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Cooking for the holiday celebrations

By Paul Kirk CWC, Ph.B., B.S.A.S.
Kansas City Baron of BBQ
Barbecue Guru
Order of the Magic Mop
Ambassador of BBQ
Certified Master BBQ Judge

It’s still the Holiday season. We still have Christmas, New Years, and the Super Bowl to plan for, not to mention next year’s season to get ready for.

Serve the Grilled Cajun Shrimp Dip with French bread or chips and it will disappear quicker than you can say “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”  You will enjoy this.

Grilled Cajun Shrimp Dip
3 Tbsp. butter
1 small green bell or jalapeno pepper, diced
3 large garlic cloves, pressed
4 oz. jar diced pimiento, drained
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1 lb. peeled & deveined medium shrimp
1/4 c. canola oil
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning (store bought or homemade)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 dash Tabasco or Louisiana hot sauce
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish
French bread baguette slices or chips, to serve
Bamboo skewers or a grill wok

Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Once completely melted, add in the bell pepper, garlic, pimiento, celery, and red onion.    Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.

Preheat a medium hot grill.

Place the shrimp in a bowl and pour the oil over the shrimp, toss to coat the shrimp.  Either skewer the shrimp or grill in a grill wok.   Cook about 3 to 4 minutes or until they turn pink being careful not to overcook them.  Chop the shrimp as you like them, I like mine minced.  Add in the shrimp, the cream cheese, half of the cheddar, and the Tabasco sauce.  Sprinkle everything with the Cajun seasoning and salt and pepper, to taste.
Mix until well combined and the shrimp is warmed through.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheddar cheese and let melt.  You can place the dip under the broiler for a minute at this point if you'd like the top to be slightly browned and bubbly.

Top with chopped parsley and serve with bread or chips. Serves: 6

It’s tradition that I fix Eggnog every year at Christmas, even that I don’t drink I get to purchase all the booze that usually goes in eggnog, but my family has been doing it for over 100 years, it’s would be hard to end that tradition.

Here’s a new one that looked interesting and it’s easy to put together.
Creamy Eggnog Punch
8 c. (2-qts.) prepared eggnog
2 (8-oz. each) tubs Cool Whip French Vanilla Whipped Topping, thawed, divided use
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. rum extract
1 c. ice cubes
Ground nutmeg (optional garnish)

Mix eggnog, 1 tub of the whipped topping and cinnamon in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add rum extract and ice cubes; mix well.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Top with dollops of remaining whipped topping just before serving. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Makes 30 servings.

Great Substitute: Prepare as directed, using Cool Whip or Cool Whip Lite Whipped Topping.

Special Extra: Place cinnamon sticks next to the punch bowl for guests to use as stirrers in their cups of punch.

For everyone who likes to smoke their turkey for the holidays here’s a very good basting sauce.  Whether you are grilling or smoking a turkey, this baste keeps the meat moist, adds a delicious flavor, and helps brown the skin. Remember to begin basting about an hour after you start cooking.

Turkey Baste
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. sweet basil
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. sage

Mix all ingredients together. Baste turkey every 30 minutes after the first hour of cooking.

Have a safe and Happy Christmas and New Years.

Kent’s Crock Pot Brunswick Stew

By Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker

There may be as many Brunswick stew recipes are there are recipes for barbecue sauce. As with many of my recipes for the National Barbecue News I lean towards the idea that my recipe should be a starting point, not the final word.  I’ve learned from my wife Ally that recipes are meant to flow with what you have available. Don’t stress on the small stuff, and the big stuff will be easier to deal with.

So, if you have a Brunswick stew recipe that is your all time favorite and you are not changing for anything, turn the page. If you have never made a Brunswick stew and need a good starting place in order to start perfecting your own family favorite version, then read on. I think this basic approach will be of help to a Brunswick stew novice.

Now, many people say that Brunswick stew is beef stew and some say it’s not beef stew. Well, it’s not if you put barbecue pork and chicken in there! But as many barbecue people know, Brunswick stew is just a better version of normal stew. This is one of my favorite Brunswick stew recipes because it’s quick, easy and can be made with ingredients you might have on hand right there in the kitchen.

