Chicken takes lead for first ‘Open Flame'

New series “Open Flame” highlights cooking out.
by Dave Cathey Published: April 20, 2011

Today we premiere a new recipe series called “Open Flame,” which allows outdoor cooking enthusiasts the opportunity to cook alongside some of the city's top chefs and grill masters.

“Open Flame” is sponsored by American Propane, which also hosts the monthly event.

To start us, I invited chef Luke Fry, of Republic Gastropub, and chef Ryan Parrott, of Iguana Mexican Grill and Table One, to join me at the American Propane's cabana to do variations on a theme, namely chicken.

We used four different grills to prepare nine different dishes. My recipes are here, all the recipes can be found on NewsOK.com.

If you're interested in expressing yourself behind the grill, call me at 475-3155 to find out how to register for an upcoming “Open Flame.”

The next “Open Flame” at American Propane will be surf and turf. If you're interested in attending, call American Propane at 843-6868 to reserve your seat.

Here are the recipes.

Mexican Roadside Chicken

One of my favorite restaurants growing up in Austin, Texas, was a little place called Pinch-a-Pollo, which served one thing: roasted chicken.

Walking into the restaurant, diners were greeted by a huge charcoal grill encased in glass. Upon that grill was as many whole chickens as could fit. As with chicken served on roadsides throughout Mexico, these birds were butterflied, seasoned with rub and spread wide over a gentle flame.

You could order them whole, halved or quartered. With the chicken, you got a few tortillas and a handful of salsas to choose from. Sides included the obligatory beans and rice.

It's hard to succeed with a single dish unless it's perfect, and Pinch-a-Pollo served perfect chicken (not to mention having the greatest double-meaning restaurant name ever.) Over the years, I've developed my own version, though I doubt I'll ever be able to match what Pinch-a-Pollo used to serve.

At American Propane, I chose the HastyBake grill with its adjustable firebox, which allowed me to emulate the method used at Pinch-a-Pollo. Usually, I have to grill these birds over indirect heat, meaning shove all the coals to one side or turn off half the burners and roast at 320 degrees.

Having never used a HastyBake, I was amazed how perfectly the chicken came out. Perfect bronze color, crispy skin and evenly cooked, juicy chicken throughout.

1 whole chicken, cut along the backbone and spread wide

1 cup chile putty, recipe below

½ cup achiote oil, recipe below

Chile Putty

1 tablespoon ancho chile powder, (you may use 2 tablespoons regular chile powder rather than these two powders)

1 tablespoon chimayo chile powder or other hot chile powder

1 tablespoon achiote powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¼ cup orange juice

Salt and pepper

• To make chile putty, combine all ingredients and set aside.

Achiote Oil

1 cup vegetable oil

1 glove garlic

2 tablespoons achiote powder

Pinch chile de arbol or cayenne powder

• Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow to steep at least 20 minutes, longer if possible. Do not let oil simmer. If it gets close to a boil, remove from heat and cover.

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by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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