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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Grilled Chicken Wing Dip

Super Bowl Sunday was upon us and I was feeling a little indifferent to the whole event.  Our Steelers "spit the bit" as they are prone to do from time to time and we really didn't have a horse in the race.  I wasn't rooting for the Eagles.  More like, I was rooting against Darth Belichick and the evil empire known as the Patriots.  I needed something to get me into the game.  So, instead of the usual spread, I focused on preparing some dips for the evening.  I had a hankering for some buffalo chicken dip, but I was looking for something other than the usual canned chicken, cream cheese, raw Texas Pete all mixed up kinda thing.  So, as I am prone to do, I did a little experimenting.  Off to the kitchen we go.


Chicken Wings.  Ultimately, I used 6.
Adobo Seasoning with Pepper

For the Wing Sauce:

2/3 cup Texas Pete
1/3 cup butter
3 cloves of garlic minced

For the Base:

1, 8 oz pack of cream cheese, softened
8 oz of sour cream
2 tbsp of ranch dressing

The Rest:

2 ribs of celery, finely diced
1/4 cup of carrot sticks, roughly diced
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese plus more for topping
Bleu Cheese crumbles for topping

The night before, I seasoned both sides of my wings with the Adobo seasoning, layered them in a pan, and placed them in the fridge to dry brine.

 Dry brining removes the moisture from the skin, promoting crispiness when cooked.  More on that in my next post.

The next day, I fired up my grill to cook the wings.  While the charcoal was getting ready, I prepared my sauce, the dip base, and the veggies.

For the sauce, I melted the 1/3 cup of butter and lightly sautéed my garlic.  Then I added the Texas Pete and let simmer for about 10 minutes to slightly reduce the sauce.  When reduced, I removed the sauce from the heat and set aside for use later.

Next, I took the softened cream cheese and incorporated the sour cream, ranch dressing, and the wing sauce using my hand held mixer until the mixture was smooth.

When the grill was ready, I placed the charcoal off to one side for indirect grilling.  I placed the chicken on the grill and covered with the lid, vents wide open.  Every five minutes I came out and rearranged the wings so those that were close to the fire did not burn.  I continued this process for about 40 minutes until the skin was crispy and the meat was cooked.

 After removing the wings from the grill, I brought them inside and let them cool down for 15 minutes.  Then, I pulled meat from the bones and roughly minced until I had two cups of meat.  This amounted to six whole wings, deboned.  I also included some of the skin as it was nice and crispy.

Next, I took the meat, diced veggies and 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella and folded into the cream cheese mixture.

Then, after spreading into a 8 inch pie pan, I topped with mozzarella cheese and bleu cheese crumbles.  

Finally, I baked in a 350 F oven for 30-40 minutes when the mixture was melted and the cheese on top was brown and bubbly.  

Then, I served hot with tortilla chips and crackers for dipping.  The dip was everything I was looking for.  The grilled wing flavor came through very well.  All of the flavors mixed well.  The celery and carrot were tender crisp and not over cooked.  The next time around, I am going to add a little more wing sauce and perhaps a little more ranch dressing.  I will be making this dip again.

Thanks for stopping by...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Checking out this Sous Vide Thing...

Hello everyone.  We are back.  New year, new computer that works in real time.  Time to get caught up.  While we were away, we were cooking and experimenting.  One technique that we tried was Sous Vide on a nice, thick bone in ribeye that I picked up at Costco over the holiday season.  

I had been wanting to try this cooking technique, but was hesitant to pull the trigger on a piece of equipment cost over $100 dollars without knowing how the process worked or if it was worth the money.  Then, I remembered that The Oldest had cooked a Sous Vide venison back strap a few years ago using the hillbilly Sous Vide method.  Hillbilly Sous Vide you say?  Yep, one Igloo cooler and a tea kettle of hot water.

First, I lightly coated my steak with some olive oil and lightly seasoned with kosher salt, cracked pepper, and granulated garlic.  The steak was then vacuum packed and placed in the cooler below. 

Next, I filled up a tea kettle with water and heated it to a temperature of 150 F.  To properly submerge my steak, it took about two tea kettles of water.  Once the steak was swimming in its whirlpool, I closed the lid and walked away.  Every 30 minutes or so I added more hot water to keep the temperature around 150 F.  I allowed the steak to "cook" in the water bath for about 3 hours.  Here is what the steak looked like after its spa treatment.

I had to admit, I was a little worried.  The meat looked like boiled steak.  But, I had my trusty grill heated up with a roaring fire.  

I placed the steak over the coals and cooked for four minutes a side.  Then I brought the steak inside, allowed the meat to rest for 5 minutes, then I cut it in half.

