Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dutch Oven Hot Chicken Wings

I made a new friend today.

I was sitting next to this guy in Sunday School, at church. I'd seen him a time or two, but hadn't introduced myself yet. So, today, I did. We chatted briefly, but not much. He mentioned that he was looking for work (who isn't these days). I asked him what kind of work he was looking for, he said he'd recently applied at a new restaurant that was opening up here in a few weeks near our town.

We got to talking about that, and he told me about going to culinary school and getting his baker's cerification, and all sorts of things like that.

Of course, that had my attention. So we sat there talking right up until the lesson started. Then we talked more afterward. Then I invited him over while I cooked tonight's dinner. He came over, and brought some incredible cookies that I'm going to have to share here sometime. He also promised to have me over the next time he and his family made tamales.

Mmmmmm... Tamales....

Anyway, so, we hung out and cooked. It was sooo fun just to have someone to chat with while cooking. He also helped move some furniture with me, but that's another story.

I had planned on doing hot wings, so I carried on with that intention. I had researched a lot of different recipes for the sauce, and in the end, like I usually do, I created a hybrid. I also took a twist on the technique, too.

Dutch Oven Hot Chicken Wings

12" Dutch Oven, 8" Dutch oven

See below for coals

  • about 2 dozen chicken wings, thawed.
  • Oil, for frying

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2-4 tablespoons pureed chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 2-4 tablespoons chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, quartered
  • Juice of one lime
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1-2 tbsp flour

I started the whole adventure today by lighting up some coals. Quite a few, actually. While those were going, I went inside and cut up the chicken. The wing tips, of course, I threw away, and the other wing parts I separated and put into a bowl.

By the time that was done, the coals were getting ready, so I put one 12" on, and poured in about a quarter inch of oil. I let that heat up on about 20 or so coals.

While that was heating up, I pureed the chipotle chilis, and added everything else (except the flour) to my 8" dutch oven. I put that on about 8 coals. I added about half of the chicken wings to the oil, and started them frying. I fried them with the lid on, but no heat on the lid. I fried them until the chicken looked done. I could have let them go longer, just to crisp up more, but in the end they crisped up just fine. More on that in a minute.

I turned them once, and when they were done I pulled them out into a bowl, and put in the other half. I wondered what it would have been like had I dredged the wing pieces in flour before frying them. Hmmmm... Another thing to try!

Meanwhile, the sauce was simmering nicely. The butter'd melted, but it was looking really thin, and it wasn't blending up nice. I added the flour a sprinkle at a time, and that thickened it, and it also allowed the liquids to bond together better. In retrospect, the next time I do this, I'm going to melt the butter first and make a roux with the flour, then add the other ingredients.

I wasn't sure how it was going to taste, so I kinda went easy on the chilis. I think next time, I won't be so afraid. It didn't turn out hot at all, even though it was a good spicy flavor.

Anyway. I'm getting ahead of myself.

While the chicken and the sauce were cooking, I also made sure that I had a big supply of fresh coals ready, because that was going to be necessary for my next step.

Once all the chicken was done, I put them all into a bowl and poured the sauce over the pieces. I stirred it up and made sure they were all coated.

Now, for the final step. It would have been pretty easy to pour off the oil in the first dutch oven, but I had another 12" handy, so I just used it. It seemed quicker at the time. I put that on a lot of coals. There were still quite a few left burning from the frying, which I arranged in a circle, and then I added a good 5-10 more from the fresh coals. Then I put the chicken, coated, into the dutch oven, and then put the metal grill on top. Finally I added the lid on top of the grill, with about 20 more coals or so on top. I was all set for my dry roasting technique.

The idea was that I had all these great chicken wings coated with this sloppy sauce, and I wanted to bake that on like a glaze. If I'd just put the lid on, it would have trapped the moisture, and it wouldn't have glazed right. So, I up the heat, and put that metal grill to lift the lid slightly. That lets the moisture escape!

