Wednesday, August 24, 2016

MOG - Bone-in Chicken Parts, and Butternut Squash

I had the wild idea that I would plod through the book, doing each item in turn, sort of like Julie and Julia, as she works her way through Julia Child's French cookbook. But, nah! I'll be picking and choosing. Today it was chicken, even though chicken is 66 pages into the book. I've done chicken parts on the grill before but I'm always hoping for new tricks.

First, the Butternut Squash. I like it and am always looking for new and nice ways to eat it. You takes your squish, and you cleans it out and then you peels it with a knife (or fat vegetable peeler). Make sure you get all that whitish fibrous layer under the rind. Slice into half inch thick slices and simmer for about 4 or 5 minutes, until tender but firmish. The cooking on the grill is just to heat them and give them a nice finish. Dip them out of the water and drain, then drizzle/toss some oil on them, and sprinkle some salt and herbs and stuff on them. Then you can just set them aside until you're ready to cook them.

Now, back to the chicken.

I do enjoy cutting up chicken! A nice sharp knife and the knowledge of exactly where to cut makes me feel clever. I made all my kids learn too, so the wouldn't be at the mercy of the precut parts in the grocery store with all their little bone pieces and odd sizes.

Now here is a true side-note. There was a recipe for making portabella burgers, so I thought, all that grill space, why not kill THREE birds with one stone? So I bought one mushroom and prepared it. It said to scrape the gills out for better flavor. I'd never done that before. It did make it look more attractive.

Now back to the chicken.

I made up one of the suggested dry rub recipes, Tex-Mex Spice rub. It makes more than you need, so I get to use it again. 1/4 cup ground cumin (I lightly toast and grind my own cumin seeds), 2T chili powder (I use the mild Pasilla from the packets in the Mexican food aisle), 2T ground coriander (see cumin), 2T dried oregano (I was short so I used half thyme), 2T garlic powder (I always use granulated), 4t kosher salt (I used around 3), 2t unsweeetened cocoa powder (I guess because of the mole sauce connection), 1t cayenne (I substituted 2t of chipotle chili powder, to get some flavor with the heat).

As you gaze upon this pile of seasoned chicken parts, I beg you to notice the white paper underneath. OMG! Why didn't I think this up before? It is Reynolds freezer paper, the same stuff you get your cuts wrapped in from the butcher. It is tough, plasticized on one side, super wide and comes in a big honking roll, pretty cheap at Winco. I used to use paper plates or waxed paper when I didn't want to have to wash a cutting board or a countertop or baking sheet after dealing with raw meat, oils, or seasonings. And when you get your foods ready, you can wrap them up in it and stick it in the fridge to await your fire. (I'm thinking of getting my kids a roll of it for Christmas)

So apparently, putting a foil pan between the piles of coals helps even out the temp and lower it a bit. (Along with catching the greasy drippings) I didn't want to trash my last foil pan, so I just made one out of heavy duty aluminum foil.

Waiting on the coals seemed like a good time to tap the latest brewski. A mild little saison I made a few weeks ago to get back in the groove. Cheers!

It's interesting how the directions called for me to cook them exactly opposite of my previous way. I used to brown the pieces over a center pile of coals and then set them off to the side to finish cooking. Here, you arrange them in the cooler middle, and then after a set amount of time, you move them over on top of the coals to brown. One advantage to this way is that there were much less flare-ups. Some of the first fat rendered off onto the foil at the beginning so I didn't have to deal with it during the browning.

Once the chicken registered done according to the instant read thermometer, I moved it to the middle and cooked the rest of the food. (The foil packet is a hunk of sourdough) One problem I had was the the coals were already too cool to do the squash like I wanted. I stirred them up, which gave me a little blast of heat that helped. I guess I might have used more coals. Even though it feels wasteful, it is ALWAYS better to have a few too many than too few!

I cut the mushroom up with a pizza cutter into wedges for a side. I liked it without the gills. Less "wet" and gross-looking, and good flavor.

Dinner is served!

Everyone pronounced it very good.

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