The Yankee recently made a discovery, and I’m in love.
I used to buy gallons of fruit tea from a BBQ joint called JJ’s in Spring Hill, TN. It was amazing, and usually came in a washed out gallon-size pickle or mayonnaise container. Fine by me, as long as it ended up in my kitchen.
We moved away from Spring Hill about nine years ago, though, and I have been fruit-tea-less and bereft.
The Yankee found Alley Cat Tea at our local Publix and bought some for me to try. It is the real deal, folks. So much so that they don’t even know I’m writing this review/recipe — they didn’t give me any free or pay me, I just think it’s so great that y’all should know about it. To be fair, they DID offer to give me some tea, but our schedules do not mesh well. 🙂
My favorite is to just drink it straight, but a little Jack Daniel’s in it doesn’t hurt either. 😉 I wanted to find a way to cook with it, too, so I made this fruity/fruit-tea (see what I did there) chicken salad and it’s SO GOOD. It has sweetness from the tea, pineapple, and craisins; it has a tiny bit of sour from the lemon juice, and the chicken holds it all together. It does not have celery, because I don’t like eating dental floss.
To make your own:
- 2 chicken breasts, marinated (see below)
- 1 cup fruit tea, divided
- 2 ounces mayonnaise
- 1/2 granny smith apple, diced
- 1/4 cup craisins
- 1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
- juice of one lemon
- Salt, pepper
- Cut the chicken breasts into large chunks, and marinate in 3/4 cup fruit tea — at least a couple hours, preferably overnight
- Cook the chicken in the tea; I did mine in a slow cooker for about 2 hours, then shred the chicken
- Mix cooled, shredded chicken with mayo, apple, raisins, pineapple, lemon juice, plus remaining 1/4 cup fruit tea, then add salt and pepper to taste
This is amazing served as a sandwich on Hawaiian rolls, and also great with crackers for little appetizers. Enjoy!
I am really, really lucky.
And by really, really lucky I mean I live about a mile away from Martin’s BBQ Joint. This is nationally acclaimed BBQ practically in my back yard!
One of my favorite things there (which is a pretty major decision; it’s all amazing) is the Alabama white sauce. It’s incredible on Martin’s smoked wings, but it’s also incredible on turkey sandwiches, meatballs, you name it. Fortunately Pat Martin shared the recipe with Garden & Gun a while back, so I get to make it at home now, too. I scale it way down to 1/4 of his recipe (see below); you can see Pat’s original proportions here.
Alabama white sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
- 5 ounces cider vinegar
- 3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt (heaping)
- 1/2 tbsp. black pepper (heaping)
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Stir it all together (I use a whisk), then store in a squeeze bottle or Mason jar
- Add to everything you can think of.
This is one of those fabulous recipes that is so simple and easy to make, but tastes like you spent a long time on it. BONUS.
It originally comes, I’m told, from Brennan’s in New Orleans; I found it here on Food.com.
The sauce is rich and creamy without being complicated, and because I used chicken tenders rather than chicken breasts, this cooks up really quickly — perfect for a weeknight meal. I used more cream than the original recipe called for because I wanted enough sauce for the pasta too; I also added some olive oil, and some cayenne pepper for a little kick.
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3/4 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 pounds chicken tenders
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 cup butter, divided
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Angel hair pasta
- Get a large pot of water boiling for the pasta
- Combine spices and sprinkle over both sides of chicken tenders
- Heat olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in heavy pan until sizzling, then cook tenders till the pink is gone, about 4 minutes a side
- Add remaining butter and cream and simmer till sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes or so
- Cook pasta while sauce thickens, then serve chicken and sauce over pasta
Now here is my question: who is good at reheating cream sauce? Know any tricks? This is amazing the right out of the pan, but I have not yet learned how to reheat cream sauces without them separating and being weird. Who can school me?
Out of desperation comes one of my favorite new snacks! Isn’t that often the way?
My friend Traci made me some firecrackers (fire crackers? Two words?) last summer and was kind enough to scribble down the recipe for me. I made some more of them last week but was trying to talk myself into something more substantial than crackers for lunch, when it occurred to me I had a cold roasted chicken in the fridge. Enter inspiration.
I shredded the chicken, tossed it in some ranch dressing, and put that on top of the firecrackers. It’s spicy with the peppers and cool with the ranch chicken, and oh so tasty!
Ranch chicken firecrackers
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 package dry ranch seasoning
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 3-4 Tbsp. crushed red pepper, depending on your spice preference
- 3 sleeves saltine crackers
- Cold, cooked, shredded chicken
- Enough bottled ranch dressing to lightly coat chicken (these last two depend on how much you want to make, obviously)
- Add oil, seasoning, spices, and crushed pepper into a one-gallon zip top bag; seal the top and mush it all around till everything is well combined
- Add in the crackers and shake them around a little to coat them with the oil and spice mixture
- Let it all sit in the bag for a good 12 hours or so, flipping the bag over any time you think of it, till all the mixture is absorbed into the crackers
- Once those are ready, just shred some cooked chicken with a fork (leftovers are your friend, here), toss it in as much ranch as you like, and put that on top of your firecrackers. So good!
I kind of never know what to do with chicken thighs. Chicken breasts? No problem. Ditto whole chickens. But I wasn’t sure what to do with chicken thighs till I saw this recipe, which looked simple and delicious. The end result is fantastic! Very tasty, with crispy skin that makes it seem like you’re eating fried chicken.
Pan-roasted chicken thighs
- 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Preheat your oven to 475F. This takes my oven about two and a half years to accomplish, so start early
- Put the chicken pieces on a paper towel-lined plate, and season well with salt and pepper
- Heat oil over fairly high heat in a cast iron or other heavy skillet big enough to hold your chicken without it being too crowded
- Put chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook two minutes; reduce heat to medium-high and set a timer for 12 minutes; you’re looking for crispy, golden brown skin on the chicken, so move it around as needed to make it evenly browned
- Transfer your skillet to the oven and cook for 13 minutes; flip the chicken skin side up and continue cooking till it’s cooked through, about 5-8 more minutes
- Transfer to a plate and let it rest five minutes before serving
I will warn you that this was crazy levels of smoky in my oven; you might want to turn the fan on before you get this going. But it was SO GOOD and SO WORTH IT. Let me know if you try it!