Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Birthday Barbecue

Last weekend was my husband's birthday. To celebrate we went to our country house. When I write "country" I mean Westchester (Goldens Bridge to be exact). And when saying "our house" I mean my in-laws' place.

After an afternoon spent with friends at their indoor pool (hey - everyone needs a break from 3 days with the in-laws no matter how well you get along) we had a great barbecue for dinner that night followed by vanilla cupcakes with a super easy whipped milk chocolate ganache.

I have recently developed a love affair with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. We're a dark meat family so I tend to buy chicken parts. And, by accident, I bought a package of the boneless, skinless thighs from Trader Joe's a few weeks ago. Eureka. They're incredibly flavorful, pretty much impossible to over cook and take way less time to cook than bone-in meat. For us city-folk without access to a grill the broiler works well for cooking them. But they're much better when cooked outside on a grill. Really - what doesn't taste better cooked on a grill. Outside.

My MIL had planned on making some form of noodles for Mike's birthday (in Chinese culture (or maybe just my in-law's culture) traditionally eating long noodles on birthdays and the New Year are said to grant you longevity) so I went with an Asian theme for the marinade and threw this together that morning. I let the thighs marinate for about 10 hours but a shorter time would work as well. I brought them up to room temperature while the grill heated up and about 20 minutes later they were grilled to perfection. After eating one for lunch today I can also truthfully say they are quite delicious cold as well.

And, of course, I don't have any pictures. Sigh.

Ginger, Garlic, Soy Chicken Thighs
Yields 4-6 servings

1 cup soy sauce
3 TBS hoisin sauce
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 TBS rice wine vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
  • Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking (sweeter - add more hoisin; saltier - add more soy, etc.).
  • Place chicken and marinade in a Ziploc bag and marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes per side or grill for approximately 10 minutes per side. Cooking time really depends on your oven/grill.
  • Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into the meat so the juices don't run out.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache
Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups - enough to ice 18-24 cupcakes depending on how generous you are with icing

10 oz (just shy of one bag) milk chocolate chips
8 oz heavy cream
  • Place chocolate chips in a bowl large enough to accommodate both the chips and the cream.
  • Bring the cream just to a boil (either on stovetop or in microwave oven).
  • Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Whisk to combine well and be sure all chips are melted. The ganache will be thin but shiny.
  • Cover and chill until ready to use.
  • Just before you are ready to ice the cupcakes whip the ganache with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy and the consistency of icing (think peanut butter consistency).

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