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These Fall Recipes From Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston Are Smokin'

Cooler weather is in the air, and celebrity chef Melissa Cookston’s smokin’ fall recipes are sure to keep your audience warm, cozy, and wanting seconds!

Taken from Cookston’s cookbook, “Smoking in the Boys’ Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South,” the below award-winning recipes for smoked mini pumpkins with wild rice, pear and sausage stuffing, smoked chicken bacon bombs, smoked top sirloin cap, and smoked chicken Peruvian style will help your audience get in the fall season with delicious, smoky recipes!

Smoked Mini Pumpkins with Wild Rice, Pear, and Sausage Stuffing

“Those pretty little mini pumpkins that you picked up for décor? Cook them! These make adorable side items and are so flavorful! The stuffing can be made ahead by a day to make

dinner prep easier.”

1 cup wild rice blend

2 cups chicken stock

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 onion, diced

1 tbsp celery, diced

1 tbsp garlic, minced

2 pears, firm, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh sage

1/2 pound country-style sausage

Add the rice and 2 cups chicken stock to a stockpot. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until rice is tender and stock is absorbed. Add more stock or water if necessary, during cooking.

Pour rice onto sheet pan and allow to cool. Cook, crumble and drain sausage. Allow to cool.

Cut the pumpkin about 1/3 of the way from the top and remove the cap. Scrape out any seeds and strings. Lightly season the inside of the pumpkin, then fill with stuffing. Sprinkle approximately 1 teaspoon of chopped pecans over the top of stuffing. Place in smoker over indirect heat at 275 degrees F for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkins are tender.

In the last few minutes of cooking, you can sprinkle the stuffing with cheese, bacon, or chopped pecans, if desired.


Smoked Chicken Bacon Bombs

“Okay, I will admit this isn’t the healthiest way to cook a chicken breast. So just decide to eat a salad or something tomorrow and enjoy these today. See? All the guilt is gone. The stuffing in these breasts really isn’t the important thing; feel free to experiment and put your favorite items in there. When checking the internal temperature, make sure the probe is in the chicken, not the stuffing, so you can get an accurate reading.”

4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped, plus 8 slices, uncooked, divided

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

1 tablespoon minced red bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons Pepper Poultry Rub

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

2 teaspoons grillin’ shake

1/2 cup BBQ sauce

Set up a grill for indirect heat to cook at 275-degrees F with apple wood. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over each chicken breast (to help with the mess) and, using a mallet, pound the breasts to 1/4-inch thickness.

In a small bowl, mix the cheese, cooked bacon bits, jalapeno, bell pepper, and garlic. Season both sides of the breasts with the rub, then lay them flat, smooth-side down, and place a quarter of the spinach on each breast and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over each, leaving 1/2- inch edge.

Roll reach breast up jelly-roll style, as tightly as possible, then wrap 2 raw bacon slices around each breast and secure with toothpicks. Lightly sprinkle the rolled breasts with Grilling’ Shake and place on the grill.

Smoke for 1 hour, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 150 degrees F, then place them on the direct side of the grill to finish cooking and sear the bacon. Roll the breasts over until the bacon is browned on all sides and the breasts’ internal temperature is over 160 degrees F.

Move them back to the cooler side of the grill and glaze the breasts with BBQ sauce.

Let them set for 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and serve, with extra sauce on the side.


Smoked Top Sirloin Cap

“One of my favorite cuts of steak is known as the top sirloin cap. I think it is one of the most under-appreciated cuts of beef, generally because it is not sold separately. When you break down a top sirloin, it is mainly comprised of the main sirloin and the cap. The cap is also known a culotte steak or a churrasca steak. It is significantly more tender than the top sirloin, and more flavorful.”

First, trim off any silver skin. I remove the fat cap as well, as I want to season the entire steak. However, this is optional.

Next, season it up! I use my Grillin' Shake, but a simple salt and pepper or your favorite BBQ rub will do nicely as well.

Put it on the smoker! I ran my smoker for this at 275 degrees F, but frankly, I wish I had raised the temp to 300 degrees F. For beef, I'm a big fan of using cherry wood, but any hardwood would be good.

For this steak, I cooked it to 143 degrees F internal temperature. It took about 45 minutes. However, the sizes of these cuts will be different, so cooking times will vary. Remove it 3 to 5 degrees before your desired doneness, loosely cover it with foil, and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes. The internal temperature will continue to climb and hit perfection while resting. Identify the grain of the meat and slice against it.

Serve it up! Your friends and family will thank you.


Smoked Chicken Peruvian Style

“Smoked chicken has always been a favorite of mine. It’s simple, flavorful and easy to cook. However, sometimes you just want to take the flavors up a few notches, and this recipe definitely does that. Read on for my “Smoked Chicken Peruvian Style” recipe!”

“One of my favorite ingredients has always been chipotle peppers. I especially love them in adobo sauce, as they add a depth of flavor to dishes. Aji Panca paste is a Peruvian pepper paste that reminds me of chipotles in adobo sauce, but without as much spice. It has a wonderful depth of flavor and adds that “missing something” component to many dishes.”

2 tablespoons Aji Panca paste

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1-1/2 teaspoon cumin

Juice from half a lime

2 tablespoons Cilantro, lightly chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

4-1/2 chickens

Add all marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk.

Place chickens in a large Ziplock bag or other container and pour marinade over them. Chicken will be better if left to marinade at least 12 hours.

Prepare smoker to run at 275 degrees F.

Place chicken on smoker and allow to cook for approximately 1-1/2 hours or until thigh temperature is 170 degrees F. Flip chicken over a hot zone or grill to crisp up the skin if desired.

Remove the chicken and let rest for 4-5 minutes. Serve with Peruvian Green Sauce for added flavor.

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