Posts Tagged ‘honey’

This is a story about something that is near and dear to my heart…and liver.

I’ve been making Krupnikas for over 40 years. (And no, I won’t be posting my secret recipe here.) It’s a honey-based liqueur that is popular in eastern Europe, especially in countries like Lithuania, where my parents were born. Though most of the Krupnikas that I’ve tasted is similar, no two recipes are exactly alike…and that’s where the arguments begin!

I have many friends that make Krupnikas. Some use the leaner-meaner approach (like me)…others go for the everything-in-one-basket approach. I’m not sure that more is necessarily better. Some friends claim that it isn’t real Krupnikas if you don’t use black pepper. But I’ve been to many pubs and restaurants in Lithuania and have never been served Krupnikas with black pepper in it. Other recipes include ginger, turmeric, saffron, and heavy amounts of anise. I prefer a lighter approach.

 

krupnikas

 

If you Google “Krupnikas,” you’ll find many different recipes…some pretty good, some incredibly awful…but none as good as mine! I use grain alcohol…there’s no distilling involved. There were times in the last 40 years when grain alcohol was not readily available to me, and so my Krupnikas production came to a screeching halt for a while. But these days, you can usually find it within a short ride from home just about anywhere you live. (Here in New England, it’s sold in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.) Desperate times without grain alcohol forced me to try vodka instead, but I never liked the way it came out.

Krupnikas uses a variety of unusual spices, none of which have their origins in Lithuania, so it’s interesting to hear how these exotic ingredients made their way via various trade routes to eastern Europe.

The story goes that Krupnikas was created by Benedictine monks in the 1500’s, and that it became popular in both Lithuania and Poland for celebrations like birthdays, weddings, and holidays. But when the Soviets shut down all Krupnikas production, the recipes went “underground,” passed down from generation to generation through closely guarded family recipes. That’s why everyone thinks their family recipe is the best!

 

One pot for honey, one pot for the various spices I use…to be combined later.

 

My own Krupnikas making story started with my uncle, who would make large batches of the stuff in his tiny Richmond Hill, Queens, NY kitchen. Because I am the godfather of my cousin, his son, I received a bottle as a gift from my uncle every Christmas. By New Year’s, that bottle would be gone. It wasn’t long before I got very tired of waiting 51 weeks for another bottle and I asked my uncle if he would share his recipe with me. He never did that exactly, but he did let me sit in on a brewing session and take notes in a cramped corner of his kitchen.

 

My wife, an artist, helped me design my own label.

 

 

I took my notes home from my uncle’s house and tried to decipher what I wrote. Since there was no such thing as the internet back then (what we call “the dark ages,” kids), I drove all over New York City in search of some of the more exotic spices used in making my uncle’s Krupnikas recipe. I became a regular at several Asian and Indian stores, where, at first, they looked at this tall, geeky white dude somewhat suspiciously as I brought my spices to the counter for purchase.

Over the decades, through trial and error, I changed my uncle’s original recipe to the one that I proudly call my own today. You can’t buy it in a store, but if you have tons of money and want to go into business with me, I’m sure we can work something out! Or become my best friend and you’ll get a bottle every Christmas…and then you’ll be the one waiting 51 weeks for another!

 

krup glasses

 

Versions of Krupnikas are available in liquor stores: Old Krupnik is a Polish liqueur, and the German brand Barenjager is another. And many whiskies, like Dewar’s and Jack Daniels, now have honey-flavored spirits as well.

Though quite different from my own recipe, there are two authentic Lithuanian style Krupnikas liqueurs made in the United States by acquaintances of mine.

Based out of Durham, North Carolina, the Brothers Vilgalys Spirits Company (www.brothersvilgalys.com) has a pepperier version that uses local North Carolina wildflower honey. President of the company, Rim Vilgalys, the son of my good childhood friend from New York, has done what I never got around to do: make this fabulous elixir available to the public. You’ll find it at ABC stores throughout the state of North Carolina.

