Tuesday, August 5, 2008

And the lowly chicken clasped its wings together, clicked its feet, and became a butterfly

Or something like that.

Tonight's dinner, which I started last night by making the marinade, was Emeril's Caribbean Chicken from this month's Everyday Food subdivision of the Martha Stewart Empire.

This is the first time I had to butterfly a whole chicken - for grilling, no less - so after careful analysis of the instructional diagram I outsourced it. I texted Sweetie and told him I had a manly food task for him that required sharp knives and fire. He did something or other - waved a magic wand, maybe? - while I was at work to ready the chicken and de-bone parts of it. I'll have to ask him for the details someday. On the household level we'll consider that skill mastered.

He popped the chicken into the marinade I'd already made and, to have it ready at dinnertime, threw it on the grill before I got home from work. "Vegetable?" he said. "Broccoli or sugar peas," I said from the depths of the crisper. Fresh sugar peas it was. It took me WAY longer than it should have to learn that one nicely-done dish per weeknight meal is plenty, and a cup of crudites is too a side dish. We loved the whole dinner. With more time and energy than I had at my disposal this evening this would be great with a green salad or, in cooler weather, baked sweet potato and black beans.

Cooking for a small household? Halve the marinade and make two Cornish game hens instead of a whole roasting hen. Wrap some of the meat tightly in Saran wrap, pop into a Ziploc, and freeze.

No grill? Use a grill pan (Calphalon makes a great one), or a regular large skillet.

Emeril's Caribbean Chicken

4 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into thirds
2 to 4 Scotch bonnet or jalapeno chiles, stems and seeds removed (use gloves) - I had one poblano and two serrano pepers in the crisper, so I used those
6 garlic cloves, peeled - seriously, it's not that garlicky. 6 cloves is fine.
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 TBSP fresh lime juice (or bottled)
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP light-brown sugar
1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice (I have no idea what that is. I used a few hearty shakes of cinnamon, allspice, and a less-hearty, teensy pinch of ground cloves)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)
Vegetable oil for grates
Coarse salt

1. In a food processor, combines scallions, chiles, garlic, ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, spices; puree into a thick paste. Set aside. (I don't think my marinade was a "thick paste" - it was fairly liquid. No matter, it was wonderful.)

2. To butterfly chicken: Using a knife or poultry shears, cut out the backbone. With a heavy pot, crack breastplate so the bird lays flat. Place butterflied chicken in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Rub reserved paste over chicken and seal bag. Refrigerate for 12 hours (or up to 1 day).

3. Heat grill to medium-low; lightly oil grates. Wipe chicken with paper towels to remove excess paste, and season with 1 tbsp coarse salt. Place, skin side down, on grill and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes. If browning too quickly, move to a cooler part of the grill. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

No comments: