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Cheater BBQ

Barbecue Anytime, Anywhere, in Any Weather

Cheater BBQ by Mindy Merrell
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Barbecue fans relax! With more than 125 terrific recipes for indoor cooking, Cheater BBQ makes it easy to serve up pit-style barbecue classics year-round.

Cheater BBQ is the first cookbook to bring the outdoor grilling pit into the weeknight kitchen using little more than a slow cooker or an oven, a roll of foil, a few everyday ingredients, and some all-natural liquid smoke. Anyone can make great cheater barbecue.

The recipes in Cheater BBQ cover smoky barbecue classics: pulled pork, chicken, ribs, brisket, rubs, and regional sauces. Starters and sides include Smoked Paprika Pimiento Cheese, Boston Crocked Beans, Packet Potato Salad, and Loaded Cornbread, as well as drinks and desserts.

From Super Bowl celebrations to March madness get-togethers to simple meals with family, Cheater BBQ delivers barbecue taste year-round—without lighting a match.
Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony; Read online
Title: Cheater BBQ
Author: Mindy Merrell; R. B. Quinn
Cheater Beginnings
Oven-Smoked Almonds
Cortez Salsa
Deviled Egg Spread with Smoked Paprika
Smoky Pecan Cheese Ball
Smoked Paprika Pimiento Cheese
Cheater Foie Gras
Hot Pe–o Noir Spinach Cheese Dip
Any Smoked Fish Party Spread
Cheesy Alligator Snouts
Roasted Eggplant White Bean Spread
Hot-Oven Garlic Heads
Hot-Oven Drums
Rooster Riblets
Quick Sticks
Broiled Kielbasa and Pineapple Picks
Cheata Rita Pitcher
Sparkling Sangria
Hazy Mary
Sparkling Shandy
Red Zingria
Cheater Hot Cider
Eye-Patch Punch
Oven-Smoked Almonds
Makes 2 cups
2 cups raw almonds
1 tablespoon peanut or olive oil
1 tablespoon bottled smoke
1 teaspoon fine-grained seasoned salt (we use Lawry's)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Like popcorn, nuts taste best sprinkled with extra-fine-grained salt that sticks to the snack. That's why the cheater thing to use here is Lawry's seasoned salt, a ready-to-go finely ground blend of salt, seasonings, and sugar that becomes one with the nut. If you use coarse kosher salt, you'll find the flakes sitting in the bottom of the bowl. You can smoke all kinds of nuts-peanuts, pecans, whatever you like-but the nuts must be raw. Stay close to the oven during the final ten minutes of roasting. The toasty fragrance will let you know when they are ready.
HEAT the oven to 300F.
COMBINE all the ingredients in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss until the nuts are well coated with the oil and seasonings. Spread the nuts in a single layer.
BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and toasted.
COOL the nuts and store them in a tightly covered container.
Cortez Salsa
Makes about 3 cups
15 fresh jalape–o peppers, stems removed, cut in half (we leave the seeds in)
1 medium onion, quartered
One 141/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 garlic clove
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt to taste
Saltine crackers or tortilla chips
For more than fifty years, Min's two family branches, the Merrells and the Almys, have been eating at the Cortez Cafe in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The food is straightforward Tex-Mex and always finishes with a round of sopapillas and honey.
Back in the '70s, the family thought nothing odd about beginning meals with bowls of fiery green salsa scooped up with saltine crackers. The Cortez has since switched to tortilla chips and you may prefer them as well, but the Merrell-Almy clan retains its hot spot for salsa and crackers.
Pining away in Nashville for that distinct Cortez flavor, Min thinks she's figured it out-it's mostly fresh jalape–os. Min's cousin Eric, knighted Sir Cortez by the clan, now brings his version of Min's Cortez Salsa recipe to every family dinner-with sleeves of only the freshest saltines, of course.
PLACE all the ingredients except the crackers in the bowl of a food processor.
PULSE until the texture is an even, slightly chunky puree. Serve with saltines or chips.
Roasted Jalape–o Salsa
This variation on Cortez Salsa enjoys the added smoky flavor of charred jalape–os and fresh cilantro.
HEAT the broiler. Place the jalape–o peppers on a baking sheet and broil about 4 inches from the heat source until well blistered with patches of charred skin, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Proceed with the recipe above, adding a handful of fresh cilantro (large stems removed) to the ingredients.
Deviled Egg Spread with
Smoked Paprika
Makes 11/2 cups
6 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more for garnish
Hot pepper sauce
Kosher salt and black pepper
Sliced green onions or chives
Crackers, party rye, toasted bagels, or bagel chips
Deviled eggs can create a fair amount of anxiety. It's the peeling that's the problem. Experts say older eggs with more of an air pocket peel more easily, some say leave the cooked eggs in the fridge a couple of days before peeling, some say add a little vinegar to the boiling water. All we know is that when it counts, they don't peel.
