The barbecue season is almost upon us and I for one, am rearing to go.“You’re always rearing to go, you fat clown.”
Be that as it may, but at least I’m a happy, fat clown and come the first warm weekend evening later this month, I’ll be a warm, happy, fat clown with a bib and a beer and lots of chargrilled meats.
In preparation almost, for those smile-y, balmy evenings when the only thing you have to concern yourself with is whether to have another burger or another beer, I have been trying my hand at a few different marinades at home, which are deceptively easy and also much cheaper (and better) than the bottled stuff on the supermarket shelves. In further preparation, I also cleaned out the barbecue so that the first session might be as handy as possible. One can never underestimate how not cleaning something ahead of cooking can discourage a person from that cooking. As well, I have so far purchased charcoal, lighter fluid and some wooden skewers in that hope that those balmy evenings arrive sooner rather than later.
Hope is ever important, when it comes to sunny breaks in the showers.
As you can see from the photo this week, I’ve been putting the marinades and wooden skewers to good use already, in this case in the form of a chicken thigh doner stack which, after languishing in a marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours was broiled in the oven for a little over half an hour, resulting in the charred but highly tasty layers of seasoned and tender meat.
For a long time, I had considered doing a stack of this kind and for reasons best attributed to procrastination, I had consigned the plan to the backburner. The mental delays, I think, were a result of me not knowing whether I wanted a Greek-style gyros, a middle-eastern shawarma or a sub-continental doner. In the end Sunday night’s bank holiday weekend’s imbibing severed the anchor of adjournment and the picture you see before you is neither gyros nor doner nor shawarma; it is unapologetically Mexican.
In essence, the act of stacking marinated meat onto a skewer or skewers and cooking in a rotisserie style isn’t particular to one national cuisine. Such is the effectiveness of the process, it’s almost world-wide at this stage, although I have to confess that I have no idea if rotisserie style stacks are popular in Mexico (and I have no intention of checking via the world wide web to find out). But if they aren’t, they should be.
You could use any kind of flavouring here because it’s the process which is important. So feel free to mix up the marinades to what you like. Jerk chicken? Tikka style? Honey and lemon? The following is merely a guide – although a tasty guide at that.
8 de-boned and skinned chicken thighs
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely grated
The juice of a lime
5 tbsps of good olive oil
1 heaped tsp of chipotle seasoning (I used OXO Hickory Smoked Chipotle Seasoning Rub)
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of salt
FOR THE STACK
1 large thick slice of potato or a very thick slice of pineapple
In a large bowl, dump in all of the ingredients except the chicken and stir well to that all is combined.
Now, add in the chicken and mix everything up making sure that all of the chicken is coated in the delicious marinade.
Cover the bowl and retire to the fridge. You can leave this in the fridge for anything up to 24 hours but last week, mine were soaking up the flavours for about three hours and the end product was still magnificent.
After that and when you’re ready to cook, the oven to 210C and as that’s happening, skewer up the chicken. Stick the skewers into the potato or pineapple slice and then skewer the chicken thighs one atop the other as in the photo. I also topped my stack with a slice of pineapple.
Brush on any remaining marinade (if you can be bothered) and then retire the stack to the bottom shelf of the oven. You may also want to snip off the tops of the skewers to make things fit.
That done, set a timer for 30 minutes and let the stack bubble and spit and crisp and colour. After that time, check to make sure the chicken is cooked through (I basically snagged off a large corner from one of the thighs) and if it’s still a little pink give it another five minutes and try again.
All told, my stack was in the oven for 35 minutes before it was perfectly cooked.
After that, I let the stack rest for five minutes before slicing and dumping lots of tender, juicy meat into flatbreads with crema, crisp lettuce, spring onions, tomatoes and a squirt of hot sauce and devouring at my leisure.
It. Was. Immense.
The remaining chicken was mixed with the remaining crema and chopped veggies for what was possible the best chicken mix I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve eaten a lot of chicken mixes.
“You’d know by the look of you, fat clown.”
Be that as it may…
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