Sunday, November 29, 2015

Habanero Peach Hot Sauce

This past Spring, I gave a good friend of mine some the Red Habenero seedlings I started. He planted them and gave him a bumper crop of red habeneros. He found this recipe online and modified it a bit and came up with a very good hot sauce recipe. Here it is:

      7 Red or Gold Habanero peppers
      1 (15.5 ounce) can sliced peaches in heavy syrup
      1/2 1/4 cup dark molasses
      1/2 cup yellow mustard
      1/2 3/4 cup light brown sugar
      1 cup distilled white vinegar
      2 tablespoons salt
      2 tablespoons paprika
      1 tablespoon black pepper
      1 tablespoon ground cumin
      1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
      1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  1. De-seed and chop the peppers. If you want more heat, leave the pith and seeds, if you want less, leave them out. Note, these are pretty hot peppers, so there is plenty of heat when you just use the flesh. If your peppers are particularly hot, use fewer peppers, if they are somewhat mild, use more.
  2. Put the peppers, peaches (including syrup), molasses, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar into a blender and blend until very smooth.
  3. Add salt and spices and blend until combined.
  4. Pour mixture into a non-reactive saucepan and place on medium heat until the hot sauce is just simmering.
  5. Barely simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust spices if needed.
  6. Prepare 1 pint or smaller canning jars and lids or hot sauce bottles (follow manufacturer's directions on how to prepare and use those type bottles) by sterilizing them in boiling water.
  7. Fill jars with nearly boiling hot sauce, wipe jar lips with clear cloth dipped in white vinegar, place lids on jars just finger tight.
  8. Put jars in boiling water bath covering the tops by at least 1 inch.
  9. Process according to the size of the container, pints for 10 minutes and less time for smaller containers.
  10. Allow to cool in water for 10 minutes, then remove to a cool until the lids pop. If any lids do not pop, just put those in the fridge and keep cool. Note, the sauce bottle tops will not pop . Refrigerate containers after they are opened.   

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grilled Romaine

About a year ago we were introduced to this delicious salad by our lovely daughter, Carlisle. The basics are very simple and can be done over charcoal or a gas grill or even on a grill pan inside. Here is the basic recipe and directions. If you want to make a meal of it, add thin cut steak draped over the 1/2 romaine heads and mix up a horseradish ceaser dressing to go with it:

      2 Whole Romaine Hearts
      Olive oil
      Kosher salt
      Freshly ground black pepper
      12 cherry tomatoes
      1/4 c. red onion sliced very thinly
      1/4 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
      1/2 c. Ceaser Dressing


  1. Take each of the hearts of romaine and slice off the very end of the stem to remove any dark part, but being careful to not loosen any leaves. Slice the heads in half long wise. Rinse each under water and then set on towels to drain and dry.
  2. Using a large bowl, place the 4 1/2 heads with the cut side up and drizzle them with some oilive oil and season them with a good sprinkle of the salt and pepper. Toss them around in the bowl to spread out the oil and distribute the seasoning and pepper a bit. Let sit until it is time to grill them. 
  3. The grilling goes very quickly, so wait to grill the romaine until the last minute.
  4. Place the heads on a hot grill with the cut side down. Grill about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the heads are just marked by the heat. Turn over and grill the back side for 30 seconds more.
  5. Remove the heads onto a platter and distribute the cheese, tomatoes and onions on top, then drizzle with the Ceaser dressing and serve immediately.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken

I love chicken. It is such a great basis for so many dishes. It can be the star all by itself, or as a key ingredient in a casserole, stir fry or even making an appearance as broth. If you want to cook a whole chicken and you really do not have the time required to roast it whole, spatchcocking it is a great solution. The first references to "spatchcocking" appear in 18th-century Irish cookbooks. It is a way to flatten a whole chicken so it can be grilled or roasted over direct heat quickly. It results in an exceptionally moist and juicy chicken and it is really easy to do:

      1 4-6 lb Whole Chicken
      3-4 Tbs Uncle Matt's Poultry and Fish Rub or Other quality Poultry Rub

      Sturdy poultry shears
      Sharp boning knife
      Cutting board and anti-slip mat or wet dish towel
      Instant read thermometer (Thermapen)


