Chipotle-Mango Barbecue Chicken with Cilantro Chimichurri

The heat wave has broken!  Well, for today, anyway.  Our string of 90-degree days has finally come to an end, and we’re enjoying a much more Minnesota-like afternoon in the low 80’s.  During any other summer that’d seem pretty warm, but this year it’s a refreshing break.  Even so, the sun was shining and the lawn was freshly mowed, so it was a perfect day to entertain Jim and Sandra for our monthly dinner.  And how better to celebrate the day?  Bring on some smoke and heat!

The menu today was from a Guy Fieri article in Food Network Magazine entitled “Guy at the Grill”, and right away we knew it would be a winner for a mid-summer cookout.  The bonus for us was that we knew Jim is a huge fan of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, so this choice was going to be a slam dunk.  We were not disappointed!

The Chipotle-Mango Barbecue sauce for the chicken had a fantastic flavor, and there were so many things going on that we found it to be quite complex.  The mangoes and lemon juice and rice vinegar gave us an initial hit of sweetness with just a bit of tart.  On it’s own this might have quickly become too much, but then the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce took over, and the subtle heat gave it a very welcome balance.  The cilantro and garlic flavors were there as a subtle backdrop, and the net effect of all these flavors on the grilled chicken was terrific.  On alternating bites I spread a little of the chimichurri on the chicken, and was rewarded with a bright burst of contrasting freshness.  This was an entree that had everyone at the table smiling!

Some notes on the preparation:  If I had it to do again (and I probably will), I think I’d go without the skin on the chicken.  This has only a little to do with the health aspects of the dish, and much more to do with the ease of grilling.  I don’t know if it’s just me, but whenever I try to grill skin-on chicken I seem to have a little flame-up problem.  Little, like the cauldron at the London Olympic games.  Does anyone else find this to be an issue?  I think if I were to forgo the skin I might be able to control this little issue and not fear that I’m going to burn down my house.  Also, I found the chimichurri to be a little too “liquidy”, and so I drained off some of the liquid before serving.  I tested the flavors and they didn’t seem to suffer at all.  You may want to watch that.

Overall, this was a terrific meal!  We served it with Guy’s “Smoking Potato Salad” and “Long Beach Coleslaw”, and I’d recommend both of those as well.  It was a terrific day, and a smokey, grilled meal with a bit of peppery heat complemented it perfectly.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 3 mangoes, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1-1/4 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro, not chopped, stems and all
  • 3 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce, plus 1 tbsp sauce from the can
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tbsp canola oil, plus more for the grill
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 12 pieces skin-on, bone-in mixed chicken thighs and drumsticks (about 5 pounds)

Chimichurri:

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 scallions, white parts only, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preparation:

  1. Prepare the chicken:  Put the mangoes, cilantro, chipotles, adobo sauce, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, canola oil, 1 tbsp salt and 1 tsp pepper in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  2. Toss the chicken with half of the mango mixture in a resealable plastic bag and massage to coat the chicken with the sauce.  Refrigerate at least 6 hours to marinate.
  3. Put the other half of the mango mixture in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until thick, stirring often, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt. Set some of the simmered mango sauce aside for serving and use the rest for basting.
  4. Preheat grill to medium and brush with canola oil.  Remove the chicken from the marinade, brushing off the excess marinade so it doesn’t burn, and put on the grill.  Grill the chicken, turning, until fully cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Baste with the simmered mango sauce during the last 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the chimichurri:  Combine the cilantro, parsley, scallions, garlic, grapeseed oil, agave, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste in a food processor and pulse to roughly chop.  Continue processing until the sauce is finely chopped but not smooth (it shouldn’t be a puree).  Set aside at least 15 minutes before serving.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve with the chimichurri and reserved mango sauce.
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Barbecue Chicken with Mustard Glaze

Barbecue Chicken with Mustard Glaze

Mmmm, talk about the savory tastes of summer!  I arrived home from work to a house scented with pungent mustard and chipotle chili powder.  I was famished after a day away, and this was nearly enough to put me over the edge!  We’ve long been fans of the rich flavor of grilled chicken thighs, but the seasonings of this rub combined with the tangy sauce made for a little bit of heaven on a summer evening.

