Memphis Dry-Rubbed Wings

Last weekend I hosted a driveway tailgate party for our church youth group and our pastors. The party was sponsored by Bush Brothers, and we had a wonderful time of fun, food, and fellowship while we cheered on our hometown Boise State Broncos.

Bush's Gameday Cookout

The weather was absolutely perfect for our cookout. It was calm and sunny with temperatures in the high 60's. We live relatively close to the stadium and in the flight path to Mountain Home Air Force Base just down the freeway, so we were able to see the four Air Force F-15's fly over as they completed their pre-game fly-by. Being an Air Force vet, it always stirs me to hear that thundering sound of freedom overhead.

Bush's Gameday Cookout

It was great to be outside on such a beautiful day cooking and enjoying time with dear friends. The kids were all over the place (naturally) playing, climbing our tree, and tossing the football in the street. Of course I was manning the smoker and grill.

Here I'll share the first of two recipes that I created for the event. These Memphis dry-rubbed wings are great alongside a heapin' helping of Bush's Country Style Baked Beans. The rub gives these wings a perfect balance of salt and sweet, with just a bit of spicy goodness that works very well with the brown sugar in the beans.

10 lbs Chicken wing sections, defrosted
1 3/4 cups Memphis dry rub (recipe follows)
3 cans Bush's Country Style Baked Beans
Canola oil spray

Memphis Dry Rub
1 cup Sea salt, medium fine (no table salt, please)
1/2 cup Unrefined evaporated cane sugar (no table sugar, please)
1/2 cup Brown sugar, golden/light
2 Tbs Sweet Hungarian paprika
2 Tbs Chili powder, medium heat
2 Tbs Granulated onion (not onion "powder")
2 Tbs Dry mustard
1 Tbs Granulated garlic (not garlic "powder")
2 tsp Dry thyme
2 tsp Dry oregano
2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
2 tsp Celery salt
2 tsp Ground ginger
1 tsp Ground coriander
1 tsp Ground cayenne (optional)

Combine all of the rub ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well with a hand mixer or stand mixer.

Divide the wings into three equal batches in gallon zip-top bags. Add 1/3 cup of the rub to each bag, seal and shake to coat the wings evenly.

Refrigerate the bags of wings in a lipped sheet pan for at least two hours, or overnight.

Start your grill or smoker and prepare for indirect cooking at 250-275º.

Oil your cooking grates well with canola oil spray.

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.

Drain the liquid from the bags of wings. Add two tablespoons of rub to each bag, seal and shake to coat the wings evenly.

Cook the wings indirect one hour (I used my Ugly Drum Smoker).

Memphis Dry-Rubbed Wings

Flip the wings over, spray them with a light coat of canola oil, dust them very lightly with rub, and cook indirect one hour more.

Memphis Dry-Rubbed Wings

Memphis Dry-Rubbed Wings

Just before the wings are ready, heat the beans in an large pot.

Serve and enjoy!

Check back later this week for my second gameday recipe. It'll take grilled brats to a whole new level.

Disclaimer: This cookout is in partnership with, and sponsored by, Bush Brothers & Company.

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Gameday Grub With Bush's Beans
Fall is upon us, and it's my favorite season. Of course fall means football, and I'm very pleased to be teaming up with the great folks at Bush Brothers to spread some gameday love and grilling ideas.

This weekend I'll be hosting a driveway tailgate party for our church youth group where I'll feature a couple of great grilling recipes that are tailor-made to accompany Bush's Beans. Bush's are my go-to beans, and I'm looking forward to bringing you what I hope are some inspirational recipes.

This Saturday the Falcons of the Air Force Academy roll into Boise to try to drop some bombs on our hometown (and #5 ranked) Boise State Broncos. It's homecoming for the Broncos, and it's also the first time that the two teams have met on the field. It's going to be an interesting game for me, given that I'm an Air Force veteran. I honestly can't pick a team to root for, so I'll weasel out and pull for both teams.

Stay tuned for the featured recipes. In the mean time, here are some tailgating and cookout tips that I hope will lend to the success of your next event.

  • Pre-prep(aration) is the key to stress-free success! Simply put, do as much as you can as far in advance as possible. Many dishes, like beans, composed salads (such as macaroni or potato), sauces, dressings, etc. can be made not just the day before, but a few days in advance. Of course, you should always follow good food safety and storage practices.
  • Disposable is your friend. I highly recommend the use of disposable containers when preparing your gameday grub -- especially if you're going on the road. Foil pans and zip-top bags will save you a ton of hassle and clean-up.
  • Have a plan and follow it. Run through the event and cooking schedule in your head and put a plan to paper. You have to know how you're going to manage your cooking space and the various cooking, holding, and serving times. You don't want to be figuring all of that out on-the-fly as you go.

Disclaimer: This cookout is in partnership with, and sponsored by, Bush Brothers & Company.

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Pear & Fontina Galette

Fall is my favorite season. I love the cooler temperatures, the burst of new color, and most of all, rustic and hearty fall meals. Pears are a plentiful this time of year, and this is a great light dessert that is just as at home on the grill as it is the oven.

