Happy Memorial Day. Hopefully, you're outside grilling and having a great time. I was planning on taking this week off and allowing someone else write a diary on salsa, but it never showed up so here I am. I'm starting to burn out, so more people need to volunteer to write some diaries. Please.
CHIPOTLE RUBBED WHOLE GRILLED CHICKEN
Prep and marinade bird
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
½ teaspoon powdered hot chile pepper (could be paprika, smoked paprika, or ground chipotle pepper—I used the latter)
½ teaspoon of cumin, ground
A bit of fresh oregano if you have some on hand
½ teaspoon sea salt
Several generous grinds of coarse black pepper
I tablespoon of olive oil
1 4-pound chicken, preferably raised on pasture
Place the first five ingredients, garlic first, into a mortar and pestle. Pound the garlic into a rough paste. Add the oil, and pound a bit more.
Using kitchen shears, carefully cut the backbone out of the chicken (see this Melissa Clark video for an excellent demo), and using your hands, open the chicken outwards and press down down vigorously, flattening it. Now turn it skin-side up and rub the paste all over the skin. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and optimally overnight.
Prep the grill
Get some good hardwood charcoal going by whatever method you prefer—I use a chimney. When the coals are white-hot, collect them on one half of the grill basin. The goal is to create a hot side and a cool side. Put the grated grill top, which should be clean, in its place and let it heat up for a minute or two.
Prep the salsa
6 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
1 to 2 fresh jalapenos or serrano chiles, roughly chopped
Sea salt to taste
Put the garlic, half of the chopped chiles, and a pinch of salt in a food processor and set aside—you'll run the blade after adding roasted tomatoes.
Place the butterflied chicken, skin side up, on the cool side of the grill, and the tomatoes on the hot side. Cover with the grill lid. Let the tomatoes cook, turning and recovering the grill as needed, until nicely charred all over. Add them to the food processor and whiz until you have a smooth salsa. Check for seasoning—add and process more chile pepper and salt if needed.
Meanwhile, leave the chicken cooking on the cool side, covered, until a meat thermometer plunged into the deepest part of a thigh reads 105 degrees. When it reaches that temperature, you're ready to crisp off the skin. Simply flip the bird over, skin-side down, onto the hot part of the grill and let it cook there until he skin is crisp and caramelized and the thigh temperature reads 180 degrees.
Let it rest off the grill for 20 minutes before cutting the meat off he bones into taco-ready chunks. Serve with the salsa plenty of hot tortillas.
PLANKED GOAT CHEESE-STUFFED PEPPADEWS
5 ounces spreadable goat cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 14-ounce jar Peppadews, drained
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 wood plank, soaked in water for at least 1 hour prior to use
1 small chunk of light smoking wood, such as apple or cherry
GRILLED SWEET POTATO & CORN SALAD
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed juice from about 2 limes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" slices
1 ear corn
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 large poblano pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing
Type of fire: Direct
Grill heat: medium-high
In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, lime juice, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir in scallions; set aside.
Place sweet potato slices in a medium saucepan and cover with 1-inch of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes can be pierced with a paring knife with little resistance, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes. Brush potatoes all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Rub corn all over with butter and season with salt and pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place potatoes, corn, and poblano pepper on grill. Cook potatoes until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Cook corn for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Cook poblano until charred all over, about 15 minutes. Remove potatoes and corn to cutting board. Place poblano pepper in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 15 minutes.
Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch dice, transfer to large bowl. Cut corn kernels off cob and transfer to bowl with potatoes. Remove charred skin, stem, and seeds from poblano pepper and discard. Finely dice pepper and transfer to bowl with potatoes and corn.
Pour dressing over potatoes, corn, and pepper. Toss to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, then serve.
ROMAINE SALAD WITH SPICY RANCH, TOMATOES, & FRIED ONIONS
ZUCCHINI WITH PARMESAN AND GARLIC CHILI OIL
4 medium zucchini, washed and split in half
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup garlic chili oil
Type of fire: direct
Grill heat: high
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Brush zucchini all over with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, cut side down, and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip zucchini and top each with Parmesan cheese. Cover grill and continue cooking until zucchini is softened and cheese is melted, 5 to 7 minutes more.