For our tastes, we like to substitute chipotle chili powder whenever a recipe calls for regular chili powder, using 1/2 of the listed amount.  In this case we used 1 teaspoon of the chipotle version, and the added flavor kick was fantastic.  We also opted to grill the chicken thighs on our gas grill, rather than using the grill pan listed here. 

As a side  dish we prepared the summer squash described with the recipe, and our girls oohed and ahhed all the way through dinner.  This recipe, which we found in the July 2009 issue of Cooking Light magazine, went straight to our “keepers” file!  You might want to give it a try.

“A five-ingredient rub and a three-ingredient basting sauce are all you need to take chicken from routine to off-the-charts good. An assortment of spices mixed with common condiments makes a thick, tangy-sweet glaze with a hint of smokiness. Grilled summer squash makes a light, fresh side.”

Ingredients:

  • 2  tablespoons  dark brown sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  garlic powder
  • 2  teaspoons  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  smoked paprika
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  cup  ketchup
  • 1  tablespoon  dark brown sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  Dijon mustard
  • 8  (6-ounce) skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
  • Cooking spray

Preparation:

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Combine ketchup and next 3 ingredients (through mustard) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

2. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Rub spice mixture evenly over chicken thighs. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 12 minutes. Turn chicken over. Brush with half of ketchup mixture; cook 12 minutes. Turn chicken over. Brush with remaining ketchup mixture; cook 2 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°.

Grilled summer squash: Cut 2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush with 2 teaspoons olive oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Grill 3 minutes on each side or until tender.

Firecracker Pork Ribs

Mmmm…ribs…..  This has always been a winning recipe, but I think tonight’s rendition was the best we’ve ever done it.  The preparation is very easy, and the results are basically “no fail”.  The resulting ribs were soft and fall-off-the-bone tender, and served with a potato salad and a frosty glass of Sam Adams Boston Lager, it was 4th of July in the Solberg house!

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Prepare the Powderpuff Rib Rub one day prior to cooking.  Place two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil on the counter, to form a double layer.  Optional: remove the membrane on the underside of the slab.  This is not required, but may result in a more tender final product.  Place the slab on the aluminum foil, and sprinkle the rub generously over both sides.  Pat the dry rub into the meat.  Fold up the aluminum foil to form a packet around the ribs, and seal tightly.  Refrigerate the meat for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Open one end of the foil on the slab, and carefully pour in the 1/2 cup of warm water.  Seal the foil once again, and tilt back and forth to evenly distribute the liquid.  Braise the ribs in the oven for 2-1/2 hours.

When braising is complete, carefully open the foil and remove the slab of ribs.  Apply a layer of the Still House Barbecue Sauce

Optional:  Preheat grill.  Grill the slab over medium heat for approximately 8 minutes, turning once.  Remove from grill, and apply a fresh layer of sauce.  Carefully cut slab into two rib sections, serve and enjoy!

Still House Barbecue Sauce

The best homemade barbecue sauce we’ve tried – so far.  This recipe comes from Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible, and it works well with both ribs and chicken.  It’s not a thick sauce, but rather liquid, so we’ve had our best success using it as a finishing sauce in the final minutes of grilling, or just by warming the sauce and then mopping it onto the meat after it comes off the grill.  Either way, it has a hot, smoky kick and it’s been very popular with our barbecue guests!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup onion, very finely minced
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 tbsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke

Preparation:

Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat and briskly simmer, uncovered, until richly flavored and slightly thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon.  Use right away or transfer to jars, cover, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.  The sauce will keep for several months.

Makes about 4 cups.

Powderpuff Rib Rub

This is just great stuff from Steven Raichlen and his book “Barbecue Bible: Sauces Rubs and Marinades”.  We’ve used this rub so many times when preparing ribs, and the taste is just out of this world.  Garlic and paprika lend a savory flavor to the meat when we put the rib on the day before, but I think it’s the celery salt that puts it over the top.  You just can’t go wrong with this rub when you’re preparing ribs.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup celery salt
  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1/3 cup dried garlic flakes
  • 3 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir or whisk to mix.  Transfer to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light.  The rub will keep for several months.

Makes 1 cup