It is 7 am, and all of atlanta smells like everyone is outside grilling. Simultaneously. All at once. (incidentally, the first time i ever used the word “simultaneously” was in the 6th grade. It was in a required reading short story about some Southern kid who opted to spend his allowance on radish seeds rather than lavish it on the chick he just asked out. Why i remember things like this is the bane of my existence, believe you me). The winds brought in the smoke from the wildfires, those wildfires that are a good 3 to 4 hours South of here. I could smell it when i walked outside at 6 am, and we live 20 miles north of downtown. One time i got evacuated from the south of France because the wildfires, started by some jerkface’s discarded ciggy, burned all along the coast and man was that a sight to see. The horizon glowed like red lava the night before. It was both awful and beautiful at the same time.
As sad as i am about wildfires, i don’t mind the smell so much because it reminds me of grilling; and lately chez Big & Gay, grilling means Bobby Flay.
Last night we made a meal that was originally intended for Sunday night’s dinner; but on Sunday, by the time we were done running errands, shopping, prepping, etc, neither of us felt like firing up the ol’ grill. So we made it last night, which was perfect because all the prep had been done beforehand. How great is that? Just fire up the ol’ grill and toss a salad (heh) and all is good with the world.
The boy likes to smoke cigars while he grills out. Is this a chef thing? He doesn’t smoke cigarettes (anymore), but occasionally a cigar or two. I’m down with this. I actually like to smoke the occasional cigar myself. They’re especially great if you’re in the Caribbean and you can find a good Cuban, and then buy a bunch and smuggle them in to the US. Oh whatever, don't seem so shocked. Everyone does it. i hauled back a huge garlic braid from the south of France and was mortified when arriving at customs because i thought for sure the dude would see the look on my face and rifle through my stuff (i am a lousy liar. I have no poker face). And my mom hauls back suitcases full of good gooey French cheese and saucisson on each trip, and she’s never been caught. I’m not smuggling in Nile crocodiles or stolen diamonds or anything. hi, oh reader from the Department of Justice! How are you? I know you’re out there because Google Analytics told me so. Game over.
On the menu: Jerk chicken, chicken smothered in barbecue sauce, jicama and cabbage slaw, grilled corn, grilled red onions. It’s a lot of food, i know. I don’t know what was wrong with me yesterday; i ate like a pig all day and then completely demolished my plate at dinner. I have to be careful, because we are going out of town this week and all i ever do on vacation is eat like a pig and loaf around, so i can’t exactly be doing that before said vacation. Sheesh.
this recipe on the food network site is relatively close to the recipe we used from Boy Gets Grill. The one we used has about twice as many ingredients, and uses 3 scotch bonnets (habaneros). That’s right, THREE! Surprisingly, it wasn’t kick-my-ass spicy, even though the chicken marinated for about 24 hours; but then again, i can really tolerate heat because we eat spicy hot food all the time. I made the mango-cilantro relish the day before and ate that with a piece of grilled mahi mahi for lunch yesterday and OH MY GOD i could just eat that relish with a spoon, the whole thing in one sitting. It’s really simple and insanely good. We opted not to serve it with the jerk chicken last night because we had so many other flavors going on, but i urge you to at least make the relish and put it on everything.
even though the recipe doesn't call for it, the boy cut up some matchstick-sized pieces of chayote and put that in as well. The napa cabbage will start to wilt on contact with the dressing, and i’m afraid when i go dive into the leftovers tonight it will have wilted away to nothing. but the chayote will bring an added crunch to the salad which it will need after having sat around for a day. The smoky flavors going on in this salad are really intriguing, and went really well with everything on the plate.
Speakng of chayote, it has no nutritional value whatsoever. By itself, i think it tastes like fresh cut grass, but it is an amazing filler in salads. It is also ridiculously funny looking, so we like to use it.
we had the most difficult time finding jicama, because neither of us knew what it really looked like. we were walking around the produce section of the Super H looking like dumbasses. the boy ended up pulling up a picture of it on his cell phone, and we found it over near the potatoes (duh). we were this close to walking up to the store manager and showing him the picture of jicama and gesture wildly. i'm all about gesturing wildly. must be a French thing.
Mesa Grill Barbecue Sauce
now, the boy was a bit skeptical of how good the jerk chicken would turn out, so he grilled up some un-jerked chicken and then slathered it with some of mr. flay’s barbecue sauce.
we also slathered it on skewered red onions, and i decided to make these even more attractive by adding grape tomatoes to the skewers. I love grilled tomatoes; they burst open and get awfully sweet and tasty.
And grilled corn. Well, you don't need a recipe for that. Just remove the silks, and either keep the husks on or not (depending on your mood) and wrap in foil. You don’t have to wrap in foil if you keep the husks on, but we do because i don't like burned corn and i always end up burning the corn if i don't wrap it in foil first. You can make a compound butter if you want and slather some of this on the corn before wrapping in foil; that’s entirely up to you. Anyway, plop on the grill and just turn from time to time and kind of ignore them, off to the sides, while the rest of your food is cooking away.
Let me tell you: Southwestern meets Caribbean is a good thing. There are so many various flavors on this plate, but everything complimented each other very well.
Anyway, go forth and grill. That’s an order.
picture of chayote "borrowed" from wikipedia
UPDATE: so bizarre, it appears we may get sent home because the smoke from the wildfires has gotten into our A/C and the building is now smoky. Security is currently doing a walk-through. interesting.