  1. Place the cutting board on the anti slip mat or wet dish cloth. This will keep it from slipping around while you cut the chicken.
  2. Rinse and pat dry the chicken; place on the secured cutting board breast side down with the tail toward you and the neck away from you.
  3. Using poultry shears or sharp boning knife cut from the right side of the tail all the way to the neck opening keeping just to the right of the back bone.
  4. Use the shears again to cut along the left side of the tail to the neck opening and just to the left of the back bone. When you are done, you will have removed the backbone of the chicken. Discard it or save it to use for making stock.
  5. Flatten the chicken out with the skin side down. Clean up the inside of the chicken with paper towels.
  6. Using the boning knife, cut a slit behind the keel bone (which is in the center of the chicken breast) so that you can remove it.
  7. Take the chicken and press on the keel bone out from the skin side of the chicken and pop it out of the bone side. This takes a little doing but it should pop out with some pressure and working your fingers around the bone using the slit you cut previously. Use the knife sparingly if you need to so you do not tear up the breast meat. I usually also remove the keel cartilage as well. If you have a small chicken you can leave these bones in.
  8. Fold the wings under themselves so that they are not flapping around.
  9. Optional Step: Take the boning knife and make a small slit in the skin between the leg and the tail area. Push the end of the leg through the slit to hold it in place. 
  10. Pat the chicken dry again and liberally apply rub to the bone side of the chicken. Place chicken in a container with skin side up and apply some rub to the top as well. If you can, leave it in the refrigerator for a few hours. The dryer the skin is when you cook it, the crispier it will be when it is done.
  11. Fix up your covered grill so that is running about 375. Place the chicken, bone side down, on the grill. Cover and grill for about 1 hour. 
  12. When nearly done, check the temperature of the breast and thighs with a good instant read thermometer, like a Thermapen. The breast should be 165 and the thighs 175.
  13. Remove from grill, let sit, loosely covered, on a clean cutting board for at least 5 minutes and then serve.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Spicy Blackeye Peas

I was looking for dry Blackeye Peas in the store yesterday and it appeared that they were sold out so I picked up a bag of pinto beans, resigned to ring-in the new year with those instead of the traditional Blackeyes. I headed over to the meat section to find smoked ham hocks or something else with which to cook the pintos, and I stumbled onto a stash of dry Blackeye Peas bags. I ditched the pintos and grabbed a bag. They were the economy brand at Farm Fresh, "Essential Everyday". I took a look at the back of the bag and there was a recipe for spicy blackeye peas that looked pretty solid. I prepared the recipe with a few changes, and they were delicious. If you are sensitive to heat, use 1/2 the amount of jalapenos and creole seasoning. Here is how I made mine and would be a better starting place than the recipe on the back of the bag.

Happy 2014 Y'all!


      1/2 lb bacon, chopped
      1 c. Onion, diced
      1 c. Green Bell Pepper, diced
      1 c. Red Bell Pepper, diced
      1 c. Celery, diced
      1 c. Carrot, diced
      3 cloves Garlic, finely minced
      1 lb Blackeye Peas, soaked, rinsed and drained
      1 14.5 oz. can Diced Tomatoes, undrained
      1 4 oz. can Diced Jalapenos
      1 T. Creole Seasoning (Tony Chachere's)

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium high heat, saute bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside to use as a garnish.
2. Add onion, green and red bell peppers, celery and carrots and saute until onions are softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and saute about a minute more, be careful to not burn the garlic.
3. Add soaked peas, undrained tomatoes, jalapenos and the Creole seasoning, stir. Add enough water to just cover the peas and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat and simmer, covered about 1 1/2 hours or until peas are tender. Add additional water if needed during cooking. Serve over rice and with the reserved bacon as a garnish, if desired.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Uncle Matt's Poultry and Fish Rub

This is a great rub for poultry and fish, but it is particularly good for chicken cooked on the grill or in the oven.

Place the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a wire whisk. Sift the mixture to insure an even mixing and to remove any lumps or large pieces. Check out Penzy's for high quality spices and mixes.

1 cup Turbinado Sugar
1/2 cup Onion Salt *
1/2 cup Garlic Salt *
1/2 cup Smoked or normal Paprika
2 tablespoons Chili Powder
2 tablespoons Poultry Seasoning
1 tablespoon Black pepper, ground **
1 tablespoon Coriander, ground **
1 tablespoon Dried Cayenne Pepper, ground **
1 tablespoon Thyme, ground **
1 tablespoon Marjoram, ground **
1 tablespoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 tablespoon ground Bay Leaves, ground **
1/4 teaspoon Dried Habenero, ground **
1/4 teaspoon Citric Acid (optional)

*  If you can not get these salts, just use a 3 to 1 salt to dried spice ratio (3/8 cup salt and 1/8 cup dried spice). Try to use non-iodine salt so the rub will not discolor the meat.

** Best results are achieved when you start with whole spices and grind them yourself, but pre-ground spices will work as well.