July – Three Pepper Quick Roast Chicken

July – Three Pepper Quick Roast Chicken

Three Pepper Chicken comes from a recipe typed by my mother on her old manual typewriter. I came across it while cleaning out some files, finding it was like discovering buried treasure. Mom had a cooking school in Florida back in the 70’s, but I don’t think this is from her classes. Judging from the folds, my mother must have mailed it to me. We shared a love of food and cooking. I don’t remember ever making it, which makes me sad. I missed an opportunity for the memories of a shared conversation about the recipe and the evening on which it might have been served. She would have wanted to hear all about the guests and the menu.

Three Pepper Chicken

This chicken was destined for our BBQ on a warm Friday night. It was too hot to spend time in the kitchen as we don’t have air conditioning. If your weather doesn’t cooperate, you could easily roast it in your oven. That’s how the recipe reads and my mom must have made it.

I combined her suggestion to spatchcock the chicken, cutting off the backbone and flattening it (see video),  with opening up the thighs for faster cooking. You can see more about this technique in my post about 45 minute roast chicken. The chicken does look a little pornographic but it immensely speeds the cooking time and ensures that the thighs are cooked at the same time as the breast meat. This method also has the advantage of letting you rub the three pepper seasoning into the thigh meat and the entire breast. The flavor is amazing!

Three Pepper Chicken

The three peppers are sweet paprika, black pepper, and Szechuan peppercorns. Only the additions of a little salt and olive oil are needed.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarsely and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, bruised and crushed slightly (I used a mortar and pestle but you could put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a rolling pin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Olive oil – about 1 tablespoon

Method

  1. Preheat your BBQ or oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If making it in your BBQ, set it up for indirect heat (the central burners off or coals pushed to the side)
  2. Mix the paprika, black pepper, Szechuan peppercorns and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Coat the chicken, inside and out, with the spices. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. If cooking in the oven:
    • lightly oil a roasting pan just large enough for the chicken to lay flat, skin side up.
    • Press any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
    • Roast in the center of the oven for 30-45 minutes until juices run clear. The time will depend on the size of your chicken.
  5. If cooking on the BBQ:
    • Clean and lightly grease the grill.
    • Rub any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
    • Place the chicken skin side up over the area of your BBQ where there are no burners or coals.
    • Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
    • Turn the chicken skin side down and continue to cook for 20 minutes or longer until juices run clear. Timing will depend on the size of your chicken.
  6. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes before carving.

Three Pepper Chicken

The chicken had the most lovely color and flavor from the spices. She would have enjoyed hearing all about it.

 

June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

It was in March of 2015 that I first posted about beer can chicken. If you don’t have a rotisserie on your grill, cooking over a beer can (or other metal container filled with liquid), allows you to roast a whole tasty and tender chicken (or two) in your grill. As I wrote in the earlier post, the method is controversial. It has naysayers claiming cooking over a beer can makes absolutely no difference to the flavor, not to mention any other merits. I beg to differ. In my experience, it has two advantages. First, you fill the container with a liquid to flavor the chicken from the inside. There is no reason to confine yourself to beer. I have used wine, juice of all kinds (apple is very nice in the fall), chicken broth with spices or herbs, and plain water with sliced lemons and/or oranges plus some crushed garlic. Let your imagination go crazy. What would suit your taste buds on that particular day? And second, the liquid and metal container heat up and cook the chicken from the inside. This shortens the cooking time and ensures your chicken is done all the way through, resulting in a more reliably and evenly roast chicken. It has much the same result as those metal pins you can put in roasted potatoes to speed up the process.

There is a problem with using a real beer can though, it tends to tip over if you are not careful. I used the real beer can method for several years before I found this…a handy beer can BBQ tray with attached metal containers. It solves the problem of a potential scalding from a tippy beer can. Not to mention the mess it can make. This one came from Williams Sonoma where they call it Two-in-One Vertical Chicken Roaster. Please note that this endorsement comes only from my own experience and was not solicited.

Vertical Roaster

You can either roast two chickens (leftover roasted chicken is welcome on hot days), or one,  the center of the tray has a holder for a metal cup as well.

If you are using a real beer can, place it on a roasting pan or other flat surface. And handle it very carefully.

The weather in Northern California has finally reached summer temperatures, a few days before the the official date. Perfect for starting up the BBQ and staying out of a hot kitchen or further heating the house.

I decided to give these chickens a middle eastern flavor and use pomegranate juice as the liquid, and added a rub of cumin, Marash Turkish chile, and salt mixed with  with olive oil on the outside of the chicken before roasting. I first read about Marash chile in a book My Pantry written by Alice Waters, it has since become a favorite. If you don’t have it, substitute espelette or another you have on hand.

Although you could season the chicken immediately before cooking, letting it marinate for a few hours in the fridge will heighten the taste and aroma. You could even leave it overnight.

Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken

Rub for two chickens:

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin, toasted in a hot skillet
  • 1 teaspoon of Marash Turkish chile or another favorite chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt

Marash Turkish Chile

You will also need a liquid to put in the cups. See my comments above. Since this was a Middle Eastern themed dinner, I chose Pomegranate juice. Fill the cups 2/3 of the way to the top.

