Cooking Chicken over Charcoal

Cooking Chicken over Charcoal

We don’t seem to get much nice weather these days, seems to be ever rarer when it’s a bank holiday. So it was a pleasant surprise to not only have a dry sunny day and on bank holiday monday.

So while the roads clogged up with traffic we decided to light the barbecue.

We went with some simple burgers and sausages, but I also really liked barbecued chicken.

I took some wings, legs and thighs and made a marinade of garlic, parsley, white wine, vinegar and olive oil. The chicken was left to marinade for an hour or so.

The wings I cooked over charcoal with mesquite wood chips, whilst the rest of the chicken was cooked more slowly over plain charcoal.

The wings cooked reasonably quickly and were delicious, they had lovely crispy skin, but were still tender and moist.

The legs and thighs, which were cooked for longer, despite not having the mesquite had a deep smokey flavour.

I served the chicken with a range of salads.

Dinner, wasn’t that good…

Despite a reputation, I don’t spend that much time travelling and staying away from home. However the other day I found myself in the Holiday Inn Express in Burnley. I hadn’t done my homework so I wasn’t sure what was available in the local area and it was quite late (due to big problems on the M6) as a result I decided that the “easy” solution would be to eat in the hotel. When I saw the menu my initial thought was to go and find somewhere else… however it was late so I took the plunge.

It was very apparent that most of the menu items would be prepared in the microwave, so I went with the special, which was a double BBQ burger with salad and chips.

a double BBQ burger with salad and chips

Please note that the menu said BBQ and not barbecue or barbeque. What it consisted of was two meat patties in a burger roll with onion rings and a BBQ sauce. It was served with some lettuce (no way could this be described as a salad) and chips. It was priced at £9.99 which was cheaper than many of the main menu options. When I looked at the menu, it was a combination of the choice and the price which made me think about going somewhere else.

The chips were typical mass catering chips, pre-cooked slightly and cooked to order. They were crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. There is a huge difference between the freshly cooked chips you get in a fish and chip shop and those that are cooked in places like pubs and hotels. The main difference is that with the chips I got that they are partly pre-cooked before been frozen. So when they cook them they fry much quicker than if they cooked them from freshly cut potatoes. I am aware that some places use these chips, cook them, and then reheat them in the fryer when the order comes in. As a result they are fried three times, which increases the fat content as well as making them more crunchy and less fluffy. It may be just me, but when I have a burger I prefer having smaller fries over chunky chips.

The less said about the lettuce, probably the better.

The burger was a real disappointment, I wasn’t convinced the burgers had even been grilled, they looked and tasted like they had been microwaved. The BBQ sauce was sticky and over sweetened.

Overall the meal was a real disappointment, but I wasn’t expecting anything special. The one thing it will make me do is do more research and find places in advance, so I don’t have to rely on this kind of place in the future.

Barbecued Chicken

I’ve not done a barbecue for ages, my last proper barbecue went a bit rusty one winter and I never got round to replacing it. I did buy a disposable barbecue at some point, but it was so long ago I couldn’t remember when I bought it. Remembering that I had it, I decided I would cook some barbecued chicken thighs. I wasn’t entirely confident that the disposable barbecue would work and as I was cooking chicken and without any way of adjusting the heat (as the grill was fixed) I thought I would need to try a slightly different cooking method than I had done in previous years.

The first thing I did was poach the thighs in a pan of simmering stock for about 15 minutes, I did to ensure that the chicken was virtually cooked before placing it on the barbecue. It can be very easy over hot charcoal to have the outside of chicken well cooked and the inside raw. Poaching allowed me to ensure that the chicken was cooked, stayed moist, added flavour and importantly when grilled on the barbecue would brown and take on the smoke flavour. You could “bake” the chicken in the oven first, rather than poaching, but this would take longer and if the chicken browned in the over wouldn’t then be on the barbecue long enough to get that really nice barbcue smokey flavour.

After poaching the chicken, I drained it, let it dry and then tossed it in some olive oil. At this stage I could have added some lemon juice (if I had any lemons) and maybe some mixed herbs (if I had something other than just parsley). In the end I went with just olive oil and a bit of black pepper.

Things didn’t go entirely to plan, the instructions said light the touch paper and it would be ready to cook in about 20 minutes. The reality was that it took closer to 35 for half of the coals to turn grey and I was really glad that I had poached the chicken as I don’t think it would have cooked the chicken properly if I had started off with raw. As a result I only had half of the grill to use, but I wasn’t cooking a huge quantity of chicken so it wasn’t too bad. It would have been nice to spread the chicken out to ensure that the smoke added more flavour, but better some then none.

Serving the chicken with a range of salad and some crispy roast potatoes, as I bit into the barbecued chicken, it bought back a range of memories of eating similar food in a range of places and countries.

Time to get a new, proper, barbecue methinks.

BBQ Chicken

BBQ Chicken

Needing lunch and has I had just done a small shop, decided to go to the Sainsburys Cafe. They had a special offer on some of their meals reduced to £2.50 so I went with the BBQ Chicken, even though I think they should spell it barbecue rather than BBQ!

Lunch

It consisted of half a “roast” chicken, BBQ sauce, in my serving a smattering of coleslaw and a choice of chips or seasoned wedges. It wasn’t bad, and certainly not bad value at £2.50. The chicken was well cooked, so the leg meat was quite moist and tender, but the breast meat felt a little dry. I did think that there was too much BBQ sauce and not enough coleslaw. The chips were crisp and fluffy on the inside. Overall for a supermarket cafe meal, not too bad, but certainly nothing to write home about.

Tesco Barbeque Moroccan Style Lamb Chops

Tesco describe their Tesco Barbeque Moroccan Style Lamb Chops as

Delicious lamb shoulder chops, with a Moroccan style marinade, ideal for a family BBQ

Well were they?

They are easy to cook, from frozen in the over for about twenty five minutes.

Tesco Barbeque Moroccan Style Lamb Chops

Well let’s just say they are only £2 per pack. The lamb shoulder chops are not the best cut of chops available and the marinade was okay.

Let’s just say for £2 they were value for money, but if you are looking for high quality lamb, look somewhere else and making your own  Moroccan marinade.

Put it on the barbie…

Snags

Lovely amusing article on the barbecue in Australia from the BBC.

Scotland has the haggis, Turkey has the donor kebab, England has the Yorkshire pudding and from the land down under I give you… the overdone sausage.

I am being a tad unfair perhaps since multi-cultural Australia boasts some of the most mouth-watering food in the world. But that just makes it all the more intriguing why one of Australia’s great national dishes comes partly incinerated.

Photo source.