Monday, January 23, 2017

Developing Grilling Technique Keeps Me Sane In These Times

Yogurt marinated chicken breasts and fennel
grilled in the gloom of night time.
If you're like me, you probably feel like you've been living in a dystopian novel since November 8th when Donald Trump won the Presidential Election. For me, this moment actually came a little sooner as my beloved Cubs won the World Series the week before. The win was thrilling, but also ominous. It seemed to signal something critical in the very fabric of space-time had torn and some serious shit was starting to go down. Life seems rather surreal these days. Sure, I'm one of those damn liberals, but a lot of people who either voted for Trump or really didn't like Hillary are rather apprehensive right now. The whole nation seems to be holding its breath.


Writing on things like beer, running, and grilling seems so trivial in times like these. But yet, these activities can be very critical to keeping one's sanity, and take on a new-found importance. So I've found a certain solace in slowly developing new grilling techniques on my back patio. Grill masters may brag about secret ingredients and killer recipes, but it's really technique that separates the good from the great. It's about understanding how heat circulates on the grill, how marinades interact with the meat or vegetables, and developing the timing to remove the food from the grill at the correct time to achieve the best flavor. I've been experimenting around with yogurt based marinades on shrimp and chicken, two proteins which can easily dry out from the high heat on the grill. The yogurt helps keep the moisture in, and I'm finding it's ridiculously easy to make something good on the grill using a decent yogurt marinade.  Achieving greatness with a yogurt marinade is something I'm still working on.

I'm going to share this Tandoori Marinade from the book Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue Sauces. If we can heal our country's divisions over plates of grilled food, I'm all for it.

Tandoori Marinade

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 peanut oil
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot
2 tablespoons curry powder
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all of the ingredients in a nonreactive bowl, and blend until smooth. Use immediately.

Marinate pieces of chicken for kabobs for 1 to 2 hours, chicken parts for 2 to 4 hours. Fish can be marinated for about 1 hour.

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