grill, cover, and let cook until light golden brown and crisp, about 7 minutes.
Fill each potato with buffalo chicken and top with cheese. Cover and continue to cook until the cheese is fully melted, about 5 minutes more. Remove from grill and let cool for 5 minutes. Top with ranch dressing and chives. Serve immediately.

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By: meatmaster@meatwave.com (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Smoked Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins
Sourced From: meatwave.com/recipes/smoked-buffalo-chicken-potato-skins-recipe
Published Date: 12/31/20

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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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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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