In about 10 mintues, I went to check on them. I turned the pieces, and with my brush, basted them in more sauce. In about another 10 - 15 minutes, they were nice and crisp and the glaze was baked on.

We served them up with blue cheese dressing. And they were goooood. Again, like I said, I shoulda upped the chili powder a bit. It all comes to knowing just how hot your chilis and your chili powders are. And I don't know that yet.

So, here's to new friends and new recipes!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dutch Oven Banana Nut Bread Supreme

This was the capper at the end of the night of the feast. It was amazingly delicious. And it's a perfect example of how a pretty basic and normal recipe can easily be kicked up a notch and turned into something amazing, without a lot of extra work.

Dutch Oven Banana Nut Bread Supreme

12" Dutch Oven
8-10 coals below
15-18 coals above

  • 5 large ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds or whatever)
  • 2 bars of chocolate, chopped

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Caramel syrup
  • Whipped cream

I started by pureeing the bananas, and added the eggs. There are some who say that when cooking in a dutch oven, you should eschew powered appliances. In fact, in many cookoffs, they're not allowed. Usually, I don't use them myself, preferring to do it by hand. But, I decided to use the blender on the bananas. May the gods of iron forgive me.

I got over it really fast, though.

Then I got out a bowl, and put in the sugar, and the shortening. I got out my pastry cutter and started cutting them together. It didn't take long to mix. Then, I added the reset of the ingredients from the first set, and mixed those together. So far, so good. I chose almonds, because my wife and walnuts don't mix. And for the chocolate? Ghirardellis! I chose good good chocolate for an extra special taste.

Finally, I poured in the banana and egg mix and stirred it all together.

I oiled and floured the bottom and sides of my dutch oven, and poured in the mix.

Somewhere, in the process of making everything, I had lit my coals, and set a lot of hot coals on the lid to pre-heat it. When the batter was ready, so was the lid. I put it on and baked it for about 45 minutes to an hour. I tested its done-ness by sticking a knife in it. If it comes out clean, then it's done.

Now, I did all this in the morning. There was a lot of other cooking and prepping going on for the rest of the day, so I didn't want to have to rush that. So, after I pulled it out of the dutch oven and cooled it, I wrapped the plate up in plastic so it wouldn't dry out.

Up to this point, it's a good banana bread. But I had to take it to another level. This was to be a fancy dinner, and it needed a fancy ending for that final "Wow!"

So, right before serving the dessert, I slipped away from the dinner. In my 8" dutch oven, I melted the butter, dissolved the sugar, and added the cinnamon. I came back in and sliced up the banana bread into cake-like wedges. I scooped up some of the cinnamon butter sauce and put that in the bottom of a shallow bowl, and added the cake on top of that. Then, I drizzled the top of the cake with the chocolate and the caramel, making sure to get some drizzled on the bowl, too. Finally, a squirrch of whipped cream on top, and it was onto the table.

That little bit of the cinnamon and the other sauces, combined with the whipped cream was very simple. But it really took it to another level.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Feast Goes On!

Yesterday was the big day, and I had a blast cooking it this year. For those that are newcomers to the Black Pot, or are finding this post as their first introduction to the blog, here's the story, in a nutshell: Once a year, I cook up a big feast (a full 7 course meal) entirely in my dutch ovens. I start early in the day and cook until it's all done, when the guests arrive. I do it partly to celebrate Mother's Day, and partly to challenge myself and my cooking skills.

This year, I chose to do some pretty tough dishes, I thought, but I was pretty calm. I didn't stress so much as I did last year. It was more fun. Here, up above, you see me kneading the sourdough. This one I made from a yeast strain that I caught here in Eagle Mountain, UT. When I told the guests about that, we all started joking about how one goes about "Catching a wild yeast"! Crikey!

