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Monday, February 14, 2011

Teriyaki Chicken, Just One of Many Ways

Chicken is so amazing.  It can be cooked in an endless amount of ways.  Brining it in an Asian marinade is one of my favorite ways to prepare it.  Why?  It's just so damn good.  OK, that's not all.  It's also ridiculously easy to do and relatively healthy.  I'm lazy, so easy is awesome.  Chicken thighs are my favorite, drumsticks are a decent substitute and chicken breasts... can be substituted for with chicken thighs.  This post demonstrates such a substitution.  Most people use chicken breasts not only because it's healthier than its dark meat counterparts, but because it's quicker to cook up and it's easier to eat due to the fact that it's usually boneless.  But maybe I'll convert some of you to the dark side (pun intended).

Take a look at the top picture.  What cut of meat do you think that is?  Breast?  I mean it's long and flat and somewhat thin.  Well, if you said breast, then you're wrong.  That's from the drumstick.  Like I said, I like dark meat (insert a "That's-What-She-Said" joke here.)  It's easy to debone chicken to flatten it out.  This way, your chicken will cook faster, resulting in more tender and juicy meat.

For teriyaki chicken (like many other things), the grill is my weapon of choice.  Why?  Wonderful smoky flavor, a great sear you won't be able to get on your stove (it'll work in the broiler, but that's such a hassle), and well, I'm a guy.  To prepare this dish for the grill, i's very simple.

Deboning the drumstick is probably the hardest part of this process.  I actually prefer thighs, but drumsticks were all I had.  The trick is to hold the drumstick vertically.  There should be a spot from top to bottom where the meat is very thin.  Use a very sharp deboning knife to cut a vertical line there.  You'll begin using the knife to cut along the bone and eventually cut the meat off the bone.  It doesn't have to be too clean.  Why?  Because you're going to of course save these bones for stock!  When you've cut off the meat, there are many large muscles in this cut. You might need to butterfly a muscle and open it up to flatten it out like this picture.

OK, that wasn't too bad was it?  It's tough to explain how this is done.  Maybe once we get more hits (hint, hint, advertise us to your friends), Dustin and I do plan to do some YouTube videos also.  Directions like these will definitely come easier on video.

Anyway, after you've deboned your chickens throw them into a large mixing bowl. Let's go over the ingredients needed:

For teriyaki marinade:
Serves (4)

-8 deboned chicken thighs, drucksticks, or
4 chicken breasts
-2 cups premade teriyaki sauce, homemade recipe is as follows:
1.5 cups soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
3 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs honey
1 inch knob ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced finely or grated

Full directions:

1) Toss chicken into mixing bowl along with the marinade.  If using homemade marinade, be sure to mix well before adding in the chicken.  Also, if making your own teriyaki sauce, it's even better to boil the sauce ahead of time with 1/2 cup water to blend the flavors, refrigerate (so it doesn't cook the chicken), and when chilled, use as marinade.  You can skip the boiling part if you are short on time, it'll work just fine.

2) Put into refrigerator to marinade.  I like to marinade the meat for at least 2 hours.  4 hours would be optimal.  Preheat grill on medium heat.  Use the direct heating method for this.  Also, take out the chicken from the fridge at this time to bring closer to room temperature.

3) After grill has been preheated, place meat onto grill, starting with the skin side down.  This ensures crispy skin.  Grill each side for about 6-7 minutes.  This depends on the type of meat you're using, the thickness of your meat, and the temperature of you grill.  Cover the grill.  Be sure you're checking up on it frequently, as chicken (especially the delicious skin), can burn very easily.

4) Be absolutely sure your chicken is fully cooked.  I've cooked it enough to know when it's done by touch, but you might want to even cut up the thickest piece to make sure it's fully cooked inside.  Just poking a hole to see if juices run clear doesn't really work for this.

5) Serve with your favorite sides.  I served mine over brown rice (though you can hardly tell because of the flash in the picture) and grilled zuchini that was s&p'd with splash of soy sauce.

And that's it.  I marinaded this and started the rice before the basketball game.  By the time the game was over, the chicken had been brined for a long enough time and was ready to be cooked.  I preheated my grill just a bit before the game ended and the food was ready less than 20 minutes after.

Like I said before, the great thing about chicken is that it's so versatile.  There are a billion different marinades you can use; I'll probably post some alternatives up in the future.  But go ahead and try out this very simple recipe.  Let me know what you think and if you have other ideas for marinaded chicken.  I would love to hear some ideas and maybe even try some out.

Thanks for looking, enjoy!