BBQ Spicy Shrimp

I’ve heard that there are finer things in this world than a BBQ but honestly, I’ve never come across them. Peace on earth? Yeah, maybe that might be better. A birthday where no one – I mean no one – gives you a pair of ‘novelty’ socks. Okay, that’s a contender too, but other than that, I’m stumped.

Why is a BBQ so great? Well, it involves fire + outdoors + adult beverages and – here’s the important bit – the risk that you could burn the living daylights out of dinner. I mean, think about it, everyone could start fighting over that rogue tortilla chip under the couch because you incinerated supper. Or – and this is probably worse – you undercook the food and give al dente a whole new meaning.

It’s kind of like Russian roulette but with friends and food. What’s not to like?

And it’s got drama and lots of smoke and the opportunity to really tick off your neighbors. I love it. And admit it, you do too. So mix up a batch of these spicy shrimp and enjoy the drama that is a barbecue. Don’t like shrimp? Use this marinade on chicken or a piece of salmon. It doesn’t really matter because let’s face it – you’re probably going to burn it anyway.

Kidding. Just kidding.

Serves 2 starving people, 3 normal humans, or 4 who are saving space for dessert

1 lb shelled and deveined large shrimp

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 clove garlic, minced

juice from 1 lime, about 2-2 ½ Tbsp

½ tsp Chile de Arbol powder (Cayenne)

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 Tbsp olive oil + additional to brush the limes

½ tsp sea salt + additional for the limes

1 lime, cut into slices

Mix the tomato paste, garlic, lime juice, cayenne and turmeric powders, olive oil and sea salt. It should form a thick paste. Place the shrimp in a bowl and coat with the paste. Pop in the fridge and let them hang out for half an hour or so.

Get your grill heated up to medium-high. Brush the lime slices on both sides with the olive oil and give them a sprinkle of salt. Place the shrimp on the grill and the lime too. You can use skewers but I think a good pair of tongs is your best friend. Grill until nicely seared on one side then flip and repeat. Shrimp cook fast – they only need a few minutes – so stay focused.

Chile rubbed chicken thighs with double chile barbecue sauce

It’s here. It’s time. No excuses. Feel the burn. Yep, it’s barbecue season. The thought of lighting up the barbecue fills people with either 1) joy or 2) abject fear. Now don’t get me wrong – the joyful folk aren’t necessarily the best at the grill. They may like the stuff of a bbq – the smoke, the super-sized tongs, the apron which says something marginally inappropriate on it, the requisite adult beverage.

But these same souls may be the ones who get started telling a story only to find that their T-bone (which cost more than a mid-sized car) has turned to ash. The abject fear folk either shy away from barbecuing altogether (they tend to stay inside and microwave during the summer months) or they feel the fear and do it anyway.

Sometimes, these are the best at the barbecue. They approach it with reverence, with respect and with a healthy dose of fear. Because, let’s face it folks, you’re cooking with fire. Literally. If you feel a tad cautious then hats off to you. You’re cooking food over flames and if you think about it that’s got more than a hint of danger to it.

So for both you joyful and fearful folk we salute you. Get yourselves sorted before you light up and you’ll be one, two, maybe three steps ahead of the game. For this recipe, we marinated chicken thighs with Chipotle rub & mix but our Firecracker rub or Jamaican jerk mix would be ace too. For the barbecue sauce, we’ve used two dried chiles – a chipotle and a cascabel. As they say double the pleasure, double the fun. Enjoy!

Serves 2


4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp chipotle rub & mix

Barbecue sauce

½ red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 dried Chile Cascabel

1 dried Chile Chipotle

Juice of 1 lime

1-2 Tbsp cider vinegar

8oz ketchup

Brown sugar (optional)

If using wooden skewers, place in a bowl and cover with water so they won’t burn on the barbecue.

Cut the chicken thighs into cubes. Mix together the lime juice, oil and Chipotle rub & mix in a bowl. Add the cubed chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate for several hours.

To make the barbecue sauce, place the two chillies in a bowl and cover with hot but not boiling water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so until they are rehydrated and soft. While they’re rehydrating, heat up the vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion, cover and cook over medium-low heat until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Take the chillies out of the water, deseed them and remove the stem. Place the chillies in the saucepan with the onion and garlic, add the ketchup, lime juice and one tablespoon of the cider vinegar. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Taste and add more vinegar if it needs more sharpness. You can add a pinch of brown sugar as well if the ketchup isn’t very sweet.

Remove from the heat and either remove the chillies or if you like more heat, puree the whole mixture.

Skewer the chicken, and place them on a hot grill. Spoon some of the barbecue sauce into a separate bowl. Turn the chicken and brush with the barbecue sauce. Wait for a few minutes then turn again and brush the other side. Remove from the grill when cooked through and a nice golden brown and serve with the rest of the barbecue sauce on the side.

