11/18/16

Garlic-Ginger Grilled Chicken Thighs with Broccoli Slaw

For my money, the thigh of the chicken is God’s country. Naturally moist and full of flavor, it’s the easiest to cook and most forgiving part of the bird.

Here’s one of my favorite preparations…

Best chicken thigh

Garlic-Ginger Chicken Thighs

Active Time: 15 min.                                                    

Total Time: 25 min.

  • 2 chicken thighs, w/ skin & bone
  • 1/2 lg. sweet onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch ginger root
  • 2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • vegetable oil, for the grill

Mise en Place

Skin and thinly slice the onion. Skin and mince the garlic. Peel and mince the ginger. Juice the orange.

IMG_2964 - CopyCombine the chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, orange juice and black pepper in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Seal and shake to coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

Prepare the Dish

Preheat a grill to medium high and oil the grate, OR preheat oven broiler to high, and set your oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. broil/grill the chicken skin-side down until marked, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and continue to broil/grill until cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Broccoli Slaw

Active Time: 15 min.                                                    

Total Time: 45 min.

  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt 1/2 oz. sunflower seeds, raw
  • 1 dash salt 2 tbsp. buttermilk
  • 1/2 lemon 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2/3 tsp. spicy brown mustard 1 dash ea. salt & black pepper
  • 2/3 lb. broccoli stalks 2 med. carrots

Preheat oven to 300°F. Place sunflower seeds and salt on a rimmed baking sheet and shake to combine. Toast seeds until aromatic, about 10 minutes. Cool and reserve. Juice the lemon.

Prepare the Dish

Combine yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, salt & black pepper.

Whisk to incorporate and reserve.

Peel tough outer layer of broccoli stalks and trim off 1/4 inch from bottoms of stalks. Shred stalks in food processor, then shred carrots. Combine shredded broccoli and carrots with dressing and toss to combine.

Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and serve.

 
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04/3/16
Cleaning your grill

5 Steps to Get Your Grill Ready for Spring

Cleaning your grill

Spring’s comin’ baby! Even though I tend to keep the bbq running year-round, I look forward to the more favorably weathered outdoor cooking months, as I tend to have more company around grill. Shirt-sleeves, chilled adult beverages, lawn chairs, and lots and lots of beautiful smoke!

However, if your grill needs to come out of hibernation, here are my top 5 tips for spring cleaning and tunin’ her up for summer…

(In step-by-step order)

Kick the tires

At least once a year (and this is as good a time as any) I recommend disconnecting, cleaning, and reconnecting all tubes and hoses. Things swell, shrink, rot and rust in cold weather––and propane leaks can take all the fun out of that first bbq of Spring!

A good rule of thumb: if I see something that makes me think, “I wonder if I should replace that?” I should. Is there a loose wheel, or a squeaky hinge that’s going to bug you for the rest of the year? Take it apart and clean, tighten, or replace it now…you’ll be too busy cooking later.

Oh, make sure to sweep out and hose down your favorite grill spot on the deck or patio. Leaves, branches, pet toys, and other miscellany…in other words: tinder…have a habit of gathering in those corners over the winter.

Clean the Interior

If you haven’t already, shut off, then disconnect the gas supply to your grill. 

Remove the cooking grates and, using a soft wire brush, clean any loose debris from the insides of the body and lid. If your gas jets aren’t removable, I recommend covering them with a length of tape before you start cleaning. This helps minimize the chances of gunking up the holes with loose debris.

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Scrape your “flavor panels” with a putty knife or scraper, and use a wire brush to remove ash. Remove the plates and brush any gunk off of burners with a wire brush. Brush all debris from inside the grill into the drip pan, and dispose of it. 

Cleaning your grill

Oh, and just one guy’s opinion: I never line my drip pans with aluminum foil. I know it makes for easier clean-up, but it can also prevent the grease from flowing properly, which can be a fire hazard (not to mention it can negatively effect the flavor of my food). Scraped out the pan with a putty knife or scraper, and all the debris should be scraped into the grease trap.

 Cleaning your grill

Prep the Grates

Now, I know this has never happened to you, but I’ve heard of some folks who open their grill in the spring and find the remnants of the meal they cooked on it last season.  Lucky for them, cleaning these nasty, neglected grill-grates is actually easier than most people realize, and you can usually forego the brushes, a dirty sink and a bunch of elbow grease, if you start the day before.

