French Onion Soup

I think French onion soup is probably one of the greatest things the French have ever accomplished.  Napoleon should have invented this and used it as his legacy.  I made this last Sunday as I was still suffering a little dental anguish.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did.

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This calls for a lot of onions.  4 cups sliced to be exact.  I used a variety of yellow and white onions.

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Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes

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Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes.

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Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.

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Add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

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I bought some French bread as I didn’t feel like baking last week.  I just toasted it in a frying pan.

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Here are my oven proof bowls filled halfway with soup.

 

Place the toasted bread into the bowl and top with Gruyere cheese or Monetary Jack Cheese.  MJ cheese is the cheaper route.

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Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted and a little brown.  Serve and enjoy.

French Onion Soup

1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound grated Gruyere

Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.

 

Ninja Yeast Rolls

Everyone loves bread.  If you don’t love bread, then you ain’t no friend of mine.  I try to bake bread every Sunday in the marc is a ninja household.  Bread is key to being a ninja.  It brings back those memories of being a young mini ninja which you can use to focus your chi and take down all of your foes.  I highly recommend fresh bread to help you onto your path as a ninja.

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The first step is to scald milk (bring just to a boil and remove from heat immediately). Stir in sugar, salt, and butter. Set aside and allow to cool to lukewarm.

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I like to proof my yeast for about 10 minutes in the mixing bowl.  You don’t have to on instant yeast but for some reason I just love the smell of yeast in the morning.

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After the yeast has proofed for 10 minutes, add  lukewarm milk mixture, beaten eggs, and half the flour. Beat until smooth.  It should look like the picture above.

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Add your remaining flour gradually to your mixer on the lowest setting until the dough is elastic and slightly stiff but not dry.

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Turn the dough out onto a board and knead a little more.  Some people go until it’s smooth and very elastic, I find that does not have to be the case.  I just work it into an ugly ball of dough.

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This is a horrible picture but it is of the dough ball oiled and in my stainless steel mixing bowl.

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After the dough has risen for an hour.

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You will want to pinch off the dough and roll it into little balls and place in a baking pan.  Leave a little space between the rolls as we are going to let them rise again for an hour in the baking pan.  Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the dough.

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After an hour of rising, it’s almost ninja roll time.

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Baked at 375 for 20 minutes and some butter brushed on top.  This pan is usually all gone by the end of the night.

 

Ninja Yeast Rolls

1/2 cup  milk
1/2 cup  sugar
1 1/2 tsp  salt (can use less)
1/4 cup  butter, melted
1/2 cup  warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 pkg  fleischmann’s active dry yeast
2 large  eggs, beaten
4 1/2 c  all purpose flour, may need a bit more or less, see directions
additional butter for coating bowls used and brushing on tops of baked rolls

Scald milk (bring just to a boil and remove from heat immediately. Stir in sugar, salt, and butter. Set aside and allow to cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl mix warm water and yeast. Stir until dissolved.  Let proof for about 10 minutes.

Stir in lukewarm milk mixture, beaten eggs, and half the flour. Beat until smooth.

Add remaining flour gradually, mixing as you go. You may need a bit more or less than the total 4 1/2 cups called for in the recipe.

In your mixer, knead until smooth and very elastic. This usually takes 8-10 minutes. If by hand, my god have mercy on you.

Butter the inside of a large mixing bowl. Put dough in bowl and turn dough over a couple of times to coat it all with the butter.

Cover bowl and place in a warm place so it can rise.  It will take about 1 hour to double in bulk. At that time punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured board to shape.

Pinch off about 2-3 tablespoons of dough and shape into a ball. Place each one in a buttered muffin tin or baking pan, barely touching each other, do not crowd rolls.

Cover prepared rolls and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, again about 1 hour. Rolls should now touch each other. (A little more rising will occur during baking.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees when rolls are about 10 minutes from being ready for baking.

When ready to bake place rolls in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Brush tops of rolls with melted butter immediately when removed from oven.

Allow rolls to set for at least 10-15 minutes before eating.

 

Weekly Menu 9/15 – 9/21

I’ve been pretty busy this week so I didn’t get to posting my weekly menu from last week.  I’ve been working, playing video games, and spending time with the family.  Today is my lazy day so I will try to post a little content later.

