When you're lucky enough to have a dear friend who just happens to run the best wine and state store in town lots of great things can happen! Such was the case when I walked into Pat O'Briens in Cleveland last month looking for something new and delicious to drink!
Brett, my long time friend, totally trusted alcohol advisor and partner in crime didn't miss a beat! He marched me right over to the new Jim Beam "Red Stag" and smiled..."Jim Beam infused with natural black cherry? How could it be any less than amazing ?" I was stocking up on vodka for my husband's weekend with the boys at the racetrack, a gargantuan event that has something to do with lot's of alcohol, lots of barbecue and Indy cars. Brett told me that aside from supposedly being a wonderfully smooth sipping bourbon, that it was supposed to be great for cooking. Braised elk or roasted venison anyone? Perhaps a glaze for a slow roasted duck? Pork tenderloin? Well that did it, the Red Stag was winking at me like a good ol boy on a steamy summers day so I stopped resisting his siren's call , picked him up , paid the price and took him home.
Of course the first thing that I did was to crack the bottle open for a sip and at that point I was in love! Red Stag is described as a different breed of bourbon and that's somewhat accurate. It's absolutely delicious, but it doesn't taste different to me, instead it tastes familiar, like something from a lifetime long ago, a bit like the drinkable equivalent of a Bay Rum perfume. It seems like something straight out of Colonial America and although they're advertising it as a fairly young and feckless drink it's really pretty gentile, a serious sip for an evening in front of a roaring fire! The black cherry flavor is incredibly good and it's not artificial at all, making this a great bourbon for cooking as well. They have many great recipes for cocktails made with Red Stag on the site listed below, but aside from the Red Stag and Cola which sounds like a grown up Dr. Pepper to me, I think that I'll keep this one neat or on the rocks with a bit of lemon at the most. It's really that good!
Well, after I got done with that first sip, my mind turned back to all of the food that I was cooking. My husband's guy weekend is a pretty straightforward thing and typically they want barbecue and lot's of it! I made 8 pounds of meatloaf, about 150 swedish meatballs, pulled brisket and sausages, chicken enchiladas and then it was time to barbecue the drumsticks! I generally make lots of them and send them off with homemade blue cheese dressing, a healthier but still man sized version of a chicken wing! I love to slow roast my drumsticks before I baste them with sauce, so into the oven they went. I wanted a different sauce for them this year and it was was then that I caught sight of the bottle of Red Stag, just sitting there winking at me.
When I finished cooking them, I stole one of the drumsticks for Brett who has been begging for the recipe ever since. At first I was going to give it only to him, but it's really too good not to share. It's easy to make and was as good on the brisket as it was on the chicken! Just make sure that you slowly cook the sauce into the meat, by this I mean a long, slow process of basting and sipping! I guarantee you a great day and a really great dinner!
Red Stag Barbecued Drumsticks
You will need:
30 nice drumsticks
salt and pepper
a dry rub of your choice, Ilike Penzeys barbecue 3000!
So here is the first part. Layer the drumsticks in a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper and the dry rub. Put into a 300 degree oven and roast and baste until the meat is starting (just starting) to fall off of the bone. You'll probably need to pour out the fat just once, but be sure to save as much of the pan juice as is possible.
Then turn the oven up to 350 and begin to baste with this sauce.
I sloppy cup of Red Stag
1/4 cup of fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons of granulated garlic
1 tablespoon of good chili powder
1/2 cup of real maple syrup
1 1/2 cups of your favorite hickory smoked barbecue sauce
1/4 teaspoon of smoked chipotle, less if you can't take the heat but it adds an additional smoky flavor that's nice!
Pour all ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a quick boil. let it cook for about 3 minutes stirring constantly then remove from the heat. That's it! Let it sit for a spell (it will thicken) and then begin to baste the drumsticks or whatever meat/fish you're cooking with it and really let it cook into the flesh.
These get even better overnight! Serve with blue cheese dressing (I make mine with Rogue Creamery's Smoky Blue) and lots of cut up carrots and celery.