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How to Make a Perfect Grilled Chicken

 by: Angelica Florin

Grilling can be a fun, family activity during weekends. Spend your lazy afternoons in your backyard, and take out those grillers for a grilled chicken for your dinner.

Learning how to grill is not as hard as you would see on television. All you need is the proper temperature for your griller especially if you are using an electric grill. Nevertheless, if you have the conventional griller, try to find some dried wood or charcoal. Ignite the coals or wood by placing crumpled papers below each coal and then set the papers on fire. Do not pour gasoline on the coals or dried wood. The smoke coming from the coals will give a gasoline-like aroma to your grilled meat. These are your best weapons in grilling.

Choose the best part of the chicken. I usually use chicken thighs and legs since they are the fattiest parts of the chicken. These parts will yield a juicy, barbecued chicken. Although these may sound unhealthy, the taste is incredibly delicious. Some would still prefer grilling chicken breasts with the skins on.

Before you start grilling your chicken, do not forget to marinate them at least overnight. Yes, overnight. This is because the longer you marinade your meat, the better absorption of flavors happens. I prefer to use store-bought marinades as these save much preparation time in the kitchen. The downside of most ready-made marinades is their high sodium content. But if you have time, you can make your own marinade from scratch. In the recipe below, the marinade and the chicken were simmered together to speed up the process of grilling and also to let the flavors marry together. I like Asian-style marinades such as this:

For every kilo of chicken:

½ cup light soy sauce (available in the Asian section of grocery stores)

2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 medium stalk of lemon grass (pounded)

3 cloves crushed garlic

1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)

Combine all the above ingredients in a heavy skillet and let it boil for two minutes. Add in the chicken and simmer for another five minutes. Drain the chicken in a colander and reserve the marinade for basting during grilling. Basting is necessary so that the chicken won’t dry out. The marinade can also be made as a sauce by making a basic roux. This is simply done by placing a tablespoon of butter on a non-stick pan and let it cook for minutes. Pour over the marinade and whisk until the sauce thickens. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings accordingly.

You can also opt to make a dry, rub marinade. This dry rub is comprised of herbs and spices and a little oil. For chicken, dried or fresh tarragon and rosemary blends together very well. If you want a spicier, grilled chicken, add a pinch of chili powder and cayenne pepper. There are limitless marinades for grilled chicken. A little imagination and creativity are the keys. Make sure that when grilling the chicken, never let the flame flare up. This will result in burnt chicken. This does not appeal both to the eyes and to the palate. If this occurs, sprinkle a little water over the flame. Some also like their grillers to be covered during the grilling process.

Personally, I liked mine uncovered. There is just something about the smoke which is, for me, the essence of grilling. Grilled foods are best served warm, right off the grill with some salads or other vegetables of your choice.


Edamame Tofu Salad with Sesame Chile Dressing

This well-balanced composed vegetarian salad is refreshing, colorful, and (most important) beautiful. From Feeding the Young Athlete (by Cynthia Lair; Readers to Eaters, 2012)

4 ounces soba noodles, cooked
1 pound firm tofu, cut in cubes, marinated and fried (Fried Tofu video)
2 cups shelled edamame
1 -2 cups shredded cabbage
2 carrots, grated
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
5 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons mirin (or sake)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons chili sauce (Thai )
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons hot pepper sesame oil

¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

Prepare salad ingredient:

cook soba noodles in boiling water 7-8 minutes and drain
fry tofu (see Fried Tofu video)
blanch edamame 3 minutes then salt
cut vegetables per directions.
Combine all the dressing ingredients except oils in a small bowl.  Drizzle olive oil and sesame oil in slowly and whisk well to incorporate. Dress cooked soba noodles with 2 tablespoons of the dressing while still warm.

Arrange noodles, tofu, edamame, carrots and cabbage in separate piles on a large serving platter.  Garnish noodles with the sesame seeds.  Put dressing in a small pitcher.  Let diners arrange foods on their plates to their preference and dress individually.

Preparation time: 20  minutes
Serves 4

Green Eggs (no ham)

Use eggs from happy hens who have been allowed to dine on bugs and worms. This natural diet increases their anti-inflammatory fat content (Omega 3's). Remove the pan from the heat just before the eggs are completely set and they'll be perfect by the time you serve them.  This recipe is from my talented colleague Becky Boutch. These eggs can be rolled up in a chapatti or tortilla for a different presentation.
1 -2 large Swiss chard leaves
5 eggs
1 tablespoon of water or milk 
1 ½ tablespoon butter
¼ - ½  teaspoon sea salt (depending on saltiness of cheese used)
¼ cup grated cheese (optional)

Wash the chard leaves gently in cold water. You don't need to add water to the pan as the water clinging to the leaves will give enough moisture. Put the chard  in a skillet and turn on the heat to high and shake the pan until the leaves have wilted. Drain and chop.  Set aside.  Clean skillet.  
Whisk together the eggs, and liquid in a glass bowl.  
Heat skillet over medium heat.  Add butter; when it sizzles but doesn't brown, add the eggs.

Using a heatproof rubber scraper, gently stir the eggs as they cook, lifting the curds from the bottom of the pan.  When the eggs are nearly cooked, add the chard, salt and cheese.  
Remove from the pan when the eggs appear light and fluffy, but still shiny and wet.  Serve immediately.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Makes 4 servings
From Feeding the Young Athlete (by Cynthia Lair; Readers to Eaters, 2012)