Monday, June 29, 2009

166. Foolproof Grilled Chicken (p. 363)

I have a little bit of a problem with The Book's use of "foolproof" in the titles of several of its recipes. It's the same problem that I have with the "... For Dummies" and "Idiot's Guide ..." Books. You see, by calling this recipe Foolproof Grilled Chicken, The Book is telling me, "this recipe is so easy, not even a fool like you could botch it." I don't appreciate being called names.

But, after tasting this chicken, I got over myself. It's good enough to endure a little bit of name-calling.

The key to this recipe is brining the chicken. I know, I know, brining sounds like a pain in the neck--and it is--but, in this case, it made some pretty darn good chicken. First, I boiled a whole lot of salt and some sugar in a large pot of water for fifteen minutes. Then I cooled it compltely. Maybe some food scientist (are you out there Harold McGee?) could explain why it was so important to boil salt and sugar for fifteen minutes only to cool it completely. I figured I'd just trust The Book on this one. I put six pounds of chicken parts (I cut up a whole chicken rather than buying pre-cut parts) into the brine, covered it, and put it into the refrigerator for six hours.

Remember how I was saying that brining is a pain in the neck? Yeah, well, The Book says that you can brine the chicken a day in advance, but you still have to remove the chicken from the brine after six hour. I suppose leaving the chicken to soak in a saltwater bath for longer than that would be a bad thing. Well, I finally got the chicken into the brine at 10 o'clock on a Friday night. So, all you need to do is count to six to realized that, when my wife got up at 4 o'clock on Saturday morning to feed Jack, I had to get up, too, to take the chicken out of the brine. The things I do for The Project!

The Book gives instructions for cooking the chicken on either a charcoal grill or a gas grill. I've been wanting a nice Weber charcoal grill for a while, but for the time being, I've been using a gas grill (also a Weber, and we're pretty happy with it). I cranked the heat up all the way to pre-heat the grill for about ten minutes. I seared the meat for a little while, and then turned the heat down just a bit to cook the rest of the way.

There's another thing, besides the brining, that makes this recipe different from other grilled chicken recipes. The Book says to coat the cooked chicken in a Asian-inspired vinaigrette made with cilantro, mint, garlic, red pepper flakes, lime juice and fish sauce. I didn't make the vinaigrette and I didn't coat the cooked chicken with it. To be honest, I just ran out of time and decided to skip it. There may be some sticklers out there who'll say that I don't get to check this recipe off the list because I didn't make the vinaigrette. Well, this is my Project, and I get to say what counts as a recipe. I got out of bed at 4 o'clock in the morning to take the chicken out of the brine, so gosh darn it, I'm counting this one. (But, grilled chicken coated with Asian vinaigrette sounds pretty good, and I'm sure that I'll come back to this recipe some summer day.)

The chicken was excellent. The brining really did make a difference and was worth the extra effort (although I could have timed it better.) The chicken was nice and crispy and grill-makred on the outside, and tender and flavorful on the inside. Even the wings, which are usually the last parts to go after every grabs the drumsticks and breasts, were really good. Since I had no vinaigrette, I served the grilled chicken with the Manchamantal Sauce I made to go with the pork kebabs. Like I said, the Manchamantal Sauce was like a tropical barbecue sauce, so it worked just as well with the chicken as it did with the pork.

Date Cooked: June 13, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A-

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