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Feb. 1, 2022, edition 1 /
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ON THE GRILL
What to Grill in Febniaiy
By John Clarke
February’s NFL Super Bowl game marks the end of football season. We love to
watch football games, and this season has led to some ups and downs due to the
continuing effects of COVID-19 on players and teams during the bowl games.
Both of our alma maters, NCSU and ECU, had their games canceled, and it was
a big disappointment. We were actually in Annapolis visiting our daughter’s
family for Christmas and were planning to go if the weather was nice enough—
and were shocked to hear on Sunday (less than 24 hours prior to the game) that
Boston College did not have enough players to field a team against ECU. Then a
few days later, just a few hours prior to Idckoff, UCLA had to cancel the NCSU
game. Our grilling that day did not go to waste, but we had definitely been look
ing forward to seeing the games.
We cooked a goose for Christmas, and it turned out great. Our daughter and
her husband have a Big Green Egg grill—and we had a great time on a beautiful
Christmas day while enjoying warm sunshine and a nice cocktail.
Looking ahead, the Super Bowl makes for a great weekend to grill and enjoy
time with a few friends or family to watch the game.
As you may recall from earlier articles, chicken wings remain in demand, and
with the pandemic, their prices have remained high, sometimes over $25 for a
pack of 20-plus whole wings. Eood Lion pricing is typically around $4 a pound,
and similar pricing can be found elsewhere around town at the other markets.
The demand and the supply markets always will cause price fluctuations, but
why worry when you can usually find a great substitute in chicken legs.
For a typical indoor tailgate at-home party, you definitely want a finger food,
and chicken legs make a great substitute for wings. If you are going to shop
around. Food Lion and Harris Teeter both sell large (10-12) packs of legs. Ifyou
are a bit more ambitious and price conscious, you can usually find leg quarters
in a 10-pound pack for under $10. It does not take much effort to split the quar
ters into a nice leg and thigh, further enhancing your dining options.
With extra preparation, chicken legs can be “fancied” up by making lollipops.
Some expert chefs refer to the technique as frenching the leg (removing excess
meat from the end of the bone). To do this, take a sharp knife and move up the
leg to just where the meat starts to widen. Run your sharp blade around the
meat down to the bone, and pull the meat down to the end of the bone (but try
to leave the cartilage on the bone). Use a small sharp paring knife or kitchen
shears to lift and remove the meat. Further, if you can, pull out the long tendon/
bone that leads back up to the top of the leg. You can move your paring knife up
under the.skin along the bone where the tendon is attached.
If the lollipop will not stand on the fat end now, use a sharp knife to trim the
cartilage from the big end of the leg to allow it to do so. It helps in the cooking
for them to stand while on the grill. You can watch this technique in a short
video at youtube.com/watch?v=vHQd3nlKbTM.
A day ahead of game day, make sure you pat down the chicken pieces and
place them in a large bowl. Add a tablespoon of baking powder, sprinkled well
over the meat, and stir with your hands to evenly coat. You can also add some
of your favorite rubs as well as salt. Let the meat rest overnight on a rack on a
cookie sheet in the refrigerator—but a few hours will also work if you are short
of time. The idea here is to dry out the legs to produce a crispy skin on the grill.
In the final preparation before putting your lollipops on the grill, wrap small
pieces of foil around the meatless end of the leg to prevent the bone from turn
ing black as you grill. It just makes a nicer presentation.
The internet is full of recipes for sauces to make yourself, or you can pull one
off the shelf at the market. Take a look at the sauce label, and if there is a signifi
cant amount of sugar in the contents, you will want to wait to apply it until near
the end of your cook to keep it from burning. On the other hand, eastern NC
sauces are all vinegar based with minimal or no sugar, which can be basted liber
ally throughout the cook. I currently am experimenting with Bachan’s Original
Japanese BBQ Sauce, which is advertised frequently on the internet.
One cooking option is to place a stick of butter in a disposable aluminum pan
and get the grill up to about 275-300 degrees to allow the butter to melt. Place
the lollipop legs upright in the disposable pan with the butter and let them cook
at about 275. For reference, if the skin tastes rubbery after your cook, the grill
was not hot enough ... move it up a notch to 300 degrees for that excellent “bite
through” taste of crispy skin.
Keep the grill at 275-300 degrees, and let the chicken cook for about two
hours or until the meat gets to 165-170 degrees. We are not looking for done
but to get-them ready to be dunked in that final bath of sauce/glaze. Keep an
eye on it and you can prevent burning. If you chose to use the cooked-in-butter
technique above, you can transfer some of the melted butter to a small sauce
pan (or melt about half stick of butter) and add in a half cup of maple syrup and
about six tablespoons of Sriracha sauce. Lift the legs with tongs and dip each
one in the sauce and return to the grill. To minimize flare-ups, you can place
the glaze-dipped legs in an aluminum pan with a grate in the bottom. Keep the
temperature to 275 and let the chicken cook for an additional 30 minutes, and
dunk them again about 10 minutes before the end time. Sprinkle your lollipops
with chives and let rest for about 10 minutes. Serve some of the glaze on the side
for those who may want additional sauce.
Coleslaw is a good side dish to go with your delicious chicken. Bon appetite,
and enjoy the game.
Vision and Mission Statement
Our vision is to provide a quality environment in which our
citizens are safe and secure, where individual talents flourish,
and everyone enjoys the natural resources of the area.
It is the mission of the Town of Pine Knoll Shores to provide
for the safety and well-being of all residents and visitor in an
efficient and well-organized manner; develop and implement
plans for the continuous improvement of the town, its
services and its beach; and encourage the participation of
residents in service to the town and community.
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