02/21/14

The Secret to Winter Grilling – The Rotisserie

Rotisserie Grilling Tips
“Spit-roasting is one of the world’s most ancient and universal forms of grilling, and there’s nothing like it for producing exceptionally moist meat with a crackling crisp crust.” – Steven Raichlen

Okay, it’s cold out there, and grilling might be the last thing on your mind, but never fear…you CAN have your delicious, flame-kissed goodies, and still keep feeling in all of your fingers and toes…

The secret is that unsung hero of the backyard bbq…the rotisserie!

You can literally run out to the grill, fire it up, run back in and prep your food, then run back out, load it up, close the lid and go back inside until your timer goes off! The rotisserie just chugs away out there, evenly cooking and self-basting your dinner while you chug your cocoa (or hot toddy) and warm your toes in front of the fire!

I like chicken just about any way it can be prepared, but for the juiciest, most flavorful bird, I’ll hang my hat on rotisserie grilling, even more so now with the grill accessories that are available. This even-heating, self-basting method ensures a perfectly cooked bird, with crispy skin all around. Using a grill (with a rotisserie burner) is especially convenient when cooking for parties or holiday get-togethers, as it frees up the oven and stove-top, and you don’t even have to remember to flip or baste your entrée!

Start with a good dry rub, end with proper treatment of the finished fowl, and you’ll have a winner chicken dinner that folks are going to remember!

Plus, rotisserie cooking is thought to be the oldest cooking technique known to man… so that’s pretty cool, too.

Here are 5 things to remember when grilling a chicken rotisserie style:

Dry rub 8-24 hours in advance

Rotisserie Grilled ChickenA dry rub is a combination of salt, spices, herbs, and sometimes sugars, that’s used to flavor meat in advance of cooking. Unlike a marinade or brine, a dry rub forms a crust on the outside of the meat when cooked.

The salt draws out the juices in the meat, making it more moist and tender, while the sugars caramelize and form a seal that traps in flavor and juices.

You can add just about anything you want to a rub (and you should experiment with some of your own favorite flavors) but here’s my go-to dry rub for chicken: 2 Tbsp. sea salt + 1 Tbsp. each: dark brown sugar, coarse black pepper, granulated garlic, smoked paprika, onion powder, and Italian seasonings. Combine all in an airtight container and mix until completely blended.

Once you’ve sprinkled, then rubbed the spices into (and under) the skin, and trussed it, wrap the whole bird in plastic wrap and refrigerate until 1-2 hours before you plan to start cooking it. Be sure to sprinkle some of your seasonings into the body cavity of the chicken or turkey, as well.

Truss the bird

3Trussing (tying up) a whole bird before cooking is always a good idea as it helps keep it moist and promotes even cooking (and a prettier presentation), but for rotisserie grilling it’s absolutely essential. A non-trussed bird will loosen up on the bar, legs and wings floppin’ ever which-a-way, and start burning at the extremities long before the rest of the chicken is cooked through to the bone.

Trussing isn’t particularly difficult, but it does take some practice to perfect. Google “How to truss a chicken” for any number of excellent videos and step-by-step guides to trussing.

Watch the heat

4I like to preheat my grill (burners on full, lid down) before putting the pre-loaded spit (the rod that holds the meat) in place. Watch the bird closely, checking every few minutes at first, and adjust your flame as needed to avoid hot spots or burning the skin.
Cook to the right temp

Figure about 25 minutes per pound to cook a chicken on a rotisserie, but what you’re really looking for in an internal temp in the thickest part of the thigh of 175 °F. A lot of variables can affect the number of minutes it takes a bird to cook to the bone, including starting temp of the meat, the heat of your grill, and the weather while cooking, but 175 °F is done regardless of outside influences.

Give it a rest

Once your chicken is removed from the heat, it’s vital that it be allowed to “rest” for 15-20 minutes, tented loosely in foil.

Resting allows the meat to relax and reabsorb its own juices back into the muscle fibers as they cool. The reason for tenting in foil is to keep the surface temperature from dropping much faster than the internal temp, which can lead to drying.

Once the chicken has rested go ahead and snip away the trussing (I use a pair of kitchen shears for this), cut the bird up as you see fit, and serve.

Oh, and be sure to save those lovely roasted bones and extra bits for making stock or flavoring soups or gravies. It’s gold!

Enjoy!

Chef Perry

05/13/13

The Perfect Gift for Wedding Season

Newlyweds-CookingNewlyweds are busy folks!

