What will you be throwing on the grill tomorrow? Burgers, dogs, steaks, ribs, chicken or sausage? … The list of proteins we grill here in Texas is never ending and of course, there is the great debate. To rub or marinate? That is the question. Now, I don’t want to “rub” you the wrong way, but I love to rub and wrap most of my grilled meats. That doesn’t mean I don’t marinate. I make a mean lamb Souvlakia and for that I make a flavorful marinade and refrigerate the lamb overnight. I always place it in a plastic container with a leak-proof lid. I then shake it up and or turn it several times while in the fridge. I have found marinades work great on tougher cuts of meat, whereas rubs are wonderful for tenderloin, chicken, chops, fish, etc. Rubs pull moisture from the air and pull juices from inside the meat, causing it to marinade itself as it cooks. All combinations of spices can be used to make a rub and really help flavor the meats. They also seal the flavor, form a nice crust on the barbecue, and enhance the color and appearance of the meats being served. I wanted to get an outsider’s opinion on what they prefer, so as I was on Facebook Live visiting with our middle daughter, I asked her which way she prepares her meats. We both got a good laugh when she said she goes to H-E-B and buys the shredded/chopped barbecue beef in a tub available in the refrigerated section. She serves it over a baked potato and says her family is in heaven. Oh my gosh; as you can see, I still need to work on her barbecuing skills. I’m hoping one day she will come asking and looking for my recipes. Until then I can only keep making it my way and hope all three daughters become pit masters some day.
Rubs or marinades are both equally good, so “Please Join Our Table” as I serve up a couple of tasty 4th of July meats fresh off the grill!
Chicken thighs are one of my favorite meats to grill; they are juicer and more flavorful than white meat and bone-in are the best because the bones seem to add so much flavor. This first recipe has an Indian flavor that when marinated, grilled and slightly charred makes a delicious crisp and moist entrée.
Easy Indian Chicken Tandoori
(like the one my good friend Peggy Ahuja makes)
1 cup plain yogurt, such as Greek yogurt
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 teaspoons chili powder (cayenne, red chili powder or smoked paprika)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
3 1/2 pounds chicken thighs (I use skinless)
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the chicken. Stir well until smooth and well combined. Set aside. Place chicken pieces on a cutting board and with a fork, make small, deep cuts into the chicken pieces; this will help the marinade flavor the meat. Add the chicken to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Preheat the grill to medium high. Remove chicken from the fridge and carefully secure the chicken onto metal skewers. Discard marinade. Over medium-high heat cook the chicken, basting occasionally with olive oil or melted butter, until lightly charred/blistered and cooked all the way through, about 25 minutes.
Note: If it is raining outside, I will cook it in the oven. I preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. I place the chicken on the baking sheet with a 1-2 inch space between the pieces and roast for 15 minutes. I then baste it, turn the chicken over and cook it 15 more minutes.
Serve with naan (Indian bread), white basmati rice, and a yogurt sauce with cucumber like Indian Raita or Greek tzatziki sauce. Serves 4
Oh, So Good Java Rub
6 tablespoons finely ground coffee
2 tablespoons coarse or kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 teaspoons ground pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder with parsley
2 teaspoons onion powder (do not substitute fresh onions!)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
Mix all of the above ingredients in a medium bowl, using your hands to break up the lumps of brown sugar. Generously rub some of it onto both sides of steaks, burgers, beef short ribs, etc. Really massage the rub into the meat, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove meat from fridge and set it on the counter to gradually warm to room temperature, 20-30 minutes. Place on a preheated grill and cook to desired doneness. Note: save the java rub in an airtight jar for future use. Discard after 3 months.