Like I said, you could consider it a great base recipe, a starting point, add what you prefer in a Brunswick stew and go from there. Add some water, spices, barbecue sauce... just about anything. Soon you will develop your own secret recipe. It sure beats opening some of the canned versions on grocery store shelves.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
2 16 oz. cans crushed tomatoes (Do Not Drain)
1 lb. shredded BBQ beef, pork or chicken (Or how about some of each)
2 cans whole kernel corn or 1 whole kernel and 1 can cream corn
1/2 c. favorite BBQ sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. sugar
Dash of hot sauce
Pinch of garlic
Beef or Chicken stock or bullion

Brunswick stew, by nature, is a catch all. This recipe is a great starter for a Brunswick stew. If you have something else you want to toss in, feel free to. Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours in a covered crock pot. Add some water and barbecue sauce for desired thickness. You can speed it up on the stove. But the crock pot really simmers the flavors together.
Recipe from Kent’s book The Tennessee Hometown Cookbook.

Kent Whitaker is the author of eight cookbooks, ranging from hometown cooking with a culinary history twist to titles for NASCAR tailgating and barbecue. He has also written and illustrated two books for children, is a trained USCG AUXCHEF, and is the winner of the Emeril Live / Food Network Barbecue Contest. His latest book, Bullets and Bread,  is in bookstores nationally and is also available online at, as well as at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.

Red Chile Smoked Duck Confit with Cranberry Walnut Relish

By Steve Collins
The Home Chef

I love this recipe because it’s an economical and flavorful way to use a whole duck. I take the breast off the bone to save for another use such as grilled over green salad. The duck leg quarter makes a wonderful dish.  A happy side result is the flavored duck fat olive oil mixture keeps for weeks in the refrigerator for top-notch fried potatoes. The remaining bones make a wonderful addition to poultry stock. I just keep them in the freezer until I have enough backs and bones accumulated for a pot. Confit is a method of means slow-cooking duck or other meat or poultry in its own fat. Usually, you just cook confit in the oven. This version has two extra steps: smoking, and then grilling to crisp the confit off. It’s a bit of extra work but it’s the holidays and you want something special. You can usually buy just the leg quarters if you prefer. Check with your local market or butcher; you may need to order your duck in advance. For best results, allow up to three days: one to two for curing in the rub, then one for the slow cooking and smoking and grilling.  

1/4 c. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. dried red chile
1 tsp. dried chipotle chile
1/4 c. fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 duck leg quarters
1/4 cup olive oil
2 c. apple wood chips, soaked for 1/2 hour
2 apples, sliced in 1/2-inch circles (don’t worry about the seeds or peel)

Mix the salt, sugar, and chiles. Pat the leg quarters generously with the mixture and place them in a reclosable plastic bag with the oregano and garlic. Close the bag and refrigerate overnight (or up to two days).

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Remove the duck legs from the bag and brush off the rub. Put the duck legs in a pan just large enough to hold them. Pour the olive oil on top of the duck – don’t worry if you don’t have enough to cover it. Cover the pan tightly and place in the oven. Bake for three hours. Carefully remove the duck legs from the pan and set aside. Strain the solids from the fat and save, covered, in the refrigerator. They’lll keep for several weeks.  

Prepare a hot fire on one side of the grill. When the coals are hot, drain the apple wood chips and add them to the fire. Place the apple slices on the grill grate over the side that doesn’t have the fire. Put the leg quarters, skin side up on top of the apple slices, cover the grill and smoke for 20 minutes.

Remove the duck from the grill and set aside. Discard the apple slices. Place the leg quarters on the grill over the fire skin side up. Close the grill and cook for five minutes skin side up. Turn the leg quarters over, cover the grill and cook for five more minutes.  Remove from the grill and let rest for five minutes. Serves 2. Serve with the cranberry sauce (see recipe below).

Cranberry Walnut Sauce
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 c. shallots, finely chopped
2 c fresh cranberries
1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 c. madeira
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for one minute. Add the cranberries, orange juice, Madeira, sugar and walnuts and cook for 10 minutes. The cranberries will begin to pop and the sauce will be starting to thicken. Serve warm.

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