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Get Your Grill On !

I've loved cooking outdoors as long as I can remember. There are pictures of me on family camping trips tending the grill as young as 8. I was lucky to have parents who let me play with fire and sharp knives at a young age. I still have ten fingers and have not been responsible for starting any forest fires.

Although I lived in apartments for most of my twenties, I always had a grill of sorts. The first was a hibachi, which I fearlessly cooked on making kabobs and all kinds of wonderful things. The problem was I lived on the second floor and the deck was made of wood. Oops! My neighbors loved me because everything always smelled good and I shared.

I moved from an hibachi to a garbage can style smoker. I loved it because you could load it up. I went on BBQ marathons starting with baby back ribs and ending with grilled vegetables.

I grilled year round and if you could eat it, you could grill it. To this day I love grilling in a good hard rain as long as you are covered of course.

Outdoor cooking allows you to get creative, develop delicious flavors without setting off the smoke alarm. My new thing is using ethnic ingredients like hoisen sauce, coconut milk, sour orange juice, aleppo peppers and sumac.

I also have a lot of fun with different ingredients such as pork steaks, skirt steak, eggplant and even stone fruit like peaches and apricots. The addition of char and smoke really brings forth flavor. Plus food made and eaten outdoors is pretty extraordinary.

One of my favorite grilled items is "Crazy Chicken", or Pollo Loco. Its' delicious straight off the grill and served with pinto beans, coleslaw, grilled corn on cob and tortillas warmed on the grill. Here's the recipe I like for Pollo Loco:

Pollo Loco

Serves 8-9

  • 8 chicken breasts, skinless & boneless
  •           ( you can also use skin-on, bone-in chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon achiote paste
  •          (found in Latin American grocery stores)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 6 oz. can pineapple juice
  • 1/2 can orange soda
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a 3 quart pan, heat canola oil, add achiote paste and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and cool.

Combine garlic, oregano, pineapple juice, orange soda, lime juice, smoked paprika and cooled achiote oil.  Reserve 1/4 cup for basting.

Place the chicken in plastic bag and pour in marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours (overnight is even better!).

Grill the chicken breasts or pieces until internal temperature is 155°F. Baste chicken with reserved marinade. Grill additional 5 minutes, turning once. Pull chicken from grill and cover with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest  and carry over cook to 160°F.

Enjoy!

Chef Julie Hoskins

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