Crunchy Cowboy Burgers

Burger.JPG

Grilling season just wouldn't be complete without a burger recipe. This is America and we do love burgers after all. What we are going to do here isn't going to be anything revolutionary, but it does have a cheesy twist you may not have seen before.

We are going to change the texture of the cheese in this recipe. So instead of gooey cheese running down the burger we are going to use the oven to make the cheese crunchy, which adds some texture and also changes the flavor profile a bit. You might want to make a couple extra pieces of frico (what the cheese is called), because they are awesome on their own.

INGREDIENTS

Ground Beef

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Reel 'n Smoke All-Purpose Seasoning

Reel 'n Smoke BBQ & Dippin' Sauce

Hamburger Buns

Lettuce, Onion, Tomatoes, Pickles, Bacon, etc

Step 1

Time to apply the heat. Get the grill heating up and pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare the ground beef patties, absolutely no filler in them. Burgers are meant to be all meat. You can make them anywhere from slider size to jumbo size, that is totally up to you. I typically shoot for fairly thick burgers that weigh close to 1/2 lb.

Step 2

Season the burgers liberally with Reel 'n Smoke All-Purpose Seasoning. One little trick I like to do is to add some seasoning before I mix the meat. That gets the flavor all throughout the meat. Once they are seasoned drop them on the hot grill. I like to cook on medium high heat to get my desired level of char and doneness.

Step 3

Grab a cookie sheet and cover it with parchment paper. We are going to use that cheddar cheese to make the frico. Make little piles of the cheese so they are about the same diameter as the burgers will end up being. Pop them in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, you'll want to see the edges turning brown and starting to look crispy.

Step 4

If you are on your 'A game', you'll have it timed where the burgers and frico are done at the same time. Drop the burger on a bun (you can toast it if you want) and smother it with Reel 'n Smoke BBQ & Dippin' Sauce. The frico will slide right off the parchment paper with a spatula, scoop that up and drop it on top. Top the burgers with whatever else you would like and serve!

BEER PAIRING

The BBQ sauce really gives this burger a bold flavor. So we are going to need a beer that will stand up to that and also really compliment the sweetness.  When I want a beer that is powerful and full of flavor, a scotch ale is my go to.  I picked up one from Arcadia Ales in Battle Creek, MI (they also have a location in Kalamazoo, MI). The Loch Down from Arcadia packs a punch, like most scotch ales, coming in at 8%.  It scotch flavor doesn't over power the beer and the sweetness really shows through. I highly recommend it for any recipe you are going to incorporate Reel 'n Smoke BBQ sauce in!

Sizzlin' Skinless Salmon

Grilled Salmon

When we think of summertime meals on the grill, fish isn't necessarily at the top of the list. However, we're going to share a super easy, delicious, and healthy grilled salmon recipe (besides the butter). 

Working with a skinless salmon while cooking provides a couple advantages. One of the biggest advantages is the ability to trim the brown fat that is in between the skin and the meat from the fish. The brown fat is where most of the contaminants within Great Lakes fish are found, so it is much better cutting it off at the start of cooking.  It also allows for excess fat to drip off of the fish.

INGREDIENTS

Salmon Fillets (skinless)

Olive oil

Lemon Juice

Reel n Smoke All-Purpose Seasoning

Butter (Optional)

Lemon Pepper

Old Bay Seasoning

Step One

It's time to prep our fish. When we freeze Lake Michigan salmon we always leave the skin on, just in case we decide it's going in the smoker vs going on the grill. Store bought fish often has the skin on when purchased too. So grab a fillet knife and fillet the skin off the salmon (you'll also want to trim the brown fat off the fish at this point). Ideally we will have serving size chunks of the fillet about 3 to 4 inch long.

Step Two

Hit the salmon with some lemon juice. Freshly squeezed is always preferred, but the stuff in the bottle will work just fine too. Make sure you get both sides of the fillet coated.

Step Three

Take a basting brush and brush all sides of each fillet liberally with olive oil. This is absolutely critical to keeping the fish from sticking to the grill grates. While you are at it, be sure to brush the grill grates with olive oil before they get too hot. If the grill is already hot, be careful brushing on the olive oil. It will go up in flames quickly.

* The cleaner the grill grates are before attempting this recipe the better the results will be.

Step Four

It's time to sprinkle Reel 'n Smoke All-Purpose seasoning on our salmon. Get it nicely seasoned on all sides so it looks nice and peppery.  At this point, you can add a classic seafood seasoning on top of the Reel 'n Smoke base. Either Old Bay or Lemon Pepper compliment this dish great, but is not needed.

Step Five

We are ready to start grilling. Add the salmon fillets to the grill at medium high heat.  You can crank it up if you want the outside a little crispy.  We like to put a good sized chunk of butter on top of the fillet when it's first added to the grill. As the butter melts, it will spread  over the top of the fish. Grill 6 minutes on each side, or until the fish is flaky (extremely large salmon might take a minute, or two longer). You'll want to use a large spatula to flip the salmon without having it flake apart on you. Once the fish is done; plate, serve, and enjoy!   Remember to be watchful for small pin bones that may still be in the fillet.

