Wednesday, June 8, 2005



Make chicken run

with recipes from cookbook duo


Two new grilling books, which couldn’t be more different from each other, may be worth your attention this barbecue season.


Bobby Flay is one of those ubiquitous TV chefs who seems to crank out a new cookbook every year.  But his recipes seem so appealing – simple and full of big flavors – that you’re willing to forgive him.  The new book is “Grilling of Life,” and it has a healthful slant.  It’s far from extreme in its approach – oil, sugar and cheese are still here, not to mention avocado and bacon – but attention has been paid to sodium levels and carbs.  And each recipe comes with a nutrition analysis.  This isn’t a book targeted at barbecue beginners, but outdoor chefs should find plenty of tasty, nutritious ideas here.


The other book is the encyclopedic “The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling,” by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen, 2005).  Exhaustively researched and a bit exhausting to read, this “practical guide” is a good choice for beginners, provided they’re not easily overwhelmed.  The book’s 419 pages cover every detail, for buying equipment to choosing beef ribs to butterflying a chicken.


Here are two ways to grill chicken, one for each book, that should illustrate their respective approaches.  With Father’s Day approaching, either one might make a good gift for the grilling dad in your life.



Chinese Chicken Salad

with Red Chili-Peanut Dressing


For the dressing:

       3 Tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce

       3 Tablespoons  rice vinegar

     1/4 cup          low-sodium chicken stock

       3 Tablespoons  smooth natural peanut butter

       1 Tablespoon   light brown sugar

       1 Tablespoon   grated fresh ginger

       1 Tablespoon   chipotle chili puree

                         (puree canned chipotles in adobo sauce)

       2 Tablespoons  toasted sesame oil

     1/4 teaspoon     fresh ground black pepper


For the chicken salad:

     1/2 head         Napa cabbage

     1/2 head         romaine lettuce

       2 medium       carrots

       4 ounces       snow peas (about 1 cup), trimmed

     1/4 cup          coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

     1/4 cup          thinly sliced scallions, light and dark parts

4                                                        boneless, skinless chicken breasts,

                  about 8 ounces each

       1 Tablespoon   canola oil

       1 teaspoon     kosher salt

     1/2 teaspoon     freshly ground black pepper

     1/4 cup          chopped roasted peanuts

                      lime wedges, for garnish


To make the dressing, whisk together all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use.


To make the salad, finely slice the cabbage and romaine lettuce with a large, sharp knife and place in a large bowl.  Shred the carrots on the large holes of a box grater and add to the cabbage mixture.  Add the snow pas, cilantro and scallions, and set aside.


Heat the grill to high.  Brush each chicken breast on both sides with the oil and season with the salt and pepper.  Grill for 4 minutes on each side until slightly charred and just cooked through.  Remove form the grill, transfer to a cutting board, and let rest for 5 minutes.  Shred the chicken: Hold the edge of a piece with a pair of tongs, rest the chicken on the cutting board and use a fork to pull apart the meat.


Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture and toss well to combine.  Transfer the mixture to a large plate, top with the shredded chicken and chopped peanuts, and garnish with lime wedges.  Makes six servings.


Source: “Grilling for Life”

        by Bobby Flay

        (Scribner, 2005).



Thai Grilled Chicken Breasts

with Spicy, Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce


For the chicken and brine:

    1/2 cup          sugar

    1/2 cup          table salt

      2 whole        chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on


For dipping sauce:

    1/3 cup          sugar

    1/4 cup          distilled white vinegar

    1/4 cup          fresh lime juice

      2 Tablespoons  fish sauce

      3 small        garlic cloves,

                        minced or pressed through a garlic press

      1 teaspoon     red pepper flakes


For rub:

    2/3 cup          chopped fresh cilantro leaves

    1/4 cup          fresh lime juice

     12 medium       garlic cloves,

                        minced or pressed through a garlic press

      2 Tablespoons  minced fresh ginger

      2 Tablespoons  ground black pepper

      2 Tablespoons  ground coriander

      2 Tablespoons  vegetable oil,

                        plus more for oiling the cooking grate


To brine the chicken, dissolve the sugar and salt in 2 quarts of cold water in a large container.  Split the chicken breasts, to make four halves.  Submerge the chicken in brine, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes but not longer than 1 hour.  Rinse the chicken under cool running water and pat dry with paper towels.


To make the dipping sauce, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves.  Let stand 1 hour at room temperature to allow the flavors to meld.


To make and apply the rub, combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl; work the mixture with your fingers to combine thoroughly.  Slide you fingers between the skin and meat of one chicken piece to loosen the skin, taking care not to detach the skin.  Thoroughly rub an even layer of the mixture onto all exterior surfaces, including the bottom and sides.  Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.  Place the chicken in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing the grill.


To grill the chicken, light a large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes and burn until all the charcoal is covered with a layer of fine gray ash, about 15 minutes.  Build a modified two-level fire by arranging the coals to cover one half of the grill, piling them about 3 briquettes high.  Position the cooking grate over the coals, cover the grill and let the grate heat up for about 5 minutes.  Use a grill brush to scrape the cooking grate clean.  The grill is ready when you have a medium-hot fire.  Using long-handled grill tongs, dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and wipe the cooking grate.


Place the chicken, skin side down, on the hotter side of the grill and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Using tongs, flip the chicken and cook until browned on the second died, about 3 minutes longer.  Move the chicken, skin side up, to the cooler side of the grill and cover with a disposable aluminum roasting pan; continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees, 10-15 minutes longer.  Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest 10 minutes.  Serve, passing the sauce separately.  Makes 4 servings.


Source: “The Cook’s Illustrated Guide of Grilling”

        by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated

        (America’s Test Kitchen, 2005).