Saturday, July 30, 2016

Baked Korean Chicken Wings

I'm not a fan of fried foods. The three primary reasons are: they are not healthy; cooking them is messy as hell; and it is a very tedious process to fry food in small batches so that you maintain an oil temp of 350º. So if given the option, I'll take baking over frying every day of the week.

Besides being a whole lot less work, these wings end up being every bit as crispy as fried because they are twice-baked....first at 250º and then at 425º. Then they are tumbled in a special sauce that contains one of my very favorite ingredients, Gochujang Sauce.

Gochujang Sauce is a staple of Korean cooking . It is made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. The ingredients are combined in large earthen pots and then set outside to ferment in the sun. It is found in the Asian section of your grocery store and also at If you're lucky, you'll get Sunchang Gochujang. Sunchang County in Korea is famous for their sauce.

This Nicky Corbishley recipe is ideal for yields about 45 chicken wings. If you're serving it up as a dinner item for your family, you'll want to adjust the recipe. When I make this recipe as a dinner, I serve it with sticky rice. The rice is a nice, neutral complement to the heat of the wings.


For the Wings
4 pounds chicken wings
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Sauce
3 tablespoons  Gochujang Sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 small bunch of scallions, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 250º  and place a metal rack on a large baking tray. Cut each wing at the joint so you have a mini wing and a drumette.
  2. Dry the wings with paper towels, then place in a large bowl and add the baking powder, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  3. Place the wings and drumettes in a single layer on the rack, skin side up. It’s fine for them to be touching. Place on the lower shelf of the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, turn the oven up to 425º,  rotate the tray and place on a higher shelf in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the wings are golden and crispy. Take out of the oven to cool slightly.
  5. Place all of the sauce ingredients into a saucepan, stir and bring to a boil. Allow to bubble for 5-10 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly (it will thicken more as it cools). Turn off the heat.
  6. Place the wings in a large bowl and very carefully pour over half of the sticky sauce (be careful, it will be VERY hot). Toss to combine, then serve topped with sesame seeds, chopped spring onions and the rest of the sauce for dipping.

Pairing: A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would go well with this recipe. But since it is packing Gochujang heat, I would opt for The Premier OB Pilsner from South Korea.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Shredded Beef

I absolutely love fajitas. Spicy beef with mounds of fresh veggies in a soft flour tortilla. And I particularly like this Jack Grimsby III recipe because you use your slow cooker to create that delicious Barbacoa beef. It's as basic as: brown the meat...dump the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker...and walk away. Come back in 8 hours and dive in.

1 beef chuck roast (3 pounds), cut into 8 chunks
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 bay leaves


  1. Season beef chunks with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown beef in batches...about 1 minute per side. Transfer browned beef to slow cooker.
  3. Add all other ingredients to slow cooker. Stir to mix thoroughly.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Discard bay leaves. Then remove beef to a bowl and shred with 2 forks. Return shredded beef to slow cooker to marinate in the sauce for 10 minutes before serving.

Pairing: If I'm eating Mexican, I'm washing it down with my very favorite pilsner, which just happens to be Mexican, too. Thanks, John!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Kitchen Sink Hash Browns

Hash browns are one of my very favorite side dishes. They go great with steak, pork chops and smoked baby back ribs. And while I certainly love them fried up plain in butter, there's nothing more mouth watering to me than my own Kitchen Sink Hash Browns. I like to throw the whole pantry in there.

Now you can make your hash browns from scratch with a potato, but I opt for a much easier (if not just plain lazy) approach. If I'm making hash browns for company, I usually buy Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns. They are fresh and you'll find them in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. The bag contains 20 ounces, which is perfect for four generous servings.

The good news is that Simply Potatoes are fresh. The bad news is that they have a very limited shelf life. So I always keep Golden Grill Hash Browns in my pantry. Costco sells them as an 8-pack for $9.00. They are fully cooked and dehydrated. Each carton is 4.2 ounces.

All you do is open the carton up and fill it with really hot tap water. Close the carton back up and let it stand for 12 minutes. Then drain and you are good to go. When rehydrated, you get approximately 16 ounces of hash browns per carton (good for four medium servings). These have a shelf-life of like forever, so anytime I get a hankering for hash browns I can just reach in and grab a carton.

