Father’s Day is upon us! Summer is here and so is the traditional grilling season. It used to be a novelty to cook outside before the advent of gas grills, when men did most of the grilling. I remember my dad building charcoal fires and fanning flames. He would terrify My Mother by shooting lighter fluid from the bottle at coals that wouldn’t catch fire properly. I saw a man do that with a bonfire recently. Ah, men. Always the heart of 12-year old boys. Gotta love ’em. smh
One of the reasons that we bought our house in 1981 was its indoor grill. A modified A-frame, it was built in 1968. The open brick chimney goes up through the central portion of the house, dividing the living room from the kitchen/dining area. On the living room side is a raised hearth and fireplace. On the other side is a built-in grill. What a luxury in the winter or on a rainy day to build a charcoal fire and grill! Or, for Thanksgiving or Christmas, to burn a log while we eat.
About 10 years ago, we won a fancy stainless steel gas grill and put it on the deck outside our back door. The charcoal grill is rarely used any more, because it’s so easy to pop out the back door and fire up the gas grill in any kind of weather, as easy as turning on the stove. If I decide to have Caesar salad with grilled chicken, I just fire up the grill and make my one little chicken breast half. I wouldn’t bother if I had to make a charcoal fire.
One of my favorite recipes translates especially well to grilling at home, at a picnic, or even on a boat. The chicken transports handily in its zippered plastic bag, and the mess of the marinade is easily disposable. Anybody can make this chicken. You can grill it on a grill or in a grill pan, or even bake-and-broil it.
Here’s what it takes:
1 large zippered plastic bag
1 cup prepared Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce (I use 1 Tablespoon Tabasco); or to taste
6-8 chicken parts (meaty parts, like legs or thighs; I always use skinless, boneless breasts)
Gas, electric, or charcoal grill; stovetop grill pan; broiler pan for oven
Instant-read meat thermometer
In the plastic bag, combine mustard, oil, and hot sauce. Add chicken parts and securely close. Shake chicken in mustard mixture to coat thoroughly. Place on a pie plate or glass baking pan and refrigerate for 2-6 hours. The pie plate keeps your refrigerator from becoming a mess, should the bag leak, and gives you something to carry the chicken to the grill.
Season cold grill or grill/broiler pan with a little vegetable oil. Moisten a paper towel with a little oil and, holding the towel with tongs, wipe the grill. Oiling the grate keeps the chicken from sticking.
Preheat gas grill or oven to 350° (convection oven to 325°) OR
Preheat grill pan for 1 minute on medium-high.
Remove chicken from plastic bag (melted plastic is toxic and too chewy, in case you didn’t know) and spread mustard coating evenly over chicken.
Wash out the pie plate so it’s clean for the cooked chicken. Never put cooked chicken on a dirty plate. (Google: salmonella)
Turn chicken over, placing thickest part of chicken closest to the heat, but not directly over the flames and grill for 7 more minutes, or until thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 160° for boneless breasts and 165° for thighs and breasts on the bone. If it reads less than 160, clean the thermometer and cook the chicken a little longer. (Again, Google: salmonella)
Serve with grilled vegetables and potato salad. Or just a hearty green salad. Overachiever that I am, in chilly weather, I serve it with toasted walnut risotto and asparagus roasted or grilled with garlic oil. And lots of crusty bread with dipping olive oil. And red wine (trust me on this) or a gigantic chardonnay.
Leftover chicken is delicious on a salad or mixed with a little mayonnaise into a salad or diced up in a cream or pesto sauce over pasta. The possibilities are endless!