Grilling in a Raincoat

Despite the fact that spring has been on hold here in Chicago, I have been grilling up a storm. There have been pork steaks (my new favorite cut), burgers both meat and vegetarian, and lots and lots of chicken. There is a good reason that chicken is America’s favorite meat (uhh, have you ever had crispy chicken skin?), and with the help of this marinade, I think it is going to stay that way for a long time.

Grilled Chicken with Escabeche-Style Marinade

Grilled Chicken with Escabeche-Style Marinade:

1 medium red onion, halved and peeled

3 pickled carrot sticks with (you know, the kind sold in jars in the olive aisle)

1 chipotle chili in adobo (optional but recommended- adds significant smoke and heat)

3 large garlic cloves

1 Tbsp. coriander seed

2 tsp. cumin seed

1/2 C. red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. honey

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

a big handful of cilantro

Roughly chop the onion.  Place half in the blender and saute the other half in a little oil until caramelized, stirring regularly, about 10 minutes.  When the onion is brown add the coriander and cumin seed and cook another 2 or 3 minutes to toast the spices. Pour in just a splash of the vinegar (stand back!) to deglaze the pan.  Then add the mixture to the blender along with all the other ingredients and puree.

I used the marinade for 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs.  Marinate them for 1 hour on the counter, or in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Put on your raincoat. Preheat your grill to a medium heat. Shake the excess marinade off of the chicken and set it aside. Make sure the legs sizzle when you place them on the grill and then cover for a few minutes. Make sure the first side is nice and brown before you flip them over. After you’ve browned the second side, lower the grill’s heat (or move the chicken to the cool side) and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes longer, flipping once, or until cooked through.

In the meantime, come in, take off your raincoat and pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, and then set aside.

Once the chicken is off of the grill, spoon the reserved, cooked marinade over the top.  The piquant vinegar and unmistakable flavor of coriander are incredibly delicious on the caramelized chicken skin.

I served this with a simple salad of black beans, onion, tomato, lime, and more fresh cilantro along with grilled asparagus. The sauce is really the star of the show here, so any simple side dish would be great – rice, polenta, or any grilled vegetable.

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