Remove zucchini to platter. Let cool for 3 to 5 minutes, then drizzle with garlic chili oil and serve.
You need an Ice Cream Machine for this one:
WHISKEY SOUR SLUSHY
1 1/4 cup lemon juice from 8 to 10 lemons
1 1/2 cups filtered or bottled water
1 cup corn syrup
7 tablespoons bourbon or rye, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest from 1 to 2 lemons
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Red Wine Syrup:
1 1/2 cups red wine (see note)
3/4 cup sugar
For the Slushy Base: In a large bowl whisk together lemon juice, water, corn syrup, whiskey, lemon zest, and salt until very well combined. Transfer to freezer and chill until very cold, about 1 1/2 hours.
Transfer chilled base into ice cream maker and churn until base looks like a soft sorbet without visible liquid pooling at the top. A spoon pressed against the base should leave a clear indentation once removed. Transfer churned base to an airtight container and chill in freezer until ready to serve.
For the Red Wine Syrup: In a small saucepan, whisk together wine and sugar over high heat. Once all sugar is dissolved, let wine boil until it reduces in volume by half, bubbles begin to stack on each other, and the syrup reads 222°F on a candy thermometer. Transfer to a small container and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
To Assemble: Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of wine syrup in the bottom of each bowl or cup. Scoop about 1/2 cup slushie base into a small work bowl, then stir in additional whiskey to each person's taste. Slushy base will remain semi-solid even with a generous amount of added alcohol. Serve with a spoon or a thick straw.
You can also mix each slushy directly in its bowl or glass and then top with the syrup, but the presentation won't look quite as neat.
COCA COLA CAKE
2 cups (about 10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups miniature marshmallows
For the Icing
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
16 ounces confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with baking spray. Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, and salt in large bowl.
Bring butter, cocoa powder, and Coca-Cola to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until mixture is homogeneous, and stir into flour mixture.
Stir baking soda into buttermilk until completely dissolved and add to flour mixture; whisk to combine. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine. Stir in marshmallows.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer cake to cooling rack and cool 10 minutes, then make icing.
For the Icing: Bring butter, cocoa powder, and Coca-Cola to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, salt, and (optional) pecans and pour onto cake immediately, spreading and swirling decoratively with back of a soup spoon. Serve warm, or cool to room temperature.
15 graham crackers, finely ground to crumbs in the food processor
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 ounces melted butter
For The Filling:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
17 ounces whole milk
5 ounces granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.4 ounces cornstarch
3 egg yolks
For The Topping:
1 egg white
1 pinch cream of tartar
1 pinch salt
2 teaspoons gelatin powder
1/4 cup cold water
7 ounces granulated sugar
2.6 ounces light corn syrup
2.6 ounces water
Make the crust: Combine all ingredients for crust in the food processor. Pulse until completely combined. Pour contents into a spring form pan and press with your fingers to form a crust that comes up 2 inches around the edge. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
Make the filling: Melt chocolate and set aside.
Whisk together half of the sugar and the cornstarch. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and yolks. Combine the two mixtures and whisk until the egg mixture is smooth and light, about one minute.
Place the milk, the other half of the sugar, and the salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the milk to a simmer and temper the eggs with the hot milk mixture in small additions, whisking constantly.
Add the mixture back to the saucepan and set over medium heat, whisking constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken; continue to whisk. When it begins bubbling, whisk for an additional 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Whisk in the chocolate, then pour the mixture into the prepared crust and press plastic wrap directly on top. Chill for 3 hours, until set.
Make the topping: When you are ready to serve, combine the egg white, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk until frothy. Bloom the gelatin in the 1/4 cup of water and set aside.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to 240°F. Immediately whisk in the bloomed gelatin (careful, it will sputter), then turn the mixer up to high speed and slowly pour the hot mixture down the side of the bowl. Whisk on high until the mixture becomes light, gooey, and thick.
Pipe or spoon over the chilled pie. Brulee the top with a culinary torch or under the broiler in the oven. Serve immediately.