Deviled Egg Spread with Smoked Paprika is the happy outcome after a fit of frustration with a bowl of broken hard-cooked eggs. Hey, you're thinking, that's just egg salad. So what! The smoked paprika adds the devil and makes a perfectly lovely spread for party rye or crackers.
COMBINE the eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, and hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Blend well.
SPRINKLE with additional smoked paprika and green onions. Serve with crackers, party rye, toasted bagels, or bagel chips.
Smoky Pecan Cheese Ball
Makes about 2 cups
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon bottled smoke
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot pepper sauce
Black pepper
Smoked paprika
Any appetizer spread, even this one of conventional cheese ball ingredients smashed into a spread, becomes much more glamorous when paired with all things pale green-celery sticks, thin green apple wedges, or Belgian endive. Don't underestimate the allure of a generous pile of green grapes, either.
COMBINE the cheese, pecans, mayonnaise,
bottled smoke, and mustard in a medium bowl. Blend well with a fork, adding more mayonnaise if you want a softer, more moist consistency.
ADD the Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and pepper to taste and mix well. Sprinkle with paprika. Pile the cheese into a crock and serve with crackers or vegetables and fruit (see headnote).
Smoked Paprika Pimiento Cheese
Makes about 3 cups
8 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Before he discovered cheater BBQ, the only indoor kitchen appliance R. B. had a serious relationship with was the toaster oven. He fancies himself the master of all things topped with melted cheese. Predictably, leftovers of this smoky cheese spread went right into the toaster oven on slices of thick rustic bread. Smoky Pimiento Cheese Bruschetta!
Min took it to the next level with sliced fresh tomato, a few green onion bits, and a basil leaf for a "New South" Italian appetizer. Of course, the pimiento cheese is fantastic on a big juicy Cheater Kitchen Burger (page 119). We also serve our pimiento cheese along with Cheater Foie Gras (page 21), each spread on tart Granny Smith apple slices.
COMBINE all the ingredients in a medium bowl using a wooden spoon or a fork. Scoop into a serving bowl or use for open-faced melted cheese sandwiches.
There are a million ways to make this classic Southern sandwich spread. Really good pimiento (pronounced pa-MIN-ah) cheese requires a good mayonnaise, some hand-grated Cheddar, and a small jar of pimientos. Just like tuna salad (and barbecue sauce), its re-created countless times when people add their own twist: Worcestershire and hot pepper sauces, dry or wet mustard, grated onion, a bit of sugar, sharp cheese, mild cheese, Velveeta, cream cheese, and chopped pimiento-stuffed olives.
In this recipe, Min likes how the cream cheese disperses the smoked paprika throughout the spread. Roasted red peppers, a trendy new ingredient in pimiento cheese, also contribute to the earthy flavor.
Cheater Foie Gras
Makes 2 cups
8 ounces braunschweiger, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon coarse-grained mustard
1 tablespoon bottled smoke
Dash of hot pepper sauce
For serving
Melba toast or crackers of your choice
Green apple slices, dates, or figs
Hot pepper jelly, fig or
cherry preserves, orange marmalade, and/or smoked paprika for garnish
Recipes, like everything else fashionable, rise and fall with popular perception. They're in, they're out, they're hot, they're hopelessly last season.
Liver has never caught the wave of coolness, unless it's taken from a force-fed goose. Even liver as haute couture as foie gras is on the OUT list, branded as inhumane and even outlawed in some places.
Slumming with ready-to-wear liverwurst, on the other hand, is looking pretty fresh. Why shouldn't it? Liverwurst has plenty in common with foie gras, especially its color and buttery smoothness when it's blended with cream cheese. Instead of slapping it on rye bread with mustard, serve it with the sweet flavors that commonly adorn foie gras, and your perception will instantly change. This is absolutely one of R. B.'s favorite cheater recipes.
COMBINE the braunschweiger, cream cheese, mustard, bottled smoke, and hot pepper sauce in a medium bowl and blend together with a fork until creamy.
PILE the mixture in a crock or bowl. Cover and chill until serving time.
SERVE as a spread with toasts, fruit, and your choice of garnishes.
Hot Pe–o Noir Spinach Cheese Dip
Makes 8 servings
4 fresh jalape–o peppers
Vegetable oil
One 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 ounces smoked Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Crackers and/or tortilla chips
Hummus may come and go, but warm spinach cheese dip, with its highly satiating qualities and homey familiarity, is still and always will be an excellent choice for casual parties involving cocktails. Broiler-charred jalape–os are our spin to bump this old classic into flavor advanced placement. As with any creamy cheese spread, R. B. will find any leftovers, no matter how buried in Min's fridge, to plop on open-faced burgers.
HEAT the broiler.
CUT the jalape–os in half lengthwise. Place them in a small roasting pan and drizzle lightly with oil.
