Cumin-based rub forms fierce crust on chicken

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - LEE SVITAK DEAN Recipes adapted from The To­tal Grilling Man­ual: 264 Es­sen­tials for Cook­ing With Fire edited by Lisa At­wood

Half the fun of any kind of cook­ing is ex­per­i­ment­ing with some­thing new, and that’s as true at the grill as in the kitchen.

First we change up the usual meat rub by toast­ing the spice — in this case, cumin — be­fore it’s com­bined with the other rub in­gre­di­ents so the fla­vor is in­ten­si­fied.

Then there’s the salsa — it’s grilled! — to pro­vide a cool com­ple­ment to the spicier chicken.

Made from tomatil­los, which look like small green toma­toes with pa­pery husks, th­ese are placed over a hot flame, along with a jalapeno, un­til they all blis­ter, which will pro­vide a smoky fla­vor to the salsa.

You will need a grill screen or bas­ket for the veg­eta­bles as they cook, to keep them from fall­ing into the fire. For the sake of ef­fi­ciency, make the salsa be­fore you put the chicken on to cook.

Fi­nally, there are the chicken thighs. How many of us reach for those at din­ner­time? If drum­sticks are your pref­er­ence, by all means grill them in­stead. But this dark, meaty cut may sur­prise you.

For the thighs — as is true for any cut of meat on the grill — it’s best not to flip the meat re­peat­edly, par­tic­u­larly if you want it to look at­trac­tive with only a few grill marks on it. Cook one side be­fore turn­ing it over to cook the other. Then en­joy the combo.

Cumin-Crusted Chicken Thighs With Grilled Salsa

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs ⅛ to ¼ cup canola oil ¼ cup Cumin Rub (recipe fol­lows)

7 large tomatil­los, pa­pery husks re­moved and cut in half

1 jalapeno pep­per, halved

length­wise and seeded

2 to 4 tea­spoons fresh lime


1 ta­ble­spoon olive oil

½ cup chopped fresh ci­lantro Kosher salt

In a large bowl, com­bine chicken thighs and oil. Toss to coat. Trans­fer thighs to a plat­ter and sprin­kle evenly on all sides with Cumin Rub.

Pre­pare char­coal or gas grill for in­di­rect grilling over medium heat; tem­per­a­ture in­side grill should be 350 to 375 de­grees. If us­ing char­coal, bank lit coals on ei­ther side of the grill bed, leav­ing a strip in cen­ter with­out heat, and place drip pan in the cen­ter. If us­ing gas, pre­heat burn­ers, then turn off one or more burn­ers to cre­ate cooler zone. Oil grill grate.

To make the salsa: Place tomatil­los and jalapeno on a grill screen or bas­ket, set over di­rectheat area of grill (the veg­eta­bles will fall through with­out it). Cook, turn­ing as needed, un­til well charred on all sides, about 3 min­utes. Trans­fer tomatil­los and jalapeno to a blender, add lime juice and 1 ta­ble­spoon olive oil, and pulse un­til com­bined but still chunky. Trans­fer to a bowl, fold in ci­lantro, and sea­son with salt. Makes about 2 cups. (The salsa can be made up to a week in ad­vance and re­frig­er­ated. Bring to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore serv­ing.)

To grill the chicken: Place thighs, meaty side down, over in­di­rect-heat area of grill. Cook, turn­ing once, un­til thighs are nicely grill-marked on both sides and firm to the touch, about 10 to 15 min­utes per side. Check in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture with a meat ther­mome­ter in­serted into thick­est part of thigh away from the bone; when done it should be 165 to 170 de­grees. Try to turn thighs only once so they de­velop nice grill marks.

Trans­fer thighs to a plat­ter and let rest for 10 min­utes. Serve at once with salsa.

Makes 4 to 8 serv­ings.

Cumin Rub

¼ cup ground cumin 1 tea­spoon smoked pa­prika 1 tea­spoon firmly packed light brown sugar ¼ tea­spoon ground co­rian­der ¼ tea­spoon ground red pep­per (cayenne)

Ground black pep­per

In a small, dry skil­let over low heat, toast cumin, stir­ring of­ten, un­til aro­matic, about 30 sec­onds. Pour onto a plate and let cool.

Then com­bine cumin, pa­prika, brown sugar, co­rian­der, cayenne pep­per and black pep­per in a bowl and mix thor­oughly. Use right away or store in a tightly cov­ered con­tainer in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month.

Makes about ⅓ cup.


Cumin-Crusted Chicken Thighs With Grilled Salsa

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