Sunday, June 04, 2006

Cooking: Grill Madness

I live in the Phoenix area. It gets hot around here. No, wait, I take that back. It gets really damn hot around here. Today the high was somewhere over 110 degrees. Needless to say, I spent as much of the day as possible indoors. Eventually, dinner sounded like a good idea, and cooking anything indoors did most certainly NOT sound like a good idea. So, I decided to fire up the grill and put together a feast. I knew that the main course was going to be some kind of grilled chicken breast (a freezer staple item around here), and then started to scavenge around for other possible items to throw on the grill. I almost did a cold rice salad since we have some leftover rice on the fridge, but my love of baking prevailed and I made grilled garlic flatbread. Also on the side were grilled green beans, and grilled fruit for dessert.

The chicken itself was simple enough. I wasn't in the mood for a BBQ or sweet and sour glaze (both of which I had in the fridge), so I put together one made out of hoisin sauce, soy sauce to loosen up the mixture and provide savoriness, honey for an additional sweet note, orange muscat champagne vinegar to brighten the mix (I would have used rice vinegar but I was out... shhhhh don't tell), and some red chile flakes for spice, and took a taste. I could tell it needed something, but wasn't sure what. Off to the overflowing spice rack I went to see what I could do. Eventually, the jerk spice blend caught my eye. I added a very generous sprinkle, and was most pleased with the result. A dash of black pepper rounded things out. The chicken was an easy preparation- brush the glaze on one side, grill glazed side down, brush more glaze on, flip, and cook until done.

Grilled flatbread technically was a very simple grilled pizza topped with nothing more than extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt. I started out by sauteing garlic and thyme (I should have used the fresh rosemary on the back porch, but alas I forgot about it) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then blending that into 4 cups of flour, a packet of rapid-rise yeast, and 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt in the food processor. Then, I pulsed in 1-1/2 cups of warm (110 F/43C) water, kept pulsing until the dough came together, then let the processor run for 30 seconds. After a couple of kneads on the counter, I let it rest until doubled, split it into 8 pieces, pulled each one into a nice little ball, and let them rest under a damp towel for a few minutes so I wouldn't have to fight the gluten. I then squished each one out into 1/4 inch thick rounds, placed them on floured cookie sheets (you think I'm letting my wood pizza peel anywhere near the griddle? Yeah right!), and took them out to the grill. Once there, I brushed extra-virgin olive oil on each piece of dough, gave it a good sprinkle of kosher salt, and placed it oil side down on the grill. I let it cook for a couple of minutes until it was set and had grill lines on one side, then brushed on more oil (the flare-ups from drips were thrilling to say the least!), gave them a flip, and cooked them for a few minutes on the other side before pulling them off the grill. These came out absolutely fantastic. I can see myself putting this together every time we're planning on doing grilled meat for dinner.