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Smoked Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa Verde

Smoked Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa Verde

Smoked Chicken

When I think of an exciting dinner, chicken is not usually the first thing to pop into my head.  I typically think of chicken as boring and uninspired.  Probably because growing up, I had chicken breast for dinner several times a week.  But chicken doesn’t have to be boring.  It’s a great protein and there are so many things you can do with it to make it something that you actually crave.  In the summer,  I love to grill whole chickens.  My favorite way to do it is by flattening it, and giving it a flavorful spice rub.  It’s also fun to make beer can chicken on the Grill.

Smoked LA

Smoking chicken is something that I’ve been wanting to try for a while now and since I’ve got my Traeger, I can make it whenever I want!  Smoking is actually a really simple way to prepare chicken.  It takes a bit longer than just grilling it, but I love the smoky flavor you get by cooking it low and slow.  If you’re anything like me, you probably agree that the best part of grilling chicken is the crispy skin.  If you just smoke the chicken over low heat, you won’t really get a crispy skin, but by cranking up the Traeger to high, you can get a super crispy skin, just take a look at these pictures!

Smoked Chicken

One of the biggest issues people tend to have when cooking chicken is drying it out.  I have a few tips to ensure you end up with a juicy bird.  Firstly, brine the chicken.  You can either do a wet brine or a dry brine.  I tend to prefer dry brining my chicken.  This basically consists of rubbing the chicken with salt and allowing it to rest in the fridge.  It’s that simple.  And if you are following this recipe and making a dry rub, you can put the whole rub on which will essentially act as a brine because of the salt content in it.

Smoked Chicken

The second tip I have is to use a meat thermometer.  Chicken is very susceptible to drying out so you don’t want to cook it past 165°F.  There is no shame in checking the temperature periodically.  It’s not going to let any juices out and it is definitely better than dry chicken.  I swear by the Thermapen when I need a thermometer.  Another thing to keep in mind is that when cooking chicken on the bone, it tends to stay juicer so whenever you can, cook it on the bone.

Traeger Grill

The dry rub I used for this recipe has a quite a few ingredients in it, but the exact recipe isn’t that important.  You can use any dry rub you want or even just stick with salt and pepper.  A lot of the delicious flavor in this recipe comes from the salsa verde anyway.  The rub will also give you some extra, which you can store for later use.  I like to make big batches of dry rubs so I have them on hand at all times.

Salsa Verde

I love vibrant green sauces like these.  Whether it’s a pesto, chimichurri, or salsa verde, there are so many delicious sauce that you can quickly whip up with some fresh herbs, olive oil, and a few simple  ingredients.  They really take a standard meal to the next level.  The sauce will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge and goes great on fish, steak, or even sandwiches.

I cooked this chicken on my Traeger, but you could also use indirect/direct heat on a charcoal grill if you don’t have one.

Smoked Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa Verde

Ingredients

  • 8 quartered chicken pieces (legs or breasts)
For the Rub
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup ground coffee
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp crushed chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, cracked with mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, cracked with mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, cracked with mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds cracked with mortar and pestle or spice grinder
For the Salsa Verde
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 3 jalapeños, seeds removed
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

To make the rub, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Cover, and set aside until ready to use.  Place the chicken on a baking sheet or wire rack and fully coat in the dry rub.  Use your hands to really coat the chicken ensuring you get in all the crevices and under the skin if possible.  Place the chicken in the fridge uncovered for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

While the chicken is doing its thing in the fridge, make the salsa verde.  Start by removing the seeds from the Jalapeños and then placing the seeded jalapeños in a food processor along with the garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Pulse together until very finely chopped into an almost paste like consistency.  Add in the Cilantro and Parsley and continue to pulse until roughly chopped.  While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until smooth and your desired consistency is reached.  Squeeze in the lemon along with its zest and season to taste with salt and pepper and then transfer to bowl.  Store in fridge and then take it out while your chicken is cooking.

Take the chicken out of the fridge about 45 minutes before you want to cook it.  To cook the chicken, start your Traeger on smoke with the lid open until the flame starts, about 5 minutes.  Close lid and set to 225°F allowing it to preheat for 15 minutes.  Place the chicken on the grill, skin side up and allow it to cook for about an hour and half to 2 hours or until the chicken reaches 155°F.  At this point, remove the chicken to a tray, and then crank up the grill to 450°F.  Allow it to preheat for another 15 minutes and then place the chicken back on, skin side up.  Close the grill and allow the chicken to finish cooking until an internal temperature of 165°F and then remove.  Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Slather the chicken with the jalapeño salsa verde to serve.

