Fire Day Friday: Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Manchalapeno sauce

Never heard of Manchapeno sauce before?

Me either until I made it up the other day when I made up this summery grilled chicken sandwich inspired by the Kentucky Hot Brown. Manchapeno sauce is a white sauce powered by a fire roasted jalapeno pepper and the salty nutty taste of manchego cheese.

The result was decadent. If it wasn’t for the sound of the crispy bacon as I bit into this, I think I would have been able to hear my taste buds sing.
Open Faced Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Manchapeno Sauce
3 large chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
Chicken Rub (see recipe)
3 sliced Italian bread
2 ea roma tomatoes, sliced in 1/4” pieces
6 slices bacon, cooked
Manchapeno Sauce (see recipe)
NMT Basic Chicken Rub
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp turbinado sugar
Manchapeno Sauce
1 Tbsp butter, unsalted
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp flour, all purpose
1 cup milk
1 cup manchego cheese
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt
1 jalapeno (red if possible), fire roasted, peeled and seeded
2 Tbsp parsley, finely diced
Season chicken with the chicken rub. Feel free to substitute a purchased chicken rub if you have it on hand.
Make the “manchapeno sauce”. Melt the butter and saute garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the flour and stir until well blended in (2-3 minutes), starting to form a roux.
Add in the milk and lightly simmer for 5-6 minutes. Stir in the cheese in small batches until all blended. Stir in the salt, pepper, jalapeno, and parsley. Keep warm on low, stirring occasionally.
Grill chicken over direct heat at 400f for 4 minutes. Flip can cook another 4 minutes.
Boneless thighs are thin and cook quick, keep an eye on them.
Flip again and cook 1-2 minutes. Flip last time and cook 1-2 minutes until chicken is an internal temp of 160f.
Toast both sides of the bread over the flames.
Top each piece of bread with a piece of chicken, slices of tomato, and 2 slices of bacon. Then ladle the sauce over the sandwich and serve immediately.
Note: I used a red jalapeno from our front yard. Fire roasting the pepper gives it a smokiness like a “quickie chipotle”. Feel free to use a regular jalapeno or any other fire roasted chili. If you don’t like heat, you could use a roasted red bell pepper instead.
Fire Day Friday: Beef Teriyaki

I think most food bloggers fantasize about having their own cook book.  Sure, we know that it won’t likely happen but it is fun to daydream, right?

So it was nice to see fellow food blogger Matt Armendariz of MattBites succeed in having his book On A Stick! published this year.  It is a creative concept of “80 Party-Perfect Recipes” impaled on kebabs.

Here is an adaptation of one of the recipes from Matt’s book.

Beef Teriyaki
adapted from On A Stick!

1 flank steak
16 bbq skewers
2 tsp sesame oi
salt & pepper

Teriyaki Glaze
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

If you are using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Start your grill for medium heat (300-350f).  In a small sauce pan on the grill, mix together the soy sauce, sugar, honey, mirin, garlic and ginger and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir frequently and keep an eye on your heat.  Sugary sweet sauces like this will burn quickly if your temps get away from you.

Stir together the corn starch and water and stir into the teriyaki mixture.  Simmer another 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Bring the grill heat up to 400f.  Slice the steak across the grain in 1/4″ strips like this.

Thread the steak onto the skewers in a weaving fashion.  Grill for 2 1/2 minutes then flip.

Grill another 2 1/2 minutes and flip again.  Brush the top with some of the teriyaki glaze and cook for 2 more minutes.

Flip, brush with glaze and cook for a final 2 minutes.

Remove, sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro.

Remove sticks before eating…..

The salty sweet (or is that sweet salty?) taste was exactly what you want for beef teriyaki.  This dish is one that Vlad the Impaler would be proud to serve.

Fire Day Friday: Beefy Bite Appetizers

It is the holiday season, which unleashes a torrent of parties and get togethers.

That means it is advantageous to have an extra appetizer, hors d’oeuvres, or dessert snack trick up your sleeve. So tonight I played around with an idea I had for an appetizer. This is work in progress kind of thing.

