Saturday, June 18, 2011
MALAYSIAN SPATCHCOCKED SPICY GRILLED CHICKEN
Method: Direct Grilling
Serves: 2 to 4
Advance Preparation: 1 to 2 hours for marinating the chicken
1 chicken (3-1/2 to 4 pounds)
For the marinade:
1/4 cup grated coconut (fresh or dried)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
2 shallots, peeled and rough chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and rough chopped
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and rough chopped
2 hot red chilies, like jalapenos or horn peppers, seeded and rough chopped (for spicier chicken, leave the seeds in), or 2 tablespoons Malaysian chili paste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons diced red or yellow bell pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)
fresh calmonsis or lime wedges for squeezing
Kelantan is Malaysias northeastern-most provincea lush hinterland famed for its rice paddies, fishing villages, and above it its Thai-influenced cuisine. (Thailand lies just to the north.) Not surprisingly, the local grilling reflects a marked Thai influence in the form of marinades enriched with coconut and chilies. (Of course, youll also taste lemongrass, shallots, and fresh turmericingredients popular throughout the entire Malaysian peninsula.) Theres one technique here you may not previously have seendry-frying the grated coconut to give it a toasted flavor. Ive made the process optional, but the chicken will definitely be richer because of it. Heres how a Kelantan chef working in Kuala Lumpur named Fandi prepares it, and if youve ever found grilled chicken to be bland or mono-dimensional, this one will light up your mouth like an Independence Day sky.
1. Spatchcock the chicken, (plenty of examples on youtube.)Basically you are butterflying a chicken. Make 2 deep slashes to the bone in each leg and thigh. Fold the wingtips back behind the wings. Place the bird in a non-reactive baking dish just large enough to hold it.
2. Make the marinade. Place the dried shredded coconut in a dry cast iron or stainless steel skillet (not nonstick) and cook it over medium heat until browned and fragrant, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching. Transfer the coconut to a bowl to cool.
3. Place the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, ginger, chilies, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and salt in a heavy mortar and pound to a paste with a pestle. Pound in the toasted coconut and about 3/4 cup cool waterenough to obtain a thick but pourable paste. Alternatively, puree the marinade ingredients in a food processor. Again, add water as needed to obtain a thick but pourable paste. Spoon this mixture over the chicken, forcing it into the slits in the legs, turning the bird to coat well on both sides. Marinate the chicken for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
4. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium. Brush and oil the grill grate.
5. Drain the chicken and arrange it on the grill grate bone side down. Grill until golden brown and cooked though, 15 to 20 minutes per side, turning half way through. Move the chicken as needed to dodge any flare-ups. To check for doneness: use an instant read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh but not touching the bone: the temperature should be about 170 degrees. Alternatively, make a cut in the chicken meat where the thigh connects to the body: there should be no traces of red at the bone.
6. To serve, transfer the chicken, skin side up, to a platter. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds and diced bell pepper (if using). Serve with calamansis or lime wedges for squeezing and Malaysian Peanut Sauce if desired.
Note: you can also indirect grill the chickena processes which, although, not traditionally Malaysia, has the advantage of eliminating all risk of flare-ups. Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. Place the chicken skin side up in the center of the grate over the drip pan. Indirect grill the chicken until browned and cooked through, 40 to 60 minutes
Source: the Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen