Monday, May 12, 2008

Recipes

PERUVIAN-STYLE CHICKEN

Insanely popular in Lima and in Peruvian communities in the U.S. For
maximum crispness and to speed up the cooking process, the chicken is
spatchcocked (butterflied). Note: in Peru, you'd use a fiery yellow
chili called aji amarillo (use 1 to 2). This recipe approximates the
flavor by mixing yellow bell pepper and habanero.

Method: Direct grilling
Serves: 2 to 4
Advance Preparation: 2 to 12 hours for marinating the chicken

For the marinade and sauce:
1 yellow or orange bell pepper
1 habanero pepper, or 2 jalapeno peppers, or more to taste
One small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea), or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann's preferred)

For the chicken:
1 whole chicken (about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds)

Stem, seed, and devein the bell pepper and the habanero and chop
roughly. Combine in a blender container with the onion, cilantro, lime
juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, and vegetable oil. Blend
until fairly smooth. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of the
marinade mixture (reserve the remainder) with the mayonnaise and stir
to combine. Cover and refrigerate the mayonnaise mixture until ready
to serve.

Place the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using poultry
shears or a sharp knife, cut through the flesh and bone along both
sides of the backbone. Cut from the tail end to the head end and
completely remove the backbone.

Open out the chicken (like opening a book) by gently pulling the
halves apart. Using a sharp paring knife, lightly score the top of the
breastbone. Run your thumbs along and under the sides of the
breastbone and attached cartilage and pop them out. Spread the bird
out flat.

Turn the bird over. Using a sharp knife, make a slit in the skin
between the lower end of the breastbone and the leg, on each side,
approximately 1/2 inch long (you're trying to accommodate the end of
the drumstick). Stick the end of the drumstick on that side through
the slit.

Put the spatchcocked chicken into a nonreactive baking dish and pour
the marinade over it, turning to coat completely. Cover with plastic
wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium. When ready
to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the chicken on the
grate, skin-side down. Grill for 12 to 15 minutes per side, turning
once with tongs and a spatula. The chickens can be a little awkward to
turn; you'll need to use both utensils. If the skin browns too much,
lower the heat or move the chicken to a cooler section of the grill.
The chicken is done when an instant-read meat thermometer inserted
into the thickest part of a thigh (but not touching the bone)
registers 170 degrees F. Or to play it safe, you can indirect grill
the bird—in which case, place it skin side up on the grill and
indirect grill for about 40 minutes.

Let the bird rest for 3 to 5 minutes, then carve and serve with the
mayonnaise sauce.

PLJESKAVICA
(BOSNIAN BURGERS)

These spicy flat burgers turn up throughout the Balkans, especially in
Bosnia-Herzegovina. Flatten the burger to the thickness and size of a
pita bread. The easiest way to do this is to flatten it on a metal or
stone work surface, then pry it off with a slender metal spatula.

Method: Direct grilling
Serves: Serves 4
Advance Preparation: 1/2 to 1 hour for letting the meat rest

12 ounces ground beef, preferably ground chuck
12 ounces ground veal (or substitute more ground beef)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 to 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced (see Note)
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea), or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
Grilled pita bread for serving
Tomato slices and lemon wedges for serving (optional)

Combine the beef, veal, garlic, onion, serrano pepper(s), parsley,
salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Knead the mixture gently with
your hands until thoroughly blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap
and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Divide the meat in four equal portions. Mold each into a large flat
disk, like a pita bread, on the back of a metal baking sheet or stone
countertop. Each burger should be about 6 inches across and 1/4-inch
thick.

Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and
grill the grill grate.

Loosen the burger from the baking sheet, sliding a slender metal
spatula under it. Transfer it to the grill. Grill until cooked
through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. The internal temperature on an
instant read meat thermometer inserted through the side will be at
least 160 degrees.

Transfer to a large plate or platter and serve at once with pita,
tomato slices, and lemon wedges for squeezing.

Note: For a hotter pljeskavica, leave the seeds in.

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