Smoked Pickled Potatoes with Aioli

These potatoes are brined, smoked, and then deep-fried to achieve shatteringly crisp skin and meltingly tender interior. #potatoes #smoker #crispy #sidedishrecipes

Let’s cut to the chase, people: These smoked pickled potatoes are crazy love. They’re the kind of food that you taste just once and can’t get out of your mind. The kind of side dish that makes you hoard some in the kitchen before guests arrive so that every time you “forget” something and have to go back in, they’re patiently waiting for you. The kind of thing that, for just a brief moment, makes you seriously consider eating off guests’ plates when you’re cleaning up.
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Rotisserie Chicken 101

In chapter two of the continuing saga of my backyard grilling session with Jamie Purviance, in which he taught me not just how to grill steak but also how to grill salmon, I learned the tricks and subtleties of making a rotisserie chicken. The reason I insisted Jamie divulge all of his poultry pointers is that The One and I have been devouring rotisserie chickens (aka RoChix) from Citarella in New York, two blocks from our apartment, for years. They’re so tender and packed with flavor, we knew we had to figure out how to cook them ourselves. But even better.

After tucking into RoChix from other places for comparison, one major difference surfaced: Citarella brines their birds. So that’s what we wrassled with first. We tried all kinds of combinations of herbs and spices, as well as varying amounts of salt, until we finally hit upon what comes closest to (and some of our NYC guests swear is even better than) Citarella’s: lots and lots of thyme, a handful of garlic cloves, a bit of rosemary, a pittance of whole black peppercorns, salt, and sugar. (Curiously, Jamie commented that adding sugar is unusual for chicken brining, but we found that it helps give the bird an incredibly crisp golden-brown skin.)

After we seared the brine recipe into our brains, we began knocking these roasted suckers out of the oven left and right. But we realized a lot of chicken-y goodness was being left in the pan. (We took a page from Ina Garten’s book—literally—and tossed homemade croutons with the pan drippings to great effect and copious rounds of applause.) But that still didn’t solve our dilemma: The more fat and juices that dripped off the chicken into the pan, the less juicy and flavorful the bird. Plain old physics, right? Read more “Rotisserie Chicken 101” »

How to Grill Steak

A grilled rib eye steak on a grill over open flame.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but it seems whenever I venture out into the backyard and leave behind the comforting confines of my kitchen, with its dependable six-burner Viking stove and terribly erratic Dacor oven (which I’ve come to learn to anticipate its mood, much like a human barometer), I’m suddenly struck dumb. It’s like being in the hinterlands, and I have to be MacGyver, using a pair of pantyhose, wooden sticks, and an ignition switch from a dilapidated 1967 Thunderbird convertible to light the damn grill.

That’s why this year I decided to buy a Weber Summit S-670. Now, this beauty, which is the size of a Smart Car, has every bell and whistle a grillicionado could want: six burners, a sear station, smoker, rotisserie, and even a side burner, which I haven’t yet figured out what I’m going to use to to make. Read more “How to Grill Steak” »