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Classic Cheeseburgers With Special Sauce

As you probably know, burgers are one of my favorite things to make, but more importantly, they  are one of my favorite things to eat.  I like to think that I’ve developed some pretty good burger making skills over the years through a lot of trial and error.  If anyone wants to be a taste tester, let me know.

Cheeseburger

A good cheeseburger is super simple, yet there are a lot of variables that can have a huge impact on the final product.  The type of meat you use, the way you form the patties, what type of pan you use, the bun, the cheese, and the toppings are all things that will effect the final burger.  You can check out my burger tips but I will reiterate some of them here as well.

I always use freshly ground meat when making burgers.   You don’t have to but if it’s available to you, I’d definitely recommend it.  I also use chuck with at least an 80/20 lean to fat ratio.  I’ve played around with other cuts and combinations of cuts and I personally enjoy pure chuck the best.  Something that’s important to keep in mind when forming patties is to be as gentle with the meat as you can.  I like to gently form the meat into balls and then compress it using my hands.  You don’t want to start messing around with it too much, it can result in a dry burger.  Also never add anything to the meat.  You don’t need an egg, you don’t need any spices, and you definitely don’t need any bread crumbs.  We are making burgers, not meatloaf.

Special Sauce

One of the often overlooked components of a burger is the sauce.  I often see people just putting ketchup and mustard on their burgers, and while there is nothing wrong with that, I prefer to use a “special sauce” or a “secret sauce”.    It’s that flavor that leaves you wanting more and what makes takeout burgers so good.  If you want to achieve that takeout feel at home, I’d say special sauce is a key component.  I’m going to share the recipe for the special sauce that I basically use on all of my burgers.  It’s something that I always have at least a bottle of sitting in the fridge.

Special Sauce

You don’t need any special equipment to make the sauce, but I like to run it in a food processor so it can smoothly come out of a squeeze bottle.  For this recipe, HomeSense has provided me with a Cuisinart food processor to help spread the word about the Privé event they have going on from March 23-29.  The event focuses on perfectly priced brand name small appliances and is available in select stores.  More information on HomeSense Privé can be found here.  If you are interested in the Privé, keep in mind that there is limited quantity and the best stock will be available on the 23rd.

Cheeseburger

If you don’t care about being able to use a squeeze bottle for the sauce, you can just mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  I’m telling you though, once you try this sauce, you are going to want to keep it stocked at all times.  The recipe makes just over 1 cup so if you want to make more or less of it, just double or half the recipe.  The sauce also will keep for a long time if you are using relatively new ingredients.  There is nothing in it that really goes bad, just be sure to note the expiry date of the ingredients if you plan to store it.

Whether you are new to making burgers at home, or have been struggling with achieving results you are happy with, if you follow my burger recipe, I can almost guarantee that you will be making drool-worthy cheeseburgers in no time!

Cheeseburger

Ingredients

For the Burgers
  • 2 lb Ground Chuck
  • 8 slices American Cheese
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper
  • 4 buns (potato or brioche)
  • Butter for searing
For the Special Sauce
  • 1 cup Mayo
  • 2 tbsp relish
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method

To make the special sauce, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Alternatively, mix all the ingredients together in bowl.  Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

To make the burgers, start by pre-heating a large cast iron skillet over high heat.  While the pan is heating, divide the meat into 8 3.5 oz portions.  There will be leftover so you can make an additional patty or freeze for making sauces or chilis.  Gently shape the portions into balls and then flatten to about 1/4″ thick patties.  Season one side of the patties generously with slat and pepper.

Meanwhile, set another pan over medium heat and melt in enough butter to very lightly coat the pan.  Toast all the buns cut side down until golden brown and then flip them over to toast the not cut ends.  Toasting both sides helps gives the buns a bit more stability.  Remove buns and place them on a workstation or plates where you will build the burgers.

Melt a good amount of butter into your pre-heated cast iron skillet. You want to make sure it’s really hot.  The goal is to get a good crust on the outside but leave the inside juicy. It’s going to be smokey so make sure your fan is on and fire alarms are at a safe distance. Place the burgers in the pan seasoned side down and then season the other side with salt and pepper.  Sear for 1.5 minutes and then flip.  Place the cheese on after the flip and sear for an additional minute.  Remove burgers and place on tray.

To build the burgers, squeeze or spread a good amount of sauce on both the top and bottom bun and place 2 patties on each bun.  If desired, add sliced pickles, shredded lettuce, onions, and tomatoes.

 

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