Kick off barbecue season with these cookout dishes

As spring finally rolls in, Sunny Anderson gets you ready to fire up the grill. Between the barbecue rub-roasted chicken, spicy sausage creamed spinach and red velvet cake, these meals were made for the warm weather.

BBQ Rub-Roasted Chicken
Servings:

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • For the rub

    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 1 tablespoon dried ground thyme
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 lemon, zested
  • For the brine

    • 8 cups water
    • 1 lemon, juiced and halves reserved
    • 1/2 cup salt
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 (7 to 8 pound) whole roasted chicken

Preparation

Baking Directions:

BBQ Rub, recipe follows, divided 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature In a bowl large enough to fit the chicken, combine the water, lemon juice and halves, salt, and sugar. Whisk until salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the chicken to the bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight. If the brine does not fully cover the chicken, rotate the chicken halfway through the brining process. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl add half of the BBQ Rub and the butter. Mix until well combined. Refrigerate for a few minutes if the butter begins to melt after mixing. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Use your fingers to gently release the skin from the flesh of the breasts and legs. Spread the butter mixture evenly under the skin and over the breast and legs. Pat the remaining BBQ rub mixture all over the bird. Transfer the chicken to a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack and bake until golden and the juices run clear, basting frequently, for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Baste the chicken thoroughly with the drippings in pan, return to the oven, and let bake until the skin is brown and crispy, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Carve the meat and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with Lemon and Walnut Waffles, if desired.

Spicy Sausage Creamed Spinach
Servings:

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 4 links hot Italian sausage removed from its casing
    • 1/2 red onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 1 teaspoons red chili flakes
    • 1 large bag spinach, or 3 bunches de-stemmed and roughly chopped
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and coat with oil. Add the sausage and allow to brown, while constantly breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon. Once all the meat has browned and it is in bite size chunks, add the onion, garlic, chili flake, and a pinch of salt and sauté for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add in the spinach, using tongs to stir the wilted spinach throughout the mixture. When all the spinach has been cooked, about 4-5 minutes, add the heavy cream, Parmesan, and allspice. Allow for the cheese to melt, and then take the pan off the heat and stir in the sour cream until fully combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Red Velvet Cake
Servings:

Makes 1 cake

Ingredients

  • For the cake batter

    • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 ounces red food coloring
    • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • Pinch salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1 teaspoon vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • Butter, for pan
  • For the frosting

    • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 sticks butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make a paste out of the red food coloring, cocoa and salt. Remove bowl from stand mixer and mix in paste by hand to the creamed butter. In a measuring cup, stir eggs with buttermilk and add to batter. Mix in vinegar and vanilla, and then add flour and baking soda. Mix until combined but do not over mix.Butter a sheet pan. Lay parchment on top. Butter the parchment. Pour batter into pan and smooth the top to even the batter out, using an offset spatula. Bake cake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan.Meanwhile, make the frosting: Heat all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before using.Invert cake onto a cutting board and slice into quarters from the longer side. To assemble cake, spread 1 of the quarters with some of the frosting to cover. Sprinkle with a quarter of the pecans. Add another layer of cake and repeat. Continue until last layer is added. Frost the top of that and sprinkle with remaining pecans. Note: There will be a need for a 12 by 17-inch jelly roll pan and parchment paper.

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