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Falling off the Bone, Perfect Smoky Colors - TFL
Usually smoking and bbqing (not grilling) are best left to the professionals. To really create the perfect smoking environment takes real wood, patience, and usually a seasoned brick pit. But do not be dismayed, for with a little rigging of your traditional grill, you too can create delicious smoked food. This can be prepared on a gas grill (our choice) or charcoal. Temperature control is key, and can be more difficult on charcoal. 

Today we will be using our favorite cut of meat, the halved chicken. You can usually find these in your grocery store coolers, or you can simply cut a whole chicken in half, removing the backbone. The other secret is brining. We like to always brine our chicken - even if it is only for a few hours and sometimes up to 24. Then just let the smoke go low and slow over the meat, and a couple of hours later we have delicious and tender smoked chicken.

4 Chicken halves, medium sized - NOT LARGE
1 bag of hickory wood chips 
1 disposable Aluminum Half Pan

Brine
1 Gallon of Water
2 Lemons
1 Stalk of Rosemary
1 Stalk of Thyme
7 Cloves of Garlic
2 tblsp of Peppercorns
1/2 Cup of Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup of Sugar

Zest both lemons, and squeeze remaining juice into a big stock pot. Mix remaining ingredients into pot using some warm water to start to make sure all salt and sugar dissolves. Submerge all chicken in pot, and refrigerate overnight.

Take half pan and use sharp knife to make small slits in the bottom of the pan. Next fill pan with wood chips and sprinkle lightly with water.

Turn grill on high, and heat up for about 20 minutes. Place pan of chips on one side of the grill and close top. Wait about 15 minutes until chips are smoking and turn off all of the grill except for the element under the chips pan.
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Wood Chips - Slightly Soaked - TFL
Place the chicken halves, skin side up, on the portion of the grill that is now turned off and close the grill. Maintain a steady supply of smoke by monitoring the chips and adding more as needed.

After approximately 90-120 minutes, test the chicken for doneness by pulling the leg. If it easily separates from the thigh, then the chicken is ready. If it is still stiff, and does not separate easily, continue smoking until it will pull apart with ease.
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Beautiful Smoky Glaze - Nothing added - TFL
Slow and low is the principle here, and the smoking just adds flavor. Brining before hand will ensure juicy, flavorful meat. We did nothing to the finished product other than plate and serve. Enjoy chicken at home like the pro's!
 
 
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Buffalo WIngs courtesy of Rick/Flickr
We at TFL love chicken. We also love grilled, spicy food. Come to think of it, we love blue cheese and crispy celery. Add all of these together and you have the perfect opportunity to prepare and indulge in what possibly may be the perfect protein - the chicken wing.

Not so long ago, the wing was not really the "thing" - but instead was initially scrap meat. Urban legend has it that a young bar keep in upstate NY started serving the cheapest piece of chicken he could buy, and the buffalo wing was born. Since, there are many variations including brined, Thai, Chinese, hot, sweet, grilled, fried gourmet and bar snacks.

At TFL, we take our wings seriously. We have grilled, fried, broiled and baked. Brined, dry rubbed, and basted - there is not a technique we have not applied. After many tastings by friends and family, we have come upon a recipe that combines the best of all recipes, and makes our samplings much easier to attend.

This recipe does take time, but we think all good things come to those who work hard and apply themselves. Good Luck !

Ingredients

1/2 pound (per serving) of mixed drummettes and wingettes separated
salt and pepper to taste
2 tblsp of unsalted butter
1 jar of wing sauce of your choice (we suggest Frank's Red Hot/Wings - Buffalo)
4 oz fresh blue cheese
1 jar of favorite blue cheese dressing (we suggest Marie's chunky Blue Cheese)
1 bnch of fresh celery

Preheat oven to 280 deg F.
Place wings in shallow baking pan, and season with salt and pepper. (You can add further dry rubs at this point, be we prefer to keep the seasonings simple)
Loosely cover with Tin Foil
Place in oven for 2 hours
Remove from oven, and let sit for 10 minutes
Drain all liquid from the pan
Heat grill to high and chop celery into 4" strips
Mix fresh blue cheese with dressing in a serving bowl and garnish with celery
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Grilled Wings Courtesy of GordonFlood.com/Flickr
When grill is hot, place wings on grill for about 2-3 minutes per side or until browned nicely.
Transfer wings to heat proof bowl, and toss with favorite sauce and the butter
Serve immediately

You can also finish the wings in hot frying oil, but we prefer the taste of the grill.
 