The primary ingredients of Kitchen Sink Hash Browns, besides the potatoes, are minced onion, bell peppers, garlic and bacon. I buy the onion, peppers and garlic in bulk from Amazon. They are all dried product and I find the butter in my recipe does a great job of re-hydrating them. I get my bacon crumbles from Costco. A 20-ounce bag goes for $10.00. While you can make the recipe from fresh ingredients, I find it is much less work with these shelf-stable products. To put a nice sear on my hash browns, I cook them in a cast iron pan.

1/2 stick of butter
20 ounces of shredded potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried bell pepper
2 tablespoons bacon crumbles
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cracked pepper


  1. In a small pan, melt the half stick of butter. Keep warm.
  2. In a large pan or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter foams.
  3. Add potatoes, onion, garlic, bell pepper, bacon, seasoned salt and pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly and then press the mixture down with the back of a spatula to form a cake. Cook without stirring for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, add melted butter and then flip potatoes with a spatula. Press into a cake again and cook for 10 more minutes, then serve.

Wine pairing: If I'm serving my hash browns with a steak, I'd choose a Cabernet Sauvignon. If I'm serving them with smoked ribs, I'd go with a Zinfandel.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Grilled Thai Chicken Thighs

This has been a great summer for grilling. I've been going through about ten pounds of lump hardwood charcoal every week. My charcoal of choice has been Green Egg (even though I cook on a Weber). The Green Egg Lump Charcoal is actually made by Royal Oak.

Royal Oak sets aside it's very best charcoal for Green Egg. There are big meaty chunks of charcoal in the bag. There is hardly any dust or small fragments like you find in most hardwood charcoals. When I buy it at my local hardware store (Jerry's Hardware), it comes packaged in two, ten pound bags. That makes it incredibly easy to fill a chimney....I find the twenty pound bags too unwieldy.

I prefer lump charcoal over charcoal briquettes for three reasons. First, I think the food just tastes better when cooked over pure charcoal. Second, lump charcoal burns a lot hotter than briquettes. And finally, it burns very clean with very little ash. I can go weeks without having to empty my ash catcher. Using briquettes, I had to empty the ash catcher once a week or more.

So if you have a charcoal grill, take a test run with Green Egg Hardwood Charcoal and try out this delicious recipe for Grilled Thai Chicken Thighs. This recipe serves six.

12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 Thai chiles, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
 2 tablespoons brown sugar


  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the chicken, into a bowl. Stir well.
  2. Place the chicken thighs in a large ziplock bag and pour the marinade into the bag. Seal bag and toss to mix. Put bag in refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours.
  3. Prepare your grill for direct and indirect cooking. To achieve this,  all of the coals should be under half of the grill while the other half has no coals.
  4. Remove thighs from bag and use paper towels to wipe off marinade.
  5. Sear the chicken thighs over the coals for 3 minutes. Then flip thighs over and sear for another 3 minutes.
  6. Move the thighs to the indirect side of the grill (no coals underneath). Cover grill and let thighs cook for 40 minutes.
  7. Remove thighs from grill. Tent with foil and let them rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cucumber Salad

A simple cucumber salad is one of the greatest delights of summer. It's light, crisp and tart and pairs perfectly with just about anything you decide to cook or grill. And it only takes about five minutes to throw it together.

While certainly any cucumber will do, I would strongly encourage you to use English cucumbers. They are firmer than the regular cucumbers you find in your grocery store and therefore need no prep.

Regular cukes need to be cut in half first and the seeds scraped out with a spoon. So why not save the labor and choose the better cucumber for this recipe? That's what I do.

The cucumber slices need to be thin. So your options are: by hand with a knife; by automation with a food processor; or my personal favorite, a mandoline. I find with the latter, I can slice all three cucumbers in less than a minute.

This is a great salad to serve with bbq or grilled meat because it is so light and refreshing. But one of my favorite ways to serve it is turning it into an entree. Again, the simplicity of the salad is what's key. I make the salad per the recipe and then top it with lump crab meat from my favorite store, Costco.

Shrimp or bay scallops work equally well. Just make sure they are cooked and well-chilled...and you have the perfect meal for a hot summer night. This Emeril Lagassi recipe yields four servings as an entree or six if you are using it as a side salad.

3 English cucumbers
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar


  1. Slice the cucumbers crosswise as thinly as possible, ideally about 1/8 inch. Place slices in a medium, non-reactive bowl.
  2. In another medium reactive bowl, combine the two vinegars and sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and stir thoroughly to combine.
  4. You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Wine pairing: If you are using this recipe as a side salad, the wine selected should be driven by the entree. If you are going to use the salad as an entree with some of the suggested seafood, I would choose an oaky Chardonnay.