Grilled chicken with Thai flavours and sweet & sour sauce


This dinner was cooked up with a pile of things from our home garden. One of the really good things about living in a sub-tropical region is that a whole heap of the ingredients that might be grown and eaten in South East Asia can also be grown here. Also, to complete the experience, children’s plastic dining tables and chairs are available from large retailers and possibly toy stores.

So, the aromats all came from our garden, as did the bok choy.

The chicken came from a super market who assured me it had led a happy and sustainable life. I wish I could say that we had grown and slaughtered the chicken ourselves but that is just not the case. It is something we have certainly done in the past and something I would like to do again, but not this time.

I am cooking the chicken over coals because I find this method to be tasty and certainly pleases my palate. Failing the presence of a grill, or the ability to use it, this chook can be oven roasted at 200 C for a similar amount of time.

This meal also contains a few of my current favourite* garnishes – sticky rice, steamed greens with oyster sauce and a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

So, in conclusion, this is my version of a Thai grilled chicken


GRILLED CHICKEN WITH THAI FLAVOURS AND SWEET & SOUR SAUCE

Serves 4 – 6

1x 1.6 – 1.8 kg chicken, spatchcocked (butterflied, splayed, busted open)
4 cloves garlic
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, roughly chopped
1 thumb sized piece galangal, roughly chopped
1 thumb sized piece ginger, roughly chopped
3 kafir lime leaves
1 long red chilli, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon castor sugar
Salt and white pepper to season
Coriander and sweet and sour sauce (recipe follows), to serve

Everything except the chicken and salt and pepper can go into a food processor where it can be blitzed into a coarse paste which you shall use to marinate your chicken. You could also use a mortar and pestle for this purpose, as would be the way in the old country.

Massage marinade into the chicken and leave for 30 – 60 minutes for the flavours to really get to know that chook.

Grill chicken over medium-hot coals for 45 or so minutes or until chicken is cooked (you may need to move your chicken away from direct heat if it starts to get a little too crispy or charred). Turn and rotate chicken every 10 – 15 minutes to ensure a fairly even cooking process.

Once chicken is cooked remove from heat and rest for 10 minutes. Chop into pieces with a cleaver and a crazy look in your eye. Season with salt and pepper and serve with sweet and sour sauce and sides of your choosing.

SWEET & SOUR SAUCE

2 – 3 long red chilli
2 cloves garlic
½ cup lime juice
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tbls fish sauce
1 ½ tbls water

Chop chilli and garlic finely. Combine with all other ingredients and stir/whisk until sugar is dissolved.

It is worthy of note that this is also a very nice salad dressing and will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.

*Yes. My favourites do change. I certainly did no marry into a life of being a “one side only” man.

Nacho good times bowl


This bowl can be a little bit of whatever the eff you’ve got lying around really. Except for your old dog – you just leave him lying where he is.

NACHO GOOD TIMES BOWL

Pulled pork doused with your favourite BBQ sauce. Left overs are perfect for this
Black beans cooked in bacon fat (recipe follows)
Tomato, onion and coriander salsa (You don’t need a recipe for this. It is those three ingredients plus a little splash of red wine vinegar and a little salt and pepper. That’s it)
Sliced avocado
Feta
Jalapenos
Hot sauce
Brown rice – cooked is probably best. White rice will also do the job
Lime
Store bought corn chips or tostadas, or make your own if you have the skills

You did save the bacon fat, right?

One of those “so simple, so good” moments

BLACK BEANS IN BACON FAT

(Serves 4 as a side)

Quite simply this is actually black beans in bacon fat – you save your bacon fat, right?

1x 400g tin of black beans, drained
1 -2 tblsp bacon fat
½ small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Sauté onion and garlic in bacon fat until fragrant and softened a little.
Add bay leaf, beans and a splash of water.
Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer 10 minutes, adding another tablespoon or two of water if it dries out.
Check seasoning.
Do the “nacho good times bowl” thing with them.

Smoky chicken wings with honey rum glaze


These are very easily consumed by themselves with a nice little dipping sauce – might I suggest something mayonnaisy, BBQ or hot sauce, or even a drizzle of smoked honey (So, basically any sauce you like to put on the table). But on this one evening I made a meal out of these little flappy parts with grilled corn and sautéed beans. It made for very nice eating indeed.

This is going to work well in a smoker or kettle BBQ with indirect heat.

Those beans were sautéed with onion, bacon, garlic and a splash of chicken stock
Corn and sauteed beans can join the wings on the grill
The corn gets sexy with some mayo, hot sauce, herbs and pecorino cheese. Also, I found some radishes in the garden so I put them on the plate too

SMOKY CHICKEN WINGS with HONEY RUM GLAZE

(for 1 or 2 peeps, depending on the depth of your love of a good chicken wing)

1kg chicken wings
1 tablespoon of your favourite chicken rub
2 tablespoons honey
1-2 shots spiced rum
Your favourite saucy good times

Season your wings with rub, honey and rum. Mix well and allow to marinate over night if you are a top-notch forward planner, or for at least one hour if you are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cowboy like me.
Fire up your smoker/grill and get the temp up to 160C-ish (320F). Place a couple of small chunks of smoky flavour wood on the coals to make those wings taste extra sexy.
Place the wings on the grill however you see fit – a nice little around-the-rim pattern seems to be quite vogue right now – reserving remaining marinade.
The lid goes on and the vents are open.
Let the wings have a little smoky loving; 30-ish minutes for full wings and 20-ish minutes for wing segments, or until cooked, reglazing with remaining marinade after 15 minutes. (It is totally legit to cut one open and check that they are done though, so don’t be afraid to do that just to be sure).
Give them another little sprinkle with your BBQ rub of choice to freshen up those flavours.
This is finger-to-face eating at it’s finest.

