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Teresa Hatchell 2005

Teresa Hatchell

You would think Carolinians anxiously gearing up for Labor Day weekend would have their taste buds geared for steak, pulled pork, ribs, or other such robust grilled entrees. Last Friday, I was in the local library and a few friends and I were whispering about what we were planning for Labor Day. Coincidentally, all of us were thinking about “chicken” – simply grilled, slathered with barbecue sauce, basted, or sprinkled with lemon pepper or another dry rub.

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Beyond the huge rave over chicken wings and drumettes, but boneless chicken breasts and thighs, as well as leg quarters, have become grilling standards. But, poultry enthusiasts must realize that chicken is also one of the easiest foods to overcook or to dry out. The key to grilling perfect boneless chicken pieces is to marinate them in a large plastic zipper bag in your favorite sauce or marinade for at least 30 minutes. If you choose not to marinate, simply season your chicken as you prefer. NOTE: After marinating, you should discard the sauce or marinade that was in the bag with the raw chicken. Use a fresh bottle of sauce or marinade for basting the chicken during cooking time.

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Now to get grilling -- it is commonly known that it is best to sear the chicken pieces, making necessary adjustments and then cook the pieces over the areas of the grill where the heat is “indirect.” Here’s how: simply allow the grill to heat up with all vents fully open. Just before placing the chicken pieces on the grate, dip a folded paper towel in cooking oil and, using long-handled tongs to hold the paper towel and oil the entire grate. This will prevent the chicken pieces from sticking to the grate. Place the chicken pieces directly above the coals. Sear the pieces for four to five minutes per side until they’re golden brown, turning only once. If the grill flares up, temporarily move the chicken away from the heat. When the pieces are properly browned, move them to the warm, or indirect, sides of the grate. Replace the lid and, if you’re using a grill thermometer, bring the temperature up to 350 degrees and cook for about five minutes per side. If you want to apply a sauce or glaze to the chicken, do it during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Baste a layer of sauce or glaze on one side of the chicken, close the lid for five minutes to let the sauce/glaze to bake on. Then open the lid, turn the pieces, slather the pieces with sauce or glaze, and close the lid for another five minutes to allow the sauce/glaze to bake on the second side.

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There are two common methods of testing the chicken for doneness. The safest and surest method is to use a digital meat thermometer. Insert the tip into the thickest part of the chicken, and when the internal temperature reaches 165°F, remove the chicken from the grill. The other option is to cut into the thickest part and take a look — the meat should be white, without a rubbery texture, and the juices should run clear. When the chicken pieces are ready, place them on a platter, loosely cover them with foil, and allow them to set for five minutes to allow the juices to settle back into the meat. After cooking chicken on the grill, keep the chicken covered and warm (140 degrees) until time to serve.

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Grilled teriyaki chicken

6 chicken breasts, thighs or leg-thigh quarters

2 bottles Kikkoman Teriyaki baste and glaze

4 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce

1 lemon, cut and squeezed

1/3 cup of light brown sugar

2 teaspoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

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Pour one bottle of Kikkoman baste and glaze into a large plastic zipper bag and marinate the chicken pieces for at least 30 minutes. While the chicken is marinating, use a large bowl to stir together the other bottle of the baste and glaze, soy sauce, juice of the lemon, brown sugar, butter, salt and both kinds of pepper until this basting sauce is well combined. Pour the sauce into a sauce pan, bring it to a boil, immediately turn the heat to simmer and stir constantly for 15 minutes until mixture becomes a glaze. It will thicken more as it cools. During the last 10 minutes of grill time, baste the pieces on one side and grill for 5 minutes over indirect heat; turn them over and baste the other side and grill them for an additional 5 minutes. This recipe serves six.

Grilled salmon with

honey-soy glaze

1-1/2 pounds fresh skin-on salmon filet

Salt and pepper (to taste)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons pure vegetable oil

Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, honey, Dijon mustard and dill. Whisk in the oil until all ingredients are well combined. Place the salmon filet, skin side down, on the hot grill. Thoroughly brush the salmon with the glaze. Pull the grill lid closed to seal in the flavor during the grilling process. Grill for 16 minutes, brushing occasionally with additional glaze until the salmon is flaky and its internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This recipe makes four six-ounce servings or two large (12-ounce) servings.

Simply better burger

1 pound of ground round or ground chuck

1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce (low-sodium is a good idea)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, optional

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Ground black pepper to taste

Combine the ground beef, Worcestershire, garlic powder, onion powder and ground black pepper. Shape this meat mixture into four equal-size burgers. Grill them over medium heat for 10 full minutes on each side, or until the burgers are no longer pink in the center. Serve the burgers on hamburger buns or on large, lightly grilled wraps or flatbread.

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Contact Teresa Hatchell at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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