Peruvian Grilled Chicken

There’s nothing I love more than grilling a whole chicken. It’s perfect for cook once, eat twice or more weekend meals. It’s perfect for sharing when we’re entertaining. This has been our go-to chicken recipe and we’re not sick of it yet. The smell of it on the grill will make you wait in keen anticipation. And the flavor – the mix of spices and grill flavor – is absolutely delicious.

Our preferred whole bird preparation is to spatchcock. It sounds more intimidating than it actually is. It’s really just butterflying the chicken it rests flat on the grill, allowing it to cook evenly (and faster). Turn the bird so its back (the side that’s connected to the tail) is facing up (meaning breast side is on the cutting board) and use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the back from the tail to the neck. You’ve just cut out the chicken’s back. Then flip the bird over and flatten the breast with the heel of your hand. That’s it!

After spatchcocking, I separate the skin from the meat so I can spread the rub paste all over the bird. Then I let it sit in the fridge for 24-36 hours before grilling.

For the paste, I recommend using dried/powdered (but still fresh in flavor) ingredients. All of the flavor will come through these dried ingredients so getting the most flavorful ones will go a long way.

Ingredients
  • 4 lb. chicken, spatchcocked, skin loosely separated from meat
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbl cumin
  • 1 tbl paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1 tbl white vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon (approx. 2-3 tbl for a medium lemon)
Directions
  1. Mix together ingredients to form a paste. Rub into meat underneath the skin and on the skin. Marinate up to 36 hours.
  2. Preheat gas grill on high for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn grill to low and place chicken skin side up on the direct heat. Leave it on the grill for 30 minutes.
  4. Flip the chicken so that the skin side is down. Leave it on the grill for another 30 minutes.
Notes
  • If you don’t have lemon on hand but you do have white wine, you can substitute lemon for wine one-to-one.
  • Here are the ingredients that I especially like for the garlic, paprika and black pepper:

Red Wine Marinated Pork Chops with Sautéed Pear and Apples

A confluence of various events led to the creation of this dish.

  • Event 1: It seems like whenever we get the customary bottle of wine as the thank-you-for-having-us-over-for-dinner gift, it’s more often than not red and dry – Cabs. Nothing against Cabs, I just don’t prefer drinking them. Just so you know (for future gifiting reference), I’d much rather drink wines like Malbec. But going back to the bottle of Cab on my counter – red wines make for great marinades and sauces. It’s still a bit too warm for boeuf bourguignon (and I’m not a huge beef person anyhow). But red wines also work very well with pork.
  • Event 2: Oh, pork! I don’t think I’ve ever posted a pork recipe before. *Ideas are brewing…* What do I have in my fridge? Oh, dijon mustard! That works well with pork and red wine!
  • Event 3: But I just can’t eat a piece of pork for dinner. How do I round out this dish? Mmm, not really in the mood for sauerkraut. What’s in season? Pears! Pear season starts in late fall and this fruit pairs well in savory dishes, especially with…pork!

So as you can see, it seemed like I was destined to make this dish for dinner. Since this was a last minute decision, I only got to marinade the meat for about 2 hours. However, if you’re planning ahead you can marinade the pork overnight to really get the flavors into the meat.

Directions

  1. Mix together the marinade ingredients into a non-reactive container or ziploc bag.
  2. Add in the pork chops and marinade at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  3. In a skillet over high heat, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering.
  4. Add the marinated pork chops to the skillet and cook turning once, about 7 minutes.
  5. Remove pork chops from skillet and transfer to a plate. Keep warm.
  6. Add the pear and apple slices to the skillet.
  7. Cook on medium-high heat until softened and golden, about 4-6 minutes depending on thinness.
  8. Serve pork chops with the sautéed pear and apple slices.

Cook’s Notes

When you cook the pork chops, don’t let the pan get too dry. If it starts to get a bit dry, add in some of the leftover marinade to the skillet. This will allow for enough sauce for you to cook the pear and apple slices in.

When I made the dish, I cut the pear and apple slices a bit thick, as you can see in the first picture. I also only cooked them for about 4 minutes. I prefer a bit of a bite to the fruit to contrast with the chewy pork texture. However, if you want your slices to be pretty soft, slice them thinner and cook them for longer.

The measurements for the marinade are rough estimates.  I really just dumped the ingredients together; I used a dinner spoon and scooped out mustard. So proportion the marinade ingredients to your liking. If you don’t like dijon mustard, switch it out for regular or honey mustard. If you don’t like or can’t find ground sage, thyme also works.

I used an Anjou pear and a Fuji apple. But any type of pear will work well. I chose Fuji because it’s pretty crisp. I would stay away from Red and Golden Delicious apples since they are texturally mealy and won’t stand up well to cooking. And if you don’t like pears and apples – the pork will also work with sauerkraut!

Spicy Asian Marinated Chicken Thighs

I’m not a huge fan of just eating a roasted chicken. Sure, if you roast it and use the meat in other dishes like soup, pizza, etc. then yeah, it’s good. But if I’m just reaching for a piece of meat, I like mine marinated. And preferably for 24 hours. Marinating meat is a great way to infuse it with flavor and to tenderize it. Plus, it’s pretty hard to mess up.

So what goes into a marinade? Three ingredients: (1) a fat, usually oil; (2) an acid, for example, vinegar, wine or citrus; and (3) flavorings, usually spices, herbs and garlic. Proportionally, since the base of the marinade should be the oil, the mixture should be about 2/3 oil to 1/3 acid. Keep in mind that the acids work to tenderize the meat by denaturing proteins. Marinades that contain a lot of acid, like citrus juice (zest is okay) or vinegar, should only be used for a few hours since it will start to chemically cook the meat.

To store marinated meat, use a non-reactive container (no metal!). Plastic tupperware and ceramic dishes are good choices. I like using a ziploc bag since it’s easy to mix and turn the meat, ensuring all surfaces get coated. I place the bag in either a container or just double bag in case of leaks.

Cook the marinated meat as you would regular meat; but, discard the marinade since the raw meat juices get mixed in with it. If you want some extra marinade to drizzle over the finished product, reserve some at the very beginning before you start marinating.

Directions

  1. Stir together all the marinade ingredients.
  2. In a small container, reserve and refrigerate 3 tablespoons of the marinade to drizzle over the cooked chicken.
  3. Wash the chicken thighs and pat dry with a towel.
  4. Place the thighs in either a container with lid or large ziploc bag.
  5. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and mix well.
  6. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
  7. To broil the chicken, adjust the oven rack to the top third, about 8 inches from the top heating element.
  8. Place thighs skin side down on a broiling pan.
  9. Broil, 16 – 18 minutes.
  10. Flip the thighs so the skin side is up.
  11. Broil, 12 – 14 minutes.
  12. Serve with the reserved 3 tablespoons of marinade.

Cook’s Notes

Since I don’t have a grill, broiling is great alternative. Grilling is cooking the meat from the bottom up and broiling is basically cooking it from the top down. You need to use a broiling pan and place the oven rack about 5 -8 inches from the top heating element. If there is skin on the meat, I broil skin side down first for a longer period of time and then flip over to finish it up since the skin can burn easily.

If you don’t want to broil, you can bake it at 375F for about 35 minutes. Reduce the cooking time if the chicken thighs are boneless.

This marinade also is great with other types of meat like beef and shrimp.