Whiskey BBQ Sliders

I was reading an article last night, a survey of different dishes being ranked from most favorite – to least, by chefs all across the country. At the top of their list for “foods that are going out of style” was sliders. Which, who orders a slider in a fancy place anyway? I don’t know about you guys, but these tiny bundles of burgers will never go out of style in our house!

The first time I had these was at a book club meeting. The hostess made them for us, and I immediately requested the recipe! Sliders are so much fun, you can put anything on/in them – and besides that, they’re just so darn cute! I’ve made them a couple of times since then, usually for lunch on a weekend. But, they would be just perfect for one of the big games we have coming up!

Don’t be scared off by the pickled jalapenos. These sliders aren’t very spicy, the peppers really add more flavor than anything. It’s a low and slow kind of heat, and we love it. But if you’d like to leave them out, that’s fine. Maybe add a splash of vinegar to the sauce instead, just for a little bit of acidic bite to round out the flavors.

Pan PizzaPan pizza is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. But, so often when it comes from a chain in a pizza box – it’s a grease festival. I first made this recipe years ago, when I saw it on Alex Guarnaschelli’s show (love her!) and it was an immediate hit with our family.

The crust is thick and chewy, as well as crispy. Can hold up to any toppings you throw on it. And, isn’t effusively greasy. The crust just absorbs the olive oil to create a wonderfully flavored crust. I went all out fake out take-out style here, creating our own meat lover’s pizza at home. Bacon, ham, and pepperoni – we’ve dubbed it “Porkapalooza”.

Our family never gets tired of pizza night, and this is something different to throw into the rotation. A little more heartier of a pizza for these cold winter months we have ahead of us!

Every day, I thank the sweet Heavens for this place I call home. Within a 20 minute drive I can procure some of the freshest seafood imaginable. Shrimp, crabs, fish, oysters, clams – even lobsters. And, I don’t go to some fancy supermarket to get them. Most of places I go to buy my seafood are little run-down shacks, ran by the waterman themselves.

Seaside Lobsters in Atlantic, VA is one of those places. They’re only open a few afternoons a week, but there’s nothing like having Jon stop on his way home from work to pick up a couple of big lobsters to have for dinner, for around $25. They run about $8 a pound, which is unbelievably reasonable. They also often have “culls” or one-clawed lobsters for even less, around $6 a pound. Which are great for recipes that just include meat – lobster rolls, anyone?

Needless to say, I love to support my local waterman. Those guys are out there working in the blistering cold and heat – all year long, to put food on our tables. The Eastern Shore wouldn’t be what it is today without them, as so much of our local economy relies on the seafood industry – and has for hundreds of years.

Steamed lobster couldn’t be easier, or more special. It’s a perfect decadent dinner for a special evening like Christmas or New Year’s. And, it takes only 20 minutes to cook. Paired with simple sides like a baked potato and salad – a meal like this gives you more time to spend with the family around the Christmas tree, and not in the kitchen slaving over a stove.

Roasted Turkey. Those two simple words instill so much fear and worry into home cooks, all over this  country, this time of year. I remember being intimidated – I mean, 20 pounds can be a lot of bird! But, you really shouldn’t be. Since I started brining my turkey, there hasn’t been a dry bird in the house for years.

Another key component for a good turkey is a nice variety of aromatics stuffed into the cavity. You can use what you have around – but, I’ve settled on oranges, onions, and rosemary. It infuses the meat subtly with those wonderful flavors. And, the juices drip down into the roasting pan infusing the gravy with the flavors as well. I didn’t list it in the recipe, but I love this seasoning mix from Penzey’s. The dried orange peel and coriander really shine through, and I love using it on my turkey.

Then there’s the cheesecloth thing. It’s mainly to keep the breast from browning too much, but it keeps the skin constantly soaked in delicious basting juices – which I don’t think hurts, either. Martha’s original recipe called for white wine, but a couple years ago all I had on hand was some home brewed hard cider so I subbed that. And wowza, talk about awesome. Tomorrow I’m posting my recipe for hard cider gravy, made from pan drippings. So, be sure to check back – you don’t want to miss that one!