Ryan Cooks a Feast

Today is my final post from our Canning party last weekend. We are focusing on Ryan's recipes - red beans and rice and his beer can chicken.

I met Ryan about eight months ago at a Sacramento Tweetup. (That's a networking mixer for people who use Twitter.) Although he is a Northern California native, he's only turned into a true Sacramento area resident last year. He currently works at Voyage Home Loans and has a blog here. One of his prior locations was when he was working for DHL in New Orleans. While there he learned that true red beans and rice has to be made with pickled pork.

Now I like red beans and rice, but my only experience with it has been at Popeye's Fried Chicken and from the prepackaged seasoning packets you get at the grocery store. So this news about pickled pork was new to me and I just had to try it. After months of pestering, we finally got him to make a batch for us. Since my kitchen was occupied with canning and it was hot outside, I decided we would need to BBQ our meat and decided his other recipe, beer can chicken, was the perfect solution.

It turns out that pickled pork needs to pickle for three days to two weeks. Ryan got a batch started at the beginning of June so that we had a really pickled batch for the RB&R. It was already chunked out for the pickling, and here he is just giving it a final trim and cut before adding it to the pot of beans and seasonings.

His girlfriend, Lisa, mixes the beans. We cooked them on a separate burner since the stove was occupied with canning.

The spices are applied to the chickens and then they were 'violated' with beer cans stuck inside their cavities. Each beer can is half full otherwise it would boil over.

Our chickens were big and so we did take them off the grill a little too early and they were a bit underdone. The joke was that he was fixing us chicken sashimi. As you can see, it looks a little uncomfortable with a beer can up your rear.

The beans are ready. The rice is cooked separately and dished out and then you ladle the beans on top. Extra hot sauce was provided on the side in case you wanted to make it even hotter.

My plate of chicken and the red beans and rice. So good! Thank you, Ryan, for sharing!

And here are the recipes:

Ryan’s Rad Red Beans and Rice
(alliteration always is acceptable!)

* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 3 stalks celery, chopped
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
* 2 teaspoons salt (Kosher if you have it)
* 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 5 cloves garlic, minced fine
* 1 lb pickled pork, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
* 3 bay leaves
* 2-3 teaspoon hot sauce
* 2 quarts water
* 1 pound red kidney beans, rinsed (also look for non-beany material)

For rice:

* Some type of long-grain rice (I prefer brown)

Place the vegetable oil in a 7-quart pot oven and set heat to medium-high. Add the bell pepper, onion, celery, salt and pepper to the pot. Cook and stir often, until the onions and celery are somewhat translucent and the bell peppers are fork tender, (usually about 7 or 8 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning.

Add the pork, thyme, bay leaves, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, water and beans to the pot. Turn up the heat to high. Cook while stirring frequently until it comes to a boil.

Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Stir the mixture every 30 minutes.

Uncover and increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady simmer. Continue to cook for another 30 to 60 minutes, or until the beans are tender and you like the thickness. You can make it creamier in texture by mashing up some of the beans with a fork. You can also use a masher, but that squishes too many of the beans.

Prepare rice during the last 30 minutes of cooking however you prefer to prepare rice. I like to use a cooker, but however you like is fine.

Pickled Pork:

* 2 cups water
* 1 cup apple cider vinegar
* 1/4 cup salt (preferably Kosher)
* 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
* 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
* 3 tablespoons hot sauce (less if you’re not into spicy)
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon celery seed
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
* 8 -10 ounces ice
* 1 1/2 – 2 pounds fresh boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes

Put all of the ingredients (except the ice and pork) in a 2-quart saucepan, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Saucepan should be stainless. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat, add stir in the ice. Put the pork and the cooled pickling liquid into a 1-gallon ziplock bag. Squish out as much air as possible; seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for minimum of 3 days. Jostle the bag around, carefully, once a day. You can pickle for up to 2 weeks. Remove from the brine and use the pork, or freeze in the bag.

Ryan’s Spicy Beer Can Chicken:

1 Whole Roaster Chicken (about 4#)
1-2 TBS of Vegetable Oil (Enough to cover the chicken)
2 TBS Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
½ tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Paprika
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp chipotle powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp rosemary (minced if fresh, ¼ tsp if dry, but also minced)
1 can of beer (my preference is a high quality pale ale, poured from a bottle into a can, but any can of beer will do)

Clean the chicken and remove neck and giblets if necessary. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry gently, but thoroughly with paper towels.

Mix the spices together completely.

Rub the chicken with the oil (lightly) inside and out, then rub the whole chicken inside and outside liberally with the spice rub.

Open the can of beer and take a couple of gulps to decrease the volume of liquid by about half. If refilling a can with a bottle of beer, only fill half way.

Put the can on a solid surface. Take the chicken, 1 leg in each hand, and place the cavity of the bird over the can of beer. The can should be physically inside the cavity of the bird.

Place the can and chicken on the center of the grill grates balancing the chicken on its 2 legs. It should be like a tripod on the grill.

Cook the bird over medium high, INDIRECT heat. This means that there should be no coals or lit burner (if on propane) directly underneath the bird. Cook for 1 hour and 15 mins with the grill cover on. If you have a thermometer the breast temperature should be 165 F and 180 F in the thigh area. You can also check if the thigh to see if the juices run clear when you pierce it with a sharp knife.

Remove from the grill and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Carve and enjoy.