Beer-Brined and Grilled Sriracha Buffalo Chicken Wings

There’s nothing better than weekend “homegating” (ie. tailgating from home), particularly this time of year with college football bowl games, NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl at month’s end – A hot grill, mouthwatering fare, hard-hitting grid iron action, and great friends to celebrate alongside!

This Sunday afternoon we’re throwing down several dozen grilled chicken wings on my All-American, sleek and sexy, fire-breathing Twin Eagles Grill. These bird arms were beer-brined overnight, seasoned with a bold homemade ancho chili and roasted garlic dry rub, charred over direct heat, then turned down low and slow and basted in layer upon caramelized layer of a spicy sriracha buffalo sauce. Dressed in an aged blue cheese crumble, then served alongside a 12 pack of ice cold Bell’s Two Hearted Ale!! -Cheers and stay hungry my friends, David

Beer-Brined and Grilled Sriracha Buffalo Chicken Wings

Ingredients

  • 2-3 dozen whole chicken wings, trimmed
  • Fresh parsley, to garnish
  • Aged blue cheese, crumbled, to garnish

Chicken Wing Beer Brine

  • 8 cups water
  • 3 bottles lager beer
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

Seasoning

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons roast garlic powder, granulated
  • 1 teaspoons onion powder, granulated
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn, to taste

Sriracha Buffalo Sauce

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

  • Brine: In a 6-8 quart container, dissolve salt and sugar into warmed water, then stir in beer and vinegar. Remove from heat and let brine rest until completely cooled. Immerse chicken wings, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove chicken from brine and discard brine. Rinse wings with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Spread chicken in a single layer over a large baking sheet and place back in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, to dry and tighten the chicken's skin.
  • Sauce: In a small sauce pan over medium heat, warm butter until melted, then whisk together remaining ingredients. Stir intermittently until sauce simmers gently. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • Preparing to Grill: Preheat grill by turning half of the burners to high heat, while setting the other side of burners to low heat. While grill is warming, toss wings in olive oil and liberal amount of the herbs and spices, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss to coat thoroughly and rest until ready to grill.
  • 2-Zone Grilling: Lay seasoned wings directly over the hottest grill grates and sear chicken 3-4 minutes per side with the grill lid open. Then, turn down all burners to low, transfer wings to the cooler grill grates and close the grill lid. While finishing the wings over indirect heat, intermittently open the lid to baste one caramelized layer of homemade buffalo sauce upon another until wings are cooked through, juices run clear, and have reached an internal temperature of 165F. Remove wings from the grill, brush one final time with sauce, and rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.
  • Plating: Garnish chopped parsley and blue cheese crumble. Pair with additional buffalo sauce for dipping and a handful of ice cold IPA brews. Cheers!

Desination: Alisal Ranch – BBQ Bootcamp 2019

Nearly four hours north on Highway One, far from the hustle, bustle, bright lights, glitz and Hollywood glamour of Los Angeles lies the Santa Ynez Mountains and gateway to one of California’s few destinations where the pace of time, for decades, seems to have romantically rambled on just a little bit slower than otherwise. Gently nestled in valley of these breathtaking coastal mountains is the renowned Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort. Due immediately west, the Spanish colonial heritage of oceanside Santa Barbara, and to the east, dramatic countryside landscapes and endless rolling hills, nearly seventy-five unique vineyards, among the most fruitful farmland on God’s green earth, and golden sunsets that could only be painted by the hand of the Good Lord, Himself.

At the center of this picturesque Rockwellian image is a distinctly-charming jewel of the region, Alisal; with history dating to the early 1800’s and richly-steeped in traditions of America’s famed Wild West, this 10,000 acre property boasts a fully-immersive working dude ranch (accompanied by 73 luxury guest suites), a private all-recreation lake, an adjacent river and seasonal streams abound with runs of enormous steelhead trout, more than 50 miles of horseback riding trails, 2 championship golf courses, and host to one of the most inspirational live fire cooking events annually from Sea to shining Sea.

Long on my bucket list of culinary travel destinations, it was here that I had the privilege to attend (and honor to play a small part in preparing several meals) at Alisal’s BBQ Bootcamp 2019.

BBQ Bootcamp is an all-inclusive and entirely-immersive outdoor cooking adventure, conducted in the native Santa Maria-style of cooking, led and co-hosted by some of the most talented individuals across the world of live fire cooking, working together in effort to prepare one awe-inspiring, mouthwatering feast upon another, from sun up to sun down for 3 consecutive days!

