Friday, August 10, 2012

8/10/12 The Indirect Heat

I've had an unusual week schedule-wise, so called Bonne Maman late this Friday evening, a time I don't usually call. Katrina said she wanted to talk to Bonne Maman too, but suddenly cut the conversation short to go work on a "wood craft."

She did this thing entirely on her own, following the instructions to put it together and paint it all on her own! She was very proud of herself, so I took a picture.

Meantime I got to talk to Bonne Maman, and while chatting, prepared a marinade for some rarely low-priced bone-in chicken breasts from Whole Foods. Finding high-quality meat at Whole Foods is expected, but for $1.99/lb?! That's so rare it's actually worth blogging about.

Bonne Maman got me a grill book that she has also, about two summers ago when we both got hooked on grilling -- and it turned out we'd bought almost the same exact grills! So it's been fun learning about grilling together.

No wonder our Weber grill book called for grilling this particular chicken recipe for 45 minutes: the book recommended indirect heat. I had no time or energy to find out exactly what that meant, let alone set it up, so I set the hapless poultry straight on the direct grill. I knew the thick breasts might burn to a crisp on the outside and stay raw on the inside this way, but tried to compensate with low heat and an open grill for some of the time.

(A new self-invented anti-stick trick: grill the "bottom" side first, then the "top" side last when the food is already partially cooked -- seems to stick less on the side you want to show that way.)

I was prepared for disaster and my secret grilling-mistake compensation (the microwave!).

But to my amazement, the thick chicken breasts were done as perfectly as grilled chicken could ever be expected to be: moist, perfectly done but not overdone, perfectly seasoned. 5 minutes either way could have totally changed the outcome, but I got completely lucky this time. I was thrilled -- I've come to dislike white meat, but no wonder -- unless it's drowned in sauce, it's always dry and tough from being in the now-ubiqtuitous "boneless skinless" form.

White meat, especially grilled, is far from my favorite (I've always preferred dark meat), but I'm easy. I don't cook for me! But Katrina .... she's my toughest customer, especially when it comes to chicken. Though nowadays she claims she'll try drumsticks on roasted chicken, in practice she doesn't eat very much. All other chicken, and most meat, she refuses on principle.

But tonight, to my amazement, she asked for this white meat. And loved!! it?! She ate all I put on her plate, then seconds, then thirds, then so many extra helpings I lost count. She couldn't quit talking about how much she liked this chicken!

I knew a big part of it was the huge deal I made over her actually eating chicken, so of course I ran with it. But I didn't have to work hard: she even forewent corn-on-the-cob, a genuine favorite, to eat serving after serving of "Bonne Maman's chicken."

I had a lot too -- best white-meat chicken I've ever made! I'm so done with boneless-skinless filets: bone-in is way, way better. Especially since my avowed picky-eater wouldn't quit with it.

I told Katrina and the boys (who'd downed their food before I even sat down) again and again that this was the same chicken that Bonne Maman made for her aunt and cousins recently, and that we'd talked about it together, and that I thought I'd messed it up, and that Bonne Maman would be so psyched to see how much Katrina loved "her" chicken. (Julian had seconds of chicken, and five corn on the cobs?!!)

I guess I got away with the direct heat method after all. A remarkable dinner, spanning 3 generations of grill-loving girls!


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