Grilled Chicken Breasts with Molasses-Coffee Glaze

July 31, 2013

I already had boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my refrigerator, when I noticed this brand new (September/October 2013) recipe for my grill; perfect for a mid-summer weeknight. The base-recipe has 5 glazes to choose from, but I settled on the Molassas-Coffee glaze, mostly because I already had all the ingredients in my kitchen. I will definitely also try the Spicy Hoisin glaze. This recipe uses a few new tricks. First, the chicken is sprinkled with powdered milk. The milk’s sugar (lactose) will allow the chicken to brown in just 2-1/2 minutes per side, which allows plenty of time for a few coats of glaze to build up lots of flavor. The second trick is to hold off on the glaze for the first 5 minutes, so that the glaze doesn’t burn. Other than that, the recipe is pretty straight-forward; brine and grill. 4-stars and ready in under 1-1/2 hours.

Perfectly grilled chicken in about 1-1/2 hours

Perfectly grilled chicken in about 1-1/2 hours


  1. If you are using a gas grill, You should pre-heat the grill with all burners on high for 15 minutes. Then to cook, leave the primary burner on high, and reduce the other burners to medium/high.
  2. There are a number of other grazes to choose from: Coconut Curry, Honey Mustard, Spicy Hoisin or Miso Sesame.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $6.
How much work? Medium/Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time: 4:30 PM. Dinner time 6:30 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Grilled Glazed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts is here, and the original recipe for the Molassas-Coffee glaze is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today is as follows:

Molasses-Coffee Glaze Ingredients:
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Chicken Ingredients:
1/4 cup table salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Non-stick vegetable oil spray

  1. Trim the chicken breasts to remove any excess fat or skin. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4-cup table salt and 1/4-cup sugar with 1-1/2 quarts of cold water. Add chicken to brine, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for an hour.
  2. After chicken has been brining for 30 minutes, prepare your charcoal grill by completely opening both the top and bottom vents. Fill a chimney starter so that it is slightly overflowing (mounded) with briquettes and light, which will take about 25 minutes to fully ignite.
  3. While the charcoal ignites, prepare the glaze by whisking together the balsamic vinegar and cornstarch in small saucepan. After the cornstarch has dissolved, continue whisking in the molasses, corn syrup, brewed coffee, minced garlic, and allspice. Place over a high burner and bring to boil; about 2 minutes. Continue boiling for 1 minute until the glaze has thickened. Empty sauce into a small bowl or cup.
  4. Remove the chicken from the brine, and use paper towels to pat it dry. Combine 2 teaspoons milk powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle each side with half the milk powder, spraying each side with nonstick cooking spray to moisten the powdered milk.
  5. When the coals are ready, create a two level fire by emptying 2/3rds on half the grill, and the remaining 1/3rd over the other half of the grill. Pre-heat grate for 5 minutes then clean a rub with paper-towel dipped in vegetable oil.
  6. Put chicken with the skin-side down directly over the hottest side of the grill. Grill for 2-1/2 minutes, then flip chicken (leaving on the hot side). Brush with glaze while the second side is cooking for another 2-1/2 minutes. Flip the chicken again (skin-side down) but over the cool-side of the grill. Brush with glaze while the skin-side is cooking for 2 minutes. Flip and brush with glaze twice more, and remove when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160-degrees.
  7. Allow chicken to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

July 19, 2013

With the record heatwave bearing it’s full force down on use poor north-easterners, keeping my kitchen as cool as possible is an absolute requirement. I had originally made this recipe about a year ago (during a similar heatwave), and the meal turned out fantastic. The only problem was that I ran short of BBQ sauce. Today, I rectified the problem be increasing the sauce ingredients by 50%. To make the sauce even more flavorful, I also reduced the pork drippings and incorporated them into the sauce. The sauce was rich but not too overpowering, and not too vinegary like the Lexington pulled pork. Overall, I give this recipe a delicious 4-1/2-star.

Delicious pulled pork takes 24 hours to make

Delicious pulled pork takes between 1 and 3 days to make

Because the base recipe was written 15-years-ago, I adopted some recent techniques by placing a few unlit charcoal briquettes technique underneath the lit charcoal. This extends the life of the fire so that the temperature stay just above 300-degrees for at least two hours. For the third hour on the grill, I still had to add more briquettes.

Rating: 4-1/2 star.
Cost: $16.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 12 Noon. Dinner time 6:30 PM. (Rubbing spices into the roast up to 3 days prior)

Here is the original Cook’s Illustrated link to for this recipe. The recipe for the sauce is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today is as follows:

Pulled Pork Recipe:
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 bone-in Boston butt pork roast, 6 to 8 pounds

  1. From 1 to 3 days before cooking, combine all spices in a small bowl and stir to combine. Evenly spread the spice rub into the roast. Use two layers of plastic wrap to tightly wrap, put on a plate and refrigerate overnight. (This step needs to be done at least 3 hours prior).
  2. Remove roast from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Soak four 3″ wood chunks in tap water, using a plate to ensure that the wood stays below the surface of the water.
  3. About 15 minutes before cooking, light a chimney starter half-filled with briquettes
  4. When the charcoal is ready, spread 10 unlit briquettes on one side of the grill. Even spread the lit charcoal ontop of the unlit coals, leaving half the grill completely empty. Put the soaked wood chunks ontop of charcoal, and replace the cooking grate. Open the bottom vents completely and the top vents half-way.
  5. Put the roast in a disposable aluminum pan, and put it on the cool side of the grill. Cover so that the vents are over the meat, which will draw the smoke to better flavor the meat.
  6. After two hours, add 8 to 10 additional briquettes so that you can maintain a cooking temperature of 275-degrees. Cook for a total of 3 hours on the grill.
  7. About 15 minutes before the meat is ready to come off the grill, set a rack to the middle of your oven. Preheat to 325-degrees.
  8. Cover the pan tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake for 2 more hours; until the meat is “fork-tender”.
  9. Put the entire pan in a brown paper bag and fold it shut. Let the roast rest for an hour inside the bag, but after 15 minutes begin making the sauce below.
  10. Empty the meat onto a cutting board and use your hands to separate into large sections along the lines of the fat. Scrape away any excess fat. Use your fingers (or forks) to thinly shred and put meat into a large bowl. Add 1-1/2 cup of BBQ sauce and stir to combine. Serve of buns or bread as sandwiches.

