Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I have a fresh blanket of about 7 inches of snow on the ground outside. And when it snows the GrillinFool is grilling. Oh, sure we did the whole sledding thing with the baby boy. His first time on a sled. So here we have some gratuitous cute baby pictures. Here we have the future pitmaster in his snow gear just waiting to get in his sled:
He's all excited about the sled:
Ready to make his first descent:
I don't think he quite appreciates the simple joy of sledding just yet:
Now back to the grilling. This is probably one of the easiest meals one can make. Basically the recipe is chicken marinaded in garlic, shallots, Italian dressing and black pepper and then indirect for about 90 minutes. It's really that simple. I spent more time taking pictures than I did prepping the meal.
One does not have to use shallots but a shallot is perfect for this meal as not that much is needed. You could use onion but you will have a lot left over even with a small onion. So here we have an ear of garlic and a couple of shallots:
I wound up only using one of the shallots and the equivalent of about 5 cloves of garlic - 3 normal sized cloves and 4 smaller ones. Here we have the pealed garlic cloves:
I started chopping this garlic up when I realized I had something that would make the process so much quicker:
I don't want to spend the evening inside chopping garlic instead of enjoying the snow fall. That's when I remembered I had a coffee grinder in the cabinet that I never used it for anything but grinding up herbs and spices. It made quick work of the garlic:
Alas, this was the last voyage of the USS coffee/herb/garlic grinder. I barely got it to work as the lack of use over the years required me to slam down on the top of it to get it to spin. Looks like I need to both get a new grinder and actually use it more!!!
With the garlic chopped and no more grinder I had to chop the shallot by hand which you see here with the garlic, chicken and the rest of the ingredients:
I got what was called the best of the chicken. I had no idea that meant 3 legs, 3 thighs and 3 breasts. I've never seen chicken packaged like this. I really didn't need that much chicken this meal and didn't have the room for all of it so I put a leg, thigh and breast into another plastic bag with some of that amazing Pesto I talked about in the Lamb threads as you can see here:
The pesto chicken went into the freezer hence the label in permanent marker. This bag was going on the grill in 60 minutes:
To give you an idea of the grilling conditions I took a shot of the thermometer from inside:
And once outside I took some video as well of the conditions which was cold, snowy and windy:
Grabbed myself a beverage, in this case a Goose Island 312 Lager. Love this stuff:
Had a rough time getting the chimney started so I had to pretty much stand over it, add more paper 3 times and blow on it a lot to keep it going. So it took about 35 minutes to get the fire lit but I got it going
After about 60 minutes in the marinade I got the chicken out, salted it with coarse salt and then spooned over the chicken a little of the marinade concoction. The chicken is ready for the grill:
Here is the chicken on the grill:
Notice a few things in the above photo. First, two zone cooking. Coals on one side and chicken on the other for standard indirect grilling. Second, no piece of chicken is touching any other piece of chicken. If two pieces are touching they will insulate each other and increase cooking time for those two pieces. Also note the proximity of each cut of meat to the heat. The thighs are the closest to the heat despite the breasts being much bigger. The reason I do that is because the thighs have more fat in them and thus will not dry out as fast as the breasts. As for the breasts you will notice that the fatter part of the breast is closest to the heat. The skinnier part is farther away so that the skinny end doesn't dry out. Finally the legs are the farthest away and the fat part of the meat is closer to the heat than the other end. All of this will help the chicken cook evenly and be done all at the same time and look like this in about 90 minutes:
If you notice the two pics above that I did not move a single piece of chicken. I put the chicken on the grill and didn't move a single piece until I pulled the chicken off the grill. I never flipped a piece or repositioned it any way in order for it to cook more evenly. The beauty of laying the chicken out correctly in the first place and cooking indirect is that it makes this meal just that easy to make. I told you it was easy.
But let's back up a bit and look at what happened between the time I put the chicken on the grill and the above pic. First off, the first 30 minutes were rough. Couldn't get the temp up to 200. I had the lid set so the top vent was over the meat which drew the smoke from the chunk of apricot (big black chunk in the middle of the grill above the chicken) over the meat. When I switched it so the vent was over the coals it allowed more air to get to the coals and the heat jumped to about 280 which was just fine. And the smoke filled the the chamber anyway and gave some great smoke flavor to the chicken.
Had it been a typical summer evening I would've braised the chicken a couple times with the marinade but I didn't want to drop the temp down on the chicken anymore than what I did every time I opened the lid in 30 degree weather that was 8 degrees with windchill.
And of course there were more beverages to be had. I don't know how you chill your beer but I went with what nature offered me After a couple 312's I switched to a local product to save money and besides my taste buds were pretty much numb after a couple of beers anyway:
Ever seen a snow bagel?
Here we have the GrillinFool tending to the BBQ:
We also had some more sledding. Here is one of the casuaties of the sledding:
Here's an idea of how much snow we got:
If you look at the indentions in the snow in the pick above the snow below the indentions was how much snow we had at about 5:00 p.m. I took this pic about 2 hours later. And then you can see how much snow we had at 9:00 p.m.:
Here is my charcoal lighter at 5:00 and yes I go a little overboard in lighting my grill:
And here is that same lighter at 9:00 p.m.:
OK, enough of me reveling in the snow fall, back to the food. Another 20 minutes or so on the grill and here we have the chicken ready for to eat:
And along with my wife's whole wheat veggie pasta dinner is served:
Took an extra 20-30 minutes due to the weather but the chicken was fantastic. The legs and thighs were done and the breast was still juicy according to the wife.
10 minutes of prep time, 2 hours of cook time, a couple of beers, some sledding, and great chicken in the end...