July 2019 - The Independence Day Issue
I’m putting Kalamazoo’s Basic Barbecue Rub recipe to work for my July 4th menu this year. This easy party menu starts with homemade naan for my Wood-fired Rotisserie Chicken Sandwiches, which you can make in the morning before the party kicks off. The Hickory-planked Barbecue Corn is one of my favorite simple summer appetizers for entertaining and I like to make it in the pizza oven because of the way it caramelizes the parmesan cheese. This also frees up the grill for the Barbecue-rubbed Wood-fired Rotisserie Chicken.
Here is the plan of attack:
- The naan dough needs about 2 hours to rise after a quick 20 minutes of prep time. Start the naan 4 to 5 hours before the beginning of the party so you can grill it and have it ready in advance. Keep it at room temperature until it’s time to serve.
- While the naan is rising, prepare a couple of side salads. I suggest Kale Slaw and Brussels and Beans Salad.
- Make the Basic Barbecue Rub.
- Prepare the grill for wood-fired rotisserie by removing all of the grill grates and making sure your spit and rotisserie forks are all clean. You’ll need 1 rotisserie fork per bird.
- Truss the birds, mount on the rotisserie spit and season with barbecue rub. Fire up the grill 90 minutes before you want to serve sandwiches.
- Fire up the pizza oven and prep the corn shortly before the party is set to begin.
- Enjoy the party!
Hickory-planked Barbecue Corn
Inspired by Elote, but with a barbecue twist. The planks perfume the corn with the scent of wood and look great roasting in the pizza oven with that beautiful open flame. The caramelized cheese and golden corn are easy to achieve with the intense, radiant heat.
- ¼ cup prepared mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Basic Barbecue Rub
- 4 ears corn, shucked and cleaned
- 3 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated using a microplane
- 4 hickory planks (or other wood of your choice)
- 1 lime, cut in eighths
- ½ sheet-size wire cooling rack (18x13)
Fire up the pizza oven with both burners on HIGH to preheat for at least 20 minutes. (See note below for making these on the grill.)
Mix together the mayonnaise and barbecue rub.
Cut off and discard both ends of each ear of corn. Cut each ear of corn into 3 equal segments.
Spread the freshly grated parmesan on a ¼ sheet pan.
Working with one corn segment at a time, spread a thin layer of the seasoned mayonnaise onto the corn using a soft silicone spatula. Gently roll the corn segment through the Parmigiano to coat. Do not press down into the Parmigiano. Let gravity provide the pressure. Stand the prepared corn segment on its end on a wood plank. Repeat until all of the corn has been prepared. If you are using “standard” size pre-packaged wood grilling planks, you should be able to fit 3 corn segments per plank.
Place the planks and corn on the wire cooling rack. With this size plank, you can fit 2 on the rack at a time. Add 2 lime wedges to each plank and carefully slide the wire rack with planks into the preheated oven. Use care to keep the planks in the front 2/3rds of the cooking deck (away from the back flame).
Roast for 8 minutes, turning as follows: after 2 minutes, rotate the wire rack 180°; after 2 minutes more, use protective tongs and gloves to remove the rack from the oven and rotate each board 180° so that the inside edges now become the outside edges; return to the oven and roast 2 minutes, then rotate the wire rack 180° one last time.
Remove from the oven and repeat the process for the remaining planks. Serve warm on the planks (placing the planks on heat-resistant platters).
(Note: To make this planked corn on the grill, prepare the grill for indirect cooking with an air temperature of 375° to 400°F. Lightly grill one side of each plank directly over the hot fire until marked by the heat. Place the corn on the grilled side of the planks, then put the planks in the indirect zone. Close the grill lid and roast the corn. Cooking time will be longer than in the pizza oven. Roast, rotating frequently, until the cheese is browned and the corn is golden, about 20 minutes.)
Wood-fired Rotisserie Chicken Sandwiches on Grilled Naan
Fill soft, grilled naan with succulent barbecue-rubbed chicken and fresh farmer’s cheese for a wonderful summer sandwich. Dressed greens, fresh avocado, paper-thin red onions and radishes with a touch of honey ensure every bite is perfect.
- 1 batch Grilled Naan (8 naan)
- 2 Barbecue-rubbed Wood-Fired Rotisserie Chickens
- 2 teaspoons Blis 9 sherry vinegar
- 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons prepared mayonnaise
- 8 radishes
- ¼ red onion
- 1 avocado
- Baby romaine lettuce, about 3 ounces
- 8 ounces farmer’s cheese
- Flaky sea salt, like Maldon
Prepare the naan in advance (see recipe).
Once the chickens (see recipe) come off the grill to rest, make the dressing for the greens. Combine the vinegar, olive oil and mayonnaise in a medium-size bowl and whisk vigorously to emulsify. Reserve.
Slice the radishes and onion very thinly on a mandolin. Reserve.
Slice the avocado and reserve.
Remove the chickens from the rotisserie spit and break down the meat. I slice the breasts with a knife and tear apart the dark meat with my fingers, cutting the browned skin into small pieces with a knife.
Drizzle the naan with honey. Top with a smear of farmer’s cheese. Add some chicken on top of the cheese. Toss the romaine in the dressing and distribute onto the sandwiches. Finish off with avocado, onion, radish and a sprinkle of flaky salt. Serve warm.
