It’s officially summer, which means grilling time. I love the smoky flavor that barbecuing imparts to unsuspecting fruits, veggies, and meats, not to mention the relative lack of clean-up involved. And on top of that, there’s the 30 or 40 minute grill preheat time during which I can sit back and relax with Jay, friends, and an adult beverage or two.
But seeing as I’m confined for another five weeks of delicious bar exam preparation, I encourage you to make the most of summer grilling on my behalf, starting with some Tamarind Barbecued Chicken.
Next time you’re planning to grill up some chicken for friends, make things a little more interesting with this version made from tamarind paste, which is now widely available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and many other markets.
The sour tang of tamarind combines with the spicy zing of habanero peppers and the sweet nectar of agave (or honey) in a marinade that lends the chicken a complex flavor.
Serve it up alongside Slaw with Thai Peanut Sauce and grilled peaches to complement the tamarind.
Tamarind Barbecued Chicken is a nontraditional spin-off of traditional summer barbecue fare that you can serve hot off the grill or cold at tomorrow’s picnic. But however you decide to serve it, you’ll want to keep this recipe up your sleeve for the many summer social gatherings to come, including upcoming Fourth of July festivities.
Or if you’re a sad little Barbri slave like me, it would make for a perfect post-bar exam celebratory barbecue. Just add liquor.
Tamarind Chicken (adapted from The Perfect Pantry)
I recommend marinating the chicken overnight for best results (and for less prep work required the day of cooking).
4 oz. (1/2 c.) tamarind paste
2 oz. (1/4 c.) boiling water
1/4 c. white wine
1 Tbsp. habanero hot sauce
1 Tbsp. chili-garlic hot sauce
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 tsp. salt
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 c. red onion, chopped
1/2 c. packed parsley, chopped
5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
In a large bowl, dissolve tamarind paste in boiling water. Add the wine, hot sauce, agave nectar, salt, red onions, parsley, and scallions, and stir. Add chicken, toss to ensure chicken is well-coated, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate and marinate for 24 hours (or at least 2 hours), occasionally turning chicken over and re-coating in marinade.
I opted to bake the chicken because I’m confined to the indoors for bar exam preparatory studying, but I plan on grilling it the second I finish taking this exam (only 5 more weeks! eek!!).
To bake, remove chicken from refrigerator, and preheat oven to 350F. Transfer chicken to foil-lined pan, and bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pour remaining marinade into a small pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for a couple minutes until marinade thickens slightly. Baste chicken with boiled marinade a couple times while it is baking.
To grill, remove chicken from refrigerator, and heat grill to high (you’ll know it has reached high heat when you can only hold your hand 2 inches above the grill rack for 1-2 seconds before the heat is too much to stand). Meanwhile, dry chicken pieces with a paper towel, removing any clinging pieces of onion or parsley so they don’t burn during the grilling process. Pour remaining marinade in a pot, bring to a boil over high heat, and boil for a couple minutes until marinade thickens slightly. Place chicken on the grill, brush the top with marinade, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the chicken over, brush the top with marinade, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold alongside Slaw with Thai Peanut Sauce and fresh or grilled peaches.