Steak Wrapped Tater Tots

I know. That’s twisted. But sometimes you just have to cut loose and do something different.

For the first round, I cooked tater tots (well, actually Ore Ida Crispy Crowns) according to directions. I placed each one on a 1″ strip of milanesa style sliced beef (thin sliced sirloin) and topped with a variety of ingredients like pickled sweet jalapeno (we usedHobo Howey’s Jalapeno Treats), cheddar cheese, and steak sauce.

I rolled them up and secured with a toothpick and seasoned with a little bit of steak rub (I used Dizzy Pig Cow Lick).

I tried cooking them on the griddle plate of my grill cooking at 450f. It only took 1-2 minutes per side.

While it gave good sear marks, the sides didn’t get much radiant heat so they weren’t as evenly cooked as I would have liked.

It was 35f outside while I was cooking these, but I could not resist making a second attempt. This time I did the same thing but went with direct heat.

That cooked through much better.

And despite my fears the cheese would melt out during the cook, it finished just right.

Lessons learned:

  1. Instead of using a griddle pan, go for direct heat like grilling or broiling.
  2. If using cheese, start with your tater tot facing the hot side (below for grilling, above for broiling) for the first minute.
  3. Serve these quickly after cooking. These are not a “cook and leave on the table” kind of thing if you want to impress.
  4. Idea for the world’s most awesome slider – A juicy lucy style slider with a crispy crown and cheddar inside. Gonna work on that one.
  5. After testing the varieties twice tonight, I think our favorite is a combo of the sweet pickled jalapeno and cheddar. The sweet and heat combine perfectly.

Tell me: When the pressure is on during the holidays, what is your “go to” appetizer/snack?

Fireday Friday: Beef And Swiss Meat Pies

This is a savory meat pie that is based on one of my favorite childhood meals. I love this because it is easy to make, it is easily adaptable to a variety of ingredients, and you can even get the kids involved.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a Big Green Egg or grill, you can easily do this one in your oven too.

Beef & Swiss Meat Pies
1 pound Ground beef
1/2 ea Vidalia onion chopped fine
1/4 ea Green bell pepper chopped fine
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 ea Cans of refrigerated biscuits
10 slices Baby swiss cheese

In a preheated skillet, brown the meat, onion and bell pepper. Drain well.

Flour a surface, take two biscuits, overlap them and then roll them out into a figure 8.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture onto on half of the dough and top with sliced cheese.

Pull and stretch the empty side over and onto the mixture. We find it helps to slightly moisten the edge of the dough with water first. Then crimp the pie closed with a fork.

Bake the pies at 425 for 8-10 minutes each, until golden brown all over.

If you’re using the a ceramic cooker like the Big Green Egg, set it up with the plate setter LEGS DOWN with a pizza stone on top. If you’re using an oven, a pizza stone would help but you can use a baking sheet if that’s what you have. If you don’t preheat the stone, the bottom of the pies will be a bit doughy, so take your time and preheat!

Other versions:
Cheeseburger turnover: meat, onion, & American cheese
Taco turnover: meat, onion, taco seasoning, and pepper jack cheese. Dip in taco sauce.
Gyro Turnover: gyro meat (google Alton Brown gyro), red onion, & feta cheese. Dip in tzatziki sauce.
Club Turnover: ground turkey, bacon crumbles, small diced tomato. Dip in a flavored mayo.

Fire Roasted Cordon Bleu
I paced the meat department and produce department a couple of times trying to find something to inspire dinner for me. It was just one of those long days at work, it was hot out, and nothing was capturing my attention.
I called my wife and 21 y/o son, but neither of them had any suggestions either. Don’t you just hate those kind of days?
So I called the 10 y/o and without hesitation, he offered, “Salmon or cordon bleu.”
Not burgers or pizza…..he wanted salmon or cordon bleu. He’s a good kid;)
Cordon blue it is. This is a Fire Day Friday item, but you can do it just as easily in your oven. (But I do think the hint of cherry wood from the fire roasting is a nice addition.)