This recipe is one of those that makes it look like you spent a ton of time, yet it's pretty much brain-dead easy. I tried the recipe both on the grill and baked. While the grilled version has a more outdoorsy flavor (of course), the oven version was just as good. After all, indirect grilling is basically baking over coals outdoors.

I used frozen pie crust to make the preparation simple with very little clean-up. You can certainly use homemade dough, but it's really overkill for this recipe.

2 Bosc or Bartlett pears, ripe (I used Bosc)
1 Frozen deep dish pie crust, thawed
3 oz Fontina cheese, sliced to about 1/4"
2 Tbsp Brown sugar
1 Tbsp All-purpose flour (you could use whole wheat)
1/2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup Apricot preserves
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp Water, divided
1 Egg
1 tsp Sugar

Start your grill and prepare for indirect cooking at 375º, or preheat your oven to 375º.

Combine the brown sugar, flour and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl and mix well with a fork.

Peel the pears (optional, but I did) and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Remove the core from each quarter and slice them to about 1/4" into a medium mixing bowl.

Add the sugar, flour, and spice mixture to the pears, fold gently to coat the pears evenly, and set aside.

Pear & Fontina Galette

Arrange the cheese slices evenly in the flat bottom of the pie crust.

Pear & Fontina Galette

Pour the pear mixture into a pile in the flat bottom of the crust. You want to leave the sides uncovered.

Pear & Fontina Galette

Fold the very top edge of the crust up and flatten it to a consistent thickness. You want to create smooth sides.

Pear & Fontina Galette

Gently fold the sides over in sixths and pinch the extra dough together to form an appealing edge.

Pear & Fontina Galette

Whisk the egg and one teaspoon of water well in a small mixing bowl. Brush the edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar.

Pear & Fontina Galette

Cook indirect (or bake on the center rack) for 40 minutes, or until the crust is just golden brown.

While the galette is cooking, whisk the apricot preserves and 2 tablespoons of water in a small mixing bowl until smooth.

Drizzle the exposed pears with about three tablespoons of the thinned preserves and cook another 10 minutes.

Remove from the grill/oven and let cool 20-30 minutes.

Pear & Fontina Galette

Slice and serve with a drizzle of the remaining preserve mixture.

Pear & Fontina Galette


(Makes 6 servings)

Note: This pairs (no pun intended) very well with a nice dessert wine. Or, skip the wine and serve it warm with some vanilla bean ice cream.

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Homemade Habanero Kielbasa

A few months ago I reviewed Oakridge BBQ rubs, and I loved them. So, when I saw that they were offering a one-time-only limited edition Habanero Death Dust rub I was all over it.

When I received the rub last week I immediately tasted it. Wow! This stuff packs some serious heat, but it's balanced with great flavor.

Homemade Habanero Kielbasa

Here's how it's described on their site:
Oakridge BBQ's new Limited Edition Habanero Death Dust® features ultra-high quality ground 350,000 Scoville-rated Habanero chilies, smokey-hot Chipotle chilies, and 11 other herbs and spices. The aroma is earthy and spicy, with the fragrance of habanero chiles immediately present. The flavor profile starts sweet and savory with hints of raw cane sugar, molasses, and garlic then in about 3 seconds slams into high gear with the flavor and heat of habanero chiles.
I love good sausage, and I thought that this rub would be perfect for some uber-spicy homemade kielbasa, and I was right. Here's what I came up with.

2 lb Pork rib trimmings, or pork shoulder, cut to roughly 1" pieces/cubes
2 lb Pork sirloin, cut to roughly 1" cubes
12 oz Uncured bacon (I used Hempler's), chopped to 1"
1 cup Ice water
3 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp Oakridge BBQ Habanero Death Dust
2 Tbsp Dry marjoram
1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
1 1/2 tsp Granulated garlic

Combine all of the ingredients in a very large mixing bowl and stir well to combine.

Split the meat mixture into three equal portions, put each portion into a gallon zip-top bag and refrigerate overnight.

About 90 minutes before you're ready to grind and stuff the sausage, move the bags of meat to the freezer, along with your meat grinder parts (I use grinder and stuffer attachments for my KitchenAid mixer).

Assemble your grinder for a small grind and set a large mixing bowl in an ice bath to catch the ground meat.

Working as quickly as you can, grind the meat into the bowl in the ice bath.

Cover the ground meat and refrigerate immediately.

Prepare your stuffer with your casing of choice. I used 33mm prepared collagen casings from Cabela's.

Working in batches, stuff the sausage into approximately four 18-inch portions, per your machine's instructions.

Refrigerate the stuffed sausage at least two hours before smoking.

Start your smoker and prepare for smoking at 275* with the smoke wood of your choice. I used cherry.

Smoke the sausage indirect until it reaches an internal temperature of 165* (about two hours).

Remove the sausage from the cooker and serve.

I served mine on a toasted roll with melted baby Swiss cheese, and I topped them with caramelized red onions and plain yellow mustard.

Homemade Habanero Kielbasa


Note: If you plan to serve the sausage the day after cooking it, simply let it cool at room temperature for an hour then refrigerate it in gallon zip-top bags.

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