BEER PAIRING

For this recipe's Michigan beer pairing we are going with bonfire brown from Saugatuck Brewing in Saugatuck.  We wanted a flavorful beer, that wasn't too heavy, and had some sweetness to it. A classic brown ale is just right for that! A little bit of sweetness typically a good thing when it comes to salmon and the beer was the perfect place to add it. The other thing we really liked about this brown ale is it has a taste of smokiness at the very end.  And we all know that smoke and salmon are a perfect match.

Bonfire Hobo Dinners

Bonfire Hobo Dinners.jpg

Simple, primitive, and downright delicious describe this next recipe. Here at Reel n Smoke we love to be outside, combine that with summertime in Michigan and camping is the first thing that comes to mind. No good camping trip is complete without a bonfire, so that's what we are going to cook with in this one. No set temperatures, times, or limits on creativity. You can make do with what you have or even pre-package these and keep them in a cooler until they are ready to be used. You'll probably be making these for a number of people so adjust the amounts of ingredients accordingly.

INGREDIENTS

Meat (hamburger in this case)

Potatoes  (the smaller the variety the better)

Onion

Carrots

Butter

Green Pepper

Reel 'n Smoke All-Purpose Seasoning

Reel 'n Smoke BBQ & Dippin' Sauce, Hot sauce, or Worchester sauce (optional)

Step 1

Get a fire going! Let it burn for a while and get some coals going. You don't have to cook these right in the fire, they can be on an elevated grate or in a grill, but today I'm cooking them on the coals of an open fire. Just don't put them directly in the flames or you might have some burning problems.

Step 2

If you haven't already packaged your hobo dinners now is the time to start combining the ingredients. You'll want to use a double layer of tinfoil to wrap these so no juices escape. Since we are working with burger in this version you'll want to shape that into patties or meatballs and give them a healthy dose of Reel 'n Smoke seasoning. Add the burger to the tinfoil and if you have some cooking spray on hand you can coat the tin foil with that.

Step 3

It's time to prepare the vegetables. Starting with the carrots, slice them into 1/4 inch sections. Next take green pepper and onion and slice them as well.  Finally we have our potatoes, you can use any kind but since I prefer less cutting I use small medley potatoes. Cut the potatoes into third's, or half's. Add the vegetables to the tin foil packet on top of the meat and apply a liberal amount of Reel 'n Smoke seasoning.

Step 4

Add a couple chunks of butter on top of the whole package for some more flavor. You can also get creative and add something else for more moisture/flavor here (Reel 'n Smoke BBQ sauce, hot sauce, or worchester sauce work well) . One thing I'll typically have available when camping is beer, so I'm going to add a bit of that in the foil package here too.

Step 5

Clear a spot in the fire where the dinners can be added onto a hot bed of coals but not directly in the fire and wait about a half hour. Times will vary here depending on the heat of the fire, outside temperature, and wind so you will have to use a little of your own judgment. The greater the contents in each package the greater the cooking time will be. Be careful if you start to smell something burning.  If that begins to happen, get them out of the fire.

Step 6

Removing them from the fire is best done with a pair of tongs, but if you are roughing it a couple sticks will work just fine. Open them up and let them cool for a couple minutes because they are going to be hot!

 

BEER PAIRING

Now that we've got our hobo dinners done, it's time to crack a cold one open. We are going with one of Michigan's most refreshing and easiest to find craft beers for this one. Founders All Day IPA is great year round, but it's crispness really shines in the summer months. You can definitely tell the hops are there, but it isn't overpowering and is a great choice with many foods. The bonus is that since it's a session ale with a lower ABV of 4.7 you can have a few of them around the campfire and still get going the next morning.

Bold 'n Sassy Chicken Wings

RNS Chicken Wings

With this main ingredient, there's no need to go hunting or fishing.  Well, unless you happen to have a few chickens to round up.

We guarantee you won't be disappointed with this simple and easy chicken wing recipe.  It's perfect for a cookout, family meal, main course, or an appetizer.  Just be sure to have enough for all of your guests!

INGREDIENTS

Frozen Chicken Wings

Reel 'n Smoke All-Purpose Seasoning

Reel 'n Smoke Bold 'n Sassy BBQ Sauce

Step One

These can be cooked either frozen or thawed. If you have the foresight to take them out of the freezer and let them thaw that is the way to go, if not we can make it work. Set the grill on medium high (or medium if you like a nice char) and add the wings. If using frozen wings start at a medium temp and work your way up as they thaw and hit them with a dose of Reel 'n Smoke All-Purpose Seasoning. This not only adds to the flavor of the BBQ wings but gives you a nice flavor if you want a few plain ones.