Lay a plastic bag on the ground, top with damp newspaper, then lay your grate on top. Give the grates a healthy spray of oven cleaner, and cover with another layer of moist newspaper (dampening the newspaper keeps it from sticking to the grates). Follow this with another plastic bag. Batten down the edges so the whole mess doesn’t end blowing into the next yard.

The next day, hose down the grates thoroughly, and then wash off any remaining oven cleaner residue with hot soapy water. Rinse the grates again, dry, and coat lightly with vegetable oil, and you’re good to go! (Just a note: only use this method after checking with your owner’s manual. Some manufacturers warn against using oven cleaner on any part of their grill.)

Cleaning your grill

Lastly, plan to fire up your grill for 30 minutes or so (on High) to burn off any possible remaining residue, before the first use.

Cleaning your grillPretty up the Exterior

Let’s face it, we eat first with our eyes, and I’ve had eaten more than one perfectly good steak that probably would have tasted a lot better if the grill hadn’t looked like it had been yanked out of the bottom of a drainage ditch, just before cooking.

First things first, power hose the exterior to get rid of any dirt, crud, or creepy-crawlies. Next, use a bucket of hot, soapy water, an old towel, and maybe bristle brush, or a putty knife, and clean every nook and cranny.

You don’t want to use abrasive cleaners to clean any painted, porcelain or stainless steel parts. I’ve found that a mild dish-soap (the stuff made for hand-washing) works just fine. Porcelain enamel components must be handled with additional care (read your user’s manual, or contact the manufacturer). Touch-up enamel, and high-heat spray paint is available from your dealer. Exterior grill surfaces should be cleaned while warm to the touch, with warm soapy water.

  1. The Test Run

My number one piece of advice, when gearing up for grill season, is to do a full blown test run…on a night when failure is an option.

The last thing you want, when the boss and his wife are ready for their rib-eyes, or you’ve got a house-full of hungry dinner guests, is to discover that glamfram widget in the intake fluxuator* has burned out and your grill won’t throw enough fire to thaw an ice-cube. (*I don’t know what that is, either.)

Plan a simple grilled dinner for the family, using all the burners, and any special accessories on your grill (have the local pizza-joint’s number on speed-dial, just in case), and make sure that everything works, from fuel, to ignition, to temperature control.

Makes notes of any issue that arise, or improvements you’d like to see, and make those upgrades before the boss is standing there with an empty plate!

Happy Grilling!

-Chef Perry

03/31/16
Ponzu grilled pork steaks

Perfect Ponzu Pork Steaks

Ponzu grilled pork steaks

I love pork steaks! They’re inexpensive, loaded with flavor, and perfect for quick grilling.

    1/2 cup water
    1/3 cup ponzu sauce (Asian section)
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    3 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    4 bone-in pork steaks
    4 Tbs. apricot jam

Mix all marinade ingredients, and pour over the pork steaks in a heavy gallon zip bag.

Marinate at least 4 hours, flipping the bag occasionally.

Remove pork from marinade and cook on one side over medium-high heat on charcoal or gas grill for no more than 10 minutes.

Grilling pork steaks

Cooking time for second side is shorter by 1-2 minutes. 3/4″ or thinner, 5-6 minutes maximum per side, thicker than 3/4″ 6-7 minutes maximum per side.

After 2 minutes grilling on a side, rotate chops 45 degrees for even cooking.

Turn over when juices pool on upper surface and meat appears to be cooked half-way through, brush the cooked side (top) top with apricot jam.

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03/30/16
Beef prices dropping

Beef prices coming down!

Perfect Valentine steaks on a charcoal chimney

Where’s the beef? On dining tables across America, according to Bloomberg. Americans are on track to eat more red meat this year than in the previous 12 months for the first time since 2006, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimating people will consume 54.3 pounds of beef in 2016.

A combination of cheaper beef prices and a larger inventory of cattle across the country fueled a push towards increased beef consumption, with the USDA noting current cattle counts at a five-year high. With beef at a lower price point, some restaurants have added new deals to promote beef-based menu items. (Read the rest of this article on Eater…)

And it’s not just Eater sayin’ so, many of the top bloggers are a-buzz with glorious return of the beef!

According to Time.com, wholesale prices for beef have already fallen 23% from an all-time high in May and analysts believe that by the time the weather warms up the effects of the obese cows stuffing their faces with corn will trickle down to consumers, who can expect cheaper beef prices.

