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Grilled Chicken Gyros

As Alton Brown says, “I never send breast to do what thighs could do better (and cheaper).” Grilled chicken gyros are no exception. You get a juicier piece of meat that works much better as a leftover (chicken breasts tend to get dry and I find they don’t taste as good on day 2) with the added benefit of being kissed by fire, imparting that flavor into the dish. I also find that cooking with the skin on and the bone in helps with keeping the chicken moist.

PRO TIP: don’t bother trying to cut the bone out.  Let the chicken cool, and then bone it caveman style. Just slide your finger along the bone and pull the meat off.  It’s much easier to do than attempting to cut it out, and it saves your blade from dulling on the bone. You also look much cooler doing it that way.

PRO TIP #2: If you really want to kick this up a notch, fire roast the tomato as well. Cook it whole over direct heat turning a few times to just get a char on all sides. If you char it too much, the skin will just slide off (which may be fine for some recipes, but we want to bring that flavor into the gyro sauce). Make sure to let it cool, as the liquid inside will be boiling hot when you cut into it if you do so right away.

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Grilled Chicken Gyros
Grilled Chicken Gyro
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Grilled Chicken Gyro
Instructions
  1. Set up your grill for direct cooking, and preheat to 550 degrees F.
  2. Cut away any excess flaps of skin from the chicken thighs. Gently slide your finger between the skin and the meat on one side, taking care to leave the 3 other sides attached.
  3. Sprinkle a teaspoon of Saint Brian's Dash Cunning Spice Rub into the pocket you created.
  4. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon onto the chicken thighs.
  5. Put a skewer through both onion slices to keep them together.
  6. Oil the grill, and place the chicken, skin side up, and onions on the grates. Cook on one side for 6 minutes, and flip and cook for another 4-5, or until the internal temperature of the thighs reaches 165 degrees. You will know it's time to flip when the chicken releases easily from the grill. Remove, and allow the chicken and onion to rest for 20 minutes.
  7. While the chicken is resting, whisk together the mayonnaise, cucumber, plum tomato, dill, the juice from half a lemon in a non-reactive bowl. finely chop the onion and add to the gyro sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Separate the chicken from the bones, and roughly chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss the chicken with the gyro sauce until coated.
  9. Warm the pitas on the grill. Scoop the chicken mix into the pocket. Serve warmed or chilled.
    Grilled Chicken Gyro
Calorie-conscious option
  1. Instead of a pita, use a large leaf or two of lettuce for the wrap.
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Saint Brian’s Beer Battered Onion Rings

Beer battered onion rings, when done properly, should be crunchy on the outside, tender in the middle, and slightly sweet, as the acid has been cooked out of the vegetable. The onion itself should be hidden inside the fried batter, and the batter should neither slip off the onion at first bite, nor should it be overly thick.  And when they are done correctly, onion rings can be a divine side.

The secret is in the batter. While any beer may do, I would recommend finding a microbrew that you like, preferably something local.  Around here, that could be Victory Brewing, Sly Fox, Yards, Evil Genius (who, by the way, have some of the best names for their beer)…there’s just too many to list.

The other secret is making sure that the oil is hot enough, between 370-375 degrees F. If it’s too cool, it won’t cook the rings fast enough and you’ll end up with mushy rings. No es bueno.

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Saint Brian's Onion Rings
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Preparation
  1. Peel the onions, cut into 1/2" slices, and separate.
  2. Mix the cider vinegar and 2 cups of beer in a non-reactive bowl. Add the onion. Allow to marinate for 1 hour, no longer than 2 hours. Remove the onions, and pat dry.
Cooking
  1. Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk in 3/4 of a cup of the beer until combined and slightly lumpy. Slowly whisk in the remaining 1.4 cup until the desired thickness is reached; the batter should fall off of the whisk in a steady stream.
  3. Heat the oil to 370-375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Pour some flour in a separate bowl, and dredge the dry onions in the flour. This will give the batter something to stick to.
  5. Add a third of the rings to the batter, and then carefully move the rings one at a time to the heated oil. BE careful not to crowd the rings, as they won't cook properly. Allow to fry for about 5 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a baking sheet with a paper towel. Remove any floating bits of batter, and continue to fry in small batches.
  6. Serve on their own as a side, or with Saint Brian's Barbecue Sauces for dipping.
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Saint Brian’s Coleslaw

Coleslaw is almost a requirement at any barbecue. It’s a delightful blend of creaminess and crunch, of sweet and acidity. You can chop the cabbage and carrots from scratch or from a pre-made bag, and as long as you get the dressing right, it will be a hit that compliments just about any main dish you pull off of the fire.