Born, bred and baptized in the art of red oak smoke and Santa Maria-style cooking, Alisal’s BBQ Bootcamp is led by the brilliantly-talented Chef Anthony Endy. Joining Chef Endy was the acclaimed Chef Frank Ostini, James Beard Awarded-Author Paula Disbrowe, my good friend and internationally-recognized pitmaster Burt Bachman, breadmaker-extraordinaire Bob Oswaks, and television personality Chef Valerie Gordon (who also expertly played the dual role of event emcee). Over the following 72 hours, we would indulge in the barbecue experience of my wildest carnivore dreams, directed at the hands of this championship collective of culinary talent, each performing their art in the Santa Maria Style of cooking.

With that said, it is important to understand, what is “Santa Maria Style”?

Simply speaking, it is a regionally-influenced form of live fire cooking centered upon a specific type of grill, specific type of wood, and for the traditionalists in our audience, a very specific cut of beef (tri-tip).

The heavy-duty grills are cast in iron, constructed in an open-lid boxed-shape, and equipped with an elevated hand crank (or wheel) and chain system that raises and lowers the grate in proximity to the fire pit, in effort to control temperature. Lower the grate and impart direct, high heat. Spin the grate upwards and yield indirect, lower temperatures. The wood employed is always red oak, primarily as it is abundant on the west coast, is fairly dense and subsequently yields higher temperatures over a longer period of time as compared to other varieties of wood. And, far from least, the wood imparts a beautifully-subtle essence into cooked foods, both sweet and savory.

In terms of the beef… while we were spoiled with dozens of chimichurri-rubbed @SnakeRiverFarms American Wagyu tri-tip beef steaks over the grill, dozens of dishes throughout the weekend employed the same style of cooking – the Santa Maria style!

To give you a flavor of the meals prepared, take a peek below.

Locally-harvested oysters shucked, simply seasoned, dressed with a beautiful herbed-butter, rested over a bed of sea salt in cast iron, and prepared to perfection over a bed of red oak embers. Paired with skewers of enormous barbecue spice-rubbed pacific prawn. And, all washed down with two handfuls of ice cold Figueroa Mountain IPAs!

Dozens upon dozens of enormous tomahawk steaks. Not to mention the smokers packed to the tilt by @slab with whole briskets, beef short ribs, turkeys and St Louis pork ribs. That’s not even including the showstopper sweet treats prepared by @valerieconfctns over the @biggreenegg.

From forest to fire. And fire to table!!! Freshly-harvested Wild Mountain Quail. Skewered, seasoned simply, then basted with a buttery buffalo sauce and prepared to tender perfection Santa Maria-style over an inferno of live fire and smoky red oak wood. So awesome!!

By the way. Somewhere in the middle of this meat madness we handcrafted dozens of homemade seasoning concoctions, using the most unique herbs and sought-after spices, with great thanks to expertise of @solvangspice. What a special treat to take home and share with friends and family.

Carnivore Heaven!! The finest beef on God’s Green Earth. More than a dozen of the most mouthwatering Newport Farms prime grade cowboy-cut Porterhouse Steaks rubbed in a bold barbecue blend of dried herbs and toasted spices, finished with an herbed-butter baste, and paired with wild mushrooms, roasted garlic, onion and peppers. Then, all washed down with two handfuls of ice cold Firestone Walker lager brews.

Tabasco-herb butter basted Spiny Lobsters – fished only hours before from the cool coastal waters of Santa Barbara, California. Grilled over white hot cast iron and red oak embers in the traditional Santa Maria style. Just phenomenal work by Chef @anthonyendy and his team all weekend. Very grateful to have played a small role in preparing this meal. A beautiful evening amongst family and friends at @alisalguestranch!

If this wasn’t enough, on our final morning, we were greeted at dawn with a warm cup of coffee and a horse-drawn hayride through the rustic, winding trails of the ranch to a remote adobe just beyond the sycamore groves and pristine waters of Lake Alisal. Here we were treated to an intimate final breakfast prepared by Chefs Gordon and Endy. Quite literally, this pork belly-smoked brisket-baked brie bread pudding prepared in the Big Green Egg may have been the most phenomenal thing to have touched my taste buds all weekend. Simplicity. Perfection!

Whether you’re motivated in the New Year to learn the basics of the backyard barbecue, or you’re a well-seasoned master of the pits, this is a must-attend event. And, if your time at Alisal is anything like mine, you’ll not only leave with a full stomach, but an unforgettable experience, and a host of new friends for a lifetime. Take a moment, click below and give my friends a follow. -Cheers and long live the adventure, David

@alisalguestranch, @anthonyendy, @valerieconfctns, @hitchingpost2, @trudys_underground_barbecue, @slab, @pauladisbrowe, @bobswellbread, @whistlepigwhiskey, @figmtnbrewsm, @wagstaffmktg, @robertjacoblerma, @getmica, @yeastieboysbagels, @hitchingpost2, @grillinfoolgreg and @grillinfools.

