Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fresh off the Grill: Chipotle Orange Chicken

Good evening everyone! As Maggie mentioned last night, we’ve been waiting for a full sized grill for a long time. While we have a small camp style stove, it wasn’t easy to use at our apartment complex and the logistics of driving to a park just to make supper were too frustrating to tackle. So, for three years, while we lived in our little apartment, we waited.

Now that we own our very own house, we CAN grill and you better believe this summer we WILL grill. Maggie debuted our newest ‘kitchen’ gadget last night, choosing to feature a whole new variety of ingredients on the blog. Tonight, I’m returning to the grill but cooking up a much more traditional dish. Let’s get cooking!

The Recipe: Chipotle Orange Chicken
Original Recipe From: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

What You’ll Need:
(Serves 2-4)

2 to 4 Large, Bone In, Skin On Chicken Breasts
2/3 Cup Juice Plus 1 Teaspoon Grated Zest From 1-2 Large Oranges
1 Small Shallot (Minced)
1-2 Tablespoons Chipotle in Adobo Sauce*
2 Teaspoons Fresh Thyme Leaves (Minced)
1 Tablespoon Light Molasses
¼ Teaspoon Cornstarch

* You can find a few variants of chipotle in adobo sauce at your local grocery store. Some sauces have the chilies already minced in the sauce while other versions will have the entire chili. The minced version will be significantly hotter simply because you cannot avoid the chili. We had the version with the whole chili in the sauce. I’d encourage you to either mince or discard the whole chili in this sauce – otherwise your final dish (for whatever you use it for) will be VERY hot. I opted to leave the whole chili in while preparing the glaze, but I will not be serving the chili with the final dish.

Begin preparing the glaze by combining the shallots, orange juice, orange zest, thyme, chipotle sauce, molasses and cornstarch in a small sauce pan. Set the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens and reduces slightly. This should take about 5 minutes. Once the sauce is thickened, remove it from the heat and set it aside. You can prepare this sauce one to two days ahead of time if you’re pressed for time.

Bring your grill up to temperature and thoroughly clean the grate. If you have a two burner gas grill, leave one burner off while setting the other to medium heat. If you’re using a charcoal grill, set up a two zone system by arranging the coals on one half of the grill. This two zone grill system allows you to cook your food via indirect heat – which prevents the meat from drying out. This works by removing the direct heat from the cooking equation. Direct heat causes the proteins in the meat to shrivel up and squeeze all of the moisture from the meat. Indirect heat, meanwhile, allows the meat to warm up slowly – much like slow roasting a turkey in the oven. By using the direct heat as radiant heat, you can get great grill flavors without drying out the meat.

The downside to indirect heat cooking is the same downside as roasting anything in the oven – a crisp outer crust is near impossible to achieve. When you want a crispy exterior and you need to use the oven, you typically pan fry that item for a few minutes on each side. With the grill it’s no different.

Place the chicken breasts on the direct heat side of the grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the exterior is golden brown and grill marks appear on the meat. Next, lay a piece of aluminum foil over the grates that are serving as your indirect cooking zone (caution: just because the heat is off on ½ of the grill – that does NOT mean the grates are cool – use tongs to lay the foil in place). Transfer the chicken to the cooler side of the grill with the thicker portion of the breasts facing down towards the heat. Cover the chicken with a second sheet of aluminum foil (loosely tent it over the breasts) and close the grill. Allow the chicken to cook until the thickest of each breast registers 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer. This should take about 15 to 25 minutes.

Once your chicken reaches 150 degrees, you can begin applying the glaze equally to each side both on and below the skin (apply as much or as little of the glaze as you’d like). Transfer each breast back to the ‘hot’ side of the grill and allow the glaze fully cook into the breast this should take about 5 minutes. When the chicken is a nice golden brown (the glaze should be a deep, rich color) flip the breast and cook the other side for 3 to 5 minutes longer.  Check the thickest part of each breast with an instant read thermometer, once it reads 165 degrees, you’re ready to serve and enjoy! If you chicken isn’t quite up to temperature, move it back to the foil covered indirect heat zone and allow it to cook until it reaches 165 degrees.

The Results:

It was a cold, rainy (and occasionally snowy) day here in Iowa, but this recipe still made it feel like summertime despite the fact I was wearing a coat and using the grill as warmth when I checked on the food! Chicken breasts cooked on the grill carry this great, powerful flavor naturally. Grilling allows the moisture of the meat to stay within the breast and the smoky heat from the fire really penetrates the whole dish. The chipotle and orange glaze ends up taking on a flavor similar to a barbeque sauce – with subtle hints of sweet orange and an undertone of heat from the chipotle sauce.

This dish is simple, relatively quick and only registers at about 250 calories. Factor in the bonus of getting to grill and enjoy the outdoors while you’re cooking (even if it’s only 40 degrees and rainy) and you’ve got a dish that can’t lose!

That’s all we have for you this week. We’re back next week with two more brand new grilling recipes. Until then,


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