Just in time for Memorial Day – Thai Coconut Chicken, by Beverly Hicks Burch

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Just in Time for Memorial Day – Thai Coconut Chicken

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Many people use Memorial Day as the kick off for the summer grilling season. (For the true meaning behind the holiday read my blog The Cost of Liberty at my new blog Uncommon Sensibilities.

Like many of you out there my family loves to grill out. Tall & Handsome discovered a technique a few years ago of roasting a chicken on the grill. It’s called the “beer can chicken” method. I’ve written about it a few times over at my “A Steel Magnolia is an Iron Butterfly” especially here, here and here.

Essentially, the “legend” of the origin goes something like this…some good ole boy decided it would be a really good idea to ram the south end of a big ole roasting chicken on a can of beer…a highly combustible substance (wonder if it was Billy Beer?) After ramming that puppy onto that beer can suppository, you now place the can over an open flame of you backyard grill…leave it to cook and “Viola”, when it done you should have a chicken fit for the food gods…taking into account no hands, eyes or feet were lost in the preparation of the feast…

Well, that’s the story at least…

In theory, some of the story does have good components. T & H and I have made several “beer can chicken” recipes…and believe me when I say today’s technique is a little more safety concerned than the original method and produces moist, flavorful, yummy birds. Today the grill master uses an upright chicken roaster with a center well that takes the place of the “beer can”. You can use any flavorful liquid of your liking in this little magic well.

A couple of weeks back we made Thai Coconut Chicken using this method and I thought I’d share it just in time for Memorial Day. We served Indian Style Rice with Cashews and Raisins and another small side dish.

We found the original recipe in Beer-Cab Chicken and 74 other Offbeat Recipes for the Grill, by Steven Raichlen, but as per my norm, I’ve made some adaptations to the recipe to make the recipe a little healthier. Hope you enjoy…if you do get a chance to make the dish let me know how you liked it!

When preparing the dipping sauce, as with most Asian cooking, I recommend you have most of your ingredients prepared and measured out before you start cooking. Once the cooking starts, it goes fast!

©2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

Thai Coconut Chicken

For the rub:

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass or, if you can’t find lemongrass substitute 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use peanut oil for an authentic Thai flavor)

1 can lite coconut milk

1 stalk lemongrass or 2 strips of lemon zest

(1) 3-1/2 to 4 pound whole chicken

2 cups of wood chips (oak or apple would be good for this recipe) soak chip for 1 hour in water and then drain the water from wood chips

Coconut-Peanut Dipping Sauce

1. Make your rub paste by combining coriander, salt, pepper, garlic, cilantro, minced lemongrass (or grated lemon zest), and fresh ginger in a blender. Puree adding enough peanut oil to make paste.

2. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the paste and set aside. Wash and clean the chicken and remove the giblets. Pat the chicken dry. Next rub the paste inside and outside of the chicken…all over…don’t miss anyplace. Place in a plastic bag and place chicken in the refrigerator for no less than an hour but preferably overnight.

3. When you are ready to cook the bird, pour ¾ cup lite coconut milk into the well of you chicken roaster. Add the trimmed lemongrass stalk or 2 pieces of lemon zest. Place the chicken over the well like you would a beer can, with the largest body cavity opening on the body. Tuck the chicken wings behind the back.

4. Cook on indirect heat preheated to medium. Place your wood chips either in your smoker tray or a wood box you can pick up at Lowe’s or Home Depot. You can also make smoke “bombs” by placing the wood chips in foil and arranging them on the grill.

5. place the bird in the center of the grill, close the grill and cook until the chicken reaches a temperature of about 180° (between 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours depending on the size of the bird).

6. During cooking baste with: 1/4 cup lite coconut milk, and the 1 tablespoon of reserved rub.

7. When done transfer the chicken to a platter and let it rest for 5 minutes. Carve as you like. Serve with Coconut-Peanut Dipping Sauce (see recipe below).

Enjoy! 🙂

Coconut-Peanut Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 – 3 shallots, finely chopped (a small amount of a mild onion maybe used)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger

1 to 2 Thai chilies or Serrano or jalapeno peppers (seeded and veins removed…leave seeds in for a hotter sauce)

1 teaspoon coriander

¾ cup lite coconut milk

¾ cup chunky peanut butter (I’m sure you could use smooth if you preferred)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons sugar

½ ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat peanut oil in a wok or pan over high heat. Add shallots, garlic, ginger chilies and coriander and stir fry about 3 minutes.

2 Stir in coconut milk and bring to a boil. Next stir in peanut butter, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and black pepper. Reduce heat and let simmer about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and cook about a minute. Adjust for seasoning. This sauce will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.

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