07 June 2008

Rubdown Chicken

Though our barbeque was sort of a potluck, in addition to the sangria I thought that we should provide the meat.   Now, if you are a semi-regular reader of this blog, you know that I don't cook meat that often so when I do it's a bit of a challenge since I don't have an everyday recipe to fall back on.  

In this case I started with the meat I wanted to use, chicken thighs*, since I thought they would hold up well on the grill, aren't too expensive and are pre-portioned so besides the grilling I wouldn't have to cut them up before serving.  Then I turned to Alton Brown (as I often do when cooking meat since I think his directions really clear and nearly always lead to excellent results) and decided to make a spice rub for the meat... Read More!

I modified Alton's recipe to reflect what I had in the kitchen, then rubbed each chicken thigh with the spice mix and set them in a tupperware container and (here is the important part) let it sit for a little more than 2 hours. If you want the flavors of a spice rub to penetrate the meat and not just form a blackened crust, you need to give the rub time to do it's work. First the rub draws the moisture of out the meat due to its high salt content. "Draw the moisture out of the meat?" you might say, "doesn't this just lead to dry meat?" Well, it would if you cooked the meat while the tupperware was still full of juices, but, if you wait another hour or so, the meat will draw the liquid, which had been flavored with the rub, back inside and your finished chicken thigh (or breast, wing, ect) will have a good spice crust and moist flavorful meat.

This was actually the first time I'd done a spice rub for any type of meat and was a bit shocked at how well it worked. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that knowing how to cook meat on the grill is really important too and luckily my friend A's husband J is a master at it and timed the cooking perfectly (even though I was begging him to open the lid to take a look every 30 seconds). The recipe below is in terms of parts so use a teaspoon, tablespoon, ice cream scoop or whatever measuring device you desire but keep it consistent for everything but the salt. I used a normal sized spoon and made enough rub for about 3-4 lbs. of chicken thighs.

* I used boneless, skinless thighs since that was what the store had. The rub makes the meat so tasty and juicy you won't even miss the skin and will save a heck of a lot of calories by not eating it.

Rubdown for Chicken
Adapted from "I'm Just Here for the Food" by Alton Brown
Quantities vary depending on your measuring device, all herbs are dried 

1 part coriander
1/2 part cumin
1/4 part fresh ground pepper
1/2 part cayenne pepper (adjust according to your spice tolerance)
1 part sage
1 part onion powder
3/4 part chile powder
1 part confectioners sugar
1/4 part cinnamon
1/2 part smoked paprika
1/2 part hot paprika (can omit if you don't like spice)
Salt (3/4 teaspoon per pound of meat)

- Mix all ingredients together.

- Prep chicken by removing excess fat then coat each piece lightly with the rub. Place chicken in a tupperware container.

- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling the chicken and then place the top on the tupperware and pop it into the fridge. After half and hour, spin the tupperware around to distribute the juices. Spin about every twenty minutes for a total of 2 hours.

- About 30 minutes before you plan to cook the chicken take it out of the fridge. Taking the chill off will help it cook evenly.

- Cook chicken by your preferred high heat method (grill, grill pan, broiler) and enjoy.

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