Unless it's truly necessary, I don't usually mix cooking methods when grilling. When I want to grill something, I want to be grill-side, cooking it from start to finish. Since I'm doing more grilling indoors at the moment, I figured all bets were off and have opened up to combination methods. This recipe by Mark Bittman for twice-cooked mock tandoori chicken seemed particularly enticing.
The method ended up being better in theory than in practice. Chicken legs and thighs were first covered with an Indian-spiced yogurt mixture and braised in the oven for an hour and a half. After that, they were brought over high heat on the grill until browned and slightly dried-out.
Unfortunately, the braising softened the chicken so much, it just fell apart on the grill. Once the chicken was finished, I was mostly pulling off empty bones. Luckily, I was making this indoors, and all those pieces that fell off still made it to the plate. On a real grill, though, they would have surely been claimed by the coals. What did come off, however, was deliciously spiced and tender, although not quite as flavorful as the initial aromas of the braise led me to believe.
Twice-Cooked Mock Tandoori Chicken
- 8 chicken thighs, or thighs and drumsticks
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 or 5 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped (or use 2 teaspoons dried ginger)
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Cayenne or chopped fresh chilies or crushed red chili flakes to taste, optional
- 3 cups plain yogurt
Heat oven to 300°F. Put chicken in a 13x9 baking pan.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and begin to color, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Stir in the ground spices and cook until just fragrant, no more than a minute. Stir in the yogurt, then spread mixture over chicken. Cover and put in oven; bake until chicken is just cooked through, about 1 1/2 hours. (You can prepare chicken up to a day ahead; if you are not going to grill or broil immediately, put whole pan in refrigerator after it cools down a bit.)
Heat grill to high heat. Remove chicken from yogurt sauce, scraping away any excess. Grill chicken, turning once or twice, until skin is crisp and charred and meat dries out a bit, about 15 minutes total. Serve hot or at room temperature.