This was the first course, the soup. It was based on a recipe (Chicken Soup with Rice) from a good friend. I added some grilled chicken and shrimp on a skewer just for show. It kinda gave it a unique look, even if they were a little overdone. As a sort of appetizer, though, the soup worked pretty well. Fortunately, there were a lot of leftovers of this course, so I'll eat well for my work lunches for a long time!

I pretty much stuck to my friend's original recipe. I did use some home made chicken stock for the base, and added lemon juice. Other than that it was straight ahead soup.
The salad course, of course, I didn't do in my dutch ovens. The cheese is mozarella, the dressing a kind of twist of italian and pacific Island. The crumbled cheese is feta. I was going for this look that combined a lot of different circular foods, all on the plate at once, over a bed of spinach. It tasted great, and looked really cool as well.

I've been doing a lot of reading about presentation along with the actual cooking. I'm still not very confident in that area, but it's something I'm learning steadily.

These are all my guests. They're mostly friends from our neighborhood, and our ward at church, but also a few others from Salt Lake City. We were laughing pretty hard all through the evening, mostly at the expense of our kids!

We had a few couples that, unfortunately, had to bow out. While I missed them, and it would have been fun to have them there, it worked out. I had originally overbooked the guest list a little, and I wasn't sure if I'd have enough crown roast to go around. So, as Jodi and I talked about it the night before, we decided I should also do a turkey for some extra food. In the end, even though we had enough roast to go around, a lot of the guests had some turkey too, so it really all worked out well.

I did the same citrus turkey that I'd done for Thanksgiving last year.

This is the crown roast. I was really nervous doing this, because I'd never done it before. I didn't know how it was going to turn out. I decided to do veggies around it instead of stuffing, and I put some orange slices and an orange/molasses glaze on it as well.

As I had worked out the dinner in advance, I'd hit on this idea of doing it all with a sort of citrus theme all the way through. There was lemon juice in the soup, there were lemons, oranges, and grapefruit on the turkey, and oranges and the orange glaze on the pork.

The bread had the orange theme, as well, as I put an orange and brown sugar/cinnamon glaze on it as well. And... We drank Sprite mixed with orange juice.

I was really pleased with the way the bread turned out. I've learned a lot about making bread over the last year, and it really came together that night. I did it with a braided pattern, in a circle, intead of just hearth loaf. That made it more full in the dutch oven, as well as a little fancier. Half the point of this dinner is to have great food, and half the point is to just make it look more amazing.

The dessert was also great. I made this big circular banana bread, with almond slivers and chocolate chunks. Then, when we served it up, we smothered it in a bunch of sauces. One I made was a butter, sugar, and cinnamon sauce, then we also layered on chocolate and caramel sauces. Finally, a tip of whipped cream!

The food part of the evening was great, and I was proud of it, but that wasn't the best part, even. It was just a lot of fun to have a lot of good friends over and just kick back and laugh with them all.

And today, I could hardly move. But it was still all worth it!

Recipes and detailed stories to come!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Mother's Day Feast, 2009

Last year, starting in about January, I started to get this wild notion that I could really cook up something fancy. I wanted to make a full, elaborate meal, completely in my dutch ovens, and serve it up to a group of friends. I decided to do it in conjunction with Mother's Day, as something special for Jodi.

I know, it's also about me trying to show off...

But I do appreciate everything that Jodi does, and I do enjoy cooking up this special meal for her and for our friends.

Here are the links to the pages in the blog that describe last year's feast.

So, I've been thinking a lot about it this year as well. It's coming up this Saturday! I've been contemplating the recipes I could cook, and the things I could do. In some ways, I've gotten a lot better at this stuff, and in some ways, I still feel like a novice. This year, however, I'm going to try some new things.

This year, unless the stress simply kills me off, I'm going to make it a full seven-course meal. My friend, Steve, who came with me to Taste of Dutch a month or so ago, has said that he might come over and help, if he gets his homework done in time. I hope so. I'm thinkin' I'm going to need some help!

