Remember how I said that Mike Mills’ book talked about techniques, and how you can apply them? Well, I did just that, using a recipe from one of Auntie Pasto’s favorite books, Beyond the Great Wall (by Alford and Duguid). Specifically, the recipe on page 252: “Dai Grilled Chicken”. Apparently, the Dai grill their chicken, and the authors suggest roasting it as an alternative, and that got me thinking.

It’s a pretty basic recipe: chicken, covered with spices, grilled and then served with a salsa. If you review my Barbecue Chicken Thighs post, you’ll see the template there. So I applied that template this weekend, and the results were amazing.

The chicken: six organic bone-in skin-on thighs (roughly a pound and a half of chicken). You could use legs, as they’ve also skin to soak up the smoke.

For this application, the rub is made from the spices in the original recipe:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Penzey’s Four Peppercorn Blend (black, green, white and pink)
  • 0.5 teaspoon of Szechuan peppercorns

This works best if you have a spice grinder: throw all the peppercorns and the salt into the machine, and grind away. Peel the garlic and chop (a mini prep is useful). Put your chicken skin up in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish, and spread the ground spices and the garlic over them. Cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate overnight. (An hour will probably work, but the longer you can let this sit, the better.)

The smoke: the original recipe is not sweet at all, so I recommend Mesquite, my old stand-by.

In this case, the salsa isn’t added until after the cooking, so the chicken cooks a little faster than a sauced recipe. At 250 degrees (Fahrenheit), your thighs will probably be done in 75 minutes.

Now, you can eat the chicken right now, and it will be pretty darn good. If you want to go that extra mile, you can add the Dai Tart Green Salsa (page 22, Beyond the Great Wall), or a truncated version of it:

  • 1 cup tomatillos
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 half small onion
  • a small handful of cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of juice from Tenzin’s Quick-Pickled Radish Threads (page 25, Beyond the Great Wall)

Peel the garlic and onion, and then grill them with the tomatillos until they start to blacken. Then move them to your mini-prep with the cilantro and pickle juice, and pulse until they look like a green salsa. Serve on the chicken.

Makes 3-4 servings.