Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Chicken, Ginger(ale)ly

The first time I had Bruce Cost's Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale, which contains actual bits of fresh ginger as well as pure cane sugar, I thought that it might make an interesting glaze. I didn't have that thought quite immediately--at the time, I was sampling the spicy-hot ginger ale partnered with rum and rum peppers.  It did, however, come to me some weeks later, and I decided to give my idea a go on chicken thighs.

Start by grilling your chicken thighs--4 to 6, depending on their size, which should be relatively uniform. If you're doing this outdoors on a charcoal grill, I hate you.  If you're grilling indoors on a grill pan, you might want to check out the method used here, sans the spices.  While the chicken is cooking, dump a bottle of Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale into a medium pot.  Add 2 or 3 chopped seasoning peppers (You may remember my mentioning seasoning peppers a while back.  If your mind wandered at the time, let me remind you that they have the fruit and spice of habaneros with the merest fraction of the heat.).  Drained and chopped Peppadews [yes, it's a brand name] would make a fine substitute.) I used the peppers' ribs and seeds, as well.

I added salt and pepper, brought the lot to a boil, then turned it to a medium simmer to cook down to a syrup.  Tasting it after five minutes, I found that the innocent little peppers had a lot of heat in those ribs and seeds that only needed a little poaching to emerge.  If I left them in the glaze, the result would have been mouth searing, so I scooped them out and set aside to use as a garnish.  Five minutes later, taste again.  Meh.  Something missing.  When what's in your pan (or on your plate) tastes flat, what's usually lacking is acid.  A good squeeze of lemon brought the disparate parts together into a balanced whole.  As the soda cooks down, keep a close eye on it, and stir frequently.  Cook it down to about 1/3 cup and remove from the heat.

When the thighs are 17 seconds away from being done to perfection, brush them generously with the glaze, turning frequently, until the chicken is, well, glazed (or well glazed). Keep turning that chicken!  Keep turning that chicken! (Warning: Not safe for work...)  Remove to a plate and top with the chopped peppers.  Some cilantro would have been nice, too, and I thought I had some, but the some that I thought I had had been eaten down the shore last week.  I'll try it next time, though.

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.