Burning Desires, Salsa, Smoke and Sizzle is a cookbook you just need on your shelf. If you are a cookbook reader, ie you take a stack of cookbooks and a nice cold one out to the deck to plan all of the wondrous meals you will make during the endless hours of your weekend, you’ll be way into this. The topics are all things grilled and lovely marinades and sauces to accompany them. Chapters include the obvious like “A Smoldering Passion: BBQ and beyond” and the less obvious such as “With a Little Help From My Friends: Starters, Salads, and Starches” and yes, all of those are actually grilled. There are recipes (duh!), each preceded by a little story. But, the key here is the perfect introduction to each section. How to grill? Got that. And I know you have access to this basic information a gazillion places. Salads on the grill? Interesting, but not new. Here’s the kicker people … if you actually follow these conversational style directions, you cannot lose. This is one of very few books where everything, and I mean everything, made from it is 100% top notch! Um sorry, just double checked on where you can find this priceless book, and discovered it is out of print. Shoot!
On to today’s dish … this is kind of like a spicy chicken salad in a soft taco. There is an interesting technique of marinating the smoked, shredded chicken after it was cooked. It really makes for a fresh, bright flavor. The book desribes how to perfectly smoke the chicken on a kettle grill. While the dish is certainly exceptional with that method, I’ve been known to just rub a bit of liquid smoke on the chicken before popping it on a gas grill when the wind is whipping up too much of a breeze.
1 chicken, cut into breasts, drimsticks, thighs, and wings
3 cups smoking chips
1/2 cup lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 avocado, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup whole fresh cilantro leaves
3 TBS thinly sliced green onions
flour tortillas, warmed
1. Smoke the chicken by setting on the cool area of the grill, starting skin side down, and turning every 15 minutes until just cooked through. Remove from the grill and cool to room temperature. Skin the chicken, remove the meat from the bones and coarsely shred it.
2. While the chicken is almost finished cooking, prepare the marinade. In a large bowl, stir together the lime juice, olive oil, jalapenos, salt, and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Add shredded chicken and toss together. (The salad can be prepared to this point up to 1 hour ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
3. Just before serving, add the tomato and avocado, tomato, cilantro and green onions to the bowl and mix gently. To serve, line a tortilla with a large romaine leaf, top with chicken salad, and fold in half to create the taco.
* For a lower carb version, just do away with the tortilla.
* Fresh lime juice is a must in this dish for that bright, zesty flavor.