So where’s the beef? Right now it’s in a feed lot sucking mind-bending quantities of carbs down its gullet, our Jabba the Hutt of American agriculture, growing ever more corpulent all to become gloriously affordable burger patties for your Fourth of July grilling party.

In celebration of this auspicious event, here are three of our favorite cow-centric dishes for your dining pleasure…

Braciole (Italian steak roll) with Caprese Salad

Braciole Italian beef roll recipe Ninja Cooker

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Flank Steak, Asparagus & Red Pepper Stir Fry

Flank Steak Stir Fry with Aspargus

Perfect Grilled Chimney Steaks

Perfect Valentine steaks on a charcoal chimney

03/9/16

Traeger Smoked Honey Swai

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Swai is a species native to the rivers of Southeast Asia, also known as iridescent shark. It’s not a shark, but rather a catfish.

It is found in the Mekong basin as well as the Chao Phraya River, and is heavily cultivated for food there. The meat is often marketed under the common name swai.

Sold cheaply the United States, it has a milder flavor and more delicate texture than our native catfish. with a moist, sweet, mild flavored flesh. The meat is beige color when raw, and turns white after cooking. In the U.S. it is often sold as frozen skin-off fillets weighing from 2 oz to 11 oz each.

In my opinion it’s similar to Tilapia, but more flavorful.

I just happened to have a case of these lovelies in my freezer when the new Traeger arrived.

Here’s a simple, inexpensive, and delicious meal for my fellow fish fanciers…


Traeger Smoked Honey Swai or Tilapia

  • 2-3 lbs. swai or tilapia fillets
  • ½ – ¾ cup honey*
  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ cup sea salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • Black pepper
  • Granulated garlic
  • Cayenne (opt)
  • Apple or alder Traeger pellets

*I used Manuka honey, which I brought home from last years International Food Bloggers Conference. It is, by far, the best honey I’ve ever had, my favorite to cook with, and its rich earthiness was absolutely amazing with this fish.

Mise en Place

Thaw and rinse the fillets.

For brine: Combine water, sea salt, and brown sugar. Whisk to dissolve and pour over fish fillets (I put it all in a gallon zip bag) and brine for 1 hour.

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To Cook

Set Traeger to “smoke” and preheat.

Remove fish from brine, rinse in cold water and pat dry, and then generously glaze each fillet with honey (top side only.) Sprinkle with pepper, granulated garlic, and cayenne to taste.

Loaded fillets into Traeger, directly on the grill.

Smoke 20 minutes, then change heat setting to 225F, and cook another 40 minutes. DO NOT PEEK! Remove swai from Traeger and serve.

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I like to place mine directly over a bed of white rice, and let rest for about 10 minutes, so the juices from the fish seep into the rice, then serve with a steamed veggie. See top picture.

The leftover swai (assuming you have any) is great the next morning, chopped and scrambled with eggs and white onions, and served with hot white-corn tortillas!

Enjoy!

Chef Perry

03/2/16
Smokey Sweet-Soy Cedar Plank Salmon

Smokey Sweet-Soy Cedar Plank Salmon

Smokey Sweet-Soy Cedar Plank Salmon

I love salmon, especially our local Pacific salmon. When shopping for salmon look for fillets that say “no color added”, and preferably “never frozen”. Some meats can hold up to the cell-busting process of freezing and thawing…but salmon’s not one of them.

This recipe, served over some lightly-salted Jasmine rice might be the best salmon dish I’ve ever had.

Add a little color with a fresh steamed green veggie like broccoli or green beans.

Smokey Sweet-Soy Cedar Plank Salmon

4 (6-oz) Pacific salmon fillets
1 Tbsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 C Kikkoman Sweet Soy Glaze
1/4 C Melted butter
2 untreated cedar grilling planks*
Extra-virgin olive oil
Squirt bottle of water (optional)

Smokey Sweet-Soy Cedar Plank Salmon

Soak cedar grilling planks (available on the bbq aisle, or online) in enough water to cover for 2 hours, keep them immersed. Remove, pat dry with paper towels.

Smokey Sweet-Soy Cedar Plank Salmon

Prepare your grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas). Place the cedar planks over the heat. Brush skin-side of salmon with oil.

When planks begins to smoke, place salmon on the plank, skin side down (if salmon is too wide for plank, fold in thinner side under to fit) and salt lightly. If planks catch fire, spray the hot spots lightly with water. Brush salmon with sweet-soy glaze.