Western South Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe:
1-1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion
3 medium cloves garlic
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
1-1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1-1/2 tablespoon paprika
1-1/2 teaspoon table salt
1-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cup ketchup

  1. After 15 minutes of the pork resting in the paper bag (step 9 above), slightly peel back one corner of the foil and empty drippings in a 2-qt saucepan and bring to boil. Re-close foil and return pork to paper bag to continue resting. Simmer pot with the lid ajar to reduce for 30 minutes. Pour reduced sauce into large bowl (bowl will also be used in step 10 above).
  2. Mince the onion and peel the garlic. Put saucepan over a medium burner and pre-heat oil  until shimmering. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Press garlic directly into the pan and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the reduced drippings and all the remaining ingredients (except for the ketchup). Stir to combine, bring up to a boil.
  4. Reduce burner to low and add ketchup. Cook for 15 more minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Well cooked and easy to shred.

Well cooked and easy to shred.

Grilled Beef Kofte

July 7, 2013

I was speaking with a Turkish friend last week and they mention Kofte, which happened to be one of the main recipes from the current issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Chris Kimball promises that they are only a little more work than hamburgers, but offer much richer flavor and texture. While they are not a lot of actual work, they do require a couple of additional hours of planning, and make a noticeably bigger mess in the kitchen. However, don’t let the long list of ingredients deter you, most of the spices you will likely already have in your pantry. My shopping list consisted merely of 4 items: fresh mint, ground beef, pita bread, and sunflower seeds (to make homemade tahini). The bottom-line is that the kebobs are good, and an interesting alternative to grilled hamburgers. I liked the coolness of the yogurt sauce. But they are only 3-1/2 stars, and worthy only of making occasionally, not a complete abandonment of the time-tested hamburgers.

Served as sandwiches or on a skewer.

Served as sandwiches or on a skewer.


  1. I did not want to spend $6 for tahini, because I only needed 2 tablespoons and have never used it before. As I was looking for substitutes (the best online suggestion seemed to be peanut butter), it became clear that tahini was just ground sesame seeds. So I just made it myself using 50-cents of raw sunflower seeds. I’ll post how I did it later in the week.
  2. I accidentally minced my onion rather than grating it. I’m not sure if it made a big difference.
  3. A lot of times when Chris Kimball uses a disposable aluminum roasting pan inside a charcoal grill it is to put the coals around the pan, leaving a cool zone directly above the pan. But for this recipe, he puts the coals directly into the disposable pan to concentrate the heat. The high heat offers a great opportunity to really do a good job cleaning (scraping and wiping with news paper) and seasoning the grill (rubbing paper towel dipped in vegetable oil).
  4. If you are using a gas grill, then you should turn all burners on high and preheat for 15 minutes. Plus cook covered instead of uncovered in step 6.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $15. Including pita, but substituting 50-cents in sunflower seeds for $6 of tahini.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium/High.
Start time: 4:30. Dinner time: 6:30

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here and he has a lamb variation here. The descriptions of how I prepared everything today are given below:

Yogurt-Garlic Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt

Kofte Ingredients:
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts (2-1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 lbs 80% lean ground beef
1/2 cup grated onion
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1/3 cup minced fresh mint
1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 large disposable aluminum roasting pan
8 metal or bamboo skewers
8 pieces of Pita bread (if making a sandwiches)

  1. To prepare the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl (I used a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup) using a garlic press on the garlic. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator.
  2. Peel the garlic clove and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add pine nuts, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the food processor. Puree for 35 to 35 seconds until it forms a course paste, then empty into a large bowl.
  3. Grate an onion on the large wholes of a box grater, draining away the juices, so that you have 1/2-cup of onion pulp. Mince parsley and mint leaves.
  4. Add ground beef, grated onion, minced parsley and mint, plus 2 teaspoons gelatin to the large bowl with the spice paste. Use your hands to combine thoroughly; kneading for about 2 minutes.  Divide into 8 equal balls, and then roll each ball into a sausage-shaped cylinder about 5″-long and 1″-thick. Insert a skewer down the center of each cylinder and place on a baking sheet that is lightly sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, but you can do this the night before (up to 24-hours).
  5. To prepare the charcoal grill, ignite a chimney starter 2/3-filled with charcoal (about 4 quarts), and allow about 15 minutes to fully ignite until partially covered with white ash. Open bottom and top vents completely. Use a skewer or paring knife to poke 12 holes in the bottom of your disposable, aluminum pan and set in the center of the grill. Once ignited, empty the lite coals INTO the aluminum pan. Cover with lid to preheat the grill for 5 minutes before cleaning (scraping and oiling the grill grate).
  6. Put skewers directly over the coals at a 45-degree angle to the grill grate. Cook uncovered without moving them for 6 minutes, until nicely browned. The meat should easily release from grill when ready. Flip over and cook for another 6 minutes. The meat will be done when the internal temperate reaches 160-degrees. Place on serving platter or wrap in yogurt-sauce covered pita.

%d bloggers like this: