Friday, June 27, 2008

Grilled Thai Chicken

Vegetarians: avert your eyes!

Everyone else: this is the best chicken that I have ever eaten. I swear. Hell, I pinky swear. No, I even really, totally mean it. This is not, however, a fast recipe. This recipe puts the Slow in the Slow Food Movement.

Was it the chicken? Was it the recipe? Was it the fact that it was cooked with love by Eric? Was it the hunger at the end of a long day? I don't know, but whatever it was, I'll be making this recipe again. It was fanTAStic! I'm not kidding: I had a hard time stopping myself from finishing my 1/2 of the chicken the first night.

OK! OK! Enough build up!

First, you need to get yourself a yummy all natural chicken from your local Farmer's Market. Failing that, get a good chicken from the grocery store. Expensive? Yes. Worth it! Also, did I mention that I'm reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma? Yeah. This book is having the same effect on me as Fast Food Nation did: we no longer eat from fast food restaurants. I now will no longer eat chicken/pork/beef raised in a feedlot (Confined Animal Feeding Operation = CAFO), if I have any other choice. It's bad news all the way around. The book, by the way, is awesome and eye opening. A total kick in the head, too.

Anyway! Get a good, whole, chicken. Then brine it.


Brining is key. While not called for in the recipe, let me tell you a secret: all natural, unconventional, minimally processed chickens can be a bit dry when cooked, since we've all become very used to more processed chicken which has been injected with broth. Which makes it moist. Natural chickens are killed, plucked, washed and frozen. That's it. Brining the chicken only takes 1 hour to do and locks in a lot of moisture, which ensures yumminess like you wouldn't believe.

Brining chicken
  1. Take 1/2 cup table salt and dissolve it in 2 quarts cold water in a large, lidded pot.
  2. Rinse chicken, place in pot, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Finally, rinse chicken in colander with fresh water and drain/pat dry.

Grilled Thai Chicken
From Fine Cooking magazine, July 2003, No, 58, pp. 63.
Serves four. (If you're good about sharing, that is.)

15 cloves garlic (You know it's going to be good right now, don't you?)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tbsp white peppercorns, toasted and ground
3/4 c minced cilantro stems and leaves (from about 1 large bunch)
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil

In a food processor, mince the garlic with the salt. Add the ground coriander seeds, ground peppercorns, cilantro, soy sauce and oil; puree until completely blended, 1 to 2 minutes. You'll have about 1 cup of marinade. Transfer to bowl, cover and set aside. Refrigerate if working ahead.

For the chicken:
1 chicken, 3.5 to 4 lbs, preferably kosher (Note: if kosher, do NOT brine), fat trimmed and discarded, chicken rinsed and thoroughly patted dry
Vegetable or olive oil spray

Butterfly the chicken (Or do what I did, purchase two halves.). Rinse and pat dry. Marinate chicken (Separate breast and thigh skin from flesh and slip a bit of marinade under the skin. Put chicken and remainder of marinade in a large zip-top bag, seal the bag and massage it to distribute the marinade all over the chicken.), refrigerated, for a least 1 hour and up to 8 hours (We did 8 hours.). Half an hour or so before grilling, remove from refrigerator and bag and put it on a platter.

Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire with the coals banked to one side or heat a gas grill to high on one side and medium low on the other.

Spray the chicken generously with vegetable oil spray and set it, breast side down, on the hottest part of the grill. Cook the chicken uncovered, turning once, until the skin has deep golden grill marks, 7 to 10 minutes. Move the chicken to the cooler side of the grill. Cover the grill and grill the chicken indirectly, turning every 5 minutes or so, until the juices run clear when the spot between the thigh and the breast is pricked and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers at least 165 degrees F, another 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with Sweet & Sour Sauce.

Sweet & Sour Sauce
Yields 1/2 cup.

1 tbsp dried red chile flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp rice vinegar
7 cloves garlic, minced

In a small, dry, saucepan, toast the chile flakes over high heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the salt, sugar, and rice vinegar; cook over medium-low heat until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the garlic. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool completely.

It was sooooo good that I never took a picture of it. I had to make myself stop eating it to save some for lunch the next day. Even cold it was fabulous.

Yes, it was a lot of work, but most of that time is spent sitting in the fridge. It is definitely worth trying: just the smell of the marinade made my mouth water. I only wish I had some right now.

Oh, and the twins gave it four tiny thumbs up.

I bet you're hungry now, aren't you?


Jennifer H said...

That sounds delicious.

Can you just make somefor me, please? :-)

screamish said...

wow. how can we resist such enthusiasm..thats got to be a good chicken.

Yeah- I read Fast Food Nation too...I was vegetarian for three weeks then I eased my way back into it...all our meat is free range now except shame...

oh and what is KOSHER SALT? Ive seen it around in american recipes but what is it exactly???

Ali said...


Manager Mom said...

Can I hire you to come and cook for my family for a week? I always complain that my kids are picky and won't eat anything but truth be told, I'm an appalling cook and everything I make tastes like canned Dinty Moore beef stew. Even if it has no beef in it.

Nina said...

oh my gosh. that sounds GOOD! My goal is to start cooking again this week (took a few months off to be pregnant, have baby, nurse every five minutes) so maybe I'll try this!

Cindy said...

Yum--I'll have to try this.

BTW, you can buy kosher chicken and save yourself the step of brining. Trader Joe's carries a brand called Empire Farms, which Cooks Illustrated rated best tasting packaged chicken. Once you try it, you can't go back.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Jennifer: You'd have to come HERE, wouldn't you? Consider yourself invited. : )

Screamish: Good question. I suspect Jewish rabbis are involved. I had to look it up: apparently KosherING salt would be the more correct term.
"Kosher salt gets its name not because it follows the guidelines for kosher foods as written in the Torah (nearly all salt is kosher, including ordinary table salt), but rather because of its use in making meats kosher, by helping to extract the blood from the meat. Because kosher salt grains are larger than regular table salt grains, when meats are coated in kosher salt the salt does not dissolve readily; the salt remains on the surface of the meat longer to draw fluids out of the meat."

Ali: All I did was brine it and start work on the marinade. Eric did all the rest. I started it all the night before, after the twins went to sleep. Everything waits for the twins to go to sleep these days!

Manager Mom: What's the going rate for a hired chef? Eric would consider it!

Nina: I know what you mean. Notice this didn't happen until the twins were 9 months old!

Cindy: I keep hearing about Trader Joe's, but they aren't in Colorado. Also, it was only an hour and some salt, so no big deal. Good idea, though!

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