Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chimichurri Chicken

I love this dish for two reasons. 1. Alliteration (obviously) 2. It is fantastically delicious. Chimichurri is a mix of fresh herbs that are blended into a paste or sauce. It originates from Argentina where they serve it as a dip with their famous churrasco steaks. It goes so beautifully with the grilled meats so I figured it had to work with chicken too. The real story is that I am trying to bring back our tradition of Logan Circle Family dinners. I am lucky enough to live within 6 blocks of 2 of my favorite households in DC. We try to get together for potluck dinners as often as we can, but we've been hopelessly lax during the summer months. I knew I needed to think up something super yummy to temp them into making the hot and steamy walk down the street. It worked and we got the gang (minus one) together over this meal. I love the herbs and garlic with chicken and Mark and I finally perfected our chicken grilling technique. Very exciting stuff.
Chimichurri Chicken (serves 10)
2 cups fresh parsley (2 bunches)
6 cloves garlic
4 Tbs. fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar (red, white, sherry, whatever you have)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 cup white wine
10 chicken leg quarters

I really prefer flat leaf parsley, but they were out of it at the store. I went with curly parsley with no ill effects.
1. In your food processor, pulse the garlic cloves for 3-4 pulses until roughly chopped.
3. Add remainder of ingredients (except the wine and the chicken!!) and pulse until it becomes a thick paste.
You can make this up in advance. If you make it up in advance, put it in a plastic container and store in the fridge.
4. Wash chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Take a sharp knife and make three slices into the chicken pieces - 2 in the thigh and 1 in the leg. They don't need to be perfect or even, just rough cuts so that the chicken cooks evenly and so that the marinade will really soak in.
Also, when the chicken skin cooks on the grill, it will shrink. The slices let the skin shrink back evenly so the skin will brown evenly and the chicken will stick less to the grates.

5. Put the chicken in large freezer bags and divide the chimichurri evenly in the two bags. Add 1/2 cup wine to each bag. Shake the bags around so that the chimichurri is evenly spread on the chicken. I even put my hands into the bags and squished it around.
6. Let the chicken marinade in the fridge form 1-24 hours. I left mine in for 24, but less time won't hurt it.
7. When you are ready to grill, dump the chicken out onto a try and sprinkle with salt.
8. Set up your grill with charcoal spread only over 1/2 the grill. Place a disposable metal pan in the other half. This create a hot side and a cooler side. Cooking the chicken on the cooler side, will allow it to cook evenly on the inside without charring the outside to a blackened crisp.
9. Put the chicken on the cooler side of the grill, cover and cook for 30-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked and beginning to get nice and brown. The cooking time will vary depending on your grill set up.
10. Move the chicken pieces to the hot side to get crispy for about 5 minutes per side. You'll really want to keep a close eye on it at this point.
Once the chicken is cooked through and crispy to your liking, remove from the grill and serve.
It won't last long!

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