You don’t want a bland chicken, so dig out
the spices and season away! Photo courtesy Butterball.
Barbecue sauce is the number one food that THE NIBBLE receives over the transom (and old publishing expression that means unsolicited). Barbecue sauce is expensive and totally unnecessary. Our mother rotisseried a wonderfully delicious, plump bird several times a week, using only garlic salt, onion salt and pepper. No bottle of barbecue sauce ever crossed her threshold.
Of course, there are many options between those two extremes: numerous different ways to season a chicken, drawing from just about every cultural influence. It can be as simple as trussing the bird, then sprinkling or basting with your favorite flavors. Or, you can be as imaginative as you like. Here are some suggestions that leave out the sugar, so you can enjoy a broiled, grilled or roasted chicken as the lower-calorie protein it is.
Here are tips from Chef Johnny Gnall, starting with a…
Basic Roast Chicken. If you prefer a simple bird, just sprinkle salt and pepper over it. But not your mother’s S&P: Use sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, with one of these varietal peppercorns. Basting the chicken with melted butter during roasting will also add a lot of flavor; and drizzle some fresh lemon juice on the cooked bird to add a bit of freshness and lightness (and counterbalance the rich butter. For added flavor, stuffing the cavity with half a peeled onion and a lemon that has been cut in half. (You can use this trick for any roast chicken recipe.)
Asian Seasoning. Stuff the inside cavity of the bird with a half a head of peeled garlic and a 1-inch knob of ginger. Baste the skin with your favorite Asian marinade or dressing (we like the Palcha line of Thai-fusion dressings), or make your own with this easy recipe.
Southwestern Seasoning. Take 4 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub (here are 10 barbecue rub recipes) and mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee. The ground coffee flavor will not be prominent; in fact, few people will know it’s there. Yet, it will enhance the other flavors while adding a delightful earthiness, as it does in a good chili recipe.
Spicy Seasoning. If you enjoy your foods heavily spiced, simply add some dried herbs along with your favorite spice combinations. For example, mix equal parts (or your preferred proportions) of chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, dried thyme and paprika. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can blend in a stick of melted butter or oil to create a wet rub and basting paste.
MAKE YOUR OWN SPICE RUB
If you want to use a spice rub but don’t have one on hand, it’s easy—and far more economical—to create your own out of the spices you have in your pantry. You can use a simple ratio of two parts salt to one part each of any other spice(s). Johnny’s favorite is two parts salt to one part each of chipotle chili powder, coriander, cumin and light brown sugar.
There’s need to buy spice rub: It’s a combination of the spices you probably have in the cabinet. Photo by Elena Elisseeva | IST.