Chicken? Again??

Maybe some of you are like me, and you can remember when the TV Food Network ran shows where actual chefs showed us how to cook.  Nowadays, they tend to run frantic competitive exhibitions of temperamental “personalities” trying to see who can be the most “creative” in the kitchen.  Way back when they ran those old-fashioned cooking shows, one of the most popular ingredients was chicken.  It turns out that the most requested recipes were for chicken dishes.  We eat a lot of chicken in this country, so I’m guessing, not much has changed.

During grilling season things do get a little easier.  My wife and I are hosted her church choir’s annual picnic this weekend, and chicken was on the menu in a big way.  At one time, I would have grabbed those pieces, hit them with some salt and pepper and slathered them with whatever sauce was on sale.  If you’re willing to take just a little bit more time, you can take that chicken someplace you never dreamed of before.

It all starts with brining the chicken.  I found a simple recipe, and customized it with DennyMike’s Chick Magnet rub.  Get a large saucepan, add about 2-1/2 quarts of water, ¾ cup kosher salt, ¾ cup lemon juice, 2 tbls. of a good hot sauce, 2 tsp. of fresh ground black pepper and 2 tsp. of DennyMike’s Chick Magnet rub.  Bring this to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and rub.  Let it cool to room temp.  Using either ziplock bags or a large plastic container, add the chicken and cover with the brine.  Refrigerate whole chickens for at least 4 hours, and up to 8 hours; pieces should be brined for between 1-1/2 to 3 hours.

Drain the chicken, pat it dry and sprinkle it with DennyMike’s Chick Magnet.  Prepare your grill for indirect cooking, place the chicken skin-side down and cook for about 30 minutes at 350.  Turn chicken and let it cook for another 20 minutes. Check temp with an instant read thermometer (if you don’t own one of these—stop cooking right now until you buy one!).  Make sure the thighs are close to 165, and when they are, add your choice of DennyMike’s sauces (I used Mesquit-O Madness, and my wife absolutely flipped).  If you feel like smoking instead of straight grilling, just soak your wood, add it to your fire, keep the temp at 250 and double the cooking time.

Next time you find yourself staring at that package of chicken and wondering what else you can do with it, just remember: brine, DennyMike’s, grill.  It will actually make you look forward to more chicken.

BBQ Rules?

While I was cleaning out a drawer full of old recipes, I came across a sheet titled “BBQ Rules”. This is how it starts:

  1. The woman buys the food.
  2. The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes the dessert.
  3. The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill… drink in hand. (Here comes the important part)
  4. The man places the meat on the grill. (Did I mention it’s an old sheet?)

Now, I’m sure there are places where this is still the norm, but not among my friends. Well, okay, maybe Rules 1 & 2 are pretty much the same, and most of Rule 3, but no one prepares the meat but me! I also had to modify Rule 4 this past winter.

We had a group of friends coming over for my first attempt at DennyMike’s Signature Pulled Pork sandwiches, when the mild weather we had been experiencing turned snowy and frigid. Suddenly unable to use my grill to smoke the butt outdoors, I pulled out my slow cooker, brushed off the cobwebs and, following the instructions from the cooker I had never used and the recipe from I had never tried before today, I loaded the butt and crossed my fingers. I would have enjoyed my cocktails a whole lot more if I had known that I had nothing to worry about. After pulling the butt out of the pot and shredding it, I added another ½ cup of Carolina Style sauce to the liquid and reduced it by ⅓. I poured the sauce over the pork, and stepped back to watch our friends build their sandwiches. There is something magical that happens when good friends are enjoying the food that you spent such care preparing. It just might be time to re-write those old BBQ Rules.

– Mike Powers

Substitutes from Hell

So, how does a city guy from the South Side of Chicago end up writing about rubs and sauces created by a Yankee from Maine whose actual name is straight out of Texas? If this blog lasts long enough, maybe I’ll get to that story one of these days. For now, let’s just say I got lucky… very lucky.

Back in October, I received a DennyMike’s ‘Cue Lover’s 9-Pack. Like anyone with a new toy, I was dying to try it. My wife and I were attending a party the following weekend and I had been asked to bring an appetizer-specifically, some baked cheese bread that we used to make at our pizza joint (that’s another story!). The original recipe calls for cayenne. I decided to substitute Cow Bell Hell. When our friends tasted the finished product, they were as blown away as I had been. Where the cayenne had added the right amount of heat to the taste, the Cow Bell Hell had also added a depth of smokiness that the original lacked. It also helped balance the richness of the mayo and cheeses. I had to admin that the new version was even better than the original.

Click on “Recipes”, and “Search” Cow Bell Hell– but I warn you, this is incredibly addictive!








– Mike Powers