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Grilled Chicken Around the Globe

Posted on June 26, 2014

Whether you’re cooking with gas, charcoal or mesquite flame, one thing’s for sure: if you’re grilling chicken for dinner, you can be sure that you’re in good company around the globe. Techniques may differ and spice preferences will vary, but the desire for a tender, smoky chicken dinner knows no regional boundaries. Take some culinary cues from a few different cultures and you’ll never be hungry for a new grilled chicken recipe idea again.

Use spice mixes: Rather than seasoning with one or two herbs, create spice mixes and rubs that add multi-dimensional flavor. Try your hand at an exotic Tandoori spice rub typically found in India with paprika, garam masala, ginger and garlic or simply create your own dried Mediterranean herb mix with oregano, tarragon, thyme and mustard seed.

Mix sweet with heat: Marinade in mango juice spike with habenero or pineapple puree peppered with jalapenos like they do south of the border. Combining sweet flavors with spicy chilies creates a slow burn that tickles your senses and keeps you coming back for more.

Serve on a stick: Slice chicken meat into strips and thread them on skewers to create your own Thai satay. Make sure to cook quickly, over a high heat, so that the chicken cooks through while the outside gets nicely charred. Top it off with a spicy peanut dipping sauce.

Fill the grill: Your chicken loves a little company on the grill. Fire up some artichokes, zucchini or asparagus as they do in Italy. Char peppers or corn on the cob Mexican style. Save a little space on the grill for the wonderful stone fruits that are in season and you may find that a grilled peach, apricot or plum is just the accompaniment that your chicken needs to make your summertime dinner special. 

Be prepared to improvise: Use your senses when you’re cooking with open flames. Temperatures vary on different parts of the grill. Unlike cooking in your oven, outside air temperature, wind and other natural factors will influence cooking times (not to mention sizes and shapes of whatever you’re cooking). No matter where you are, the most even cooking happens when you turn, rotate and move your food around the grill adjusting to what’s going on at that time.

Z’atar Grilled Chicken with Cucumber Yogurt

7 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. Z’atar*

1 lemon, juiced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 8-piece FreeBird Chicken

salt and pepper to taste

Combine garlic, z’atar, lemon and olive oil in a large bowl. Toss in chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired. Cover, refrigerate and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Place chicken on preheated (400ºF) grill. Breasts should start skin side down. Cover grill and allow to cook for about 7-8 minutes, then turn pieces to allow for even browning. After another 7-8 minutes rotate again and check to see if wings are cooked through. Continue cooking and rotating until chicken is evenly browned and all pieces are cooked through to 165ºF. Typically wings and drumsticks will be done before thighs and breasts, which will take closer to 30 minutes depending on their size and how evenly the heat is distributed on your grill. Serves 4.

While chicken is grilling, prepare cucumber yogurt sing the recipe below:

Cucumber Yogurt Raita

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1/2 cup finely finely red onion

1/2 cup chopped mint

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1/4 tsp. lemon zest

salt to taste

Combine yogurt, cucumber, onion, mint, jalapeno and lemon zest in a bowl. Season with salt to taste. Serve with grilled chicken. Serves 4.

* Z’atar is a blend of dried sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt. You may find it in an ethnic grocer or online, but you can also substitute your own spice blend if desired.