Smoked Spatchcock Cilantro-Garlic Chicken (now that’s a mouthful!)

I smoked all day today.  I woke up and went straight to the backyard to smoke.  I was jonesing, so much so that I woke up at 7 a.m. today, when I should’ve slept in on a Saturday morning.  I hope my neighbors didn’t mind my early morning smoking habit.  My hair, clothes, and skin smells of smoke.  I’m amazed that my lungs were able to take that much in, as if I were still in my early 20s.  It even kicked up some of my allergies.  I can’t wait to shower and scrub this smell off.  The problem, though, is that I’m addicted.  I love smoking… food, that is.

Smoked Spatchcock Cilantro-Garlic Chicken

1 (3 lb) whole chicken, spine removed
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and finely chopped
4 jalapenos, sliced
12 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt

Place spatchcock chicken in a large glass bowl, breast side down, filled with water. Add the cilantro, garlic cloves, and sea salt. Carefully “stir” the water to mix all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

1/2 bunch cilantro, rinsed and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients into a paste in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the cilantro paste underneath the skin and the entire exterior of the chicken. Set aside.

Heat the smoker per the manufacturer’s instructions to 250 degrees F. If you are using a BGE, place a drip pan on the inverted plate setter. Place the chicken in the smoker, and smoke [I used applewood] until the breast reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and the thighs reach 175 degrees F, or when the juices run clear, about 3-4 hours. Remove the chicken from the smoker, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes tented with foil.

Tandoori Chicken… tastes just like what you get at an Indian restaurant!

This recipe was A-MAZ-ING!!  I’ve been looking for a tandoori recipe, and have tried a few, but this comes closest to what you get at an Indian restaurant.  Now I just wish I had a tandoor oven.  But the grill or oven is totally suffice for this recipe.  I am in love with this recipe, and cannot wait for leftovers tomorrow.  Yum.

Tandoori Chicken (slightly adapted from Simply Recipes)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sweet (not hot) paprika
1 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
2.5 tablespoons lemon juice
4 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon salt
4 whole chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs), or its equivalent, skinless, bone-in

Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat, then cook the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala and paprika, stirring often, until fragrant (approximately 2-3 minutes). Let cool completely.

Whisk in the cooled spice-oil mixture into the yogurt, then mix in the lemon juice, garlic, salt and ginger.

Cut deep slashes (to the bone) in 3-4 places on the leg/thigh pieces. Just make 2-3 cuts if you are using separate drumsticks and thighs. Coat the chicken in the marinade, cover and chill for at least six hours.

Prepare your grill so that one side is quite hot over direct heat, the other side cooler, not over direct heat. If using charcoal, leave one side of the grill without coals, so you have a hot side and a cooler side. If you are using a gas grill, just turn on one-half of the burners. Use tongs to wipe the grill grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. Take the chicken out of the marinade and shake off the excess. You want the chicken coated, but not gloppy. Put the chicken pieces on the hot side of the grill and cover. Cook 2-3 minutes before checking.

Turn the chicken so it is brown (even a little bit charred) on all sides, then move it to the cool side of the grill. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes, up to 40 minutes (or longer) depending on the size of the chicken and the temperature of the grill. The chicken is done when its juices run clear.

Conversely, you can also cook this in your oven.  Preheat the oven to 550 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place chicken onto baking sheet, and put into the oven.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Turn on the broiler, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes to char the chicken a little bit more.

Let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with lemon wedges, and grilled sliced onions.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Baked Chicken Taquitos

My brother and I grew up in the back of the kitchen of our family restaurant.  No joke.  We had our own little study/play area.  It was pretty sweet, as I look back in retrospect.  [The play area, that is.  Not growing up in the back of the kitchen.] We had our own 13 inch TV with our old-school Nintendo unit hooked up to keep us entertained, out of trouble, and out of any danger from the kitchen chaos itself.  My parents had very little time to spend with us because they worked all day long.  Well, except for the fact that they still found ways to breathe down our necks to finish our daily homework assignments.  Ahh, Asian parenting.  So quality time was limited in our family.  As I was growing up, I longed for the “normal” family units that my friends had.  But my parents did their best to spend time with us.  My parents would take us to [insert fast food chain] after they closed up the restaurant for the night, order food, and we’d eat in front of the TV.  This was our way of spending quality family time.   So food, albeit it wasn’t always the healthiest, was our way to spend time together.

One fast food chain we used to frequent as a family was Jack In The Box.  Do you remember when Jack In The Box used to serve beef taquitos (and tacos)?  It was probably during the early 1990s when they rolled out with this menu item.  I can’t believe I’m going to say this, and am a little embarrassed to admit this, but I thought they were really, really tasty.  They were the perfect snacky, greasy, finger foods.  I’d ask for an order of taquitos (I think it was five taquitos to a box), and beg my parents to buy the guacamole and sour cream on the side for an additional charge.  I think Jack In The Box was my first introduction to guacamole and sour cream, and possibly even “Mexican” food.  Hysterical, yet pathetic, right?

