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07/28/2016

~Grilled Chicken Wings w/Peachy Keen BBQ Sauce~

IMG_9500Purists will tell you there is no substitution for deep-fried chicken wings.  I used to think that too, and, if you want to stay wed to that train of thought, for the time being, it's still a free country. While wings that are oven-fried or grilled can't technically be referred to as Buffalo wings (no self-respecting Buffalo-wing-maker cooks them in the oven or on the grill), wings that are oven-fried or grilled really can be as good as deep-fried wings.  I make wings all three ways, I know.

Whenever I have a lot of wings to make for a indoor party or outdoor tailgate, during the Winter months, I turn on my oven, and, during the Summer months, I fire up my grill.  Why?  Deep-fried wings, while marvelous, are time consuming to prepare.  Deep-frying in batches of 6-8 at a time for 12-13 minutes a batch -- it's not hard to do, but it is definitely hands-on.  Oven-frying and grilling gets them all done at the same time and the process is almost entirely hands-free.

IMG_7834Chicken wings have enough of internal and external fat that pretty much all they need to cook to a crispy state of affairs (besides having the skin as dry as possible) is to be placed on a wire rack inserted into a large baking pan in a very hot oven.   To find out how I do it, just click on the Related Article link below, ~ Seriously E-Z Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Wings ~.

Oven-fried wings = hot oven.  Grilled wings = indirect heat.

The only thing one can do wrong when grilling chicken wings  is to place them over seething-hot direct heat.  Chicken wings have so much internal and external fat, that, if you do that, they will go up in flames before you can count to three.  They will be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.  Even if you manage not to burn them, you will dry them out.  To grill wings perfectly, think low-and-slow over indirect heat for about 40-45 minutes.  If you can adopt that mindset, the fat will render, the skin will get golden brown and crispy, and, the wings will be plump and juicy too.

Imagine wings that are golden & crispy on the outside w/a classic grilled, slightly-smoky taste combined w/a favorite sauce.

IMG_9410To prepare wings for grill:

6a0120a8551282970b013486a5739d970c-320wiUsing a pair of poultry shears, cut:

5  pounds chicken wings

at their two joints, into 3 sections: the drumette, the flat wing, and the "skinny" wing tip.  Using paper towels, pat the pieces dry.  Some folks like to fry and eat the wing tips -- I don't.  Without the wing tips, this recipe will yield 36-40 appetizers or 8-12 servings at 3-4 per person.

Note:  The flavorful wing tips can must be frozen and used to make chicken stock at a later date.

Season wings w/freshly-ground sea salt & peppercorn blend:

IMG_9427Indirect heat, grill lid closed, 40-45 minutes, turn occasionally:

IMG_9467Remove from grill & toss w/your favorite wing sauce:

IMG_9492To prepare my Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce:

IMG_94431  13-ounce jar peach preserves, 1/2  cup fine-diced sweet onion, 1/2  cup Dijon mustard, 1/4  cup honey, 1/4  cup packed dark brown sugar, 2  tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 

1/4  teaspoon each, ground:  cayenne pepper, ginger, mace, dry English mustard

1/8  teaspoon each, ground:  allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, sea salt  

IMG_9394IMG_9396IMG_9400IMG_9405~Step 1.  Place  all ingredients, as listed in a 3-quart saucier over low heat.  Using a large spoon, stir constantly, until  ingredients are thoroughly combined and peach preserves and sugars are melted.  Adjust heat to medium-high to simmer vigorously, whisking constantly to avoid scorching, for exactly 3 minutes.  Sauce will be nicely thickened.  Remove from heat, cover and allow to cool for 1 hour prior to serving warm.  For a smooth texture, place in a blender or a food processor.  Refrigerate for several weeks or freeze for several months.

Toss chicken wings in enough sauce to coat & enjoy ASAP!

IMG_9499Grilled Chicken Wings w/Peachy Keen BBQ Sauce:  Recipe yields about 36-40 appetizers and 2 generous cups barbecue sauce.

