If the title of this entry sounds a bit trashy, that’s ok. Everyone needs a little trash in their life once in a while, and this is the sort of trash that fits right in alongside a cold beer (or two) while daydreaming about summer days ahead. There are really two recipes in today’s blog entry, but both could stand equally on their own. I just happened to pair them up on the supper plate, and thought I’d invite you to do the same. This happy combination will have your tastebuds singing long past the buzz of that beer wears off. This is memorable food, in the meal moments of your life.
It started with a warehouse sized jug of Mott’s Clamato in the fridge, with only a quarter cup of juice at the bottom of it. On a side note, that totally drives me nuts. Near empty containers in the fridge, that is. And I’m not the one leaving them near empty. I won’t name names, but we all know who we’re talking about here. It’s the same party responsible for not replacing empty tissue rolls and tissue boxes in the bathroom. Ahem. Let’s get back to cooking, shall we?
Having to make space for the day’s grocery purchase, I just about tossed the jug in the recycle bin, partly out of frustration, but mostly out of necessity, until I got the clever urge to marinate the day’s chicken in the juice. I say clever, because at first thought it felt like a gamble. Could it work? Would it taste funny? But then, I rationalized that some of the best recipes are born from accidents or unplanned events. Besides, I contended with myself, if Ham in Coca Cola is a winner that has stood the test of time, Chicken in Clamato could be the next best thing. And I’m happy to report, dear reader, that it worked. Well, it more than worked. So much so, that next time I plan on adding a shot of vodka to that chicken marinade and calling it Bloody Caesar Chicken! (Indulge me, won’t you?)
Everything you expect in a good marinade is present: sweetness from tomato juice, spiciness from the hot sauce, sourness from the lime juice, and savoury/salty notes from the Worcestershire. All critical elements in a good Bloody Caesar, and, it turns out, in a good tenderizing bath for your next grilled chicken. By the way, if you don’t have any Clamato cocktail, you could easily substitute tomato juice to make a Barbecued Virgin Mary Chicken version of this. And if you add some vodka, you can call it Barbecued Bloody Mary Chicken. Just thinking out loud…
The potatoes were a happy accidental find. Normally, when grilling meat on the barbecue, I chop up whatever vegetables I plan on serving, drop them in a makeshift foil packet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook on the grill alongside the meat. Since I only had potatoes and onions, I felt like adding more than just a base note of oil and house seasoning. Perusing through various cookbooks seemed to yield no luck until I opened up Steven Raichlen’s The Barbecue! Bible. A bible indeed, not just from a size perspective, but from a content point of view too. This comprehensive volume on outdoor cooking covers all the necessary basics as well as travel the globe for depth and variety of recipes and ingredients.
Surprisingly, the list of grilled potato recipes was short, but the one I landed on was long on flavour. It’s the title that caught my eye, really. I mean, Potatoes A La Ketchup. It sounded too basic to be noteworthy, but to fall prey to such biases will only leave you biased (well, it’s true), and I’m afraid, missing out on the good stuff in life. Steven says this recipe is a summer camp classic from his wife Barbara, from the days when kids would get together to cook their own supper, fire side and no parents in sight for miles and weeks. Ingredients and method were kept basic – they were children, after all. Potatoes, a blob of butter, a smear of ketchup…all nestled in a foil package. It worked then, and it works now. Steven revs it up by combining the ketchup with some Worcestershire and lemon juice, a small additional step (we’re in a grown up kitchen now) but the process remains the same. Some things in life aren’t meant to change. And I guess that goes for recipe titles too…
You can make these two recipes together or separately, any time of year. You can easily increase or reduce the ingredients to serve more or less people as needed.
The potato recipe is from Steven Raichlen's The Barbecue! Bible. I chose to decrease the potatoes by half, but kept the same amount of sauce called for in the recipe and it worked well. I had to cook my potatoes for 40 minutes, though Steven suggests 20 to 30 minutes.
Depending on how hot your grill is, you may need to increase or reduce the cooking time for the chicken and/or the potatoes.
- For the Clamato Chicken:
- 4 to 6 chicken legs, bone in, skin on
- 1/2 cup Clamato cocktail (you can substitute tomato juice)
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp agave syrup (you can substitute corn syrup)
- 2 tbsp canola oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tsp Tabasco sauce (optional, and you can add more, or less, to your taste)
- A handful of parsley
- 3 - 4 green onions, trimmed and cut into 3 to 4 pieces each
- 2 tsp Creole or Cajun seasoning (or your favourite seasoning blend)
- For the Potatoes A La Ketchup:
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 4 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 4 medium size potatoes (each about 6 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper (I used Creole seasoning)
- First make the marinade for the chicken. In a large plastic ziplock bag, pour the Clamato cocktail, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, agave syrup, canola oil, Tabasco sauce (if using), parsley and green onions. If desired, score the chicken legs with a sharp knife, and place the chicken legs in the bag. Seal tightly, removing all of the air out of the bag, and let marinate in the fridge for a few hours if possible, or at least 45 minutes. You will want to remove the chicken from the fridge at least 45 minutes before grilling, to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, start the potatoes. Mix the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice in a small nonreactive bowl and set aside.
- Cut 4 pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil, each 14 by 8 inches. Place a piece of foil, shiny side down and narrow edge toward you, on a work surface. Smear a tablespoon of the butter in the centre of the bottom half of the foil rectangle (the half closest to you). Arrange one quarter of the potatoes in a mound on top of the butter. Place one quarter of the onion on top of the potatoes. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the ketchup mixture over the potatoes and season them with salt and pepper (or your favourite seasoning blend) to taste. Fold the top half of the foil over the potatoes and bring the top and bottom edges together. Fold the edges over several times to make a tight seal. Prepare packages of the remaining potatoes the same way.
- Set up the grill for both direct and indirect grilling. Preheat to medium-high. The potatoes will need to cook on indirect grilling, and the chicken will need to cook on direct grilling.
- When ready to cook, place the foil packages in the centre of your grate (away from the heat), and cover the grill. Cook the packages for 15 minutes, then add the chicken to the grill, on direct heat. Continue to cook the potato packages for another 20 to 25 minutes, while the chicken cooks.
- Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping it halfway through the cooking time.
- Remove the potato packages and chicken from the grill. Serve the potatoes in the foil packages, warning everyone to open the packages at arm's length, using knives and forks, as the escaping steam will be very hot.