Friday, May 2, 2008



Today promises to be a tank top and shorts day, and I will be spending most of it outside tending the garden. First there will be some fun, running to the garden center to buy some flowers and herbs and planting them, then some necessary maintenance work, dealing with the maple helicopters in the back garden and in a few rain gutters. It's all in the balmy and fragrant spring breezes, though, so whatever I end up doing it will be a treat.

I call today's dish "Cape Verde Chicken" because the islands is where I first had it. I've since learned, though, that the marinade is actually Brazilian--makes sense, given the constant interflow between the two countries. There is a proper Brazilian name for it which for the life of me I cannot find now, but maybe somebody out there can supply it and give credit where it's due. By any name or nationality, it's a treat and goes down easy.

This particular recipe is entirely my own invention, using the technique of simultaneously brining and marinating I learned from Cooks Illustrated. I've become a huge fan of brining--it deepens the flavor of any meat and helps it retain moisture, for a more tender end product. Notes: Since you're brining, and the salt opens the meat both to its own flavor and to that of the marinade quickly, don't leave the chicken in the marinade for more than 2 hours, or the outcome will be too salty. Also, don't salt the chicken when you grill it. The salt is already there. As for the sugar: it also lends depth of flavor, and it encourages carmelization on the grill. The grilling itself: you'll notice in the picture there is very little browning on the chicken. That's because I grill using the "indirect method," with the coals banked on one side of the grill and the meat placed opposite. You'll get a better char if you spread the coals all over the bottom of the grill and place the meat directly over them, but you'll also have less control over the amount of char you end up with. I go for the easier, but less browned technique, but it's up to you.

1 cup lime juice
minced zest of one lime
2 tbsp. table salt
2 tbsp. sugar
5 or 6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil

1 chicken, 3 or 4 lbs., cut up

In a small container with a tight cover, shake salt and sugar and garlic in lime juice until the salt and sugar are dissolved and the garlic is well infused. Add olive oil and shake again, forming an emulsion.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade for later use. Place chicken in a zip-lock plastic storage bag and pour remaining marinade over it. Close the bag and marinate the chicken no longer than 2 hours. Remove chicken from marinade. Place chicken on rack to dry at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Coat grill with cooking spray and lay over coals. Place chicken on grill, skin side down, cover, and cook 20 minutes. Turn chicken skin side up, baste with reserved marinade, and cook an additional 20 minutes. Remove chicken from grill to serving platter and baste again, while still very hot, with marinade. Let chicken rest 10 minutes, baste again, and serve.


Anonymous said...

Looks like you're covering all the bases. It's a real treat to stop by for Friday food. I always look forward to it. Andrea has a garlic salad to die for over on her blog. It has the same ingredients as your marinade, cept Juice of 1 lemon, but is has black pepper, salt, sugar, crushed garlic and olive oil. She recommends keeping it in the fridge for at least 3 hours before using. I know, I know, Lime Juice will enhance the chicken flavor. If you want the rest of her recipe, the whole thing, write me for it at it will definitely go with this dish you presented today. That's how I plan to serve it next week.

Ralph said...

I'm there already, Z&M!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. You have such interesting things to say, and you write so beautifully.

The recipe looks great, and I'm looking forward to trying it.

I cook chicken on the grill using the indirect method as well. I then "finish" it directly over the coals with the lid open until it is as brown as I want it.

Basting with the marinade after cooking would make me nervous for food safety reasons; perhaps that's why you said "while still very hot"? I think I will save out some of the marinade to use for the final baste, and use the rest to marinate the chicken and for the first baste.

Thanks for blogging!


Ralph said...

Dennis, thanks so much for your kind words. That's an excellent idea about finishing the chicken directly over the coals, and I'll add it to my repertoire. As to that final baste: yes, I know I should concern myself with these matters and believe me, if I were writing a real cookbook I would. Call me lazy...but again you come to the rescue with an excellent suggestiion. Thanks so much!

(Actually, I say to do the second baste while the meat is still very hot so that the flavor will permeate the hot meat. I'd like to take credit for better sense, but I must be honest...)

Anonymous said...

I saved a little marinade on the side, making the recipe tonight, with rice and cheese brocoli. But sometimes I boil the leftover marinade and burn off the chicken fat. I might try that too. Lots left, chicken on the grill as I write this.

Ralph said...

Nice to know I'm helping feed a little corner of Florida, Z&M. Did you see Dennis's suggestions? They're good. Sometimes I'll boil the marinade, too--kills off bad things and also concentrates the flavor. And it's a way of saving it for next time...

Anonymous said...

Well, just to report in, it was delicious. Maybe a leftover wing. It's more a tangy recipe as the garlic backs it up. Next time think I'll sprinkle coarse pepper in the final basting. Have you tried that? Might cut into the strong Lime flavour. But it was delicious, a keeper recipe. Thanks.

Ralph said...

Glad you liked it, Z&M! For some reason, I never think about black pepper. That might cut the acidity, or you could leave out the lime zest, or put in more sugar....

Dennis said...

Hi there Ralph,

We are finally having some spring weather here in Northfield, MN, and I made your chicken tonight.

Oh my goodness, it was good! My wife, Jane, said "That's a keeper!"

I used wings, which only took about 15 minutes of indirect heat before the final browning. We had them with avocados and mojitos. Yum!