Father’s Day

It seems that Father’s Day is upon us again.

I know this, because my gaggle of girls took me out yesterday to one of my favorite restaurants, North Country Brewing Company, for an early dinner/late lunch. And my partner in crime bought me a very cool growler full of their delicious “Paleo IPA” to take home to drink during game two of the Stanley Cup Final.

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This morning, I was afforded the luxury to sleep well past when I would normally sleep, was taken out to breakfast at another favorite local place for breakfast, the Golden Rye Grille, where I was presented with a book of coupons from the girlies for everything from unlimited snuggles to car washes, to floor washing.

Those girls make me proud. They love big, live big, and leave me pondering what may be next. Sometimes, I become concerned that my own weaknesses leave the girls a little bit shy in the Dad department, but for the most part, they seem satisfied. And for that, I’m grateful.

Something that struck me today, as I was smiling while walking to retrieve the car so that the girls didn’t have to walk in the rain, is how much I love being a Dad. I don’t want a day off of taking care of my girls. That’s simply what I do. I had the good fortune of learning to be a dad from both my own Dad and my maternal Grandfather. Both of whom taught me important, though different, lessons. And have helped to make me someone that I feel that I can be proud of today.

I told a friend today that a great man and father teaches their sons how to be a great man. I then pondered joking that it’s a good thing I had all girls. But, I know that’s not true. I’m proud of who I’ve become. I’m proud of the work that we do to try to teach the girls empathy and gratitude. I’m proud of the way that we raise our girls.

For all you Dads out there that sometimes question how well you do at the most important job you have, remember that the single biggest thing that matters, is that they know how much you love them. The self confidence that comes from that gives them the rudder that’s necessary to be confident in themselves, and not be swayed by all of the forces out there that are constantly present, and can blow us off course.

Thank you Dad, and Grandpa, for the love that solidified my core, and allowed me to be steadfast in who *I* wanted to be. A [mostly] great Dad to my girls.

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Sweet tea brined chicken

Smoked chicken is a favorite ’round these parts. In fact, if I was to rate our favorites, it would be:

1a)Brisket

1b)Chicken

3)St.Louis style spare ribs

4)Pulled pork

This chicken is pretty simple, really. Brine for 24 hours. Smoke for 1-1.5 Enjoy! Of course, there are a couple of decisions to make with regard to a couple of those steps. Tonight, I changed up the norm, in that I smoked with cherry as opposed to hickory. And I added crushed garlic and onions to the brine, much to my wife’s chagrin. She asserts that there’s nothing wrong with the chicken, and when she’s found how she likes it, she wants to keep it the way she wants it. But, I like change. I think I’m going to have to do it again, though, as the cherry wood changed the product more than I expected. Sorry, dear. 😉

Sweet tea brined chicken
Recipe type: Sweet tea brined chicken
Prep time: 
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Brine with a southern accent delivers a bit of personality to your chicken.
Ingredients
  • Chicken (I prefer pieces, mostly because my family prefers dark meat)
  • 1 gallon iced tea
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 3 lemons
  • Handful of rosemary
  • Thyme
Instructions
  1. Using whatever method you choose, make iced tea. I, personally, only make iced tea using Luzianne tea if I have a choice. Using my iced tea pot, I make iced tea WITHOUT THE ICE. I usually make two pots, which is probably around a half gallon of stronger, hot tea.I do this so that the temp is up and it's easier to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, I add ice, in order to reduce the concentration of the tea and bring the temperature down quickly. I then add rosemary and thyme, fresh if available, and then I'll halve the lemons and squeeze them into the brine. Add chicken and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preferably, I remove the chicken from the brine an hour or two before preparing to put the chicken on the smoker. This gives the meat a chance to dry out a bit. I also like to let the meat come up in temperature a bit before adding it to the smoker.
  3. Bring the temperature up as close to 300 degrees F before adding the chicken. This helps you avoid the smoked chicken skin being tasty, wood smoked flavored bubble gum.
  4. Smoke wood can be a bit of a holy war. To date, I still prefer hickory. Tonight, I smoked my chicken using cherry, and wasn't prepared for how sweet it seemed to make the chicken. It was still tasty, just different from my normal hickory characteristics.
  5. Smoke the chicken to 165F, or a little better if you prefer.

 

Hardwood grilled steaks

Duh.

This weekend, I had a duh moment when it occurred to me that I wanted to try grilling on my Weber Smoky Mountain. I knew that I wanted to make steaks, which I wasn’t interested in smoking, but I wanted that hint of hardwood regardless. My glee was hardly contained when I figured out that I could make that happen with nearly no modification to my WSM.

  • Remove the bottom rack and the water pan.
  • Bend out your brackets for the water pan slightly.
  • Move charcoal grate up to the water pan brackets.

Voila!

Just that simple, folks.

So, for the evening’s meat, we bought some NY Strip from the local supermarket. Sadly, not quite as thick as I may have liked, but not too bad. I rubbed them down with my version of this rub, which has become my favorite rub for beef thusfar.

 

From there, I lit a half chimney or so of charcoal, and once they were nice and hot, I added a half dozen chunks of hickory into the charcoal.

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Remove the lid for a while, and I found that i could get the chunks to catch flame. I liked this, as I was able to use the flame to sear the steaks. This picture is obviously from after I moved them, but you get the idea…

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I like my steak medium at the most. So, we didn’t leave them on for very long. Probably 8-10 minutes. But we still had a delicious combination of spice, smoke, and meat.

Beef Rub
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Basic rub for beef.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons kosher or coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Combine all spices.
  2. If I'm using this rub on brisket, I usually use 2 or 3 times the amount of cayenne. But, on a steak, two teaspoons of cayenne was a bit much for my wife. I, on the other hand, thought it was delicious!

My steaks will never touch the gas grill again.