BROIL the peppers about 4 inches from the heat source until soft and slightly charred, turning occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 400F.
When the peppers are cool, REMOVE the stems and seeds with the tip of a knife. Finely chop the peppers.
COMBINE the peppers, spinach, cheeses, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice in a large bowl and blend well. Add salt to taste.
SPREAD the mixture in a pie plate. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through and lightly browned and bubbly. Serve with crackers and tortilla chips.
Any Smoked Fish Party Spread
Makes 3 cups
8 to 12 ounces smoked fish or shellfish
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 to 2 tablespoons capers
Water crackers
These days quality hardwood-smoked salmon and trout in convenient Cryovac packages are easy to find. What we never expected was that even canned tuna, a product that has required little contemplation beyond water- versus oil-packed, would go through a major transformation with the new retort vacuum-packed foil pouch. No can opener, no draining, and new flavors to play with. A pouch or two of hickory-smoked tuna works for this spread.
When we say any fish, we mean any fish or any shellfish, like smoked oysters or clams. We usually use a frozen pack of R. B.'s patio-smoked, fresh-caught Rhode Island bluefish courtesy of his friend and neighbor Chappy Pierce. Vary the ratio of seafood to cream cheese to your liking. If things taste fishy, add lemon juice. Serve the spread mounded in a bowl garnished with capers and lemon slices. We prefer plain water crackers for serving.
PLACE the fish in a medium bowl. Break it up with a fork, if necessary.
ADD the cream cheese and blend the mixture together. Stir in the onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, and mustard.
COVER and refrigerate until serving. Garnish with capers and serve with water crackers.
Cheesy Alligator Snouts
Makes 12 peppers
12 fresh jalape–o peppers and/or mini red and yellow sweet bell peppers
1/4 pound Monterey or pepper Jack cheese
Tortilla chips (optional)
In spite of his Irish tendencies to worry and brood, R. B. pretends to think of himself as an upbeat guy who genuinely wants to like things. Even so, he's given up on grilled shrimp-stuffed jalape–o peppers. It's hard to cook a raw shrimp tucked inside a pepper unless the pepper is roasted to bitter death.
Cheesy alligator snouts-broiled and blistered jalape–os with melted cheese-never disappoint. Broil or toaster-oven these treats and all they need as garnish is plenty of cold beer.
Serve the broiled snouts as a conversation-starting appetizer, whole and hot from the oven, or sliced and set in little tortilla scoops. Serve them as a side to a Mexican feast paired with Cheater Carne Adovada Alinstante (page 56).
Jalape–os are usually tolerably hot, although it's impossible to know until you take a bite. Satisfy all your guests with a combination of hot green jalape–os and the mild mini red and yellow sweet bell peppers.
HEAT the broiler. Slice each jalape–o lengthwise, leaving the stem on. If you like, remove the seeds and membranes with the handle of a teaspoon.
SLICE the cheese to fit inside the peppers. Divide the cheese among the peppers and secure the pepper halves together with a toothpick.
BROIL about 4 inches from the heat source to melt the cheese and lightly blister the pepper skin, about 10 minutes. Turn them occasionally with tongs.
SERVE the snouts whole or slice them and serve on tortilla chips.
Roasted Eggplant White Bean Spread
Makes about 3 cups
2 whole garlic heads
1 medium eggplant
One 19-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (you can use any white beans)
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or the juice of 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt
Pita bread
Olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley Have we cheesed you out? Take a cheese break and try this straight vegetable-bean puree with nutty sweet garlic and smoked paprika. It may not be the lead-off dish to a night of Crock Dogs, but it fashionably introduces dressier barbecue dinners. We especially like it with Tandoori BBQ Chicken Thighs (page 96), Cider-Soy Pork Tenderloin (page 79), House Lamb Shanks (page 128), and Ultimate Cheater Oven-Smoked Salmon (page 132).
HEAT the oven to 450F.
SLICE off the stem of the garlic, revealing the tops of the cloves. Place the garlic and whole eggplant in a covered casserole (ceramic or enamel-coated cast iron).
COVER and roast until the eggplant is very soft when pierced with a fork and the garlic looks golden brown, about 30 minutes.
REMOVE the casserole from the oven, uncover, and cool the vegetables enough to handle.
CUT open the eggplant, scrape out the flesh, and place it in a food processor. Discard the eggplant skin.
SQUEEZE the roasted cloves from the garlic skins and place them in the bowl with the eggplant. Add the beans, lemon juice, paprika, and salt to taste and process until smooth.
CUT the pita bread into triangles. Lay them on a baking sheet and toast in a hot (450F) oven until lightly browned.
DRIZZLE the spread with olive oil, sprinkle with parsley and additional paprika, and serve with the pita.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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