Step Two

Wait until the outside of each chicken has been thoroughly cooked and has been seasoned before applying any Bold'n Sassy BBQ sauce. One of my favorite things about this sauce is how thick it is. It really sticks to food while it is cooking.  Now is the time to brush each wing with a healthy coating of sauce. Cook for 6-8 minutes, flip the wings and repeat the brushing. I brush each side twice throughout this process. You are looking at a total cooking time of around 30 minutes for frozen wings, less for unfrozen wings. Feel free to flip and move them around as you see fit based on the hot spots within your grill.

Step Three

Serve the chicken wings with a side of Reel 'n Smoke Bold 'n Sassy sauce, ranch, and blue cheese dressing for dipping. The Bold 'n Sassy sauce does have a nice kick to it (it seems wrong to have wings without some spice). It's not too hot, but you know it's there! Celery and carrots are a must anytime wings are on the table.

BEER PAIRING

Have you ever heard of chicken wings without beer? I didn't think so. To compliment this meal, I looked to one of my favorites, the red ale.  The Big Red Coq from Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids is what I propose drinking with these chicken wings. It's hoppy for a red ale, but still has that malty smoothness associated with red ale's.  This beer selection is great for just about any meal, but especially Reel 'n Smoke's chicken wings!

GRANDMA ELLIOTT'S CAST IRON VENISON

IMG_9493.jpg

Simple. Tasty. Traditional.

There's a lot of things I won't ever forget about my grandmas cooking, and each of them have one thing in common, a cast iron skillet. While no two cast iron skillets in this world are the same, there is no doubt that the years of cooking imparted something special to this one. Not only is this cast iron skillet associated with home cooked meals, but it brings back special memories of pre and post hunt breakfasts that will never be topped!

While I won't be using that same cast iron skillet, it's legacy does live on as my brother still uses it. The principles, though, stay the same; meat/eggs, grease/butter, and a healthy dose of seasoning produce amazing results. In this recipe we are going to use venison steaks and not super thick ones either (1/4 to 3/8 of an inch), there is no need to use the loins for this recipe. Please save those for the grill! We will end up with steaks cooked most of the way through, however they will be tender and taste great. You can also use just about any other cut of red meat out there and have excellent results. The bonus is you'll have a half hour at most into the prep and cooking of this recipe!

One last thing before we really dive into it, huge thanks to Andrew and Chad of Sedulous Media Group for these awesome whitetail hunting pictures. These guys have some amazing skills when it comes to outdoor photography and capturing the moments of why we hunt.

INGREDIENTS

1 white onion (sliced or diced)

Venison Steaks

Flour

Reel n Smoke Seasoning

Butter

Mushrooms (sliced)

Step 1

It's time to break out the butter! Heat your cast iron skillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter. As the butter is melting add your onions and mushrooms. It really doesn't matter how the onions are cut, but I prefer sliced as it is less prep work. You'll want to see these starting to cook and turn brown, about 5-8 minutes or so.

Step 2

While the mushrooms and onions are browning it's time to prep our steak. Grandma would always just use salt and pepper, but we've made some advancements since then. I'm going to apply a healthy dose of Reel n Smoke Seasoning to achieve the right amount of flavor. Next I'm going to put a thin coat of flour on them. Add flour to a plate and just flip both sides of the steak in it so it has a light coating.

Step 3

Move the mushrooms and onions to the side of the skillet and add another chunk of butter. When that has melted it's time to add the steaks! I keep the heat at medium high to high throughout the whole process. Browned/burned bits and pieces are a good thing with this recipe.  Typically after 5-6 minutes you'll see blood pooling on the top side of the steaks. That means they are ready to flip.

Step 4

The thickness of your steak will determine how long this step takes. At a minimum we are talking another 5 minutes. Also don't hesitate to flip it a couple more times to soak up some more of that cast iron flavor. We aren't trying to make it a one flip operation with some fancy grill lines in this recipe.

Step 5

Remove the steaks from the heat and top with the onions and mushrooms. Allow to rest and cool down for a couple minutes and serve.  

 

BEER PAIRING

This time we are sticking pretty close to home and along the lakeshore for our beer pairing. We are going with the Ryecoe IPA from Big Lake Brewing in Holland, Michigan. The Taproom is currently located a bit north of Lake Macatawa, but they are on the move to downtown Holland soon. I highly recommend their taproom, not only for the great beers, but the reasonably priced growlers if you want to take some home (it's hard to find good deals on those most places). Rye P.A.'s just might be my favorite style of IPA, I can't exactly put my finger on why however. There is a combination of the hops, malt, and rye spicyness. They are just right in this one and it is very well done for the style. It's an easy drinker, comes in 16 ounce cans (always a bonus), and is easily found in stores throughout west Michigan. I wouldn't hesitate to drink this beer with any meal as it is simply just one of my favorites.