Maple baked beans


This is a pretty darn easy recipe for some pretty darn good beans.

Surely that’s enough to encourage you to have a go.

If you were smart enough to put your Christmas ham bone in the freezer so it may wait for a good and noble use, now is the time to rip that sucker out.

The beans go into the pot with all of the good bits of smoked pig

MAPLE BAKED BEANS

(serves 8 as a side)

1 ham bone with last skerricks of ham (or 300-400g chopped ham, bacon, smoked pork, smoked sausage or whatever smoky-porky goodness you may be hiding)
1 brown onion, diced
4x 400g tins cooked pinto beans
½ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1lt water
A pinch of salt and pepper to season

Sauté the onion with the ham.
(This can be done in a kettle BBQ or bullet for a little extra smoke if you like it like that. I like it like that).
Add all other ingredients and cook over low-medium coals with the lid on for 45 or so minutes, adding a splash or two of water if it starts to get a little dry (this could also be cooked in a preheated 160C (320F) oven or on the stovetop).
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Remove bone and pick over for any little bits of ham that want to be thrown back into the beans. Throw said ham back into the beans.
Eat beans with a fat slab of ham on the side… or some BBQ…or eggs… you get the picture, right?

All good to go

Special fried rice. Why is it so special? It just is, that’s why.


This cracking way to use up extra Christmas ham (that you will probably want to book mark for next year) is based on the Aussie-Chinese take away restaurant classic – the special fried rice.

Why is it called special fried rice?

I am not really sure, but maybe it had the little pink shrimpy things in it and the bog-standard fried rice didn’t.

Whatever the reason, I do remember the special fried rice costing an extra couple o’ bucks a portion and it was worth every penny.

My big tips for cooking fried rice are;
Cook the rice in the morning or the day before so it breaks up nicely and doesn’t get all clumpy and shitty.
Get everything ready. This is called your mise en place. Translated this literally means “putting in place”. Mise en place is super important in the world of wok cookery because it’s such a hot and fast process and you really don’t have the time to be fucking around trying to chop things while the rest is cooking.

The mise en place says it all
Seriously. GET. IT. SORTED!
I used hot coals as my heat source and let me say, it worked a treat
Get all up in that!

SPECIAL FRIED RICE (serves 6)

1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 knob ginger, grated or chopped
3 cups finely diced zucchini, corn, frozen peas, carrot, capsicum etc
1-2 cups diced ham
1 cup diced cooked prawns or shrimp
1 cup chopped omelette or scrambled egg (from 3 eggs)
6 cups cooked rice (white or brown is good)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
Salt and pepper to season
½ bunch shallots (spring onions, scallions), sliced
Vegetable oil
A wok and a hot fire source

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in your wok hot over a high heat.
Add onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add vegetables and stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
Add ham and prawns and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add omelette and rice and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
Add soy and shallot and stir through.
Taste to check seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.
Serve it with extra soy sauce and some kind of chilli sauce on the side.
Pretty easy – really good.

Smoky chicken wings


Now, I know that I harp on about the same shit on a regular basis – the glory of the cheaper cuts of meats for example – and this little spiel shall be conforming with the norm.

Today it is all about the chicken wing.

These things are the multi-lingual, bisexual, transgender, three-boobied alien who accepts cash, card, food stamps or a prize-winning root vegetable as preferred forms of payment.

You can do so many different things with chicken wings.

These things are about maximizing your dollar to flavour ratio.

These things are a decent meal from your last few bucks.

These things are not chicken breast.

These things will not help you soar like an eagle*.

These things are you feeding the crowd at your next swingers party and looking like you are directly descendant from the holiest of holies him/herself.

This is going to work well in a smoker or kettle BBQ with indirect heat.

The around the rim wing job

Wings and sauces – good times

SMOKY CHICKEN WINGS

As many or as few wings as you think you require
Your favourite chicken rub
Your favourite saucy good times

Fire up your smoker/grill and get the temp up to 160C-ish (320F). Place a couple of small chunks of smoky flavour wood on the coals to make those wings taste extra sexy.
Season wings with a little BBQ rub that makes you happy.
Place the wings on the grill however you see fit… a nice little around-the-rim pattern seems to be quite vogue right now.
The lid goes on.
Let the wings have a little smoky loving; 30-ish minutes for full wings and 20-ish minutes for wing segments, or until cooked. It is totally legit to cut one open and check that they are done though, so don’t be afraid to do that just to be sure.
Give them another little sprinkle with your BBQ rub of choice to freshen up those flavours.
Serve with BBQ sauce and hot sauce and… and… and… yeah, you get it, right?
Once you get these little babies sorted it’s time to start experimenting with different rubs and glazes and sauces and even wood flavours.
Go now, soar like an eagle with the down trodden, funny looking, little chicky wings.

* In fact, if you try to fly from a tall building after eating a bowl of these things, it is almost certain that you will fall to your death. With a little extra cash you could possibly purchase a “herbal wing substitute” that will surely help you fly**.

**Once again, may not actually help you fly.