Special Equipment List:  poultry shears; paper towels; gas grill; long-handled grilling tongs; 3-quart saucier w/lid, or a 2-3-4-quart saucepan w/lid; cutting board; chef's knife; large spoon

6a0120a8551282970b01a3fd254853970bCook's Note:  A lot of people are just plain afraid of deep-frying and I can appreciate that.  That said, thanks to the relatively inexpensive deep-fryers on the market today that make it mess-free, I've become a fearless fryer.  If you would like to learn how to safely and easily deep-fry some real-deal chicken wings, Buffalo-style, just click into Categories 1, 2 or 17 to get my recipe: ~ JoePa's Chicken Wings (Perfectly Deep-Fried Wings) ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016) 

07/25/2016

~ Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce for Poultry or Pork ~

IMG_9443Peach cobbler, peach pie, peach melba, peach shortcake, peach ice cream --  peachy keen. A perfectly-ripe peach is the apple of everyones eye.  Announce that you're serving a fresh peach dessert for dinner and everyone shows up on time.  When the peaches on our backyard trees ripen, things in my kitchen move fast for a few days.  It's damn-the-torpedos, full-speed-ahead, all-things-peaches.  They trickle in at first, pile up at the end, and, after picking, I only have, at best, 24-48 hours to get 'em in their juicy, ripe prime.  It's a drippy, sticky, tricky situation.

PICT0696While I like fruit desserts as much as the next person, I like savory fruit sauces just as much, and, peaches lend their sweet and tart flavor to barbecue sauce, which complements poultry or pork, amazingly well.  I make peach preserves every year, so I have them on-hand in my freezer all year long  -- it's a delicious way to make use of an overabundance of peaches in a hurry.  Peach preserves, combined with little bits of sweet onion star in my peachy keen barbecue sauce.

IMG_9360Peach preserves:  The star of my Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce!

IMG_93871  13-ounce jar peach preserves, preferably homemade, or the best available

1/2  cup very-finely diced yellow or sweet onion

1/2  cup Dijon mustard

1/4  cup honey

2  tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4  cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar

1/4  teaspoon ground ginger

1/4  teaspoon ground mace

1/4  teaspoon dry English mustard

1/8  teaspoon ground allspice

1/8  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8  teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8  teaspoon fine sea salt

1/8-1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper (Note:  I use a generous 1/4 teaspoon.)

IMG_9381Step 1.  Measure and place all ingredients, as listed, in a 3-quart saucier.  If you don't have a saucier use a 2-3-4-quart saucepan.  

What is a saucier (sauce-ee-ay)?

Sauces are liquids that usually require a good deal of whisking and IMG_9390often reduction.  Whisking is tough if you are trying to maneuver around the corners of a traditional stockpot or chef's pan w/straight deep sides.

In French cooking, a saucier is the title of a chef who devotes his or her career to making sauces.  

The French also came up with a vessel, of the same name, to make whisking easy.  Saucier:  a shallow, wide-bottomed pot with rounded sides.  Reduction is quicker and easier because of the larger surface area, as:  the larger the surface area, the faster the liquid evaporates.  The high-quality saucier I am using is stainless steel with a cooper core and is made by Anolon.  

IMG_9394 IMG_9396 IMG_9400 IMG_9405~Step 2.  Place  saucier over low heat.  Using a large spoon, stir constantly, until  ingredients are thoroughly combined and peach preserves and sugars are melted.  Adjust heat to medium-high to simmer vigorously, whisking constantly to avoid scorching, for exactly 3 minutes.  Sauce will be nicely thickened.  Remove from heat, cover and allow to cool for 1 hour prior to serving warm.

Note:  For a smooth texture, place in a blender or a food processor and blend or process.

IMG_9406~ Step 3.  Transfer cooled sauce to a food storage container, cover and refrigerate indefinitely. Reheat prior to serving by placing the container in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stopping to stir about every 30 seconds.  This sauce freezes well too, so: feel free to make a double batch and portion it into small containers to have on hand all the time.  Brush sauce onto grilled poultry, pork or vegetables just before removing food from the grill. Serve additional sauce at tableside for dipping or drizzling.

Peachy keen with just enough sweet 'n savory heat:

IMG_9450Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce for Poultry or Pork:  Recipe yields 2 generous cups.

Special Equipment List:  3-quart saucier w/lid, or a 2-3-4-quart saucepan w/lid; cutting board; chef's knife; large spoon

IMG_9365Cook's Note:  My recipe for ~ Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine ~ can be found in Categories 8, 9, 20 or 22.  The bread machine does all the work, which leaves my hands free to prep subsequent batches.  They can be refrigerated for several weeks and frozen for several months too.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

07/23/2016

~ Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine ~

IMG_9365'Tis the season for fresh berries and fruit, and I especially love the fresh fruit and berries Joe grows right here in our backyard.  That said, besides apples, fruit and berries don't have a particularly long shelf life. During the first three weeks of July, I've frozen our sour pie cherries and blueberries in 2-pound bags -- enough to make 20 cherry pies and 10 blueberry pies during the upcoming year.  These two fruits are easy to freeze, and, they freeze really, really well.

