Charmoula is a North African marinade: slightly pungent, spicy and very, very good. Although I wish I could say the inspiration for this recipe came from my travels in North Africa, it really stems from my much more frequent trip across the kitchen. For there, high above the microwave is the cookbook shelf and there, nestled between Ted Reader and Steven Raichlen is Adler & Fertig's Techniques for Planking.
I don't know how many times I can turn to this book and pull out something that is really very easy, incredibly good and best yet, involves a plank. Well, I really don't know, but I'm going to keep trying.
Charmoula Planked Chicken
Based on the recipe from Techniques for Planking
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbls coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbls coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 olive oil
1 Tbls ground cumin
1 Tbls paprika
1 Tsp kosher salt
1/2 Tsp ground red pepper
1 roaster chicken, butchered
wood planks, soaked in water at least an hour. I went with my usual cedar.
Prepare the charmoula marinade.
First, add the garlic, parsley, and cilantro to a food processor. Mix. Once combined, add the additional ingredients and pulse until smooth.
The original recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts, as the skinless breasts work well by applying maximum surface area to the wood planks. However, when it comes to buying chicken, I find it just as easy to butcher an entire bird. If I want to yank the breast skin, I can. I usually don't, but in this case it made good sense. Besides, since I was planking all parts of the bird, I had plenty of skin elsewhere to enjoy.
Butcher the bird and place in a shallow container, or plastic bag. Smear with half the charmoula sauce, cover the dish, and refrigerate for at least an hour, but preferably overnight. Cover and refrigerate the remaining charmoula sauce.
Although the marinade makes a lasting effect worked directly into the flesh, it is just as divine coating the skin. I do love my skin...
When ready to grill, prep the grill for a two zone fire. Coals on one side and nothing on the other.
The idea is to start the planks directly over the coals and then slide them over to the indirect side before they catch complete fire and incinerate. Although you are sure to impress your guests with a mighty conflagration, it's a pretty good way of having to call up carry out too.
With the grill is ready, plank the chicken.
Add the planked chicken to the grill, directly over the coals, and close the lid.
It is times like these I'm thankful for the 26 inch kettle. The extra room just comes in handy and saves me from having to fire up a second grill.
Next, watch for smoke. Depending on how thick the planks are depends on how fast they catch fire. When you see the smoke start to stream out of the grill, lift the lid, and survey the scene. Once things start to look a little "dicey" for the planks, slide them over to the indirect side to finish the cook.
Extinguish any burning planks with a little bit of water. Yes, you may have a beer in your hands, but unless your house is getting ready to burn down, get some water. Consider that your PSA of the day.
Overall, plan on about 30-40 minutes of grilling, or until the internal temperature of the breast equals 160 F.
Remove the planks from the grill and then serve the chicken with the remaining charmoula sauce.
Whether it's the skinless breast, or the coated thigh, there is something here for chicken lovers of all stripes. Planking is literally foolproof and if it's not in your grilling arsenal, it should be. So, next time you are making one of those delicious weeknight birds, consider saving money and buying a whole roaster, consider throwing it on a plank, and consider a culinary trip to North Africa. It's success all the way around.
So, what's the last thing you planked on the grill? Is there something you want to try on a plank, but have yet to? Let me know in the comments!