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Grilled chicken for dinner party


CDRFloppingham
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eGulleteers,

We're hosting a formal dinner party for my wife's colleagues this Sunday and I'm thinking about doing a squash three ways for a first course. I would like to accent the dish with a small piece of grilled chicken.

I really want the chicken to have a wonderful, crispy skin and I would like to grill it at the last minute. However, I don't want to do a lot of a la mintue cooking...I want to be able to relax as much as possible.

So, I'm thinking I can brine and season, then cook maybe 3/4 of the way earlier in the day probably in a saute pan. Maybe about 5 minutes prior to service, I throw skin side down on a hot grill to heat, finish cooking, and crisp the skin. Since I've brined and I'm using thighs, I figure it's OK if it overcooks a little so the pre-cooking can err on the done side.

Will this work?

I'm also considering cooking on the grill basically all the way and reheating and crisping in a hot oven prior to service.

HELP!

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A quick way to crisp the skin is to use a torch. You can cook the chicken anyway you wish. Then cut it up and store. On the day of the event, just torch the skin. The use of a torch is common when cooking sous vide.

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Think you have chosen the right part in saying that you'll use the thigh.

Don't think I'd bother with the brining. I'd just 3/4 cook the thighs in a pan in the oven with their seasoning (Herbs de Provence or oregano plus S&P?) inside down. Then turn them skin side up & hold outside the oven until 10 minutes before serving. The only caveat is that this shouldn't happen too far in advance of the final cooking, no more than roughly an hour would be my guess. Too long & you'll get drying.

Turn on the top grill on your oven in advance then put the chicken in the 10 minutes before needed. You should get a crispy skin without the danger of burning you suffer from a BBQ.

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Over here, Chris mentions a dish from "Cradle of Flavour" in which the thighs are braised and then finished on the grill. Now, I'm not suggesting that you follow this recipe, but I've done the braise then grill technique a few times, and it is indeed wonderful. The chicken doesn't need much time on the grill. In none of the ways I've done this did I braise the chicken thighs until "falling off the bone," but I do think this technique renders a lot of the fat out, and the skin gets uber crispy. I've only done this with bone-in thighs, but I'd think you could use boneless (with skin) but you'd probably need to toothpick them so that they looked nice and plump.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Very interesting idea braising, then grilling.

Should I brown the skin in the dry part of the braise or should I brown the bare side?

I browned the chix before I braised it. And, when I braised it, it was fairly submerged. But removing it from the liquid and then chilling the day before before grilling the night of worked perfectly. Plus, the braising liquid made for a luscious soup stock.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Poach the chicken until tender, let cool on the counter. Score the skin in large, rectangular shapes and then put in the fridge uncovered, skin side up for 24 hours or until the skin looks slightly leathery. Sear in a hot pan, skin side down for 3 - 4 minutes, flip over to the other side and cook until warmed through. Rest, cut along your score lines and serve each diner a small piece of perfectly cooked chicken.

PS: I am a guy.

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An update.

I braised the thighs, bone-in, in beer and some BBQ sauce (BIG MISTAKE). After about a 50 minute braise, they were very tender but not quite falling off the bone. I stopped the cooking, boned, and cooled in the cooking liquid.

Yesterday (day of dinner), I wiped the thighs dry and put in a dry, non-stick pain, initially flesh side down. Went fine.

Then I wanted to crisp the skin so I flipped to the skin side. Not much happened...skin still flabby. Floppy turns up the heat. The skin blackened instead of crisping due to the sugar in the BBQ sauce.

Bottom line...it was meh.

Here's the rest of the menu.

Amuse: Cucumber/mango/aromatics from Alinea cookbook

Crab/tomato: Crab salad of jumbo lump, a little lime, cucumber bruinoise, a little mayo, and little sriracha + strained gazpacho (French Laundry version)

Squash three-ways: Shredded zucchini sauteed slow in butter with finish of Parmesan, spaghetti squash s/ Marcella Hazan's butter tomato sauce, and baked butternut - - - I served a small piece of the meh chicken here

Campari-Grapefruit granita

Braised short ribs/lentils (a la Fat Guy), slightly candied carrots, sugar snaps

Panna cotta (Gale Gand's great vanilla version), orange-ginger reduction, orange supremes

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