Using the A-Maze-N smoker with your La Caja China roasting box to create real, southern-style, smoked BBQ.
Let’s face it, there’s no “wrong” time to fire up your gas or charcoal grill, and the holidays are certainly no exception.
Sure, the weather might be a little cooler, the days a little shorter, and some of you may have to shovel a path through the snow to your grill, but that’s a small price to pay for some smoky, seared treats to go with all of that turkey and pumpkin pie, right?
Okay, I’ll meet you halfway… here are two of my favorite holiday side dishes that require minimum time outdoors, while still bringing tons of great grill flavor to the party!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Hey all, just a heads up…we’re comin’ up on 8 years of the Burnin’ Love BBQ blog, and we’ve had a wonderful time q’ing and grilling with ya’all!
This week we migrated the blog to a self-hosted platform and, unfortunately, the techs managed to permanently delete our entire subscriber list (that horrible sound you heard around midnight was me shrieking at my monitor…)
SO…as I know that a LOT of you were subscribers, I’m posting to ask you to please go to the “Get some Burnin’ Love via Email!” subscription box in the right-hand column, and enter your current email to subscribe again.
If you’re already subscribed, nothing will happen…so don’t worry about getting double posts.
We have some great grilling videos and recipes in the works, don’t miss ’em!
12 of my favorite awesome bloggers (and I) have all teamed up to share some of our sweet swag from The International Food Blogger’s Conference that we all attended in Seattle a couple of week’s back.
Today I’ll be giving away my LAST box of Krusteaz Italian flatbread mix (plus a few more cool foodie toys and items I’ll throw in with it…yes, that’s a salmon-shaped dark chocolate bar…)
Go visit our other page, SimplySmartDinnerPlans for the details and to enter!
La Caja China rocked it at last month’s Sparks of Hope camps!
As part of our MY KITCHEN Program, we taught cooking classes during the days, and then did a pig roast feast each Saturday night. “Knights of the Round Table” for the boys (no utensils, lol), and “Island Luau” for the girls.
For these young survivors of horrific abuse, anything that brings a smile to their faces is a major victory, and there were LOTS of smiles at the feast!
Thank you Roberto and La Caja China for being a faithful supporter of our work with these kids, and for helping us bring a smile to their faces.
And, of course, the pigs were awesome!
Burnin’ Love BBQ
MY KITCHEN Outreach
Our SimplySmartDinnerPlans friend (and La Caja China brutha), Clem, asks…
“Chef Perry. I am going to try a pork butt on my #2 la caja china this weekend for my fantasy football group. Can you advise me on the amount of charcoal to initially use for a single roast in this unit?
The la caja china recommended 18#’s seems like a lot. The tip you offered on your whole pig la caja china made sense to primarily cover the ham and shoulder areas with coals, so I thought the same for a pork butt.
BTW I am going to roast a whole pig for the first time soon and your terrific video has given me a big confidence boost. Thanks so much! – Clem”
Clem, you’re certainly welcome!
I wish I had a better answer for you on roasting a pork butt in a model #2, unfortunately, I’ve never tried that.
Here’s the challenge: you’re going to have so much extra empty space that will have to maintain cooking temperature, that while you may need less coals to get it to temp at first, in the long run you’re going to need MORE coals to keep all that empty air hot. A whole pig, or several shoulders/butts, take up a lot of mass, and once they start to warm up, they help keep the ambient temperature up.
Without that mass, it’s going to be a constant fight.
Here’s my completely unauthorized, and untested, possible solution This is what “I” would try: I would go with your idea of a selective fire, ie: build your coals up at one end of the box, and then build some kind of barrier INSIDE the box….maybe fire-brick, or foil wrapped pans (to reflect the heat). THEN heat a big pot of water to a simmer, foil the top (to minimize steam escaping), and place it in the OTHER side of the box. This should minimize heat loss.
Now you’ve created a (somewhat less efficient) Model #3 “Cajita”. See instructions for roasting a shoulder in a Model #3, here.
Basically, you start with 5lbs of charcoal and add 4lbs every hour until you reach your desire temp. I would add 25% to each of those numbers to make up for our fix, and do everything you can to minimize heat loss. I have some tips in my free e-book, La Caja China Guidebook that should help. If you haven’t been to our BBQ page (at that link), we have TONS of La Caja China stuff there.
Again, this isn’t something that your model #2 is designed to do, so it comes with all of the standard “McGyvver” warnings and disclaimers, lol.
That said, if you DO try it, and it DOES work…please take lots of pictures so I can add them to this post!
Let us know how it goes!
Burnin’ Love BBQ
Our friend Joanne asks:
“I have trouble cooking anything on the grill. I either burn it or it’s not done enough. I’m guessing a thermometer would help me too. Can you recommend a good one?”
Joann – They’re all pretty much the same, the important thing is to keep them calibrated. Anything from Cash & Carry, BB&B, or any “kitchen store” should be fine. Here’s the one I use… (FYI – everything in our Amazon store is an item that one of us (Terry, Chris, and I) have tested or use regularly).
With grilling it’s usually one, or a combination, of four problems…
1. Too high of heat for the food. A lot of time we crank it up and either the outside burns before the inside cooks, or the inside is raw when the outside looks perfect.
Always keep an “indirect heat” area on your grill, with one burner on med-low (or with just a few coals) and if the internal temp of the meat isn’t high enough and you’re concerned about burning, move the food to that area and tent loosely in foil until the temp comes up to your desired doneness.
2. Not enough “babying”. Unlike food cooked on the stove-top, which often needs to be “left alone”, food on grills are at the mercy of flare-ups and temp spikes. You have to be constantly monitoring your food. Is there too much flame under the food? (move it or use a spray bottle of hot water). Is one area of the grill cooking faster? (rotate the food between all areas of the grill). This is referred to in grilling lingo as “multi-zone cooking“.
3. Was the food prepped correctly? Food that is still chilled in the center (especially with bones) is going to cook unevenly, and this is especially true on the grill.
Some folks don’t like to hear this in our sterilized, bacteria-phobic society, but most meats need to be removed from the refrigerator and allowed to rest at room temp at least 30 minutes (and up to an hour, depending on thickness) if you want them to grill evenly. A chilled chicken leg is basically a hunk of meat wrapped around a ice-cold spike.
The outside layers WILL burn before the bone warms enough to allowed the meat touching it to even start cooking.
4. Saucing too soon. Most sauces are heavy in sugar, either natural or added. Sugar burns at high temps.
Food should basically be cooked through, the grill temp lowered, the food sauced (I like the dunking method over the brushing method) and then the food returned to the grill, turning often and redunking as needed, until the sauce had glazed. This is another good place to alternate between multiple zones.
Amazing Traeger Steaks
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes smoke, 10 minutes cook
2 – 1 1/2 inch thick Rib-eye or New York Strip steaks
Seasoned salt to taste
Herb Butter (see recipe below.)
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.
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.
By the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week, no charge!
Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster kids!
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.