Summer Sizzles

Summer is a good thing. A summer barbecue is a great thing. But (you knew there was going to be one, didn’t you?) that doesn’t mean you can throw an old pair of boots on the grill and it’s going to taste good. Nice weather and lots of beer and wine will only get you so far.

Illustration from Better Homes & Gardens "Barbecue Book," 1956, with spicy addition

Illustration from Better Homes & Gardens “Barbecue Book,” 1956, with spicy addition

Spice – that’s what the average BBQ is missing. Too many people slap a burger in a bun and call it a day. Take a bit of time, make a simple spice rub and you suddenly look like a culinary genius. It’s not hard – for heaven’s sake we’ve even given you a recipe. And if you don’t like a certain spice then skip it, change it around so it’s your own. To make it even easier, use one of our spice rubs and marinades. Lie. Tell your friends you made it yourself – we don’t care.

A word about chicken…We know folks love their chicken breasts but give a thigh a try. It’s dark meat so it stays juicier and it’s cheaper too. We promise one bite and you’ll love us more than you already do (which is a heck of a lot, isn’t it?).

And don’t forget to use sunscreen – on you, not the chicken.

Spicy Chicken Thighs

Serves 5 to 6

This marinade makes plenty for 3 pounds of chicken thighs – that’s about 12 or 13 thighs. Figure 2 to 3 thighs person.

Spice mixture:
½ tsp fennel seed
½ tsp cumin seed
¼ tsp coriander seed
¾ tsp pimenton
1 tsp Los Chileros ancho powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped in half

1 cup Greek/plain yogurt
A healthy glug of olive oil
3 lbs chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

Cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)
Lime or lemon wedges (optional)

With a mortar and pestle, crush together the ingredients for the spice mixture. You’re aiming for a rough paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle (shame on you!) you could grind the spices in a coffee grinder, finely chop the garlic separately then mix the two together in a bowl.

photo 1photo 2Place the spice mixture in a large bowl, add the yogurt and a healthy glug of olive oil. Taste the mixture and adjust the intensity with more chile if you desire and additional salt if needed. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge to marinade. A couple of hours if okay but longer is better.

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Remove the thighs from the marinade, wiping off any excess. Place on a hot barbecue and cook on both sides until done (this will depend on the heat of your BBQ and the size of the thighs but figure around 10+ minutes).

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Remove and place on a serving platter. Garnish with chopped cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil and lime or lemon wedges if you desire. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Double-Smoked Lamb Chops

It’s an indulgence. It’s not for everyday. And it ain’t cheap. But life is short so when you’re in splurge mode, go for French-cut lamb chops. The ‘French’ means that the bones are exposed. This makes them lovely to look at and fun to eat because you can pick them up like a lollypop and chow down. Forget the fork and knife – this is adult finger food.


These chops are perfect for the BBQ – a quick minute or two over high heat and they’re good to go. A drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and you’re talking seriously tasty (and I mean lick the plate tasty). A salad and some roasted potatoes and you’ve officially died and gone to heaven.

The only thing that makes them better is a little marinade to add a flavor punch. One of my favorites is a combo of two chile powders, both with a smoky edge to them. Chipotle gives the marinade smoke and heat while smoked sweet paprika is milder but with a lovely smoky aroma all its own.

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If you haven’t used smoked sweet paprika (called pimento dulce ahumado in Spanish), you’re in for a treat. It hails from Spain where it’s made in Murcia (eastern Spain) and the La Vera region of Extremadura (western Spain). You can find it smoked and not smoked. Both types come in dulce (sweet), agridulce (bittersweet) and picante (spicy-hot)

Before you think I wrote the book about pimenton, I didn’t but I found the person who did. Her name is Janet Mendel and she’s got a great blog called My Kitchen in Spain. She’s a journalist and cookbook author and has lived in Spain for a longtime. If you’re having trouble finding smoked sweet paprika, never fear. In Santa Fe, we find it at The Spanish Table and they do mail order.

Double-Smoked Lamb Chops

French-cut lamb chops are typically sold in a rack that has 7 or 8 rib chops. You can ask your friendly meat guy or gal to cut the rack into individual ribs or do it yourself.

7-8 French-cut lamb chops, around 1 to 1¼ lbs.
½ tsp chipotle chile powder
½ tsp smoked mild paprika (pimenton dulce ahumado)
1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

Mix the chipotle chile powder, sweet pimenton, rosemary, garlic and olive oil together. Place the lamb chops in a bowl or large plastic baggie and pour the marinade over them to coat.

photophoto copy 21 Place the lamb chops in the fridge and marinade for several hours or over night. Before grilling, remove the lamb chops from the marinade and sprinkle with salt. Grill over high heat for about 2 minutes per side for medium rare. Serve with wedges of lemon and enjoy!

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