Sunday

French Onion Soup

Monday

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs
Ranch Beans

Tuesday

Baked Chicken Drumsticks
Mac and Cheese
Peas

Wednesday

Spaghetti
Garlic Bread

Thursday

Velveeta Chicken and Broccoli
Carrots

Friday

Leftover night!

Saturday

New York Strip Steak
Twice Baked Potatoes
Broccoli

 

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

I have seen this recipe posted on Facebook and Pinterest several times over the past few months.  I decided to make it two months ago and it was a hit with Mrs. Ninja.  I even had to make some the following weekend for her to take to a work potluck.  I’ve gotten tired of soup all week so I decided to make this casserole but I would chop the chicken up really small to make it easier to chew.  This is an all in one meal or you could add a few sides like peas or green beans.  Fresh rolls really go quite well with this dish.

 

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The first thing you want to do is chop up your chicken breasts in bite sized pieces and place them in a bowl with 1/3 cup of Frank’s Hot Sauce (I actually like 1/2 cup).  Mix it around well and let it marinate while you prep.

Set your oven to preheat at 350 degrees and spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray.

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My twist to the recipe is to add onion.  I took a small onion and chopped it, then gave it a sauté for about 10 minutes.

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Excuse the mess but a ninja shreds without finesse.  I took 3 medium sized potatoes and grated them with my cheese grater.  Most of the recipes online have you use frozen hash browns.  Those are expensive when compared to grating these fresh.  You want about 5 cups of grated potatoes.

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Mix your onions up in the bowl with the chicken and then place in an even layer of your baking dish like above.

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In the same bowl, mix up your potatoes, dressing, cheese and soup. Spread over  the chicken.

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Sprinkle the top with panko bread crumbs.

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You want to bake it covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 25 minutes.  Then you are in for some Good Eats that even Alton Brown would be jealous of.

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup Franks Hot Sauce
5 cups potatoes, grated w/ box grater
1 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces and mix in a bowl with Frank’s hot sauce and allow to marinate while you prep.

Chop up the onion and sauté for 10 minutes.  Mix with chicken and hot sauce.

Place in baking bowl in an even layer.

Grate 5 cups of potatoes and mix in bowl with ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, and cream of chicken soup.

Spread potato mixture evenly over chicken.  Top with panko bread crumbs.

Bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes and then bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

 

 

 

Spicy Corn Chowder

I felt that last night I needed something new to eat besides pureed soup.  I have to say that I am not quite ready for it yet but this soup turned out great.  It’s been raining a lot here in Colorado and the soup just hit the right spot in this weather.

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These are all of the ingredients I will be using for this ninjatasitc soup.

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You will want to start off by cooking some bacon until all of the fat is rendered out.  I prefer to cook it in the same pot as I am making my soup because I hate doing dishes.  I also cook my bacon low and slow to render all of the fat and I think it gives it a crisper feel when you are finished.

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This took about 20 minutes on low heat.  That bacon looks so tasty.  Don’t eat it though.  We need it for later.  You should have about 4 tablespoons of bacon grease.  We will use this for cooking the onion.

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This is one medium onion that has been cooking on medium for about 5 minutes.  As you can see, the onion is starting to turn translucent.  Now is a good time to season with salt and pepper, however much you like.

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Next you add your jalapeno and garlic.  Sauté for about 2 minutes, just enough to make it more fragrant in the kitchen.  I normally would have used one whole jalapeno, seeded but I did not have any on hand but I did have a huge jar from Costco for nachos.  Feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

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Next you add 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and cook until it gets a slight blond color like above.

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These are my potatoes chopped up small.  This is a chowder so you don’t want huge chucks of potatoes. I used 3 small russets but you could easily use red potatoes.

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Next you want to add the 4 cups of chicken stock, potatoes, and simmer for about 15 minutes, just until the potatoes are getting soft.  Then as shown in the picture above, you add 1 cup of heavy cream, 16 ounces of frozen corn, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 2 bay leaves.  Simmer together for another 20 minutes.

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Here it is after all of that simmering.  It’s not a thick soup but if you want to thicken it up, you could add a little cornstarch.

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Chop up your crispy bacon and top your soup with it.  I also added a little green onion as garnish.

