Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Idea: Feed Mayonnaise to Tunafish

In a cheesy, mostly mediocre movie called "Night Shift," movie audiences were introduced to an actor named Michael Keaton, who played the character Bill "Billy Blaze" Blazejowski. A self-proclaimed "ideas man," he was always shouting his crackpot ideas (hence the title of this post) into a portable tape recorder he carried around everywhere.

Because I am not a movie character, I don't have an audible, visual, prop to show when I have Big Ideas. They just rattle around in my skull until I do something about them. So it was with the idea to Feed Barbecue Potato Chips To Chickens. Well, not exactly, but I had this idea for "Barbecue" Barbecue Chicken.


While I am not a purist when it comes to cooking with fire, I think a bit of consistency in terms would be helpful. Barbecue, to me, means meat cooked low and slow, usually with indirect heat from a wood or charcoal fire. This makes a reasonable distinction from grilled food, which I would define as cooked directly over a fire, ideally also wood or coals, on a (duh) grill. Then there are the myriad things described and sold as "barbecue," meaning sopping with orange, tangy sauce.

Things that are barbecue:

  • Carolina style pulled pork
  • Texas style brisket
  • Caribbean barbacoa

Things that are "barbecue":

  • Manwich, any variety
  • Pretty much anything called 'barbecue x' in a diner or family restaurant
  • Barbecue potato chips

***END DIGRESSION (We think)***

That last item is, for me, a guilty pleasure. I actually eat "barbecue" potato chips from time to time; you know, those chips covered in a bright orange powder consisting mainly of paprika, onion, garlic, cayenne, etc. I'm not proud of it, but I snack on a bag of those every so often. Well, my Big Idea was to make a version of that orange powder and rub it under the skin of a chicken before barbecuing it. Get it? Mrs. C. was underwhelmed by my flash of genius, but allowed that she would happily try some. Last Sunday was the day to try it out, so I made a fire, and mixed up some Hungarian hot paprika (lots, relatively,) a healthy pinch each of onion and garlic powder, a bit of salt, a healthy shot of powdered cayenne, and...


Several years ago, we dined at the venerable Commander's Palace in New Orleans, and one of the courses was "Tomato Dusted Soft Shell Crab," which used tomatoes from their garden which had been dehydrated and powderized. These were like the best "barbecue" potato chips ever!


... I didn't have any dehydrated tomato powder, but I did have sumac, which while quite different from 'mater, is tangy and sticky. So I put a double dash of that in. The powder was rubbed generously under the breast skin, less generously under the leg and thigh skin, and the remainder sprinkled in the cavity and on the skin. A small onion, cut in half, was also placed in the cavity, and the whole bird barbecued for around 4 hours at a moderate temperate, mostly around 200F-225F, in the BBQ chamber. And... pretty tasty! Of course, one would have to try pretty hard to mess up the deliciousness that is a smokey, juicy, slow-cooked-for-hours-inside-its-own-skin chicken. And if one has fresh Munich-style helles on tap, minor cooking mistakes will likely go unnoticed. Future experiments will feature an attempt to reach more areas under the skin with the rub. Next Big Idea....

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