Cowboy-style Reverse-Seared Tomahawk Pork Chops

I don’t care what time of day. Or day of the week. I’m scarfing these double-thick cowboy-cut, tomahawk duroc pork chops!

Beer brined overnight, then seasoned in a brown sugar, chili and smoked paprika rub, before rolling these “hawks” around their edges in a robust blend of finely ground coffee beans and toasted spices – these two-toned chops are layered in flavor, aesthetically impressive and ready to be laid to flame.

For the perfect result every time, I prepare a multi-zone grilling surface in my Twin Eagles Grill. The far left burner is dialed up to the max, the middle burner is set on mid range and the far right turned down to it’s very lowest setting. The chops were first placed over the coolest, indirect grill grates, intermittently basted, flipped and rotated, slowly elevating to 130F internal temperature. In the final minutes of cooking, these glorious hunks of bone-in pork were moved over the directly heated stainless steel grill grates – charring the exterior of the pork until the internal temperature reached 145F.

After resting for 10 minutes, these steaks were splashed with a fruity olive oil and garnished with an aromatic garden of fresh herbs, then served alongside a platter of root vegetables, an apple-caramelized walnut salad, and two handfuls of crisp, ice cold craft-brewed amber ales.

Life in the great north of wild Michigan doesn’t get much better than this. -Cheers, David

Reverse-Seared Tomahawk Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 4 Bone-in Tomahawk Pork Chops
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sweet and spicy barbecue rub, homemade or pre-made
  • 1 cup regular coffee, finely ground
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 2 tablespoons roasted garlic powder, granulated
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground peppercorn, to taste

Instructions

  • Trim excess fat from steaks, rinse meat in cold water, and pat dry. Brine overnight in a chilled bath of 3:1 water to beer, plus 1 cup salt and 1 cup sugar. Remove tomahawks from brine 2 hours before cooking and rest on counter until near room temperature.
  • Preheat grill using the two-zone method by turning burners to high on one side of the grill while leaving the other side off. Meanwhile, rub the pork in olive oil, season liberally with the BBQ rub, then roll the tomahawk edges in a blend of the coffee grounds, garlic, onion, and pepper. Season additionally, to taste, with kosher salt.
  • Lay the chops over coolest grill grates, bating, rotating and turning intermittently until internal temp registers 130F. Move to hottest, directly heated grill grates and char beautifully, until internal temp has achieved 140F. Remove from the grill, loosely tent with tin foil for 5-10 minutes and allow carry-over energy stored in the steaks to finish the cook – serving temperature at 145F.
  • To plate, carve tomahawks alongside the bone, removing the meat, then slice the steak in 1/2" cuts across the grain and on a bias. Plate the chops atop a bed of charred vegetables and alongside a beautiful fall salad. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.

Notes

Two-Zone Cooking Method: Elementary technique to create one hot searing zone (direct heat) and one cooler smoking zone (indirect heat). This grill arrangement is imperative to cultivating perfectly prepared hunks of steak.
Gas: Turn the right side of the grill to high & leave the left side off. If using a with an odd number of burners, turn the far right side of the grill to high, the middle to medium-low and leave the left side off.
Charcoal: Ignite the charcoal in a chimney starter. When coals are glowing red, dump coals into a pile on one side of the grill floor. Rake a few coals the opposite side of the grill floor, creating one high-stacked hot zone and one cooler zone. For every hour of cooking, add a half-chimney of coals.

Carolina-Style Sausages with Charred Sweet Corn and Tangy Homemade Kale Slaw

As the dog days of summer fade into fun-filled fall weekends, I couldn’t be more excited for the long-awaited arrival of football season! And, whether you’re in the backyard hosting a hard-hitting “homegate” for family and friends, or parked stadium-side throwing down a tailgate fit for a rowdy crowd of the hungriest home team fans, all agree – good games require great spreads!

To kickoff this cookout I’m grilling a grid iron feast alongside my friends from Eckrich Meats, featuring their Original Skinless Smoked Sausage Ropes, because not only are they entirely gluten-free, versatile and easy to cook, but made with the perfect balance of toasty spices and all-natural flavors.

The kettle grill was loaded with a full chimney of lump charcoal, cherry and oak wood, then I charred these sausages to tender, smoky perfection. In the final moments of cooking, each sausage was brushed in one caramelized layer upon another of a sweet and tangy Carolina-style wholegrain golden mustard barbecue sauce. Stuffed in a buttered and toasted artisan brioche bun, then dressed with charred summer corn, pickled shallots, and freshly prepared kale slaw. Plated with two handfuls of crispy salt and vinegar kettle chips and served with a handcrafted, ice cold northern Michigan lager! Life definitely doesn’t get much better than this!

