4-Layer Barbecued Game Hens

As a Master of Flavor correspondent for Grill Mates® I'm posting a series of recipes and videos that feature some of the latest flavor trends, tips and techniques from the Grilling Edition of the annual McCormick Flavor Forecast.

This time out I demonstrate the layering of four different flavors on some Cornish game hens. I start with a brine, then I add a healthy dose of Grill Mates® Sweet & Smoky Rub. Next they get the great flavor of indirect grilling over charcoal. Finally, I finish them with a sticky coating of barbecue sauce.

2 Cornish game hens (24 oz), thawed and rinsed with giblets removed
3 cups Ice
2 cups Hot water
1/3 cup Kosher salt
1 can (12 oz) Apricot nectar
2 Tbsp Grill Mates® Montreal Chicken Seasoning
2 Tbsp Grill Mates® Sweet & Smoky Rub
2 small cans (5.5 oz) Apple juice
1/2 cup Your favorite barbecue sauce
Canola oil cooking spray

Combine the hot water and salt in a large bowl and stir until the salt is dissolved.

Add the ice, nectar and Montreal Chicken Seasoning to the bowl and mix well.

Add the hens to the brine, cover and refrigerate six hours.

Note: Make sure that the birds are completely submerged.

Once the hens are done brining, remove them from the liquid, drain them completely and pat them dry with paper towels.

Prepare your grill for indirect cooking at medium heat (about 375º).

Coat each hen liberally (including the cavity) with the rub.

Coat the skin of each hen with the cooking oil spray.

Open the cans of juice and pour out about half.

Insert the open end of a can into each hen cavity.

Set the cans with the birds upright on the grill away from the direct heat.

Grill the hens indirect for an hour and 15 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 170º in the thigh.

Remove the can from each bird, return them to the grill and coat each liberally with barbecue sauce.

Continue cooking the hens five more minutes.

Split the hens in half, serve and enjoy!

See more: To check out what's hot in grilling, head over to the Grill Mates® Facebook page each Friday from June through August for the new episode of "This Week in Grilling".

Note: This recipe and the associated video were produced in partnership with McCormick Grill Mates®

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Boise Music Festival

I'll be competing in a major competition here in Boise this weekend. This one is in conjunction with the Boise Music Festival and, as the name implies, there will be a ton of live music. How much music? How does over 40 bands on five stages grab ya? There will be local bands and headliners like Macy Gray, Bret Michaels, Alex Band, and Backstreet Boys.

But wait, there's more meat...

Like the music, the barbecue competition will be big-time with nearly 30 of the best teams from seven or more states competing for a $10,000 purse in the state championship. The teams will include Harry Soo and the Slap Yo Dadddy BBQ team who were featured in last years' BBQ Pitmasters series on TLC. Also competing is the Rhythm 'n Que husband and wife team from Phoenix. They have racked up six grand championships already this season and they are in the hunt for a seventh, which will give them an automatic berth in the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational contest in Lynchburg Tennessee this fall. I always enjoy competing with Vince and Alexa.

If you'll be in or near the Boise area this weekend and love music and barbecue, this is the place to be this Saturday. The festival covers all of Ann Morrison Park near the center of the the city. Tickets are required, but they are free. Ticket details can be found here.


Take On Turkey Challenge

My Basque Grilled Turkey & Romaine Salad made the finals of the Take On Turkey Challenge and I would really appreciate your vote.

Just head on over to the site, check out the videos and recipes, then cast your vote for your favorite.


Basque Grilled Turkey & Romaine Salad

I've been fortunate to have been invited to participate in a unique "Take On Turkey" video recipe contest from the good folks at Honeysuckle White® and Shady Brook Farms®. They selected 17 grilling bloggers from across the nation to submit a short video featuring our best grilled turkey recipe.

My recipe features Basque-inspired grilled turkey breast tenderloins served atop grilled romaine lettuce and then topped with a tangy vinaigrette, marinated grape tomatoes, and a dusting of cotija cheese.

As I mention in the video, this is a great light summer dish that is quick and easy to make, but it packs a ton of flavor and wow-factor.

If you like this recipe, I would really appreciate your vote here. Thanks in advance.

1 package Honeysuckle White® turkey breast tenderloins (2 per package)
2 Romaine hearts, cleaned and sliced lengthwise (cores intact)
1 ½ cups Grape tomatoes, cut lengthwise
1/4 cup Cotija cheese, grated
1 Tbsp Canola oil

3 cups Ice water
1 cup Boiling water
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/4 cup Sea salt
2 Tbsp Seasoned salt
1 tsp Black pepper

1/4 cup Canola oil
1/8 cup Extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup Honey
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
2 tsp Sweet paprika
1 tsp Garlic salt
1 tsp Dry oregano
1 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
1/2 tsp Dry thyme
1/8 tsp Ground cayenne

Whisk together all of the brine ingredients, except the ice water, in a small mixing bowl.

