Thursday, May 9, 2013

Orange-Chipotle Chicken Breasts

When you hear "grilled chicken breasts" you normally probably think of the typical boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts can deliver a juicier and tastier meat but you just can't go about it the same way.  It takes a little lower heat, a bit more time, and a watchful eye.

This recipe uses a few techniques and a tasty orange-chipotle sauce to create a spicy grilled chicken breast that just drips with flavor.

Orange-Chipotle Chicken Breasts
from 100 Grilling Recipes You Can't Live Without
Reprinted with permission from Bill and Cheryl Jamison

Ingredients (serves 4)
    For the Orange-Chipotle Sauce
    • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (zest grated and reserved for the chicken)
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp chicken stock
    • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp ketchup
    • 1 - 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded, minced, plus 2 Tbsp adobo sauce
    • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
    • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt, or more to taste
    For the chicken
    • grated zest from the oranges used for the sauce
    • 2 tsp vegetable oil
    • 1 tsp kosher salt or coarse sea salt, or more to taste
    • 4 large bone in, skin on chicken breast halves
    1. Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a bare simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Let the sauce cool to room temperature. 
    2. About 30 minutes before you plan to grill the chicken breasts, stir together the reserved orange zest, oil, and salt. Loosen the skin on the breasts. Rub the mixture lightly onto the breasts, over and under the skin, being careful to avoid tearing it or pulling it loose. Cover the breasts and let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
    3. Fire up the grill, bringing the temperature to medium (4-5 seconds with the hand test).
    4. Blot any moisture on the surface of the chicken with a paper towel. Transfer the chicken to the grill, skin side down. Grill, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes total, turning at least four times. (The chicken skin should face the grill enough to render fat and cook gradually without burning.) If one edge of the breasts is much thinner than the other, arrange the chicken so that the thinner edges are toward the outer, cooler edge of the fire. Watch for flare ups, shifting the breasts away from the flame as necessary. After you have turned the chicken twice, brush thickly with the sauce. If any of the pieces start to burn - rather than just get a few chewy, charred edges - move them away from direct flames as much as possible while they finish cooking. End with the chicken skin side down to give it a final crisping. When done, the chicken should be white throughout but still juicy, and register 170f on an instant read thermometer. Serve immediately.
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    I pretty much followed the recipe exactly except I used a mix of the orange and lime zest, only because I misread the directions.  I used 1 chipotle and found this sauce to be as spicy as I want it.  I didn't sauce until about the last 10 minutes of cooking.
    Augmenting the breasts with the zest mixture.
    Here's one of my tricks.  I build a two zone fire in my Smoke Hollow grill and take out one of the cooking grates.  Then I can just slide the remaining grate back and forth between the hot to medium zones as needed, instead of moving pieces individually around with tongs.

    I used a chimney full of Kingsford blue bag.  I dumped about 1/4 of it UNLIT onto the left side of the grill.  Then lit the chimney and when ready, poured the remaining 3/4 chimney evenly in the charcoal tray.  In a few minutes I had a nice two zone fire.  You can do a two zone fire by just using the whole lit chimney and using more lit briquettes in one area than the other.  But I like this method because it also makes the hot side last longer.  Kind of like a Minion Method for grilling. 

    When it was skin side down, I slid it over to the lower heat side, when bones down, I pushed it over to the hotter side. 

    I carve the meat off of the bones and then slice to serve.

    Served it with more sauce, Parmesan roasted potatoes and a spring mix salad.

    This was very good, I liked the vibrancy of the sauce.  I'd like to play with a version of this sauce on competition style BBQ thighs, I'm already working on a cherry - chipotle one.  

    Leftover Tip:   I had a little of the chicken leftover and I was putting it away for lunch the next day when I had a moment of inspiration.  I made a quick vinaigrette of 3 Tbsp of the orange-chipotle sauce, 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and 3/4 cup olive oil.  Then at the office I just tossed the leftover chicken, red onion, some spring mix salad and the orange-chipotle vinaigrette.  Great salad!
    Please excuse the foam plate, plastic utensils, and mobile phone picture, this was at work.

    This recipe came from a new book that I received from Harvard Common Press to review.