 
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We love the winter months if for one thing only: Braising. When else can you create a one pot comfort food sensation, and warm the whole house at the same time?

Today we have taken the classic bourguignon preparation and substituted chicken thighs for the beef. Some may call this Coq Au Vin, but we like bacon, so we like bourguignon. Most everything else stays the same, but instead of egg noodles, we used mashed potatoes. As always, we suggest using thighs instead of any other cut - they remain moist, and soak up all of the good flavors.

Serves 2-4. Prep time, 30 mins, cooking time 2.5 hours.

Ingredients

2-3 lbs of Chicken thighs, trimmed
4 Large Carrots
1 lb of Mushrooms, Wild preferred, sliced
4 slices of Thick cut Bacon, Diced
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
1 Bch of Fresh Italian Parsley
1 tbsp of Tomato Paste
4 tbsp of Flour
750ml Red Wine, inexpensive
1/2 cup Brandy or Cognac
1 Tsp of brown sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 tbsp of butter, no salt
2 tbsp of Heavy Cream
2 Cups of Beef Stock, high quality

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Heat large dutch oven, and add bacon. Stir occasionally, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside and remove all but 2 tblsp of bacon grease. Generously salt and pepper thighs and then coat with flour. 

Brown thighs in bacon grease on both sides; about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside. 

Deglaze pan with Brandy, scraping up all browned bits from the bottom. When reduced by half, set aside by pouring on top of chicken. 

Add one tblsp of bacon grease back to the pan (or olive oil) and sweat the onion, one (1) diced carrot, the thyme, and the garlic; about 3 minutes.  Set aside with meat. 

Now sautee the mushrooms with 2 tbsp of butter until most moisture as been removed.  Set aside.
 
Add entire bottle of wine  and tomato paste to pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add broth and repeat. Return vegetables (except for mushrooms) and chicken to the liquid, and cover the pot and place into the oven for 1.5 - 2 hours. 

Remove pot from oven, and remove chicken to the side and cover with foil. Strain remaining liquid by removing all solids, add remaining 3 carrots sliced, the sauteed mushrooms and reduce on stove by half. Add remaining 2 tbsp of butter, sugar, and cream and bring to a simmer.
 
Serve with mashed potatoes, and crusty bread. Spoon sauce generously over chicken and include carrots and mushrooms. Garnish with chopped parsley.   
 

 
 
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Courtesy of Ad Hoc, Tom Keller, and Inuyaki

ACTIVE TIME:
1 HR 30 MIN
SERVES: 8


INGREDIENTS
16 chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (I prefer dark meat, substitute as desired)
Cooking oil for frying (peanut if you have it.)
Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish


BRINE INGREDIENTS
1 gallon cold water
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
12 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 large rosemary sprigs
1 small bunch of thyme
1 small bunch of parsley
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons


DREDGE INGREDIENTS
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk


DIRECTIONS

  1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chickens, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight. Drain and rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Make sure the chicken is really dry and that you scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin.
  2. If you want to sous vide the chicken before frying, add two to three pieces of chicken to each Foodsaver bag, then vacuum and seal the bags. Place the chicken at 140F/60C water bath for at least 1 hour. Otherwise, skip to step 5.
  3. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure chicken is very dry.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, ground black pepper and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper or use a wire rack. Let sit for 20 minutes and then redredge the chicken in buttermilk and flour before frying.
  5. In a very large pot or dutch oven, heat oil to 360F. Use enough oil to deep fry the chicken. If you want, you can also pan fry the chicken, as seen below. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches until golden and crunchy and the internal temperature is 160F/60C (about 20 minutes).
Note: If you cooked the chicken sous vide, you can really just trust your judgement and fry until you’re statisfied with the color of the crust since the chicken is already cooked.

Transfer the chicken to cooling rack to drain, and keep warm in a low oven (175–200F) while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.

SOUS VIDE NOTES

  • Cooking the chicken sous vide ensures that it’s moist and tender. If sous vide is not possible, you can either precook chicken in a covered dish, 200F, for about 90 mins prior to battering and frying. You can also fry chicken until desired crispness, and then finish in a 325F oven until internal temperature reaches 160F. 
  • 140F/60C may seem like a low temp for the chicken (160F/71.1C is considered “safe”), but the internal temperature of the chicken will rise when it’s being fried.
GENERAL NOTES

  • Chicken should be at room temperature when you’re ready to cook.
  • You can add herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc.) to the oil as it’s heating to infuse it with flavor and then use the same herbs as a garnish.
  • This fried chicken is great the next day, cold and straight out of the refrigerator.