Monday, September 20, 2004

Marinaded Barbequed Chicken

Barbeques. They are at the heart of every good Australian family's social activities.

According to some, barbeques are just an excuse for men to drink beer and light fires. This, to some extent, is absolutely true. Certainly, barbies are the realm of men - women may prepare the food and may bring it to the fireside, but they may not put it on the grill, or take it off, for that matter. Nor should they stand in close proximity and give instructions on what to turn and when. Never mind that Aussie men cook no other meals at any time throughout the year! Once the fire is lit, they are the Kings of the Outdoor Kitchen!

When I was little there was a period in my life when there was a barbeque in our backyard every Sunday - not because we were devotees of crispy chared sausages and over cooked onions - it was because there was a serial on the radio called the Story of Elvis which played weekly after Sunday lunch. My Dad loved that radio series. Those Sunday barbeques were organised with military precision so that all cooking and eating was done in time for the blanket to be spread out under the banana tree so Dad could recline on it while we listened to that radio show.

I don't remember much of the show. I just remember the itch of the blanket (a prickly old brown one which I'm sure Mum still has in the closet), the warmth of the sun, the blueness of the sky, and my parents sending me inside to make them yet another cup of tea. I leapt to my feet, grabbed their coffee cups and headed towards the back steps. I remember those coffee cups distinctly. There were four - one blue, one green, on brown and one mustard yellow. They were cheap chunky stoneware bought from Flemmings, glazed in muted colours. There was no such thing as a designer coffee mug back then. At least not to my knowledge!

On one ocassion I decided I would swing my arms around in overarching circles as I walked up the path from the clothesline to the house. It felt good, the wind whistling unders my arms, the weight of one cup gripped in each hand seeming to make my arms swing faster - until they met before my chest with a resounding crack! I was totally shocked! It never ocurred to me that my arms didn't swing around in perfect circles (rather than pivot in their sockets). Luckily neither of my parents saw what I did - or heard it either, they were so engrossed with the Story of Elvis. I made them their tea, brought it back out to where they were still reclined on the rug, and prayed they wouldn't notice the chips in the enamel. I don't think they ever did.

Ingredients
2 tblsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tblsp soy sauce (Tamari is excellent)
1 dstsp honey
1 tblsp barbeque sauce
2 cloves crushed garlic
4 chicken thighs (deboned)
2 chicken breast fillets (cut into four pieces)

1. Combine the sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, honey, barbeque sauce and garlic in a bowl. Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

2. Sink the chicken pieces into the marinade then cover with Gladwrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

3. When the barbeque is all fired up and ready to go, remove the chicken pieces and cook over the open grill. IMPORTANT: do not turn and turn and turn and turn the chicken pieces (or anything else on the barbeque for that matter). Cooking on a barbeque is no different to cooking in a frying pan or over the stove top. Allow the chicken (or meat) to seal completely on one side before you even contemplate turning it. This is usually about four to five minutes for chicken. That's four to five minutes EITHER SIDE.

4. Marinade should caramelise the outside of the chicken, as well as give a delicious spicey flavour. Serve with Crazy Salad, baby beets and a healthy-sized hunk of garlic bread. Oh! And don't forget the beer!

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