 

bvsco-krupnikas

 

The second brand is made and sold in the New York area and goes by the name of KAS Krupnikas. (www.kasspirits.com)

kas_krupnikas_new

Both are pretty darn good. But are they as good as mine? I think you already know my answer to that question!

Sveiks! (Cheers!)

I recently hosted a “boys’ weekend” at Saule, our rental home in Little Compton, Rhode Island (http://www.sauleri.com. We’re listed at Homeaway.com), and when you’ve got guys coming over, you’ve got to have ribs! I like making these because they don’t require hours on the grill. They’re gooey, sweet and absolutely delicious!
 image
¾ cup soy sauce
 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
5 lbs. pork ribs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks (3”)
1/2 cup honey
4 cups chicken broth
Mix the soy sauce and the hoisin in a bowl, and set aside. These are the marinade ingredients.
If the ribs are large, cut them into individual pieces. If smaller, cluster 2 or 3 ribs together. Place them in a large pot. Cover them with water and bring it to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain.
Place the ribs on a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil or with a rack and coat them with the marinade. Let them sit for 10 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the ribs on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.
While the ribs are baking, start the sauce in a large non-stick pan or pot that will hold all the ribs: combine the lemon zest and juice, star anise, cinnamon sticks, honey and chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer.
When the ribs have finished baking, add them to the sauce pot and simmer (covered) for at least 15 minutes or until the rib meat is tender.
Turn the heat on high, uncover the pot and cook until the sauce is reduced to a glaze that coats the ribs. Be sure to reduce the heat as the sauce thickens or the sugars in the honey will burn! When the ribs are sticky and gooey, they’re ready.
Substituting grapefruit for the lemon works really well, too!

 

HONEY GLAZED CHICKEN WINGS

Posted: February 3, 2017 in chicken, Recipes, wings
Tags: , , , ,

I can’t get enough of chicken, and I cook it at least a couple of times a week. So I have to keep coming up with new flavors to challenge my taste buds as well as myself. And with Super Bowl Sunday around the corner, chicken wings are a must.

This recipe works with wings, and any other chicken parts you like.

Here’s a hint with fresh ginger: buy a nice looking root and keep it wrapped well and in the freezer. When you need some, simply grate the frozen root, skin and all, and then place it back in the freezer until next time. It will last a lot longer than in the fridge.

honey glazed chicken

 

 

 

4 lbs. chicken wings
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade

 

Thaw chicken wings and place in a Ziploc bag.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all the other ingredients, except chicken stock, to make a marinade. Pour this marinade into the Ziploc with the chicken and seal, squeezing the air out of the bag. Squish the bag around so that the marinade thoroughly covers all the chicken wings. Place the bag in the fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours, but overnight is even better. Place the bag in a bowl to prevent accidental leakage in your fridge.

Pre-heat the oven to 325.

Carefully pour the marinade out of the Ziploc bag into a saucepan, adding the chicken stock, and reduce until it becomes a thick, gooey glaze. Be careful not to burn the sugars in the honey. Honey can also foam up and overflow if you’re not watching it.

Remove the chicken pieces from the bag and place them on a baking sheet covered with non-stick aluminum foil. Bake for about 30 minutes.

The reduced marinade glaze should be ready right around the time the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes or so. Brush the glaze on to the chicken, and place back in the oven to cook 15 more minutes.