Add the hot liquid to the ice water in a larger bowl or zip-top bag.

Stir to combine then add the turkey.

Cover or seal and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Combine all of the marinade/dressing ingredients, except the tomatoes, in a medium mixing bowl.

Whisk well to combine.

Add the tomatoes, stir and set aside.

Prepare your grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (about 375*-400*).

Coat both sides of each tenderloin liberally with canola oil.

Grill the turkey tenderloins over direct heat for 5 minutes.

Flip the tenderloins over and baste them with the dressing.

Continue cooking until the thickest part of each tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 165º.

Baste the tenderloins again and remove them to a plate, cover and let rest five minutes.

Note: A zip-top bag also works well for resting.

Brush the cut side of each romaine heart half with the dressing.

Grill each lettuce half, cut-side-down, over a hot direct fire for about 90 seconds.

Remove the romaine to a cutting board and let cool.

Rough chop the lettuce and arrange it on a serving platter.

Slice each tenderloin across the grain to 1/4 inch and arrange the slices evenly on top of the lettuce.

Pour the remaining dressing and tomatoes evenly over the turkey and lettuce.

Sprinkle the top of the entire salad with the cotija cheese.

Serve and enjoy!

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Grilled Zucchini Fries

As a Master of Flavor correspondent for Grill Mates® I'm posting a series of recipes and videos that feature some of the latest flavor trends, tips and techniques from the Grilling Edition of the annual McCormick Flavor Forecast.

In this installment I'll show you how to use Grill Mates® Garlic & Onion Medley Seasoning to take grilled zucchini to an interesting and delicious new level. The bold garlic and onion pair perfectly with zucchini in a balsamic vinaigrette to create a great grill-friendly side dish.

12 Baby zucchini (about 4-5 inches long and an inch in diameter)
1 1/2 Tbsp McCormick Grill Mates® Garlic & Onion Medley Seasoning
1/4 cup Canola oil
1/8 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
Parmesan cheese, to taste

Note: If you can't find baby zucchini use normal sized ones that are quartered lengthwise.

Wash the zucchini under cold water and drain well.

Trim about 1/8" from the stem of each squash.

Square each zucchini by removing a sliver from each side.

Combine the seasoning, oil, vinegar and pepper in a large zip-top bag.

Seal the bag and shake to combine the marinade ingredients.

Add the zucchini to the bag, seal, and set aside for one to two hours.

Prepare your grill for direct cooking at medium heat (about 350º).

Oil the cooking grate lightly with canola oil.

Remove each zucchini from the bag, shake off the excess marinade, and lay them on the grill at a 45º angle. Reserve the marinade left in the bag.

Grill each side until they are nicely browned, about 2-3 minutes.

Lightly brush the zucchini with a small amount of the marinade each time you turn them.

Remove the zucchini to a platter in a single layer and immediately shave the cheese over them to taste.

Serve and enjoy!

See more: To check out what's hot in grilling, head over to the Grill Mates® Facebook page each Friday from June through August for the new episode of "This Week in Grilling".

Note: This recipe and video were produced in partnership with McCormick Grill Mates®

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Terodactyl Wings

Grilled and smoked chicken wings are certainly nothing new. However, turkey wings on the grill are new to me. I've cooked plenty of turkey legs, but never wings -- until now. If you like wings, you owe it you yourself to try these.

These things are huge! The pan pictured here is a half sheet pan. That should give you some perspective. We're talking about nearly four feet of smoky and sticky poultry wingspan goodness! One wing is easily enough for a man-sized meal.

Not only are they seriously large, but they are seriously good, and brain-dead easy to make. I cooked mine on the Char-Broil Big Easy® Smoker, Roaster & Grill, but you can use whatever grill or cooker you have.

Thanks to the good folks at Honeysuckle White for sending me these to try. I look forward to going bird-to-bird with some fellow bloggers and competing in their Take On Turkey Challenge.

2 packages Honeysuckle White turkey wings or drumettes
1/3 cup Your favorite BBQ rub/seasoning (I used Dirty Bird from Kosmo's Q)
1 cup Your favorite BBQ sauce (of course, spicy is better)

Using a cleaver, cut off the tip of each wing.

Cut out the V-shaped web of skin from between the wing joints.

Terodactyl Wings

Lay the wings on a sheet pan and season each liberally all-around.

Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, at least two hours, or overnight.

Terodactyl Wings

Start your fire and prepare for indirect cooking at medium-high heat (375º-400º).

Add two small chunks of fruit wood (apple or cherry) to the fire about 10 minutes before you're ready to cook. Wood chips soaked for 30-60 minutes will work well, too. If you're using a gas grill, make a smoker pouch.

Cook the wings indirect until the internal temperature of the thickest portion of each wing reaches 185º (about an hour and 45 minutes).

Terodactyl Wings

Slather each wing liberally with the sauce, tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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