Spicy Corn Chowder
4 pieces of bacon (thick sliced preferred)
1 medium yellow onion
Salt and Black Pepper
1 small jalapeno, chopped seeds removed
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups of chicken stock
3 medium russet potatoes
1 cup of heavy cream
16 ounces of frozen corn
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves

 

Fry up the bacon over low to medium heat until all of the fat is rendered out and crispy.  Chop and set to the side for garnish.

Add the onions and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Add the jalapeno and garlic and sauté until fragrant about 2 minutes.  Stir in the flour and mixed completely.  Cook until the flour is slightly blonde in color, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the chicken stock and potatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Add the cream, corn, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves.  Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.  Pour into a bowl and garnish with the bacon.

 

 

 

Rosemary White Bean Soup

This dental procedure has really set me back on what I can eat.  I’ve already devoured the broccoli cheese soup from a few days ago.  Yesterday, I decided to make a bean soup and here are the results.

First, you need to soak your beans for at least 6 hours.  Preferably overnight as it makes the cooking process go faster.

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Chop up 3 to 4 medium sized yellow onions.  This recipes uses a lot for the flavor and the sweetness and not just because I love onion.  Pour in your 1/4 cup of oil and cook these over low to medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.  They should start to turn translucent.

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Add about 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic and continue to cook over low to medium-low heat for 3 more minutes.  Add your salt and pepper as well.

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Add your beans, rosemary, chicken stock ( I used leftover homemade vegetable stock), and bay leaves.  Cover and bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 30 to 45 minutes until the beans are tender.

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Once the beans are done, it is time to blend up the soup.  I used my trusty ninja immersion hand blender but you can easily use a food processor or standard blender. Just be sure to blend small batches as you don’t want a soup explosion on your ceiling.

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I garnished mine with a little green onion.  I bet some cheddar cheese and a little sour cream on top would go quite well with this.
Rosemary White Bean Soup

1 lb of dried white cannellini beans
4 cups sliced yellow onion (3 to 4 medium onions)
1/4 good olive oil
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
1 tablespoon of rosemary
2 quarts of chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a good sized bowl, cover the beans with water and allow them to soak overnight.

In a large pot over low to medium low heat, sauté the onions in the olive oil for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for 3 more minutes.  Add the drained white beans, rosemary, chicken stock, and bay leaves.  Cover and bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the beans are tender.  Remove the bay leaves.  Use a food processor or immersion blender and puree the soup until a nice and smooth consistency.  Serve with your favorite garnish.

Ninja Broccoli Cheese Soup

 

Tomorrow I embark on a journey to the dreadful dentist.  This will be the first time I’ve ever been put under anesthesia for any kind of procedure.  Needless to say, this ninja isn’t exactly comfortable about all of this.  I won’t be able to eat solid food for at least a few days.  This dilemma forces me to look back on my ninja training and ask, “What would a ninja do?”  A ninja would make a few days worth of soup to ensure he is prepare for the next ninja mission and that is what I set at to do today.  I bring you broccoli cheese soup.  I made a double batch so if my ingredients look like a lot, that is why.

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First you need to chop up about 1 cup of onions.

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In a medium pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Add your onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg (this is the secret ninja ingredient), and cook for about 5 minutes until soft.  Then add your garlic, thyme and cook until it smells like a ninja.

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Add your flour and cook until it is well blended.  About 2 minutes.

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Slowly add your chicken stock and whisk constantly while brining to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

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Add the broccoli and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes.

Next I had to get the cheese ready.  I love cheddar cheese so I by this at Costco because I can get a 2 lb block for almost the same price as 1 lb at the grocery store.  My father bought me a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas last year.  He also sent me the shredder attachment shortly thereafter.  I’ve never used it and actually had forgotten that it was sitting on a shelf in the basement getting all lonely.  I decided today to try it out for the first time.  Man, I realized I have been missing out on so much shredding power.  It would make the ninja turtles jealous.

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The beefy shredder attachment on the mixer.

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The first opponent, 2 lbs of pure cheese muscle.

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Winner!  KitcheAid Mixer with Shredder attachment!  I didn’t realize it would be this much.  The whole process took less than 5 minutes.

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Once the broccoli was tender, it was time for my next battle.  I had to blend the broccoli and for this I choose the immersion blender as my weapon of choice.