What with jobs, getting settled in, school, hobbies, and…other stuff…many of us can look back on that first year or two of married bliss and admit that those wonderful memories didn’t always extend to the kitchen.

A hautemealz.com gift subscription (monthly, or a full year) is a great way to make sure those crazy kids are enjoying healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare meals, that fit their budgets and hectic schedules.

This is especially true if one half of the happy couple has specialized needs like diabetic-friendly, calorie-restricted, or gluten-free…creating a whole new learning curve for the cook!

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04/8/13

Food Bloggers Against Hunger…5 things you can do, starting today.

Food Bloggers Against HungerThe International Food Bloggers Conference has asked food bloggers to dedicate a post today (April 8th) to discuss hunger in America. This day of awareness is hosted by The Giving Table. Here’s more about it from the NY Times.

So, let’s discuss this…

1 in 5 children are hungry in America.

Yes, America. They live in Oregon, Washington, California, Dallas, New York, Colorado, and every other state. From coast to coast there are millions of children who have no idea where their next meal is going to come from.
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04/1/13

3 Tips for Organizing Your Recipes – from professional organizer Julie Starr Hook

art.recipe.rsThe best organizing decision I made for 2013 was signing up for Hautemealz.com!

Being a professional organizer, I am always looking for new ways to get organized. Hautemealz.com has certainly been my meal ticket for organizing my family’s meals.

As a member of Hautemealz.com, I get the weekly excitement of checking out what amazing new recipes I get to make and shop for the following week.

Once I have printed the recipes, I organize them the following ways:

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02/15/13

Secret #6: Sexy Food

Welcome to Day 6 of our 20-Day/20-Part series of blog posts titled “Tips, Tricks, and Secrets of Professional Chefs”. In our last post, we looked at  How to make Rice that’s Extra Nice.

Today, let’s take a look at one of my favorite things about being a chef, making…

Sexy food.

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Photo by Danielle Witt

Okay, we’ve talked about this idea before, but let’s really take a look at it a little closer… people eat first with their eyes.

Open your favorite cookbook, flip on your favorite foodie TV channel, or sit down at a “nice” restaurant, and you’ll see they have one thing in common: no matter what they’re serving, nobody’s just slingin’ it on the plate.  Beautifully plated dishes, studied presented…sexy food…it sells the dish before you ever taste it.

(Just a note, before I get comments…sexy presentation will never, ever make bad, or even mediocre food, good. It will, however, make good food better, and great food amazing.)

So, there are three basic elements to consider when plating food…the shape and color of the food, the shape and color of the plate, & the position and spacing of the food(s) on the plate

Owner and Executive Chef, Dee Elhabbassi, of Dar Essalam Moroccan Restaurant, takes simple squirt-bottle technique to the next level!

Owner and Executive Chef, Dee Elhabbassi, of Dar Essalam Moroccan Restaurant, takes simple squirt-bottle technique to the next level!

Rules

A couple of simple rules of thumb:

Square food = round plate. Round food = square plate

Light food = dark plate. Dark food = light (white) plate.

Personally, I’m not a fan of multicolored plates, so I typically stick with black or white, as it keeps the focus on the food.

Also, your plate/bowl/platter is your frame, so make sure you leave a good margin around the edges to highlight the food. This in one reason that restaurants like to use over-sized plates, as it allows each item to be “framed” separately on the same dish.

Tools

A biscuit-cutter is a great tool for sexy food, and a pair chop-sticks are great for placing garnishes and toppings. Here, Chef Terry used a soup can, opened at both ends, to create these beautiful “cake towers”…

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Photo by Danielle Witt

Also, think in three dimensions.

Sure, I can plop that steak down next to the mashed potatoes, and just pour sauce over the whole thing…OR, I can center the potatoes, rest the steak (sliced or whole) at an angle against one side, top with a little color, and drizzle it artfully with sauce (an inexpensive squeeze bottle or two is another must-have tool for pretty plating.)

Plated steak

Lastly, for a little extra eye-candy, give it a sprinkle or fresh chopped herbs, shredded or shaved cheese, or toasted sesame seeds.

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A sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs will make almost any dish look just a little sexier.

A sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs will make almost any dish look just a little sexier.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, in an issue of the BBC’s Olive magazine, offers this advice, as well:

  • Keep your presentation clean and simple
  • Use an odd number of ingredients on the plate to avoid symmetry
  • Avoid moving things around once they’re on the plate, as this will simply make a mess. Visualize what your dish will look like before you start arranging it on the plate
  • Don’t clutter the plate
  • And, of course, don’t serve the food cold because you spent so long dressing it.