    100 Grilling Recipes You Can't Live Without
    by Cheryl and Bill Jamison, Harvard Common Press 2013

    The Authors
    When I first started barbecuing one of the first books that I got was the highly regarded Smoke and Spice, by the Jamisons.  That book is a BBQ classic, an absolute must have. Anytime a newcomer on a BBQ forum asks "What BBQ books should I have", Smoke and Spice is one that always comes up. The Jamisons have won 4 James Beard Awards for their grilling and BBQ books. Based out of Sante Fe, New Mexico, their recipes often have a Southwestern flair but their love of travel, research, and global flavors is also reflected in the recipes they create.

    The Book
    100 Grilling Recipes is a medium sized, 227 page, two color paperback book.  It has an opening where they discuss their grilling ideas and preferences but the vast majority of the book is recipes with tips blended into the recipes.  Why 100 recipes?  Because that's how many meals they prepare in a given year, on average, and that's probably what most grilling enthusiasts per year.  I would tend to agree with that count.

    In addition to the recipes, the book is peppered with grilling tips and also tidbits about grilling or BBQ history.

    The Recipes:
    The recipes are broken up into the following categories
    • Happy Hour Grazing
    • Party Time Pizzas
    • Blazing Burgers and Haute Dogs
    • Fajitas, Tacos, and Other Southwestern Classics
    • Sizzling Steaks, Chops, and Ribs
    • Chicken, Duck and Quail
    • Spit Roasted Poultry and Meat
    • Fired up Fish
    • Succulent Shellfish
    • Vegetable Main and Side Dishes
    • S'Mores and More for Dessert
    Picking 1 recipe to make for this post was difficult because the book is loaded with so many appealing recipes.  The Shrimp Remoulade is an awesome appetizer that is made on the grill in advance, kind of a Louisianian shrimp cocktail.  The Sassy Satay with it's Fire and Ice Sauce are definitely on my list to try.  Blue Corn and Green Chile Pizza?  Yes please!     
    There was one point of contention in that the Jamisons assert that:
    To cook entirely with direct heat requires keeping the grill open rather than covered, just as chefs do in restaurant kitchens.  When you cook uncovered - you create an oven effect and do much of the cooking with heat reflecting off the lid.  In effect, you are grilling and baking at the same time.  The resulting flavor reflects the method, providing a modicum of grilled texture along with a generic baked taste.
    When I first read that, my first thought was the quote from Jeff Lebowski, "Yeah?  Well, you know, that's just like, your opinion, man."  

    Okay, I'm partially kidding there.  They are correct about the reflective heat part.  But not every grill is designed for cooking with the lid open, for example, kamado cookers.  Their whole design is predicated on their effecient and controlled air flow.  So I totally get what they are saying but I won't apply some of it to my Eggs.  It's one of those things were we could have a great discussion about it over some hot grilled beef tacos and cold beers.

    The recipes in the book are well written, easy to follow and give the tips you need to make sure you nail the dish on your grill.  What is important is the Jamison's know when to not let the recipe get in the way of technique.  For example, the Porterhouse from Heaven recipe has 4 ingredients because steak doesn't need more than salt and pepper when it is cooked correctly.

    They have the classics like an All American Burger but also inventive recipes like Grilled Cheese on A Stick.  You could easily put together a summer dinner party menu together from this book that will astound your guests.

    The Photos:
    None except for the cover.  Generally, I consider that a strike against a cook book because I like to see how the final dish is supposed to look like or see step by step instructional pictures to help drive home an example or concept.  That said, Smoke and Spice doesn't have pictures either and I consider that a Five star rating

    100 Grilling Recipes You Can't Live Without is literally enough to keep you cooking for a year on the grill.  These are the recipes that these two renowned grilling and bbq experts like to make for themselves and friends.

    I found it hard to rate 100 Grilling Recipes because I kept wanting to compare it to Smoke and Spice (a 5 star rating), which isn't really fair.  100 Grilling Recipes will keep your grill fired and inspired for a long time and at it's price point, it is an absolute bargain. 

    In the end, I give it 4 stars.

    5 stars – an absolute resource, will refer to frequently
    4 stars – good cookbook with value added tips, photos, guides, and other content
    3 stars – Good, average cookbook, glad to have it on my shelf
    2 stars – a recipe collection if you don't have internet
    1 star – would give it away to someone else to get rid of it, but only if I didn't like them very much