Here's the menu for Mother's Day 2009

  • Appetizer - Cheese, crackers, and veggies with dip. Simple stuff. Simple is good, because fancy is comin' up...
  • Soup - Steve's Chicken Soup. I'm going to do it basically as he did, but I had this idea to dress it up with Chicken and Shrimp grilled on skewers and set across the bowl! It's hard to describe, but I can see it in my head.
  • Salad - Spinach, Mozarella, and Tomato Salad. Another one that if I can pull it off, will look really cool!
  • Bread - Braided Bread w/orange glaze. The same as what I tried last year, but fumbled.
  • Main Dish - Crown Roast. I swear, in all the world of meats, there isn't anything that can compare with a crown roast for sheer "Wow" factor. I don't know if I'll do a stuffing or not.
  • Vegetable - potatoes and asparagus. I did this one a while back. Remember, when I found I had grown up enough to actually like asparagus?
  • Drink - sprite with orange foam. I hope I can pull this one off. My friend over at Mormon Foodieintroduced me to this one. You blend orange juice with soy lecithin, and that makes it foam up. Then you spoon it over Sprite.
  • Dessert - Banana Bread w/chocolate and cinnamon butter sauces. And whipped cream, as if that weren't enough.

So, there you have it. I've worked out an hour-by-hour plan, just like I did last year, breaking each dish down into steps. I'll be taking lots of pictures, and if I remember, I'll be twittering all along the way, too!

Follow along and watch me triumph or crash and burn! Care to take any bets?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dutch Oven Chicken Recipes, Part V, The Directory!

OK, here we come to an end of our adventure in cooking chicken. Of course, to say that's the end of the chicken recipes is to say that's the last Love Song. There will always be another. Some are good, others not so much. But one thing that I love about chicken is that it is so incredibly versatile. You can do almost anything with it.

Think about it. You can use it as the primary focus of a dish, even the focus of the whole meal. Or, it can be a part of an overall dish, providing merely flavoring. It's like beige. It goes with almost anything. But unlike beige, it's not bland or colorless.

So, here's a recap of the chicken recipes I posted in the series, and then, a few of the ones that I've done over the past two years of the Black Pot!

  1. Dutch Oven Fried Chicken, wrapped in Bacon. Warning: This recipe has been condemned by the Heart Association... But, man, it's gooood...
  2. Dutch Oven Chicken Soup, with Rice Yummy. It's good for what ails ya.
  3. Dutch Oven Spicy Roast Chicken Rich, Juicy, and with just a bit of bite! One of my original recipes.
  4. Dutch Oven Chicken Stock Don't be wastin' the bones!

Older Chicken Recipes:

  1. Dutch Oven Chicken and Potatoes Easy, delicious, and flexible
  2. Dutch Oven Chicken Cordon Bleu A classy classic
  3. Dutch Oven Chicken Fettuccini With handmade noodles, no less!
  4. Dutch Oven Chicken Rolls and Au Gratin Potatoes

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dutch Oven Chicken Recipes, Part IV

Dutch Oven Chicken Stock

This one's not really a recipe. It's more of a process that I go through whenever I do a roast chicken recipe. You're always left with this big hulking skeleton carcass, and what do you do with it? It's still got little chunks of meat on it that you couldn't get off with the carving knife, and you can't just leave it on the table and piece on it all night... It's nice to get just a little bit more out of the bird before it's all thrown away.

Here's what I do.

First, I usually just put it away for the night. If I've been cooking all day, as much fun as that is, I'm not up to cooking more. I'll wrap it up and put it in the fridge.

Then, the next day, I'll put it back in the dutch oven with about 8 or so cups of water. I'll put that on on some coals (usually 15-20), with the lid on, and let it boil. Once the coals start dying down, I'll just replenish them bit by bit, enough to keep it simmering, but it doesn't have to be boiling hard. Today, when I did this, I let it simmer for a couple of hours.

