Monday, November 19, 2012

Yeah, You Can Grill That – Thanksgiving Recipes!

I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner almost as much as I love eating it. I start planning my menu and shopping list weeks in advance. I print out and write down recipes, and write up a game plan to make sure everything gets brined, rubbed, chopped, mixed and put in the oven and just the right time so that it’s all ready to go when dinner is served.

Unfortunately, like most of you, my love of cooking seriously outmatches my kitchen space, equipment and manpower. If I had two or three ovens, eight stovetop burners, and a few assistants, I could probably have everything ready to eat at precisely 7:00 PM. Instead, I can’t start cooking the dressing, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes or anything else that goes into the oven until the turkey comes out – which means it has to sit for about an hour and a half. I have potatoes boiling, vegetables steaming and gravy cooking on the stove, and there’s always at least one more pot than there are burners. Something is going to have to go in the microwave.

So this year, I’m taking advantage of my outdoor cooking space – my grill and my smoker. I’m going to smoke the turkey and ham over apple wood. I’m going to grill the macaroni and cheese, the Brussels sprouts with bacon and blue cheese, and the asparagus. And that will leave plenty of time and space for everything else to cook inside.

If you’re looking to free up some space in your oven or on your stovetop, or you just want to add some grill flavor to this year’s Thanksgiving, you can’t go wrong with any of these recipes:

Turkey breast – I haven’t cooked a full turkey on the grill yet (I’m sure it’s possible, and will attempt when the stakes aren’t quite as a high as Thanksgiving). But in the meantime, if you’re cooking for a smaller group, you can’t go wrong with this recipe for grilled turkey breast. It’s juicy and tender, with a great (but not overpowering) smoky flavor.

Sweet Potatoes – They may get overshadowed by the turkey, stuffing (or in the south, dressing) and gravy, but it just isn’t Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes. These sweet potatoes can be made quickly and easily on the grill, with the delicious brown sugar sauce you’d expect.

Macaroni and Cheese – Gooey, cheesy, bubbly and delicious, this recipe for macaroni and cheese cooked on the grill simply can’t be beat.

Potato and Sweet Potato Gratin – Want to mix things up? Instead of (or maybe in addition to) traditional mashed potatoes in one bowl and candied sweet potatoes in another, combine them, add a ton of cheese, and enjoy this awesome recipe for potato and sweet potato gratin.

Vegetables – You can’t go wrong with vegetables cooked on the grill. Any of these grilled vegetables – carrots, asparagus, green beans, corn on the cob, or Brussels sprouts – won’t just taste a lot better than their steamed or boiled brethren, they’ll also free up much-needed space on your stove.

Lobster tail – Lobster was on the menu for the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth in 1621, so if you want to go truly authentic this year, try this recipe for buttery, tasty grilled lobster tail.

Chocolate Pecan Bars – Pecan pie is a staple dessert at most Thanksgiving dinners in the south. This recipe has all the sweet, chewy, gooey goodness of pecan pie, plus CHOCOLATE. Oh, and it’s grilled.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Blue Cheese

As the temperatures drop, many people cover and close their grills for the fall and winter. Huge mistake! Not only does your grill work perfectly fine this time of year, I’d argue that it almost makes more sense to grill in the fall and even winter than it does during the summer. Think about it. When would you rather stand around a hot grill and reach over hot flames, when it’s 100 degrees outside, or when it’s in the 40s or 50s?

There are also a number of great fall and winter harvest vegetables that are perfect for grilling, and over the next few months, and I’ll post recipes for as many of them as I can. On tap today: Brussels sprouts. But not just any Brussels sprouts – these ones are grilled, then topped with crumbled blue cheese and fresh-cooked bacon bits.

Brussels sprouts have a bad rap, and I’m not sure why. I guess if you over-boil them, they smell (and taste) like bad eggs. That’s obviously gross. But when prepared right, they’re delicious. And they’re perfect for grilling – they get nice and crispy on the outside, soft on the outside, and have great flavor.

So keep your grill going this fall, and give this recipe for Brussels sprouts with bacon and blue cheese a shot – you won’t regret it.


1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Approx. ½ teaspoon dry mustard
4 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled (the thicker the better)
About ¼ cup blue cheese, crumbled


1.    Wash Brussels, chop off the stems, remove outer layer of leaves, and cut in half.
2.    Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and dry mustard. The easiest way to do this is to put them in a large re-sealable bag and shake them up.
3.    Place Brussels on skewers.

4.    Place skewers over direct heat and cook for five minutes on each side. If they begin to get too charred, move them over and let them cook indirectly (will take a little longer than 10 minutes total cooking time if you need to do this).

5.    Remove from skewers, place in bowl and top with crumbled blue cheese and bacon. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dry Rub BBQ Beer Can Chicken

In my ongoing quest to grill as many different varieties of beer can chicken as possible, I realized that I haven’t really done a classic barbeque dry rub. This recipe is great on its own or with BBQ sauce (like my favorite Dr. Pepper sauce).


1 whole chicken (about 4.5 pounds)
Approximately one tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Dry rub ingredients (these are all approximate. Add more or less of each to get the flavor you want):

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon ground red pepper


1.    In a small bowl, mix all dry rub ingredients.
2.    Remove chicken neck and giblets (I try to freeze them to save for stocks). Rinse the chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels.
3.    Coat chicken with vegetable oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then cover with dry rub.

4.    Fill your chimney starter with charcoal and light. Soak some wood chunks or chips.
5.    While your coals are getting hot, drink half a can of beer (soda is fine too).
6.    Set up your grill for indirect cooking, with all of the coals and wood chunks on one side, and a drip pan on the other. Or, place the coals in a ring along the outer edge of the grill, with the drip pan in the center.

7.    Shove can with remaining beer into the cavity of the chicken, and place on the grill above the drip pan. Use the legs and the can to form a tripod to hold the chicken upright.

8.    Place the lid on the grill. Smoke, covered, for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. The chicken is ready with the temperature reaches 165 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh. Juices should run clear and skin will be nice and crispy.
9.    Let chicken rest at least 10-15 minutes before carving.

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