 

I get requests for this every year because it’s the easiest, tastiest way to make ribs indoors, and perfect for the big game. As the glaze cooks down, it gets sticky, gooey and delicious.
 image
¾ cup soy sauce
 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
5 lbs. pork ribs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks (3”)
1/2 cup honey
4 cups chicken broth
Mix the soy sauce and the hoisin in a bowl, and set aside. These are the marinade ingredients.
If the ribs are large, cut them into individual pieces. If smaller, cluster 2 or 3 ribs together. Place them in a large pot. Cover them with water and bring it to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain.
Place the ribs on a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil or with a rack and coat them with the marinade. Let them sit for 10 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the ribs on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.
While the ribs are baking, start the sauce in a large non-stick pan or pot: combine the lemon zest and juice, star anise, cinnamon sticks, honey and chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer.
When the ribs have finished baking, add them to the sauce pot and simmer (covered) for at least 15 minutes or until the rib meat is tender.
Turn the heat on high, uncover the pot and cook until the sauce is reduced to a glaze that coats the ribs. Be sure to reduce the heat as the sauce thickens or it will burn! When the ribs are sticky and gooey, they’re ready.
Substituting grapefruit for the lemon works really well, too!

 

I was going to post my “deflated meatballs” recipe, but I decided to go with a classic for the big game! No need to freeze my butt off outdoors for these amazing ribs. I can stay in the kitchen. As the glaze cooks down, it gets sticky, gooey and delicious.
 image
For the marinade:
 ¾ cup soy sauce
 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
Other ingredients:
5 lbs pork ribs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks (3”)
1/2 cup honey
4 cups chicken broth
Mix the soy sauce and the hoisin in a bowl, and set aside. These are the marinade ingredients.
If the ribs are large, cut them into individual pieces. If smaller, cluster 2 or 3 ribs together. Place in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain.
Place the ribs on a sheet pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil or with a rack and coat with the marinade. Let them sit for 10 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the ribs in sheet pan for 30 minutes.
While the ribs are baking, start the sauce in a large non-stick pan or pot: combine the lemon zest and juice, star anise, cinnamon sticks, honey and chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer.
When the ribs have finished baking, add them to the sauce pot and simmer (covered) for at least 15 minutes or until the rib meat is tender.
Turn the heat on high, uncover the pot and cook until the sauce is reduced to a glaze that coats the ribs. Reduce the heat as the sauce thickens to avoid the sugars in honey from burning. When the ribs are sticky and gooey, they’re ready!

 

You don’t have to stand by your smoker and cook for hours to have amazing ribs. As the glaze cooks down, it gets sticky, gooey and delicious…but use a non-stick pot if you can or you’ll be scrubbing when you should be eating!
 image
 Ingredients:
Marinade: ¾ cup light soy sauce
                     6 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
5 lbs pork ribs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks (3”)
1/2 cup honey
4 cups chicken broth
Mix marinade ingredients. Set aside.
If the ribs are large, cut them into pieces. If smaller, cluster 2 or 3 ribs together. Place in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain.
Place ribs on a sheet pan with a rack and coat with marinade. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake ribs in sheet pan with rack for 30 minutes.
While the ribs are baking, start sauce in a large non-stick pan or pot: combine lemon zest and juice, star anise, cinnamon sticks, honey and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
When ribs have finished baking, add them to the sauce pot and simmer (covered) for at least 15 minutes or until rib meat is tender.
Turn heat on high, uncover pot and cook until the sauce is reduced to a glaze that coats the ribs. Reduce heat as sauce thickens to avoid sugars in honey from burning. When the ribs are sticky and gooey, they are ready!

 

I can’t believe it took this long to write about something that is near and dear to my heart…and liver.

I’ve been making a Lithuanian honey liqueur called Krupnikas for over 30 years. (And no, I won’t be posting my secret recipe here.) It’s a honey-based liqueur that is popular in eastern Europe, especially in countries like Lithuania (where my parents were born) and Poland. Though most of the Krupnikas that I’ve tasted is similar, no two recipes are exactly alike.

krupnikas

If you Google “Krupnikas,” you’ll find many different recipes for the stuff…some pretty good, some incredibly awful…and none as good as mine! But still…you can make it at home. I make it with grain alcohol, but if that’s not available in your state, you’ll have to settle for vodka.