Then, when it's all done, I'll bring it in, and let it cool just a bit. I'm going to be working with it, and I don't want to burn myself in the process.

Much of the meat will have either boiled off the bones, or will be so loose that it's pretty easy to pull off with a fork. So, I'll start by cleaning off as much as I want, and scooping that out with a slotted spoon. That'll make a great chicken soup. Or sandwiches. Or enchiladas, or...

Now, I don't have a fancy strainer, or a filter, or anything like that. So, today I started by spooning off as much of the floating fat stuff as I could. Then, I got my baster out. I'd dip the tip down below the remaining fat and floating herbs level and suck up a tubefull, and empty that into a big measuring cup we have. I kept doing that until it was all done. The remaining fat, slime, and other solids got thrown away with the bones.

I let the measuring cup sit a little longer, just to let more fat separate out, and did the same game with the baster again. Only this time, I put the broth into sandwich-size ziplock baggies, and then into my freezer. I could get about 2 cups into each baggie. That'll be just about right to make some rice or start up a soup.

It's kinda cool to be able to get your own stock when a chicken recipe calls for it, or to get the right flavoring to start some other recipe. I like the way it carries with it some of the spices of the chicken recipe you cooked.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dutch Oven Chicken Recipes, Part III

Spicy Roast Chicken

I did something very similar to this a few months ago on a turkey, and it was phenomenal. My whole family loved it. It's a very very simple dish. It only takes a few minutes and a few ingredients to prepare it (once the chicken itself is thawed). All you do is prepare a rub (more of a spice and flavoring paste, really, and cover the chicken in it. It really is basic dutching at its finest. Of course, the results taste far from basic. That's the beauty of it!

I'm particularly proud of this one, because even though it's based on some things that are pretty common, like basic Jerk Chicken, it's my own combination.

Dutch Oven Spicy Roast Chicken

12” deep Dutch Oven 14-15 coals, each, above and below

  • 1 5lb Chicken, thawed, patted dry.
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 4-5 green onions, sliced
  • ½ Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
  • ½ Tbsp Paprika
  • ½ Tbsp Salt
  • ½ Tbsp Pepper
  • ½ Tbsp Cumin Powder
  • ½ Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • 4-5 green onions, sliced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Olive Oil

OK, here's how you do it! Follow these steps in this chicken recipe and you'll really wow them.

First, I thawed the chicken, patted it dry, etc. One thing I like to do with poultry is to take a fork or sharp knife and poke holes in the skin, to allow more of the spice flavor to seep into the meat. I put the chicken, breast side up, in the bottom of the 12” deep dutch oven. I don't know if it would have fit in a shallow. I didn't check, to be honest...

Then I took the onions and the green onions and scattered them around the sides.

While the coals were getting hot, I took a little time to make the spice rub/paste. It's simple to do, really. I just mixed all the ingredients in the second set, except the oil. You can adjust them to taste. If you like yours to be a little hotter, with more bite, add more Cayenne, etc... Do it how you like it, or follow what I've got here.

Once those ingredients are all mixed in, and stirred up, I just gradually added a bit of oil, while stirring, just enough to make it like a paste.

Then, I took a fork and smeared that paste all over the top surfaces of the chicken. I covered as much as I could, but I didn't want it to end up on the bottom of the dutch oven.

Then I put it on the coals. Now, you have to keep a side fire going, some extra coals. The ones you start with on your dutch oven are going to go out long before the chicken is done. So, about every 20 minutes or so, you add another 5-10 coals into the side fire. These catch fire from the ones that were in there, still burning before. After about another 20 minutes, you pull some out to supplement those ones that are now burning out. Doing this, you can keep your heat on almost indefinitely.

This chicken took about an hour and a half to reach the internal temperature of about 180. I just used a thermometer stuck in the breast. It's the easiest way to tell if it's done.

Since it's done in the Dutch Oven, it comes out moist and steamed. The spices seep down in, and man, it's great! Probably my favorite roast chicken recipe ever!


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