Smokey Sweet-Soy Cedar Plank Salmon

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Grill, covered with lid, until salmon is just cooked through and edges are browned, 13 to 15 minutes.

Smokey Sweet-Soy Cedar Plank Salmon

Let salmon stand on plank 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with Jasmine rice and a steamed green veggie.

Smokey Sweet-Soy Cedar Plank Salmon

01/10/16

Sake-Soy Manila Clams on the Traeger

Sake Soy Steamed Clams

The recipe was inspired by (and only slightly modified) from Andrew Zimmern’s Manila Clams with Soy Butter.

Clams steamed with sake, soy, ginger, chilies, and sugar. Then tossed in a butter-broth reduction. Best clams I’ve ever eaten!

  • 1 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs. ginger powder
  • 1-2 Tbs. garlic-chili sauce (to taste)
  • 2 pounds Manila clams, scrubbed
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
  • Salt

Preheat Traeger on high (following the normally recommended steps).

In a large disposable steam pan, combine the sake, soy sauce, sugar, ginger powder, and chile sauce. Bring just to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar.

Sake Soy Manila Clams Traeger recipe

Add the clams, close lid and cook, shaking the pan occasionally until the clams open, (about 5 minutes.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a large bowl; discard any clams that do not open.

Sake Soy Manila Clams Traeger

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Add the butter to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat reduce Traeger to “smoke” setting. Close the lid and allow to smoke until butter is melted. Turn the heat back up to high, and whisk until incorporated. Add a dash or two of salt, then pour the sauce over the clams, toss to combine, and serve immediately with toasted french bread and ice cold sake.

NOTE: I make a larger batch of sauce than the original recipe, as I like to mix the leftover sauce 50/50 with hot water and make a killer Asian risotto with it!

Enjoy!

Chef Perry

01/4/16
Traeger steak with herb butter recipe

Amazing Traeger Steaks with Fresh Herb Butter

Best Traeger Steak Recipe

 


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Personally, I’m a big believer that bqq and grilling should be a part of everyone’s meal planning all year ’round. In fact, I find that my appetite is sharper when cooking in colder weather, and food out of the smoker, or off the grill… like these steaks, taste better.

Amazing Traeger Steaks

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes smoke, 10 minutes cook
Pellets: Oak

2 – 1 1/2 inch thick Rib-eye or New York Strip steaks
Seasoned salt to taste
Herb Butter (see recipe below.)

Traeger Steaks with Herb Butter

Season steaks on both sides.

Start your Traeger on smoke with lid open for 5 minutes to get started. Close the lid and allow interior to heat up for an additional 10 minutes.

Place your steaks on the grill in the SMOKE mode, and cook for 30 minutes. Then take them off the grill and set aside.

Turn the Traeger to HIGH. When the grill reaches 400 – 425 degrees put the steaks back on the grill, and sear for 5 minutes per side for rare-to medium rare. Because you’re cooking in an enclosed environment, you don’t have to flip your steaks, but I still do because I like the pretty grill marks.

Traeger Steaks with Herb Butter

Remove the steaks from the grill to a warmed platter, tent loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes. Add a dollop of herb butter to each steak, re-cover, and let rest an additional 5 minutes.

Serve whole, or slice thinly across the grain, spooning melted butter from the platter over each steak.

Good accompaniment include: baked potatoes, roasted asparagus (both very nice with the herb butter, below), and a fresh Caesar salad.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry

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Herb Butter for steaks

Herb Butter

2 Tbs. Sweet Cream Butter
2 tsp. fresh chives
2 tsp. fresh cilantro
2 tsp. fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp. fresh basil
Dash of seasoned salt
Dash of garlic powder

Soften butter to room temp, finely dice herbs, and add to the butter along with spices.

Mash together with a fork until completely combined, and chill overnight to allow the flavors to marry.

I like to bring the butter back to room temp before using on steaks, chicken, or veggies.


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12/23/15
Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Best Holiday Veggies on the Grill

 Grilled Sweet PotatoesGrilled Sweet Potatoes with Caramel Adobo Sauce

  • 2 lbs. medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for oiling the grill

Sauce:

  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 oz. butter, softened
  • 1 c. light packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. (to taste) chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp. water

Bring the sweet potatoes to a boil in a large pot of heavily salted water. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until a toothpick can easily be inserted into each potato, about 25 minutes.