Barbecue-rubbed Wood-fired Rotisserie Chicken
One of my favorite capabilities of the Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill is wood-fired rotisserie cooking. It is such an engaging and primal way to cook, and a great way to achieve the desirable, wood-fired flavor we love so much. It is also a simple process so I’m sure you’ll love it too.
- ½ batch Basic Barbecue Rub (about ½ cup)
- 2 whole fryer chickens
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Butcher’s string
- Rotisserie spit and 2 rotisserie forks
- Hardwood firewood splits (I like oak, hickory or almond)
Truss the birds with butcher’s string to secure the legs and wings.
Mount the first rotisserie fork and use pliers to tighten the thumb screw. I recommend using pliers so that the slight vibration of the rotisserie motor does not loosen the rotisserie fork.
Slide the point of the rotisserie rod through the side of the chicken at the “waist” of the bird under the breast meat and above the thighs. Carefully maneuver the chicken down into the tines of the fork without piecing the skin.
Slide the next fork onto the spit with the tines pointing away from the first bird (see photo). Position it against the first bird and tighten the thumbscrew with pliers. Add the second bird in the same manner as the first. Use a length of butcher’s string to secure the second bird into the fork and keep it from sliding away. To do this, loop the center of the string around the open end of the spit. Run both ends of string over the back of the bird and tie it tight around the collar of the rotisserie fork.
Brush the birds with olive oil and season liberally with barbecue rub. Reserve.
Remove the grill grates from your Hybrid Fire Grill. You want to do this for 2 reasons. First, it makes it easier to manipulate the wood and manage the fire. Second, it eliminates the flare-ups that would happen as rotisserie drippings hit the hot grill grates below.
Place 2 firewood split logs (hardwood only) into 2 of the channels of the Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer. Fire up the ignition burner and all of the main burners on HIGH to start the wood and preheat the grill. Once the logs are burning on their own, turn the main burners OFF. Leave the ignition burner running on HIGH. Using protective gloves and long grilling tongs, carefully relocate the burning logs across the front of the grilling drawer. This creates an offset fire so the chickens are not directly above the heat source. This ignition burner will help sustain the fire and supplement the heat.
Mount the rotisserie spit with the chickens into the grill and start the rotisserie motor.
The chickens will roast for about 45 minutes. When the fire is large, keep the grill lid open so the heat is not too intense. When the flames are low, close the lid. If the fire begins to die down before the chickens are completely cooked, add another small split of wood or distribute several wood chunks on top of the fire. You may need to carefully rearrange the burning wood across the front of the drawer if you see the chickens are not cooking evenly.
Begin checking the temperature of the chicken after the first 30 minutes. Use an instant-read meat thermometer (I recommend the Thermapen) to check the temperature at the base of the thigh,using care not to touch bone. Remove the chickens from the grill when the temperature reads 165°F.
Let the chicken rest on the spits on a carving board or half-sheet pan until they are cool enough to handle for carving.
Fresh ﬂatbreads are easy to make, fun to grill and a real treat at the table. Try them for sandwiches and burgers, as a pizza crust, or simply serve them at the table as bread.
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1½ cups water, lukewarm
- 4 cups bread ﬂour, plus more for dusting and rolling
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Pinch of baking soda
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (5 tablespoons) plain Greek-style yogurt, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating the dough
Stir the yeast into 3 tablespoons of the lukewarm (100° to 110°F) water. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. It should be frothy by the end of this time.
Combine the 4 cups ﬂour, salt, sugar and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, 1/4 cup oil, remaining water and yeast mixture. It is important that the yogurt be room temperature. If it is cold, you risk killing the yeast.
Use your hands to ﬁrst mix the dry and wet ingredients together and then knead well for about 2 minutes. The dough should be soft but not too sticky. Cover the bowl with a warm towel and let the dough rise for about 90 minutes. A good tip is to run a load of dishes in the dishwasher while the dough rises right above the washer door. The warm, moist air helps with the rising.
After 90 minutes, the dough should have doubled in volume. If it hasn’t risen quite that much, don’t worry. Divide the dough and roll into 8 equal balls. Lightly coat the dough balls with oil and let rise for 30 more minutes under a warm, damp towel. Meanwhile, prepare the grill for direct grilling over high heat, around 600°F.
Dust each dough ball with ﬂour and use a rolling pin to roll into a ﬂat oval about 1/8 inch thick. They should be very thin. If you roll the dough directly on your countertop without too much flour, you can use the slight stickiness to help stretch the dough. I find it easiest to roll one ﬂatbread and then grill it before rolling the next. If you have help, form a production line.
Lay the rolled dough directly on the grill grate over a hot ﬁre. There should be no need to oil the dough so long as the grate is clean and hot. Within 1 minute of hitting the grill, the dough should begin to bubble. Once the entire top surface has bubbled, it is time to ﬂip the ﬂatbread. Use tongs to do so. Grill the second side for about half the time of the ﬁrst side and then remove from the grill. The total cooking time is typically less than 2 minutes. Repeat this process until all 8 ﬂatbreads are cooked and then set them aside.
If serving grilled sandwiches or burgers, you can grill the naan immediately before grilling the meat or other ingredients, and they will be warm when you serve the sandwiches. Or you can make the naan ahead of time and then quickly reheat them on the grill.