Sunday, June 25, 2017

Slow cooking: ‘These are a few of my favorite things…”

April 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Recipes

Today I am cooking one of my favorite meals: smoked chicken, black beans and rice. Simple and wonderful. You can prepare the ingredients in no time, and then while everything slowly cooks, you can spend your day doing whatever tickles your fancy. What I am doing today is testing out my new rollerskates (yes skates – not rollerblades). It has been many years since I was on skates, so I figure by the time dinner is done, I will have conquered getting around the block. I hope. Don’t worry. I bought knee pads too.

First thing is first. The black beans are cooking in a crockpot, so those have to get going early. I soaked the beans overnight, which you should always do with raw beans. Rinse them first. Then make sure you use a large bowl and fill with water. The water should be much higher than the beans. When you check the beans in the morning, they will have just about tripled in size. Do not dump out the water. Pour the entire contents into the crockpot and turn on high. You could also do this on low heat on the stove top, but make sure you check and stir frequently. You are going to add a few simple ingredients to your beans:

1/2 of a large onion chopped (save the other half to dice and serve on top of the beans)

2 poblano peppers chopped

3 large jalapeños diced (remove the seeds first if you don’t want too much heat)

3 medium carrots diced

salt and pepper to taste (don’t over salt – you can always add more later, but you can’t take extra out)

The beans are ready to go. They will cook on high for 4 hours. Then turn down to low and continue to cook for 2 more hours. You really want to let the flavors come together.

This is after 4 hours.

Once the beans are cooking, you can get your chicken started. I use a whole young chicken. You will need to remove the neck and organs, which are usually stuffed in the cavity. You will fill this cavity with fresh fruit. Apples and peaches work great. Then between the skin and the breasts you are going to stuff rosemary and sage and pour in some fresh squeezed orange juice. Two oranges should do it. I never use store bought orange juice because there are too many added sugars and preservatives that are not necessary. Nature made the orange perfect just the way it is.

That’s it. Your chicken is ready for the smoker. A young chicken should take about 4 hours. Add more wood for a more smoky flavor. I am lucky to have some plum wood from a tree we cut down, which adds a little sweet smokiness, but choose the wood you prefer. Cherry wood, apple wood, mesquite, and many other options are available. Soak the wood first so it doesn’t burn up too fast. I add a big pile right when I put the chicken on to infuse as much flavor as possible before the skin seals in the juices. Now all there is to do is wait.

That's what I'm talking about.

When dinner is a half hour away, cook up some rice and chop up the rest of your onion. Pull your chicken off the smoker and let it rest for a few minutes. You can break it down into legs, wings, breasts, etc., or you can pull it apart and debone it completely. I prefer the latter. Now serve it up and ring the dinner bell. It’s time to chow! The perfect finishing touch could be a nice glass of Pinot Noir, which goes great with smoked meat and spice. Contrary to popular belief though, I don’t just drink wine. Today a nice cold beer is calling my name. In this case, the voice is that of an Abita Turbodog dark brown ale, brewed with rich chocolate malt and dry hops. Does it get any better than this? Cheers!

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