at The Ricky Shack with Richard George

Fish or fowl

The Big Green Egg is a simple, yet highly-efficient, cooker. It reaches a perfect cooking temperature in a few minutes and maintains that temperature for hours. It grills, roasts, smokes and bakes, and it is just fun to try various dishes. Two great options for smoking on the Big Green Egg are Cedar Plank Salmon and Beer Can Chicken.  

The Dill Butter Salmon package from Costco is my favorite. The three large, skinless pieces of fish will easily feed five people. Add a salad of your choice, dirty rice and toasted bread to complete the menu.

It is OK to drink red wine with fish. A light-bodied and versatile choice is a Pinot Noir. Annette Birchfield, owner of The Wine Cellar at 2304 Whitesburg Drive in Huntsville, suggests the Cardwell Hill Fenders Blue Estate. If you prefer a lighter white wine, consider a buttery California Chardonnay.


Soak two cedar planks in water for 30 minutes. Build your charcoal fire and stabilize at 250-275 degrees. Sprinkle salmon with Everglades Seasoning and Bad Byron’s Butt Rub for additional seasoning. 

Place cedar planks on grill for 10 minutes to char the wood; flip for 10 more minutes to char the other side; and flip a third time and immediately place salmon on hot charred plank.  

Cook at 250-275 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip and season with Everglades and Bad Byron’s. Drizzle dill butter. Cook for 15 minutes.  

Flip and drizzle more butter. Continue flipping and drizzling until salmon is flaky to your preference; 145 degrees is the minimum recommended internal temperature.


1 cup Minute rice,
1 can French Onion Soup
1/2 cup water
1 small can mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce,
1/2 stick melted butter (her recipe actually calls for Oleo!)

Grease an 11×13 casserole dish and stir in all ingredients. Cook in oven at 350 degrees for one hour. Stir frequently until settled.

While at Costco, we often pick up a prepackaged Greek or Caesar Salad with all the ingredients. In the unlikely event that any salmon remains, refrigerate leftovers and top off your salad the next day. The crisp salad and smoky salmon are a wonderful follow-up meal. Try Olive Garden Italian salad dressing or Vivienne Romano Cheese Dressing. 


Some people like to call this beer butt chicken. There is a special rack made for holding the beer and the chicken; my preference, however, is to use an old and scratched up Bundt cake pan. There’s nothing worse than a pound cake that sticks to the pan, so I had absolutely no difficulty talking my wife into getting a new pan, and now the old one is available for use in the Ricky Shack.  

This is an easy and delicious meal.  

Take a 4-5-pound whole chicken (serves 4-5), remove the neck and giblets from cavity and rinse well. Brine for four to six hours. A good friend and chef, Jake Jacobs, graciously shared his favorite recipe for Poultry Brine: 1 gallon warm water, 3/4 cup kosher salt, 2/3 cup sugar, 3/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup olive oil.

Heat your grill to 325-350 degrees indirect heat. 

Remove chicken from brine and rinse thoroughly. Rub olive oil on chicken and then apply a dry rub of equal parts kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and thyme – and for a little pop, use Tony Chachere’s Original Creole seasoning. Cover both inside and outside the bird, and try to get some under the skin for more flavor.

Place chicken on the throne – legs down for stability, wings up. Pour half a can of your favorite local craft beer into the Bundt pan. If opposed to beer, use chicken broth as a non-alcoholic substitute. I have done both, and they are equally good. 

Cut up carrots, celery, onion and potatoes, lightly season and throw in bottom of Bundt pan. Drizzle a little butter on chicken, being careful not to remove too much of the dry rub.

Carefully place the pan and upright chicken on your grill and close grill cover for an hour. Opening the grill allows all the moist heat to escape, so try to avoid opening.  

After an hour, open and inspect chicken and broth. Add a little water if needed. Check internal temperature of thigh – it probably should be not quite to recommended minimum of 165 degrees.  Cover 20 minutes and then check internal temperature again. Cover and repeat. A 5-pound chicken should take about 1.5-2 hours.  

Carefully remove chicken from throne and let it rest for 10-15 minutes, then pull chicken apart or slice and serve with vegetables from broth.

Columbia Valley Luke Merlot is a great match for fowl and highly recommended by Annette Birchfield at The Wine Cellar.