Fire Roasted Cordon Bleu
Source: Nibble Me This
3 ea chicken breast, boneless skinless
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 slices smoked ham
3 slices Swiss cheese
1 ea egg
1 Tbsp ice water
1 cup panko bread crumbs
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp butter
1 ea shallot, diced
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Place the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to 1/2″ thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Top with smoked ham and swiss.

Roll the chicken up lengthwise and seal up as best you can, using toothpicks to secure the edges. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg and 1 Tbsp ice water. Roll the breast in the egg wash and then the panko. Place in a baking dish. Top each with 1 Tbsp of butter.

Preheat your grill or oven at 375f. For grilling, you should set up for indirect heat (fire/burners to the sides but not directly under the cooking area). Cook them for 30-35 minutes with the lid closed until the breasts hit an internal temp of 160f. Don’t worry if some of the cheese starts leaking out, it happens.

When the cordon bleu come off, let them rest in a 200f oven or warming drawer and start the sauce. Melt the butter and saute the shallot over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the wine is almost evaporated.
Reduce heat to medium, whisk in the cream and parsley. Cook until the volume is reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When ready to serve CAREFULLY REMOVE ANY TOOTHPICKS YOU USED to seal the chicken. Ladle some of the sauce onto the serving plate and top with a cordon bleu.

This was the first time I’ve done cordon bleu on the grill but it worked out very well and the family devoured it. I’ll be doing this one again, for certain!
Have a grillin’ weekend!
Fire Day Friday – Grilled Lettuce Wraps

Welcome to the inaugural Fire Day Friday!

Yes, I know, not a very original concept for me, “Gee, Chris is going to cook something on a grill? I’m SOOOOOOO shocked!” [sarcasm inflection]

But I am going to take a different approach with this theme than on Nibble Me This. There I’m just having fun on my grills without regard to whether someone else could replicate it. Sometimes I am cooking something on a grill to prove it can be done (like recent spaghetti).
Fire Day Fridays are about cooking something with live fire that anyone else can make on any other type of grill. No Big Green Egg required. No special equipment. Fire Day Fridays are about inspiring and getting people to use their own grills.
So it is Friday night, you have gotten home from work and you are ready to relax. You want to enjoy the evening in your back yard spending quality time with your favorite adult beverage, not spend all night in the kitchen, right? Here’s a quick and very easy “Friday night bites”.
Grilled Lettuce Wraps
source: Chris of Nibble Me This
3 ea chicken breasts or thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into 1″ cubes
bbq skewers (if using wood, soak for 1 hour in advance)
8 oz can whole water chestnuts
1 cup Mr. Yoshida’s sauce (or sub a teriyaki sauce)
6 Tbsp chunky peanut butter
2 ea dried red chili pepper (sub 1 Tbsp of red pepper flakes)
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 head bibb lettuce, leaves separated and washed
2 cups cooked sweet jasmine rice

Whisk together the Yoshida’s sauce, peanut butter, sesame seeds and chili pepper. Don’t be afraid of the pepper, it isn’t really that hot in the final product. Divide the sauce into 3 portions. You will use them for a marinade, a glaze, and a dipping sauce.

Marinade the chicken with one portion for an hour. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the hour marinade time, just toss the meat in the mixture.

Skewer 3 pieces of chicken, a water chestnut, and 3 more pieces of chicken. Repeat.TIP: If using thick round skewers, you might split the water chestnut if not careful. Spin the skewer as you push into it so it drills rather than pierces.

Preheat your grill to 350f. If you are using a gas grill, that’s about medium. Place the skewers over the direct heat for 2 minutes. Turn them 1/4 turn, and cook another 2 minutes (4 total so far).

Turn and cook another 2 minutes (6 total so far). Brush with sauce and cook another 2 minutes (8 minutes total cooking time).
Remove from the grill. (You could serve these just as kebabs at this point with the rest of the sauce as a dipping sauce.)
Serve each kebab with a bibb lettuce leaf filled with about 1/4 cup of rice, dice the water chestnut, and top with some rice noodles. Serve with the rest of the dipping sauce.

Then sit around on your patio or deck and enjoy the evening with your family and friends as you eat these. They are a bit messy to eat after the third bite so have plenty of napkins on hand!