Thursday, March 18, 2010

Grilled Maple-Soy Chicken Prepared Under Blue Skies

On a recent trip to Ottawa, Ontario the family and I visited the Proulx family farm where they produce pure maple syrup. Our visit began with a breakfast that featured pancakes topped with syrup. After tasting the sticky syrup I was hooked and had to buy a bottle. Talk about great marketing! I didn’t stand a chance.

When I arrived home from our trip I was inspired to use my newly purchased maple syrup in my cooking.

The sun was out and the weather warm. Perfect ingredients for outdoor grilling! I figured such a beautiful grilling day would be best paired with some reggae vibes from a band that began their journey in a city we passed on our way to Ottawa. Bedouin Soundclash started out in Kingston, Ontario where they played the campus bars. They hit it big with the song “When the Night Feels My Song” and today they tour the world with their upbeat tunes. How do I know all this? Call it first hand info. My cousin Jay is the lead singer! As a proud cousin I love spreading the word because I enjoy their music so much!

I was happy to reconnect with my grill, which had been sadly buried under a cover all winter. Chicken was on the menu and a recipe from a cookbook called The Backyard Barbecue inspired me. Part of the appeal came from the marinade that included honey. I knew I could omit it and substitute in my pure maple syrup!

Tip about cooking with maple syrup. If a recipe asks for maple syrup and you have none available you can use honey as a substitute and vice versa. However never use the fake syrup available at the grocery store as a substitute for pure maple syrup in your cooking. It just doesn’t work. It adds a funny taste that is anything but enjoyable. Save the fake syrup for the instant pancakes and frozen waffles.

With Bedouin’s heavy baseline, positive lyrics and all round good groove in the background I grilled this chicken under clear blue skies with a beer in hand. Nice! I felt even better after tasting the chicken. Although my grilling skills were a tad rusty (I've hidden the extra char in the picture) this chicken still turned out smokin' good! I already have it on the menu for one of my barbecue gatherings this summer.

By the way, you’ll notice in the recipe that I cook the marinade. It is optional but highly recommended as it gives the flavors a chance to combine and intensify, which of course makes the chicken taste sooo good! The extra 5 minutes it takes to simmer it is well worth it!

Grilled Maple-Soy Chicken
Adapted from The Backyard Barbecue Cookbook


1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup minced onion
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

To make marinade, in a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, garlic, onion, vinegar, syrup, ginger and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer marinade to a bowl and let cool in the refrigerator.

Score the flesh of the chicken thighs at 3/4 inch intervals.

Place chicken thighs in a large resealable plastic bag. Add 3/4 of the cooled marinade, seal bag and turn several times to coat chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Reserve the remaining marinade.

Preheat grill to medium setting. Place chicken on grill and discard marinade in the bag. Grill until chicken is no longer pink in the center but still moist, about 8 to 10 minutes per side. Brush two or three times with the reserved marinade towards the end of cooking.

Volume: Makes 4 Servings

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Brent Garell
The Kitchen Roadie

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