Chicken:

  • 1 – 2 organic chickens, free range if you can get them. Air chilled preferable.
  • Liquid or beer to fill cups

Slightly Off Kilter Chickens ready for the BBQ

Although these look tippy, they are held upright by the cups.

Method:

  1. Preheat your grill to between 350 and 400 degrees F (176 to 204 C). If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect heat.
  2. Fill the cups or can 2/3 with liquid, I used pomegranate juice. If using real beer cans, pour off some of the beer.
  3. If not done already, brush the chickens with marinade.
  4. Carefully place the chickens upright over the cans or cups, spreading out the legs.
  5. On a gas BBQ, turn off the center burner over which you will place the chickens.
  6. Place the tray with the chickens in the grill and cover the grill.
  7. Monitor the temperature throughout.
  8. Bake for 1 hour and check, the chickens will cook faster than you think. They may need another 10 minutes or more depending on the temperature of your grill and size of the chickens.

Finished Chicken

Crispy skinned chicken and tender meat is your result. Carve and serve.

Carved Beer Can Chicken

March in the Kitchen – Italian Beer Can Chicken

March in the Kitchen – Italian Beer Can Chicken

This recipe comes directly from the cookbook “Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking” by Paula Wolfert. Ms. Wolfert is also the author of “The Cooking of Morocco” which is the March/April selection of the on-line cookbook book club sponsored by Leah of The Cookbook Guru.

Do you ever become enamored by a writer? Paula has done it to me. It happens with novels, TV programs, and cookbooks. I fall in love with an author and have to read everything he or she has written. I think it’s the way Ms. Wolfert combines and uses spices in unusual ways that catches my imagination, I love the unfamiliar. It’s a new adventure.

She has re-inspired me to use my clay cooking vessels more frequently, I have several and they have been gathering dust in the top cabinets for years. My adaptation of this recipe actually doesn’t use clay as I don’t have a stoneware “beer can” baker (might have to investigate). I do have a much used and appreciated beer can BBQ roaster I purchased from Williams Sonoma several years ago. Trying to perch a chicken on a rocking can of beer is an iffy proposition in the best of times and this handy-dandy contraption solves the problem.  The roasting pan is meant to be used on the BBQ, it has places for either one or two”beer cans” which snap firmly in place. Thus your chicken is not in danger of tipping over and burning you with hot liquid.

Beer Can Roaster

Beer Can Roaster

Surprisingly beer can chicken is quite controversial, many folks say that it doesn’t do a thing to enhance the taste of chicken. There are actually on-line discussions devoted to experiments, both pro and con! I am definitely on the pro side, I think the hot liquid (and metal can) speed the cooking of the chicken from the inside as well as the outside, the flavored liquid (you don’t need to use beer) results in a moist and flavorful chicken.

I was intrigued by this recipe because it calls for juniper berries. There has been a jar of them in my spice drawer for far too long. I wasn’t aware that they are used in Italian cooking.

Beer Can Chicken with an Italian Rub

  • 1 frying chicken, 3 1/2-4 pounds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of juniper berries
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, or clarified butter
  • 2 small lemons, 1 sliced
  1.  Wipe the chicken inside and out with damp paper towels.
  2. Using a mini food processor or a mortar and pestle, pound the juniper berries, salt, oregano, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaf to a paste. Blend in the olive oil or butter.
  3. Slide your fingers carefully between the skin over the breast and legs/thighs of the chicken, separating the skin from the meat. Be careful not to tear the skin.
  4. Insert pinches of the spice mixture under the skin and over the flesh of the chicken. Use any remaining to season the cavity and rub over the skin. Add a few slices of lemon to the cavity as well.
  5. Pre-heat your BBQ to between 350 and 400 degrees F (gas), or prepare a charcoal grill for indirect heat.
  6. Fill your beer can about two-thirds full of water and squeeze one lemon into it, add any leftover lemon slices to the container.
  7. Carefully seat the chicken so its legs straddle the beer can.
  8. Turn off the burners under where you will put the chicken or place the chicken over the spot without coals.
  9. Bake for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes until done to your liking. Check it at an hour as it may cook faster than you expect.

    Italian Beer Can Chicken

    Italian Beer Can Chicken

  10. Remove the chicken and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. Carefully remove the bird off the stand and transfer to a cutting board.
Beer Can Chicken

Beer Can Chicken

 

Beer Can Chicken wih Slow Roasted Carrots and Arugula

Beer Can Chicken wih Slow Roasted Carrots and Arugula

If you are lucky enough to own a stoneware beer-can baker here are the instructions.

  1. Carefully remove the chicken off the stand so the juices run into the bowl. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, degrease the juices in the bowl, pour them into a conventional skillet, and quickly boil them down until reduced by half.
  3. Correct the seasoning for salt and pepper and serve with the carved bird.

It was judged a success by the tasters.

I’m taking this to share with the gang at The Novice Gardener, it’s Fiesta Friday #62 at Angie’s place.

Fiesta Friday