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Winter Grilling by Amy Patterson

For ten years my husband relished the ease of our Weber gas grill.  Hooked up to the natural gas line, there were no propane tanks for Gage to switch out.  Desired temperature was achieved by tinkering with the knob.  Location? Tucked just outside the kitchen on our deck.  Easy, no-fuss, convenient.   
 
I’d been nagging him about the Kamado Joe ever since I’d watched the chefs fire it up for classes out on Marcel’s back “patio.”  I forwarded him the June Cook Create Celebrate outlining what makes KJ not only a great grill, but also a value.  
 
Alas, we moved to a new home this fall and our reliable friend remained neatly hooked up to its umbilical cord on the deck.  No grill greeted us on our new patio.  I had my chance!  I kept gently nudging him but he was married to the simplicity and predictability of a gas grill.  In late October, our friend Brock came to visit from Alabama and could not stop talking about flavorful feats on his new “Egg.”  I had done the research and knew the KJ could easily compete.
 
KJ3The next week, Jill and Bob hefted the 250 pound grill out from the pick-up onto our driveway, maneuvered it on the narrow path along the side of my house and carefully guided it around the uneven stones on the back patio.  It was a precarious procedure to witness but at last, it was in place.  
 
I thought we might be a little cuckoo since winter was lurking but to my surprise, we have never grilled more. Gage wakes up well before the sunlight filters through our bedroom window and is installed at his desk downtown by 6 am.  Sadly, the sun has usually disappeared over the horizon in the winter when he arrives home.  After fumbling around in the dark with a flashlight a few evenings, he placed an order for a headlamp.  Now equipped, the blasts of cold air as he heads out to the patio invigorate him; coaxing the coals into position and fidgeting with the air vents to achieve the perfect combination of heat and smoke are his challenges.  There is an elemental satisfaction to tending a flame and making a meal in the fresh brisk air after being cooped up in an office all day.  
 
KJ2CroppedWe have experimented with whole chickens, flank steak, pork shoulders and chops, vegetables and Romaine and even successfully tried our hand at a loaf of bread.  So far, our favorite concoction has been a dish we’ve been playing with for years: Chicken Tikka Masala.  The smokiness achieved by placing the thighs on the charcoal grill gives the dish an authentic Tandoori-like dimension that I had not achieved under the broiler or on the gas grill.  We hope that you enjoy our version of this Anglo/Indian favorite!
 
A note from Jill: Kamado Joe grills will be available in store by early May but we can always place a special order for you at any time of year.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 4
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Chicken + Marinade
  1. 1 1/2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  2. 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  3. olive oil
  4. 1 T. minced ginger
  5. 1 t. ground coriander
  6. 2 t. Kosher salt
  7. 1 t. Tandoori seasoning*
  8. 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
Sauce
  1. 6 tomatoes (on the vine), quartered
  2. 1-2 serrano peppers (depending on the heat) Remove seeds if desired (again depending on how hot they are)
  3. kosher salt
  4. oil or clarified butter
  5. 1 t. whole cumin seeds
  6. pinch of asafetida (hing)
  7. 3 bay leaves
  8. 1 t. ground coriander
  9. 1 t. smoked paprika (hot or mild)
  10. 1 t. sugar
  11. 1/2 t. ground turmeric
  12. 1/2 t. ground cumin
  13. swirl of heavy cream
  14. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  15. 1/2 t. Garam Masala
  16. red onion, sliced into very thin rings, soaked in ice cold water and drained
Chicken + Marinade
  1. Combine Greek yogurt, ginger, coriander, salt, Tandoori seasoning and red pepper flakes. Add oil to desired consistency (I typically use a few Tablespoons). Add chicken thighs, toss to coat and marinate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Heat grill to 450. Remove chicken from marinade and grill until cooked through. (A charcoal grill gives a nice smokey flavor) Cut into 1” pieces. Cover and set aside.
Sauce
  1. Blend tomatoes, serranos and big pinch of salt in a blender until puréed. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil or clarified butter in a large sauté pan. Add the whole cumin seeds and asafetida and cook until fragrant. Add bay leaves, tomato purée, coriander, smoked paprika, sugar, turmeric and cumin. Let simmer over moderate heat until water from tomatoes cooks down. Swirl in heavy cream to taste. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove bay leaves. Add chicken pieces and any accumulated juices. If needed, thin sauce with a touch of chicken broth. Add cilantro and garam masala. Stir, gently heat through. Taste for seasoning.
  3. Serve over Jasmine or Basmati rice. Garnish with cilantro and red onion.
Notes
  1. *I use Penzey's Tandoori Seasoning
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

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