TilapiaOne last tip: if you have a somewhat colorless entree, like this tilapia filet, borrow some color from your veggies and use the less visually exciting component as a “frame within the frame.” Likewise, a little diced fresh tomato and minced basil is very pretty on the brown backdrop of a nicely seared steak, chop, or chicken breast.

As with almost any kitchen rule…you’re the chef, so do what you think looks good.

Whatever you do, take your food presentation to the next level, have some fun with it, and eat sexy!

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates, and come back tomorrow for Secret #7: Brown is Beautiful! (Secrets to a perfect sear)

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

01/5/13

12 Tips to Make 2013 the Year to Get Organized!

We’re very excited to have Julie Starr Hook, from Five Starr Organizing, as a guest blogger this week, as we talk about achieving our goals and resolutions, going into the new year!

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12 Tips to Make Make 2013 the year to get organized! 
Julie Starr Hook, Five Starr Organizing

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07/16/12

Eating through the dog days

It’s hot here, well…hot for Oregon (yes, yes, I know it’s WAY hotter where you are…) Sticky and muggy are a combination that drives me away from the kitchen, my family, clothes…anything that generates heat.

In weather like this, I turn to cold cuts, anti-pasti, and light sandwiches for dinner, accompanied by several gallons of iced tea and the occasional wheat-soda. Here are three favorite recipes (and websites) I’ve found to help beat the heat, while still enjoying some great food…

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07/10/12

Substituting ingredients via Gourmet Sleuth

Heyya hauties… ever come across an ingredient that you’re unfamiliar with, or just plain can’t find?

We do our best to offer simple substitutions to lesser-known items in your hautemealz.com menus, but just in case we miss something, Gourmet Sleuth is a FANTASTIC resource for both definitions and substitutions for thousands of ingredients!

Make sure to bookmark this site!

– Chef Perry

06/15/12

Health benefits of Cinnamon

I don’t know about you, but when I think of cinnamon, my mind typically wanders to images of ooey-gooey, steaming, fluffy rolls dripping with hot sugary frosting…

Um…

Sorry about that…I drifted away for a minute.

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06/11/12

Bulk Food Storage


p10102441Hey all,

Okay, so we’ve been trying to pinch some pennies around the ol’ TeamPerk clubhouse, and one way we’ve found to do so is to start buying a lot of out “staples” in bulk. (Usually on red-eye trips to Winco to avoid the horrible crowds…)

The only problem for me, as the cook, was that I ended up with upwards of a dozen plastic bags of stuff (rice, oatmeal, couscous, beans, etc) all piled together on a shelf.

Plus, I had to go find the little recipe card for each whenever I wanted to cook something.

Luckily, I also shop at Costco for a few items, milk being one of them.

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Now, to be honest, I hate the new milk containers when it comes to pouring milk, and end up grumbling as I wipe up spills at least half the time.

However, I also discovered that those new milk jugs happen to fit perfectly on the shelf that I keep the bulk foods on…and the following recycle project was born!

STEP ONE: Wash the empty jug with soap and water and allow it to air dry for a couple of days (btw, the label is very easy to remove when the jug is full of hot water.)

 

STEP TWO: Take the “recipe card” (on a rack on each bulk food aisle) and tape it securely to the front of the jug.

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I used packing tape and covered the whole label so it would remain water, stain, and wear proof.

STEP THREE: Use a funnel to fill the jug with your bulk food.

I found that the jugs work fine for just about any food except the larger pastas and dog biscuits. I picked up this funnel years ago in the automotive section at Wal-Mart for a couple of bucks. The spout fits the jug opening like it was made for it.

As an added bonus, I’ve found that it’s REALLY easy to pour the contents into a measuring cup (as demonstrated here by my lovely assistant.)

That’s it!

All my bulk foods can be stacked side by side for easy access, and easily refilled.

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If you wanted to be REALLY picky about it, you could fill the container a cup at a time and make hash-marks on the side so you know how much you’re using on a weekly/monthly basis.

Also, I’ve got my recipe right there with the food and never have to go find it! Plus, given the truckloads of milk my daughter goes through, I always have a ready supply, and a little more room in the recycle bin each week.

NOTE: If you need smaller containers and need to optimize your space, the plastic ½ gallon milk containers are shaped just like this and take up a lot less room.

I may need to start getting out more…

-Perry

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.