I am sold.  This steak two and a half inch monster was perfectly cooked.  Rare in the middle with the perfect crust on the outside.  I think it is time to spring for a Sous Vide gadget and start experimenting more.   

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Oinktoberfest 2017

Last weekend, the Three Dogs roadshow pack up and headed to Clarence, NY for our final contest of 2017, Oinktoberfest.  This was one final chance for a good showing in an already successful 2017.  This was our first time back to the Oink after a two year layoff.  Traditionally, the weather here has either been rainy, cold, or cold and rainy.  This weekend was very strange in the weather category.  Hot, sunny, and humid.  Not your standard weather for Western NY in late September.

I am happy to say that the weekend was a success.  For the first time, we won the chicken category and placed 6th in ribs, 7th in pork, and 18th in brisket for an 6th place overall.

Congrats to Shortsville Smokers our GC and to Smokin Boys and Hot Grills, our RGC.

That is it for our 2017 season.  Thanks to Royal Oak Charcoal for keeping the smoke rolling.

Stay tuned for a more comprehensive season review in the coming weeks.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Mid-Summer Review

July and August saw our usual competition slowdown.  July saw Three Dogs head up to Old Forge, New York  to compete in The Great Adirondack BBQ Festival.  In August, we made our yearly trek to the Hudson Valley area for the Hudson Valley Ribfest.

The Great Adirondack BBQ Festival, Old Forge, NY

This was an addition to the schedule for 2017.  We usually have a two month lay off between our last June contest and Hudson Valley.  But, we wanted to stay sharp and started to look for a July comp to do so.  This competition fit the description.  Old Forge is a great mountain town about halfway between Utica and Lake Placid.  It is a great place for a competition, other than keeping on the lookout for the occasional bear.  Martie, our at the time 7 week old Springador puppy, made her debut there.

We had the typical Three Dogs, Three Meat Cook.  8th in chicken, 7th in ribs, 11th in brisket, and a deserved 27th in pork (ouch), added up to a 13th overall.  I tell you, if competitions were three meats we would be rivaling Myron Mixon  for most GC ever.  Just kidding, but we would have at least one. But, champions seal the deal and we just haven't been able to put great product out for all four categories yet.  No excuses.

Overall, Old Forge is a great contest.  Beautiful scenery, cool weather in July, big payouts if you are lucky enough to walk top five, and the area is littered with lots of great little pubs.

I believe that Old Forge will be a regular in the Three Dogs rotation for years to come.

Hudson Valley Ribfest, New Paltz, New York.

Hudson Valley is an odd duck of a contest.  Generally, you stay in your extended area for BBQ competitions.  You know what judges like, why tempt fate?  Hudson Valley, due to its proximity, pulls teams from New England, Western NY, and the Mid-Atlantic.  It also pulls judges from all three areas.  Good teams always rise to the top, but this convergence of different regions does add an X factor to the competition.  Results are always interesting.  

It all started here for Three Dogs back in 2011.  At our first contest here, we got a walk and a check for the pizza turn in.  Hope fell in love with BBQ at that point and the rest is history.  We followed that up with a chicken wing walk the next year and our first KCBS call in 2013.  This is the only contest we have attended every year since we started competing and we always will.  The ribfest has grown a lot over the years, adding country concerts and lots of vendors.  We have fun, but this contest has never been kind to us.  Perhaps this would be the year.

Friday was load in day and we were one of the first to arrive.  That gave us the opportunity to enjoy the oppressive humidity, constant rain, and the black flies and mosquitoes.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Mental note, five tiki torches do keep the flies and bugs away.  They also stay lit in driving rain.  Bonus...

Saturday dawned and we sauntered over the Mort's Meat Mafia to assist with the NEBS grilling.  I made our pulled pork pizza for Mort and Jeff.  Yes, this was the pizza that gave us our first walk in competitive BBQ and has yet to disappoint.  Mort took a 6th with this pizza, along with a 10th in steak, and a 9th in apple dessert for 19th overall.  We won't talk about the wrapped in bacon turn in...

Afterward, we strolled back over to our site and prepped for the KCBS cook.  Still oppressively humid, but there was a slight breeze and a front was moving in later that night.  Perhaps it would cool off a bit.

When Sunday dawned, it was noticeably cooler and less humid, good cooking weather.  Everything made it in on time and all we could do was wait for what I fondly call The Reckoning.  Now, I thought we had a good cook.  I didn't say that out loud because generally that means the judges will tear you apart.  Yes, I am superstitious like that.  Well, for once my hunch was right.  4th in ribs and our first category win with a 1st in pork added up to a 5th place overall out of 59 tough teams from all along the East Coast.

Next up, our final competition of the year, Oinktoberfest in Clarence, NY.  Stop by and say hi.  Hope to see you there.

Thanks for stopping by,