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The broccoli was no match for the immersion blender.  Add your heavy cream.  Next I added the cheese to get it melted.  Now you really have to stir as it’s a lot of cheese.

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The soup is finished!  I can’t wait to eat it tomorrow once I am able.

 

Ninja Broccoli Cheese Soup

 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli, thawed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups shredded medium Cheddar

In a medium pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Add your onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg (this is the secret ninja ingredient), and cook for about 5 minutes until soft.  Then add your garlic, thyme and cook until it smells like a ninja.

Add your flour and cook until it is well blended.  About 2 minutes.

Slowly add your chicken stock and whisk constantly while brining to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Add the broccoli and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes.

Blend the broccoli and for this I choose the immersion blender as my weapon of choice.

Add heavy cream.  Stir throughout.

Add the cheese to get it melted.  Now you really have to stir as it’s a lot of cheese.

Serve in your favorite bowl and eat like a ninja.

 

Frugality with your Vegetable Scraps

Everyone loves to save money.  If you don’t, then you are not a part of my ninja clan.  One way you can save money in the kitchen is to save all of your vegetable scraps.  This will also lead to some good eats (Alton Brown oh yeah!).  I make soup quite often as it is an easy meal and it leaves you with a simple feel good kind of feeling.  A lot of soup recipes call for chicken stock as a base but you can always substitute vegetable stock and if you must, add some chicken flavor boost or some chicken broth to get that chicken kind of flavor.  Whenever I cut up an onion, carrot, celery, etc, I put the scraps in a zip lock bag and throw it far into the freezer and save it for a soup filled day.  You can take this bag of scraps and boil it for about an hour and develop some deep flavors to add to all of your soups or any recipe calling for stock.

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Here is my stock pot full of leftover vegetables that would have just been thrown out.

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My stock after I strained it.  This will be going into some broccoli cheese soup later instead of chicken stock.

 

Weekly Menu 9/8 – 9/14

I am having dental surgery tomorrow so the menu for this week is going to feature items that I think I will be able to eat easily and also make Mrs. Ninja and mini ninja happy.  Hopefully I will be able to take some pictures and make a few posts while I am recovering and taking some awesome medications to assist in my speedy ninja recovery.

Sunday
Hamburgers and Brats
Ranch Beans and Fried Potatoes

Monday
Broccoli Cheese Soup (Making this one today so I can take it easy tomorrow)

Tuesday
Leftover night

Wednesday
Spicy Corn Chowder (Hopefully this doesn’t kill me)

Thursday
Spaghetti with leftover Poor Man’s Awesome Spaghetti Sauce from last week that I froze
Garlic Bread

Friday
Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Creamed Corn and Peas

Saturday
Grilled Chicken Legs
Mac and Cheese
Mixed Vegetables
Homemade Rolls

BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters

There is something about manning a grill that brings out the most primal needs within a ninja.  Fire, smoke, and the smell of charcoal makes one just realize, yes I am a man and more importantly I am a ninja.  I decided to grill some chicken leg quarters and they turned out to be divine.  I’m always using my grill on the weekends and this weekend I decided to season my chicken with Big Ron’s House Seasoning.  This stuff is amazing.  It tastes absolutely wonderful on anything and everything.  I think if my wife sprinkled some all over her before coming to bed, she might just get a little more ninja foreplay.

To start things off, I like to brine my chicken.  Today’s ninja brine was:

1 Gallon of water
1/2 Cup of Kosher salt
1/2 Cup of sugar
2 Tablespoons of garlic
2 Tablespoons of oregano
1 Tablespoon of black pepper
5 dried chili arbol
1/2 Cup of apple cider vinegar

Mix all of this together in a big enough pot to hold your chicken and bring to almost a boil.  The salt and sugar should be dissolved completely.  Let this cool down and add some ice cubes to make it cold.  Add your chicken and place in the fridge until you are ready to grill.  I would suggest at least an hour but no more than 24 hours in the brine.

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The chicken is really happy right now.  It is coated in Big Ron’s rub and the smell is turning on my ninja prowess.

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On the grill at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until done.

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Chicken leg quarter pron just for you.  I was so excited to eat this that I didn’t take any photos of the sides or my plate.  Sorry but a ninja has to eat.