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Smoked Spatchcocked Chicken

26 Jul

Sometimes I do not, in fact, do all of the cooking around here. Occasionally, when he is blessed with the time and inclination, my husband will tackle a dish, and I could not be more pleased to watch him do so. Because that is what I do: I watch. Or, if I am feeling unencumbered in other areas of my life and I don’t need to catch up on work or mundane house-related tasks, I sit and read. What I don’t do is intervene. My husband is not a frequent cook, but he is an enthusiastic one, and I would never want to rob him of that quality. If I hovered around him and poked at things while he toiled away in semi-unfamiliar territory, I am sure that the only thing I would accomplish would be the act of making him super nervous and more than a little annoyed. If he has a question for me I answer it, but that’s about the extent of my involvement.

It only seems fitting, then, that the story of this recipe be told purely in pictures. I had a great time snapping process shots of this dish, in no small part because I was not the one making the dish, so I never had to stop what I was doing, rinse off my hands, position the camera, take a shot, and then go back to cooking. I just did what I always do when I am not the person cooking: I watched. And when the chicken was done, I did my most favorite thing of all: I ate the meal and I enjoyed it immensely. With the smoky flavor of the tender, herb-scented chicken, lightly glazed with a garlicky and sweet sauce, it was certainly the easiest part of the entire process.

Last Year: No Bake Fresh Peach Pie

Other adventures in smoking things include this foray into making smoked salmon at home and this experiment making smoked ribs, Indian-style.

Smoked Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe

Adapted only slightly from BBQ25 by Adam Perry Lang

Two 3 ½-4 pound chickens, spatchcocked (butterflied), thighs and legs slashed. To spatchcock a whole chicken, cut out both the entire backbone and the breastbone, then splay the chicken out flat and trim off any excess fat and tissue. Here is a good video tutorial on how to do so, though for this recipe you won’t need to cut the entire chicken in half as is done at the end of the video.

Ingredients for Brine:

¼ cup sea salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

10 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried

6 cups cold water

2 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil

Ingredients for Baste/Glaze

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, crushed

juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon water

For Smoking:

2 cups of wood chips, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, then drained. We used apple wood chips, but alder wood or another mild wood would also work well.

Brine Chicken:

Combine all the brine ingredients in a large bowl or a large sealable plastic bag. Mix and crush the ingredients with your hands, directly or through the bag, squeezing them to release the maximum flavor. Transfer half the brine to another bowl or bag.

Put the chickens in the brine, transfer to the refrigerator, and brine for at least 3 hours, and up to 24 hours.

Smoking the Chickens:

Set up your grill for indirect grilling.  If you have a two burner gas grill, this will mean setting one burner on medium high heat and leaving the other burner off.  If you have a three burner gas grill, it will mean setting the two outermost burners on medium high heat and leaving the middle burner off.  If you have a charcoal grill, you will be raking your hot coals into two piles on opposite sides of the grill, leaving an empty space in between.  After preparing whichever grill you have, place a drip pan under the grates in the portion of the grill that is not lit or covered with hot coals. The temperature should be around 300 degrees.

Drain the chickens and dry with paper towels. Lightly rub the chickens all over with the canola oil.

Toss the pre-soaked wood chips onto hot coals (if using a charcoal grill), or, if using a gas grill, place wood chips in a smoker box made specifically for gas grills (such as this one), or wrap your wood chips in a tight pouch of aluminum foil with holes punched in the top (as demonstrated here), then place the box or pouch of wood chips under the grill grate, directly on top of a burner.

Put the chickens skin side up on the well-oiled preheated grill and cook, covered, for 45 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, combine all the baste/glaze ingredients in a small bowl.

Baste the chickens and continue to cook, covered, basting every 15 minutes, for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is done: the juices should run clear when a thigh is pierced, and the thickest part of the thigh should register 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer.

Transfer the chickens to a cutting board, skin side up, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting each chicken into 6 pieces (from each chicken there will be 2 breasts, 2 thighs, and two drumsticks).

Grilled Pineapple and Jalapeño Salsa

9 Jul

This recipe was sort of an accident.  Have you ever started thinking about something or doing something and then, the more you thought about or continued to do that thing, the more entrenched you became in the very specifics of that thing?  (I sincerely hope I am not the only person who possesses this particular trait…though I would not be at all surprised if I was).  Well, that’s what happened with this salsa.

It started out so innocently.  I found some lovely fresh pineapple at the market.  When I got the pineapple home, I decided that I would eat it with my lunch.  Then I decided that I would have some grilled fish for lunch.  Then I decided that I would put the pineapple on the grilled fish.  Wait, no.  I would make a pineapple salsa, because I also had an aging jalapeño on hand that I wanted to use up.  Hold on—if I am going to be grilling some fish, why not also grill the pineapple?  Grilled pineapple is wonderful.  I’ll do that.

I wonder what would happen if I also grilled the jalapeño?  And these onions?  Hey, look—I just spotted the bread on the counter and, man, doesn’t a sandwich sound great right about now?  I know, I’ll grill everything!  Fish, pineapple, jalapeño, onions, bread—everything!