Drain the sweet potatoes and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and arrange in a single layer. Refrigerate until cool, at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients (only use the sauce from the chipotles, not the peppers themselves) in a small pot and bring to a slow simmer, stirring constantly.

Cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and keep warm.

Once the sweet potatoes are cool, pre-heat your grill to medium high (375°F) and oil the grates.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise. Cut the halves lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick wedges and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Place the sweet potato wedges on the grill in a single layer, cover, and cook until grill marks appear, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the wedges to the other cut side, and repeat.

Transfer grilled sweet potato wedges to a platter, and drizzle with Caramel Adobo Sauce.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

Grilling Asparagus

Simple Grilled Asparagus

3 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and peeled
12 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoon salt

Place asparagus on a plate. Drizzle oil and lemon juice over the asparagus and turn spears until they are coated. Sprinkle with salt and turn again.

Grill asparagus for 5 minutes on pre-heated grill racks. Each minute or so, roll each spear 1/4 turn.

Asparagus should begin to brown in spots (indicating that the natural sugars are caramelizing) but should it not be allowed to char. Dripping oil may cause flare-ups. Keep a glass, or spray bottle of water handy to spritz on coals, if necessary.

Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Okay, I’ll meet you halfway… here’s one of my favorite holiday side dishes that require minimum time outdoors, while still bringing tons of great grill flavor to the party!

Balsamic Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

Balsamic Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

I tested this recipes on some friends recently, one of whom informed me that while she despised Brussels sprouts, she would “try one” for me. She made a point of telling me, after dinner, that she had gone back for seconds. If you know folks who’ve never met a Brussels spout they loved… this is a good one to introduce them to!

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts*
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • 15 oz. jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 skewers, soaked
* For even cooking, try to pick Brussels sprouts of a uniform in size and shape

 

Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to simmer in a stock pot. Cut off the stem end of the Brussels sprouts and remove any off-color outer leaves.

Best Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Add the Brussels sprouts to the chicken stock, return to a simmer (if necessary, add water until sprouts are just covered), and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until they are still firm, but you can poke a skewer through them.

Drain and allow the sprouts to cool until you can handle them. Skewer 6 to 8 sprouts onto each skewer, and brush with reduction sauce.

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Place the skewers onto the grill over medium heat. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the skewers over and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Serve as is or for an extra punch of flavor, remove the sprouts from the skewers, plate, and drizzle with remaining reduction sauce.

Serves 4

12/9/15
Tequila Beans with Bacon

Prohibition Ends! ~ Tequila Beans & Bacon

Prohibition Ends

On December 5th, 1933, our country’s 14 year dry spell ended, with the repeal of prohibition. (Okay, so I’m a couple of days late…it’s been that kind of week.)

In honor of that infamous (and probably somewhat fuzzily remembered) day, here’s one of my favorite pairings of food and booze…Tequila Beans N’ Bacon!

Serve this, of course, with a double-shot of Cazadores Reposado, two rocks, and none of that salt & lime silliness.

Tequila Beans with Bacon

Tequila, beans, and bacon…how can you go wrong?

Tequila Beans N’ Bacon
4 Servings

1/3 lb dry pinto beans (rinsed)
1/3 lb dry black beans (rinsed)
1/3 lb dry red kidney beans (rinsed)
1 lb thick sliced apple-smoked bacon
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 red/yellow bell peppers, seeded & chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches
1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Spicy barbecue sauce
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1/2 cup tequila
1/4 cup real maple syrup
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Rinse the beans and be sure to pick out any rocks or dirt from the batch. Cover with water in a five-quart Dutch oven overnight to soften.

Tequila beans and bacon

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Strain the beans and set aside. Fire up the Dutch oven on the stove-top or grill over medium heat, add the bacon and cook for a few minutes until just crispy. Add the onion and lightly caramelize, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

tequila beans with bacon

Add the beans and cover with water by about 3 inches and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 2 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Tequila with beans and bacon

Add all remaining ingredients and cook for anywhere from 1 to 3 more hours, stirring occasionally and checking every 10 minutes once the liquid is close to evaporated. You’ll know it’s done when the beans are a sticky, syrup-y consistency, but not burnt at the bottom.

It’s good to have a little extra liquid, especially for reheating.

Serve with fresh baked bread, cornbread, or warm tortillas.

Salud!

– Chef Perry