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Saint Brian's Coleslaw
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Make the dressing by combining all of the wet ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and whisking until well mixed. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.
  2. Toss the dressing with the cabbage and carrots. Serve right away, or chill and keep for up to 4 days.
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Saint Brian’s Burger

The Saint Brian’s Burger was what started it all. In 2014, I was feeling like Saint Brian’s BBQ wasn’t going to get off of the ground in the face of all of the hurdles that exist in starting a food-based business. My wife’s uncle, Ira Gutman, owned a hot dog joint in Cherry Hill called Coll Dog Cafe where they served up deep fried gourmet, all-beef hot dogs with all sorts of toppings. He graciously offered up his kitchen for making the sauce, and made a “Saint Brian’s Burger” special that featured the rub and the sauce.

The Cool Dog isn’t there any more (Ira has since opened the Moondog Grille in the Moorestown Mall), and I’ve moved on to a professional kitchen, but the Saint Brian’s Burger is a classic that will never go away.

Use the recipe for Saint Brian’s Coleslaw and Saint Brian’s Beer Battered Onion Rings in conjunction with this recipe.

Saint Brian's Burger

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Saint Brian's Burger
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Burgers
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Burgers
Ingredients
Instructions
Before making the burger
  1. Make the Saint Brian's Coleslaw, found in the Side Recipes
  2. Make some large fried onion rings, found in the Side Recipes
Making the Burger
  1. Combine the ground beef and Dash Cunning Spice Rub in a bowl, and mix with your hands. Either cook right away, or seal and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Form the burgers. When forming them, create a divot in the middle of one side. This will prevent the burger from ballooning up into a meatball shape, and also give you an indication for when it is time to flip it.
  3. Preheat your grill to high according to the manufacturer instructions. When heated, you should only be able to hold your open palm 2-3 inches from the surface for 2 seconds.
  4. Oil the grill grates.
  5. Place the burgers over direct heat, divot side up, and cook for about 5 minutes. When you see blood droplets form on the divot, and the burger releases easily from the grate with a spatula, it's time to flip. Flip the burger and cook for another 4-5 minutes. In the last 2 minutes add the cheese slices and toast the buns. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Build the burger: bun, burger, pickles, coleslaw, onion ring, sauce, bun
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Breakfast Barbecue Burger

The Saint Brian’s Breakfast Barbecue Burger is an amazing way to start a weekend of fiery cooking revelry.

Set the scene: you’ve organized a weekend campout/cookout for your friends. The sun has peaked over the horizon, night’s cool still hangs in the air, the morning mists cling to the ground. As your guests awake and emerge, the grill is already fired up and you’ve started breakfast, it’s alluring aroma mixing with coffee brewing on the fire.  Beef, sausage, avocado, egg…it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t.

The key to this dish is preparing all of the ingredients (mise en place) prior to firing up the grill. As a secondary point, being gentle with the eggs will allow for the yolks to run out all over the burger at the first bite and will really tie all of the ingredients together.

While you can use white cheddar in this recipe, it will be well-worth it to use raclette.

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Saint Brian's Breakfast Barbecue Burger
A breakfast burger as epic as the day you will have upon eating it.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Burgers
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Burgers
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix the beef, sausage, and spice rub in a bowl. You will need to take care to break up the sausage so that it is evenly mixed throughout.
  2. Form the mixture into 2 patties, gently. Don't overwork the meat, or else you'll end up making meatloaf. Use your thumb to put a small divot in the middle of the top side of the patty. This will prevent it from puffing up and turning into a meatball, and will help alert you as to when to flip it.
  3. Put the burger patties on a screaming hot, oiled grill.
  4. If you have a side burner, start cooking your bacon. You can also do this ahead of time so you can concentrate on the burger itself.
  5. When you start to see blood droplets forming on top of the burger, it's time to flip them, about 5 minutes. The burger will release easily from the grill. If you really have to work a spatula under there, it means it's not time yet.
  6. With about 2 minutes left (you should cook the burgers about 5 minutes per side), toast the buns and melt the cheese on the burgers.
  7. Remove the burgers from the grill. Build the burgers: bacon, avocado, burger, tomato, sauce.
  8. Fry the egg in the same pan that you cooked the bacon. There should be enough grease in there to cook the egg white all of the way through without having to flip it and risk breaking the yolk. Cooking time: 1 minute on the heat, 1 minute off.
  9. Gently add the eggs to the top of the burger.
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Caveman Steak

Caveman steaks are deceptively easy to make, and have the bonus of making you look like a rock star at the fire pit.