And do you know that?  I don’t think I have ever benefitted so much from a thought process that was not so much a process as it was a series of linked ideas that, lucky for both you and me, totally worked out.  Obviously, this worked out for me because I had a phenomenal lunch that day.  It works out for all of you, because now you too can have the same phenomenal lunch that I did, only you’ll have a much better idea of how things are going to turn out.  They are going to turn out to be delicious, I promise you.

Last Year: Indian Spiced Smoked Spareribs

Grilled Pineapple and Jalapeño Salsa Recipe

1 or 2 fresh jalapeños (depending on how spicy you want your salsa, though I find that grilling the jalapeños greatly tempers their heat—I used 1 jalapeño, but I wished I had used 2), sliced in half lengthwise, seeds and ribs removed (or, for even more heat, set aside the seeds and add them in later when everything gets mixed in together)

¼ of a red onion, separated into layers

10 ounces fresh pineapple, sliced into long strips

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

juice of ½ a lime

salt to taste

Heat an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan over medium high heat.  Lightly oil grates.  When grill or grill pan is heated, place onion layers and sliced jalepano on grill.  Grill until the onions are soft and sweet and the jalapenos are just starting to turn dark at the edges, about 5 minutes, turning once.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Place pineapple strips on the grill, and grill until just starting to caramelize, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Allow all three ingredients to cool to room temperature.

When cooled, finely dice both onion and jalapeno.  Dice pineapple in to ½-inch chunks.  Combine in a medium bowl, along with cilantro, lime juice, and salt.  Toss everything to combine, and add more lime juice and salt as you see fit.

To make a grilled tuna steak sandwich to accompany your salsa, heat your grill over high heat.  Oil the grates.  Take 1 large tuna steak and cut it in half horizontally, making two thinner tuna steaks.  Season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper.  Place tuna steaks on oiled grill and grill until the very middle of each steak is still pink, about 1 minute per side.  As you cook your tuna steak, you will see the color change, becoming paler as it moves up the steak.  When you grill the first side, you will know to flip the steak over when the pale color has moved about halfway up the steak.  After you flip the steak it will only take another 60 seconds or so to finish cooking the steak.  The fish will continue to cook a bit after you remove it from the grill.

To assemble a sandwich, place a grilled tuna steak on a piece of grilled or toasted bread.  Top with slices of avocado, a large scoop of salsa, then place another piece of grilled or toasted bread on top.  Slice in half for easier eating.  So delicious.

Indian Turkey Burgers with Green Chutney

23 May

Not being a burger and fries type of person (or, to clarify, not being a burger person, but definitely being a fries person), I sometimes feel as though classic summer cookouts are a bit of a strange land for me to navigate.  Can I still claim to be a devotee of summer grilling if I don’t necessarily want to eat what I grill?  It’s no secret that I am extremely interested in trying out new and interesting ways to showcase meats that I do not eat, but I often wonder how long I can keep up my routine.  After a while, people might stop trusting me when I churn out meat dish after meat dish, all accompanied by a footnote that says “I did not eat this, but everyone around me who did eat it loved it.”  It sounds suspicious, I have to admit.

So, in the interest of fully vetting a grill-worthy dish that everyone, including me, will love, I set my sights on coming up with a great summer cookout burger that, upon completion, I would have no problem tucking into.  Sort of a hybrid of a kebab and a burger, this Indian-spiced patty is a lovely addition to any outdoor grill, and, with its savory Indian spices and juicy, toothsome bite, it’s a great unifier for those who love burgers and those who might possibly be just a tad wary of a standard burger.

Topping everything off with a kicky, fresh green chutney ties everything together nicely, and, sandwiched with cucumber slices into a piece of warm naan, slathered with cool raita, and served with a side of spicy potatoes, these turkey burgers open the door to an entirely new notion of burgers and fries.

More Indian food (including last year’s experiment with making Indian-inspired smoked ribs) can be found here.

Indian Turkey Burgers with Green Chutney Recipe

Indian Turkey Burgers

1 ¼  to 1 ½ pounds ground turkey

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon garam masala

pinch cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 large clove smashed and minced garlic

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix everything together until thoroughly combined, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to cook, heat an oiled grill (if you don’t have an outdoor grill, a stovetop grill pan will work just fine) to high heat.  With your hands slightly oiled to prevent sticking, gently form the turkey mixture into six patties.  Place the patties on the grill, then reduce the heat to medium high.  Cook until patties are completely cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your patties are.

Green Chutney

½ cup plain yogurt

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno, seeds removed

juice of ½ a lemon

pinch of salt

In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine half of the yogurt with the mint, cilantro, jalapeno, lemon juice, and salt.  Pulse the ingredients together until they are relatively smooth and no large chunks of jalapeno remain.  Pour the mixture into a small bowl with the remaining yogurt, then stir everything together and taste for seasoning.  You may want to add a touch more salt or a small squeeze of additional lemon juice.

Serve turkey burgers in a piece of naan with sliced cucumbers, a dollop of raita and a spoonful of chutney.

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