Peach freezing is not for me.  The end doesn't justify the means.

PICT0696Peaches can be frozen, but they are quite a bit trickier and messier than cherries and blueberries.  They must be peeled, pitted, halved and/or sliced.  To keep them from discoloring, they need to be packed in a sugar-based syrup or fruit juice.  I did this a few years ago and not only did I not enjoy the lengthy process, I wasn't particularly wowed by the defrosted end result -- not disappointed, just not wowed.  They were fine for spooning on ice cream, stirring into yogurt or processing into a smoothie, but they surely did not produce a superb pie or a galette.  

If this gal going to take the time to peel, pit and slice 2 bushels of peaches, this gal had better end up with a peachy-keen product at the end.

PICT1243Peach preserves proved to be the way for me to go.  I experimented with a few different recipes until I hit on a flavor combination that had my family asking for preserves every morning. I didn't end up with big final batch of them that first year (because of my experiments), but what I did end up with, I put in containers and froze.

PICT1252Freezing peach preserves worked great and it's oh-so-much-easier than canning -- another foodie sport I am not fond of.

I also discovered another time-saving "good thing":   My bread machine has a jam cycle on it. Once the fruit mixture is in the bread pan and placed in the bread machine, all I have to do is turn it on and in about an hour the preserves emerge perfectly cooked.  The bread machine controls the temperature and does all of the stirring for me, which frees up my hands to prep another batch.  

The bread machine method is particularly convenient for fruit, like peaches, that don't ripen at the same rate of speed, meaning:  you can do small batches over a period of a few days.  This is also perfect for those of you who only want to make a few cups of preserves. 

PICT1306 That said, if you are a purist and make a lot of jellies, jams, preserves, marmalades or chutney and conserve, you might want to consider a maslin pot.  This 10 1/2-quart pot is ideal for long, slow methods of food preparation.  It has a heavy bottom and wide, sloping sides which reduce the possibility of scorching and promotes evaporation.  Its heavy loop handle and helper handle make transporting and transferring a large quantity of hot food easy and safe. This pot is fantastic for jams, soups, stews, chili, etc. (about $190.00).

PICT11984-5  cups peeled, pitted and diced peaches

1 1/2  cups sugar

2  tablespoons peach brandy

1  teaspoon almond extract

PICT1223 ~ Step 1. Prep the peaches as directed and place them in a large mixing bowl.  The size you dice your peaches should be determined by how chunky you like your preserves.  I dice my peaches into 1/2" pieces.

PICT1232~ Step 2.  Add the sugar, peach brandy and almond extract to the peaches.  Using a large rubber spatula, stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is soupy.

PICT1235 Transfer the mixture to the bread pan of bread machine into which the kneading paddle has first been attached.

PICT1239~ Step 3.  Insert the pan into the bread machine and close the lid. Plug the bread machine in and press the menu button to select the jam cycle.  Press the start button.  

When the cycle is complete, open the lid and carefully remove the pan from the machine, making sure you are using a pot holder or wearing an oven mitt as this is very hot!

PICT1248~ Step 4.  Using a large slotted ladle or spoon, transfer preserves to 2, 2-cup containers, allowing most of the excess juices to drizzle back into the pan. If you are freezing the preserves, leave 1/2" of headspace in each container, for preserves to expand as they freeze.

~ Step 5.  Now that all of the precious fruit has been placed in the two containers, ladle or slowly pour the excess juices into the two containers, again to fill each container to within 1/2"  of the top of each container.  You will most likely have some excess juice leftover, and, how much is 100% determined by how ripe and how juicy, meaning:  how firm or how soft the peaches were. Partially cover the containers with their lids and set aside to cool completely, about 2-3 hours. Cover and refrigerate until preserves are well-chilled before freezing -- overnight is best.

Preserves can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.

IMG_9360Preserves can be frozen for several months. 

IMG_9374Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine:  Recipe yields 3 1/2 cups of preserves.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; paring knife; chef's knife; large rubber spatula; bread machine; large slotted ladle or spoon; 2, 2-cup size freezer-safe containers w/tight fitting lids

PICT1212 Cook's Note:  What is the difference between jelly, jam, preserves and marmalade?  It boils down to the end product.  Jelly is made from fruit juice and is gelatinous.  Jam is made from pulp, pureed or mashed fruit and is more spreadable than jelly.  Preserves are made from diced, chunked or whole fruit and is looser than jam, spoonable rather than spreadable.  Marmalade is usually made from citrus fruit, sometimes contains chards of rind and has a consistency somewhere between jelly and jam!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)