Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chile-Garlic Spiced Chicken

With the threat of rain on Memorial Day, I switched the menu from BBQ chicken on the grill to Chile-Garlic Spiced Chicken that could be baked in the oven. I had seen the recipe in the Joy of Cooking and couldn't wait to try it. It's pretty spicy, and could be cooked on the grill. However, since it is a rub you wouldn't have any leftover sauce to dip it in to, but since the chicken is so juicy and flavorful you really don't need any condiments.

WORDS OF CAUTION: You probably want to wear a pair of surgical gloves when dealing with the jalapenos and when you are rubbing the paste on the chicken. First, it's hard to get all of the spiciness off of your fingers even if you wash them with soap and you don't want to scratch your eye and have all the pepper hotness get into it. Second, it's just less germ-ier to wear gloves when handling raw chicken. (Now that you've been warned...)

First thing to do is make the paste. I used a mini food processor, but you could also use a blender. Here is my version of the recipe:

3 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 cup of garlic (I use minced garlic straight out of jar)
1/2 cup olive oil
Zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons of cracked black peppercorns (make sure to crack them-- I didn't and not all of them were ground up in the food processor. I got a nice burst of peppery fire on one bite of chicken!)
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of chili powder
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme (the herbs are growing in their pot out on the patio, so I figured why not use some. I thought the lemony thyme would complement the lime zest, and thyme and chicken are classic together).

So, blend all of that together in a food processor until it becomes smooth and red.

Then slather it over and massage it into the chicken. I used a whole, cut up chicken from the grocery store. Try and get some of the rub under the skin so the flavor really sinks into the meat.

The recipe recommends marinating the meat for 2-24 hours. I let the chicken marinate for about 8 hours and thought it had a lot of flavor.

To bake the chicken, put it a preheated 350-degree oven for 40-50 minutes. Before serving, a squirted the juice of one lime over the chicken. This spicy bird goes great with a beer and grilled corn on the cob. And yes, thanks to the invention of grill pans you can grill corn on your stovetop!

There were only two of us eating a whole chicken, so we still have two big pieces left over. Those will be transferred into Tex-Mex BBQ sandwiches on Thursday (I'll let you know how that goes!)

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