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Caveman Steak
Steak cooked to perfection directly on hot coals.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
steak
Ingredients
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
steak
Ingredients
Instructions
Fire Prep
  1. Using a chimney starter, light natural lump charcoal. Do not use briquettes or match light!
  2. Put a layer of unlit lump charcoal at least 2" thick in your fire pit. Make sure that the pit is free of debris.
  3. When the coals in the chimney starter are lit and have turned white, carefully pour them over the unlit coals in the fire pit.
Steak Prep
  1. Sprinkle the Saint Brian's Dash Cunning Spice Rub on all sides of the steak and gently pat on. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Allow to dry marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
Cooking
  1. Remove the plastic wrap and place the steak directly on the burning coals. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes.
  2. Using a pair of long tongs, lift the steak off of the coals, and shake any loose embers off by tapping the tongs on the side of the fire pit. Flip the steak and cook on the other side for 4-5 minutes to desired doneness.
  3. Remove the steak from the coals, tapping in the same manner as before to remove any loose coals. Using a clean, dry brush (an unused paint brush or a basting brush will work) brush off any ash. Allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
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Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a staple of smoking, and something you definitely need to have in your tool box. You can either serve the finished product straight up, in a sandwich, a taco, mix it in a salad…the options are nearly endless.

While you can use a picnic shoulder for this, I prefer Boston butt. It has a better fat-to-meat ratio, which yields pork that’s easier to pull and just melts in your mouth.

The key to this is maintaining a relatively steady temperature in your smoker.  It’s also important that you leave the pork in the smoker long enough. This will be about 12 hours out of your day if you’re going low and slow, which is the best way to smoke it.

Pro Tip: At a certain point, around the 160 degree range, you will hit the “stall”. The internal temperature will continually rise until it hits this point, at which time it will slow to a crawl, and may even stop for a while. Leave it alone. I repeat: don’t touch it. Leave it alone. Don’t jack up the heat. Don’t reposition the pork. Don’t call your guests and cancel the barbecue. Just relax, be patient, and once the evaporative cooling has finished, the temperature will begin to climb to 195 again. Here is a good explanation for what is happening.

Shortcut: if you can’t dedicate 12 hours to maintaining your fire, you can cheat a little bit.  After the first few hours, you won’t be able to get any more smoke on the meat (the smoke will have penetrated the meat as much as it will), so it’s just about maintaining a cooking temperature until the internal temperature hits 195 degrees. After the first few hours, you can transfer the pork to a oven preheated to 250 degrees and finish it in there.

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Pulled Pork
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
servings
Instructions
Preparation
  1. Trim the excess fat off of the top and sides of the shoulder. Leave the fat on the bottom; this will help create a dipping juice as you cook it.
  2. Cover the entire shoulder with Saint Brian's Dash Cunning Spice Rub and gently pat onto the meat.
  3. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap (double wrap or place inside a resealable plastic bag to prevent leaks in your refrigerator) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably for up to 8 hours.
Cooking
  1. Fire up your smoker according to the manufacturer instructions. Preheat to 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Put the pork in an aluminum cooking tray to catch all of the drippings.
  3. Place the Boston Butt in the smoker.
  4. Keeping the smoker temperature between 225-250 degrees, smoke the pork until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees, replenishing the wood chips/chunks every 20-30 minutes for the first 3 hours.
  5. Remove the pork from the smoker. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 45 minutes.
Serving
  1. Skip the forks or claws; dig in with your hands. Nitrile gloves will make this easier, as this will be a greasy process. Grab a handful of the meat, pull it off the shoulder, and then hand pull it into another tray or bowl.
  2. If you are serving the pork right away and don't anticipate any leftovers, before placing the pulled pork into the second tray, dip it quickly into the juice in the original cooking vessel. If you know the pork will sit a little while, or anticipate leftovers, once the pork has been pulled pour some of the juice over the pork to help keep it moist.
  3. Have barbecue sauces, such as Saint Brian's Original Barbecue Sauce, or Saint Brian's Sweet Victory Barbecue Sauce, set out so people can add whichever they want. If you want to go for a Carolina taste, have some straight apple cider vinegar out for dipping.
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