To be the MVP of your next homegate or tailgate, visit www.eckrich.com for this recipe and hundreds more! Also, click here to find where you can buy a variety of Eckrich products locally. -Cheers, David

p.s. I’d love for YOU to win Eckrich’s “Road to the National Championship” Sweepstakes. As the Official Smoked Sausage and Deli Meat of the College Football Playoff, Eckrich is inviting fans to enter for the chance to make a 15-yard throw for $1MM during some of the biggest football games of the season, including the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. Visit www.eckrichfootball.com for details and to enter for a chance to WIN!

RECIPE: Carolina-Style Sausages with Charred Sweet Corn and Tangy Homemade Kale Slaw
6 Eckrich Smoked SausagesHomemade or your favorite store-bought brand of golden barbecue sauce  
2-4 ears sweet corn on the cob, husk removed, par-boiled and seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper
6 artisan-style brioche buns, lightly buttered
10-12 shallots, dicedHomemade or your favorite store-bought kale-based coleslaw

1. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high heat. If cooking with charcoal, ignite a full chimney of briquettes  – when coals are glowing and just ashed over, dump into a pile on the bottom of the grill floor and spread out evenly. Allow the grill grates to warm for 10-15 minutes prior to cooking.
2. Lay the sausages evenly across the grill grate. With the grill lid open, char on all sides until just cooked through. In the final minutes of grilling, caramelize layer upon sweet and tangy layer of barbecue sauce over the sausages. Remove sausages from heat and set aside to cool.
3. Simultaneously, grill the par-boiled and seasoned sweet corn on all sides, rotating intermittently, until charred evenly on all sides. Set aside to cool. Then, carve the kernels from the cob and fold into the prepared coleslaw.
4. Lightly grill the brioche buns directly on the grill grates, 30-60 seconds per side.
5. Load the sausages into the buns, dress with additional barbecue sauce, shallots and coleslaw. Plate alongside your favorite flavor of fried kettle chips and serve!

Charcoal-Rubbed Rack of Lamb with Parsley Chimichurri

After a long, hard winter, the first spring weekend in Michigan has arrived and it’s all the reason I need to get outside and fire up the barbecue! Sunshine, blue skies and the essence of smoky hardwoods in the air – outdoor cooking season has formally arrived. And, what better way to open up our backyard kitchen, then by throwing down a grate full of gorgeous Australian grassfed racks of lamb.

These beautiful hunks of lamb were frenched across the bones and scored in cross-hatch fashion through the trimmed fat cap. The lamb was then rested at room temperature for 2 hours, then seasoned in a homemade activated charcoal-coffee-garlic rub – yielding an incredible, rustic presentation, layers of brilliant texture and a unique flavor profile complimenting the mildness of the grassfed lamb.

With the grill lid open, the racks were positioned, fat cap-side down, directly over a thick bed of glowing charcoal and smoky hardwoods, searing and encrusting the exterior of the lamb for 4-6 minutes. Once encrusted, the racks were flipped bone-side down and positioned to the cooler, indirectly heated portion of the grill with the bones situated away from the heat source. Over the next 10-15 minutes, the lamb was basted in olive oil and slowly prepared to sweet, tender perfection.

Carved into chops, garnished with an aromatic parsley chimichurri and a birchwood-smoked fleur de sel, then plated for a crowd and served with two handfuls of ice cold Pure Michigan lagers! -Cheers and long live the adventure, David

For more great Simply Spring Recipes visit, True Aussie Beef and Lamb

Charcoal-Rubbed Australian Grassfed Rack of Lamb with Parsley Chimichurri

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 racks Australian grassfed lamb, frenched and trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional to baste
  • 4 tablespoons activated charcoal powder
  • 2 teaspoons black sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorn
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee beans, unflavored
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Fleur de sel, to garnish
  • Homemade or store-bought parsley chimichurri, to garnish

Instructions

  • Remove lamb from refrigeration up to two hours prior to grilling and rest on the counter, elevating to near room temperature. 30 minutes before laying lamb to flame, preheat grill to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, score the fat cap in crosshatch-fashion, brush entirety of the rack with olive oil, then generously season with charcoal, salt and pepper, coffee and garlic powder. 
  • Position lamb fat-side down over direct heat and with the grill lid open sear until nicely charred. Flip rack to bone-side down and move lamb over to indirectly heated portion of the grill. Close the grill lid and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes, basting intermittently with olive oil, until internal temperature reads 125-130F. Remove lamb from heat, transfer to a cutting board and rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.
  • Slice the racks into individual chops and dress with parsley chimichurri. Plate for a crowd alongside and serve with an ice cold lager.