Mike Zaborsky’s Grilled Chicken Paprikash
I met Mike Zaborsky at the 2004 Grey Cup in Ottawa, as I was coming out of a bar around 2 a.m. for a smoke and some cold November air. Anyway, this guy drops to his knees and starts bowing to me, repeating “You are the king of the ’Q.” Needless to say, after helping him up I joined him for a few pints to discuss the fine arts of football and BBQ.
Those pints were the beginning of a good friendship and, on top of that, Mike truly is my number-one fan. He is willing to try anything on the grill, and lives to ’Q it up. This is a Zaborsky original.
• 12- by 8-inch (30- by 20-cm) cedar plank, about 1/2-inch (1-cm) thick, soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour
• Napoleon Cajun-Style Injector
• Spray bottle of water
1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1/2- inch (1 cm) rings
2 large Hungarian (or banana or yellow wax) peppers
4 firm ripe plum tomatoes
2 Tbsp vegetable oil 30 mL
2 Tbsp + 30 mL
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs 500 mL
1 Tbsp + 1 cup smoked Hungarian paprika (or regular sweet paprika)
1 tsp kosher salt 5 mL
8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs 8
2 bottles Stella Artois Light Lager 2 bottles
(12 oz/330 mL each)
1 cup heavy sour cream 250 mL
+ 1 cup (34 per cent fat, if you can get it) and 250 mL
2 Tbsp olive oil 30 mL
2 tsp hot-chile oil 10 mL
• Preheat grill to medium-high (450–550oF/230–280oC).
• In a large bowl, combine onion, peppers, tomatoes, and 1–2 Tbsp (15–30 mL) of oil. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Gently mix to coat vegetables.
• Place vegetables on grill and cook for 8 to 12 minutes or until slightly charred and tender.
• Remove vegetables from grill, let cool, then chop into . inch (1 cm) pieces. Set aside.
• In a big bowl, thoroughly combine panko bread crumbs, 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of the paprika, and kosher salt. Set aside.
• Using injector, fill reservoir with Stella Artois Light Lager and inject each chicken thigh. (Note: You will use about 1 cup (250 mL) beer total.)
• In a bowl, whisk together 1 cup sour cream and . cup (125 mL) of beer. One thigh at a time, dip into sour cream mixture, then roll in reserved bread crumbs to evenly coat. (Note: Press gently into bread crumbs to get a nice thick layer of breading.) Place thighs, evenly spaced apart, on plank.
• Reduce grill heat to medium (350–450oF/180–230oC).
• Centre planked thighs on grill. Close lid and plank-roast, occasionally checking to ensure plank has not caught fire, for 25 to 35 minutes, or until crust is crisp and golden brown and chicken is fully cooked (to an internal temperature of 170oF/78oC). (Note: If plank catches fire, extinguish with bottle of water and reduce grill temperature.)
• Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed cast-iron pan, over medium heat (on a grill side burner or on the stove), heat olive and chile oils until just starting to smoke. Add vegetables and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining paprika and cook, stirring continuously, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add 1 bottle of the beer and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced by half and mixture is saucy and thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
• Remove chicken thighs from grill and arrange on a platter. Stir remaining sour cream into warm vegetable mixture and pour over chicken thighs. Serve immediately.
Stella Artois Light Lager is a fine example of a light Euro lager. It still has a nice golden colour, but is slightly lighter than its big sister. The citrus-and-spice hop aromas are still there in the background, and the body is a nice, light bready texture. The finish is light and quick.
THE PROFESSOR’S PAIRING NOTES
The primary reason that this pairing works is the ability of the Stella to reduce the impact of the breading. We need to finish this meal, and the Stella will help to cleanse our palates after each bite. Also, it will minimize the acidity of the tomatoes and peppers in the vegetable paprikash.