I don’t know if they still sell them or not, but I do crave them from time-to-time, like I crave french fries from McDonald’s.  Mmmmmmm.  But I haven’t had fast food since 2006, and won’t start now.     So I’m always on the hunt for healthier alternatives…

Baked Chicken Taquitos (adapted from Our Best Bites)

1/3 cup Toffuti cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup salsa verde
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons green onion, chopped
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
10-12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Salt, to sprinkle
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine softened cream cheese, salsa verde, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, minced garlic, cilantro, green onion.  Stir to combine.  Add chicken and shredded cheese, and combine thoroughly.  Season with salt, if necessary.

Heat corn tortillas until soft and pliable, about 30 seconds, on a plate with damp paper towels inbetween and on top of the tortillas to “steam.”   Spoon about 3 to 3 tablespoons of the filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly.  Place taquitos, seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Lightly spray the top of the taquitos with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden.  Serve with your favorite salsa, guacamole, and greek yogurt.  Yum!

Makes 10 to 12 taquitos.

Shish Taouk – Lebanese Chicken Skewers

shish taouk, chicken shish taouk, chicken kebobs, chicken kebabs, grilled chicken kebobs, grilled chicken kebabs, chicken skewers, lebanese chicken skewers, grilled chicken skewers, lebanese chicken

Spring is here!  Maybe not officially, but it seems to have finally come.  My favorite time of the year has to be Spring, while Fall is a close second.  I love when the trees and flowers start to blossom around town, and throughout the countryside.  It’s absolutely beautiful, but it wreaks havoc on my seasonal allergies.  But hey, that’s what medications are for :)  Here, I go, getting off topic again.  Anyhow, the Spring time offers the perfect weather for outdoor activities, such as cycling, running, hiking, and gardening!  The only problem with spring is that summer is right around the corner, which means hot, dry desert weather.  It can get up to 115 degrees during the hottest part of the day during the summer months.  Blech.  The thought of it is nauseating.  But the great part of spring and summer is the longer days, and the endless time spent grilling anything and everything!

My grill has been on a hiatus since late fall.  I wish I could be an avid griller all year around, but I’m just not hearty enough to grill during the dead of winter.  And plus, it’s too dark to grill outdoors during the winter months.  I suppose I could buy some lighting accessories, but I guess I’m not THAT motivated.  Besides, that’s what the broiler setting is for!  Anyhow, the weather is supposed to be in the upper 60s during the day for the next few weeks.  So it was the perfect time to redo my drip irrigation system around the front and backyard, plant some vegetable seeds and starter vegetable plants, and cleaned the grill!  Yes.  It was a busy day for me.  But I was really excited because I got to fire up the grill to make chicken kabobs as left overs for pita sandwiches, wraps, and as a topping for my lebanese fattoush salad.  Winning.

Shish Taouk – Lebanese Chicken Skewers

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon paprika
3/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic, yogurt, tomato paste, olive oil and lemon juice. Add in the dried spices, salt and pepper, and whisk together. Coat the chicken with the marinade and cover bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours up to 8 hours. Any longer and you’ll have mushy chicken because the acidity of the lemon juice and Greek yogurt will “cook” or break down the texture of the chicken.

Thread chicken on skewers and grill or cook under a broiler. Grill the chicken over moderately high to high, or broil for about 5-7 minutes per side, flipping once, until you see visible char marks and the chicken is cooked through.

Makes 2 servings.

Holla!… It’s Chicken Tikka Masala! But you can call me Tikka Masala.

Chicken tikka masala apparently is the most popular dish in British restaurants, and is referred to as Britain’s true national dish.  Interestingly, there is no standardized recipe for chicken tikka masala; then again, there really does not exist standard ways to cook kung pao chicken or chow mein.  But there are common ingredients that can be found such as chicken, and a tomato and coriander sauce.

This was the first dish that I ever tried during my first encounter with Indian food.  And OMG, it was to die for, especially when it was eaten with basmati rice and naan.  Mmmmm, naan.  It was like a party in my mouth.  I ordered Indian take out with chicken tikka masala, rice, and naan two times a week for a straight two months because it was so good.  And also because I have a slight obsessive personality.  I don’t remember venturing out of my comfort zone until I was out having dinner with a friend and tried their chicken korma dish.  And then my chicken korma addiction started thereafter.

Chicken Tikka

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into large cubes
2 cups plain yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Masala Sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (leave ribs and seeds for a spicier dish)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup fat-free half and half (or heavy cream)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

For the chicken:
Combine garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, tumeric, lemon juice, and yogurt in small bowl. Mix well. Place chicken in bowl and mix. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for four to six hours.

For the sauce:
Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

While the sauce simmers, adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, arrange the chicken on the foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan, and place on wire rack. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking. Alternatively, you can also skewer the chicken breasts and cook them on the grill, which is I plan to do as the weather warms up :)

Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes, and then stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro if using, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,489 other followers