Tuesday, 25 October 2011

015 - Spatchcock Chicken Peri Peri Style

On a recent holiday to Norfolk I found a shop that stocked some products from a local chilli farm, www.chillicompany.com. That, and the recent obsession of some my work colleagues with "Nandos" (they've just opened a new one in the city I work in), inspired the latest in the list of 100 things to BBQ... Spatchcock Chicken Peri Peri style!

The first step is to remove the back bone of the chicken. This sounds more daunting than it actually is. Some websites recommend the use of proper poultry shears - but I found that a decent pair of standard kitchen scissors did the job just fine with a little persuasion. There are plenty of Youtube videos out there which walk you through the process, but basically you cut along the length of the bird on one side of the back bone, and then the other side so that you can open the cavity. After that, place the chicken on a board facing upwards and apply small pressure downwards to break the chest bone and make the chicken sit as flat as you can.

Some methods call for skewers to be used and a fellow BBQ tweeter also recommended the use of a cage for ease of flipping. As you'll see from the photos below, it's possible without either - it just makes flipping the chicken over a little trickier. Be careful with the tongs when moving the chicken, the skin can become quite delicate after grilling and you don't want to tear it.

I coated the chicken in a little olive oil prior to adding it to the grill to protect the skin and help with the initial direct grilling. I set the BBQ up using the 50/50 configuration and placed the chicken, skin down, over the coals on a medium direct heat. Turn the chicken every few minutes for around 10 minutes, or until you've achieved the desired colour. Most importantly, don't forget to close the lid during both direct and indirect grilling stages!

After that, I moved the chicken to the indirect side, skin side up and brushed on some of the peri peri sauce (which I'd warmed on the hob) all over the skin.  I gave it another coating of the sauce after about 20 minutes to achieve a nice crust on the crispy skin. This chicken was about 1.5kg so it took about 30-45 minutes before it reached the required internal temperature of 77 degrees C in the thickest part of the thigh. Then removed it from the BBQ and left it to rest, wrapped in foil, for about half an hour.

The initial direct stage left the skin really tasty without being at all chewy, while the remaining indirect and resting stages left the meat really moist and flavourful. I served this in half portions, with a home made potato salad - yum!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

014 - Dr Pepper Brined Pork Loin

Number 14 on the list of things to BBQ is Pork Loin. More specifically, Dr Pepper Brined Pork Loin with a Cherry and Chipotle Glaze! Once again, the recipe was from Weber's Complete BBQ Book - which, along with Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food is one of the most useful recipe books I've ever purchased.

I've cooked this recipe a few times now and it's fast becoming one of our favourites. The photos shown below are from September when I cooked it for my little boy's naming ceremony. The joint was bought for us by a family member, and I think it was roughly 2-3kg in weight. I actually cooked it the night before the meal and wrapped it up in foil. So that on the day, it would just need warming through with some of the reserved glaze.

First things first, all of the skin and excess fat needs to removed from the loin. Now, as you'll probably notice from the photos - I'm not the best butcher in the world! In my defence, the joint had already been rolled, scored and tied up with butcher string so my attempt at neatly removing the fat ended up being more of a hack and slash affair!

Once the prep is complete, the pork is added to a brine made of Dr Pepper and Sea Salt and left to rest in the fridge for a few hours. From the photos, you should be able to see how much darker the pork now appears - but it also seems to totally change the texture of the meat. It seems a lot firmer to the touch - probably the effect of adding all that extra moisture.

I prefer to make my glaze in a saucepan, so that I can pre-heat it prior to adding it to the barbecue. It's a mix of cherry preserve, more Dr Pepper, mustard and chipotle chillies - for a mild zing on the tongue. The closest I found in my local supermarket was jarred jalapenos - but I found some of the authentic chillies at casamexico.co.uk

Now we're ready for the grill! I set up my Weber kettle with a 50/50 arrangement and added the glaze to a large foil tray on the indirect side. This left a large direct area to seal the meat on. I'd set it to quite a high heat to make sure I got plenty of colour on the outside.

After about 10 minutes over direct, turning every few minutes, the pork is then moved into the tray to continue cooking in the glaze (which should be bubbling by now). Cooking time will vary depending on how thick your pork is, and by how hot your have your barbecue - but mine had reached the required temperature after about half an hour.

Brining the meat first, before cooking it in the glaze leaves it so juicy and tender, you'd think it would have been slow cooked for hours. I've served thick slices of this with baked potatoes, with some of the reserved glaze as a sauce. And it's equally delicious in soft white rolls, with some of the cherry preserve smeared over it.