My Krupnikas making story started with my uncle, who would make batches of the stuff in his kitchen. Because I am the godfather of my cousin, Victor (his son), starting at the then-drinking age of 18, I got a bottle from my uncle every Christmas…and by New Year’s that bottle would be gone. It wasn’t long before I got very tired of waiting 51 weeks for another bottle and I asked my uncle if he would share his recipe with me. He never did that, exactly, but he did let me sit in on a brewing session and take notes.

I took my notes home and tried to decipher what I wrote. Since there was no such thing as the internet back then, I drove all over New York in search of some of the more exotic spices used in making Krupnikas. I became a regular in several Asian and Indian stores, where they looked at me somewhat suspiciously as I brought my spices to the counter for purchase.

Over the decades, through trial and error, I tweaked and even drastically changed my uncle’s original recipe to the one that I proudly call my own today. You can’t buy it in a store (obviously), but if you have tons of money and want to go into business with me, I’m sure we can work something out! Or become my best friend and you’ll get a bottle every Christmas…and then you’ll be the one waiting 51 weeks for another!

krup glasses

Versions of Krupnikas are available in liquor stores: Old Krupnik is a Polish liqueur, and the German brand Barenjager is another. And brands like Dewar’s and Jack Daniels are adding honey to their spirits as well.

Though quite different from my own recipe, there is one authentic Lithuanian style Krupnikas made in the United States. Based out of Durham, North Carolina, the Brothers Vilgalys Spirits Company (www.brothersvilgalys.com) has a pepperier version that uses local North Carolina wildflower honey. President of the company, Rim Vilgalys, the son of my good childhood friend from New York, has done what I never got around to do: make this fabulous elixir available to the public. You’ll find it at ABC stores throughout the state of North Carolina. On line, you’ll find it at Federal Spirits, based in Washington, DC…a very interesting website full of regional spirits from around the USA and Canada. www.federalspirits.com

Sveiks! (Cheers!)

HONEY GLAZED CHICKEN WINGS

Posted: February 17, 2013 in chicken, Recipes, wings
Tags: , , , ,

I can’t get enough of chicken, and I cook it at least a couple of times a week. So I have to keep coming up with new flavors to challenge my tastebuds as well as myself. Previous posts have included Cantonese Chicken (https://livethelive.com/2013/01/11/cantonese-chicken/), Asian-style chicken wings (https://livethelive.com/2012/11/01/asian-style-chicken-wings/), and oven fried chicken wings (https://livethelive.com/2012/12/05/oven-fried-chicken-wings/).

This time around, it’s a honey glaze with hints of ginger that couldn’t be simpler. Feel free to use any chicken parts you like. Even a whole roasted chicken would work with this recipe. And choosing the right bird, a pasture-raised chicken like the ones I get from my friends at FireFly Farms in Stonington, CT (http://www.facebook.com/pages/FireFly-Farms/242699329121278) makes all the difference.

honey glazed chicken

 

Ingredients

 

4 lbs chicken wings

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, like Frank’s Red Hot

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

1/4 cup onion, minced

1 Tablespoon garlic, minced

1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade

 

Thaw chicken wings and place in a Ziploc bag.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all the other ingredients, except chicken stock, to make a marinade. Pour this marinade into the Ziploc with the chicken and seal, squeezing the air out of the bag. Squish the bag around so that the marinade thoroughly covers all of the chicken wings. Place the bag in the fridge to marinate for about 4 hours, squishing it around every hour.

Preheat the oven to 325.

Carefully pour out the marinade into a saucepan, adding the chicken stock, and reduce until it becomes a thick, gooey glaze. Be careful not to burn the sugars in the honey. Honey can also foam up and overflow if you’re not watching it.

Remove the chicken pieces from the bag and place them on a baking sheet covered with non-stick aluminum foil. Bake for about 30 minutes.

The reduced marinade glaze should be ready right around the time the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes or so. Brush the glaze on to the chicken, and place back in the oven to cook 15 more minutes.