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The magic part of the chicken thighs is the fat content. Thighs are so easy to cook; just a little seasoning, let them slowly render, and, BAMM!!! Delicious, juicy cluck. 

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Marinade

I like to plan my meals ahead of time. I’m starting with twelve medium-sized chicken thighs. I have a big Tupperware-like container made by Rubbermaid. Line the thighs in the container and pour course salt over. Be generous unless you don’t like salt. This week I am using Alessi All Natural Sea Salt. 

You can use about anything for a marinade. Get some liquid to cover the chicken thighs, and add seasoning and herbs. All you have to do is add time. I prefer overnight; the more hours, the more permeation of your ingredients.

I raided the fridge and came up with my marinade.

A quart of orange juice was leftover from last week’s screwdriver fest. That into the Rubbermaid container, trying not to wash the salt off the chicken. Then I spooned a bunch of chopped garlic onto each thigh. Remember, there is no such thing as too much garlic.

I found some Spice World Squeeze Ginger on the fridge rack. Every piece of chicken gets a dollop.

Of course, there are some unused herbs in the cooler. Rosemary left over from Sunday’s Chinook Salmon. My pal, Eric, put that recipe together. We are going to put that recipe on the blog at a later time. It has the OMG factor. Serious.

BTW, Eric is a bad ass bass player, of course.

Back to the rosemary: Rosemary has some serious stem action. I’m too lazy to destem the leaves. I break out my trusty Henckel Chopping Knife and cut the rosemary up, stems and all.

Sprinkle all that chopped rosemary over the chicken thighs.

Balance

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you soon will. I like wine with food and booze as a binder for sauces and basic foundations.

I like to seek that extra roundness, a bit of je ne sais quoi. It is an appealing quality my taste buds recognize. So I added a can of beer to the marinade.

Not all microbreweries in Washington State are great. I had a German Style Lager lying around in the beer fridge. No one wanted it, so the chicken got it.

Here’s the deal: I have spent a lifetime around food and wine. Here are the components of successful cooking: fat, salt, bitter, sour and sweet. There is a sixth flavor sense that is Japanese in origin. It’s called Kokumi. I’m not going into that. 

The idea is to affect a balance of essential components. The chicken skin has the fat component, and the salt has the salt. So the OJ has the sugar component, and the bitterness is in the herbs. Lucky me, I have some lime left over. Slice it in half and squeeze it in.

I cover it, put the whole thing in the refrigerator and let the chicken sit over night.

The Beauty Of Life Experience

Life is about totality. That’s how I see it. I have been playing music longer than I have been cooking and pairing wine. I’m not a master chef but I am a pretty good cook. I am not a master engineer or producer, but I have a damn good ear.

In this world buried in my senses, life has taught me the ability to visualize. I prefer a playback on my near-field monitors at 60 DB when creating a mix. That is the decibel level of a normal conversation. When I mix my vocals, I look straight dead center between those speakers, and I can see the vocal mix. I can only do that when the entire mix is balanced.

When I see the vocals, that’s when I know I have hit the sweet spot. The same applies to cooking. When I can taste the ingredients before preparation, I know I will hit the sweet spot.

about That Mac and Cheese

When a person owns a household name business, one must have standards. It was never my intent to be a macaroni and cheese critic. I contacted Kraft Foods to ask permission to use their product name. They pretty much said, “Knock yourself out.” After all, who owns the name macaroni and cheese? 

With that statement, I am the self appointed judge of said food group. My first victim is Home Chef Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, available at your local Kroger’s. It’s a basic microwave cooked product. Like the label says, 3 – 5 minutes. We had it with burgers off the grill and beer. I like beer.

My dining companion and I agreed – there wasn’t much to it. It couldn’t keep up with the burger and fell flat. Kraft does a better job, except you have to prepare it.

The good thing about Home Chef Macaroni and Cheese – It’s the perfect after-gig food. Get home at 3 am, half buzzed from after-the-show beverage and hooch. Voila! All that bland fat doesn’t taste so bad.

Bob Evans Macaroni and Cheese gets my subsequent searing discernment. I thought it was pretty OK. It was an accompaniment to one of my other chicken dishes. That chicken I marinated in a bottle of red wine. A Pinot Noir gifted to me had gone through a second fermentation in the bottle. That’s sloppy wine-making. It tasted like copper but worked great for marinating a chicken. 

From all that wine, the skins of the chicken charred beautifully when grilled. Bob Evans Mac was able to hold up very well with the char. I was not unsatisfied. It is not bad for a microwave product.

My last critique? Kroger’s Buffalo Ranch Macaroni and Cheese. Look it, I am not a big fan of Kroger. They are a vast supermarket conglomerate and one of the world’s largest retailers. With that said, they live next door to me, so they are like my pantry. They also have a large selection of organic produce. I have my opinions.

Buffalo Ranch Macaroni and Cheese qualifies as delicious. It’s loaded with real cheese, a little spicy and has the right texture. If you love macaroni and cheese, get it.

Let’s Grill Chicken!

I used my deck grill to prepare the chicken. It does take a little time to cook. I set the burners to low and placed the thighs on the grill. There was an entire saucepan of marinade left. As the flames would rise from the dripping fat, I would extinguish those with the marinade, creating aromatic steam enveloping the chicken.I

If you use a thermometer, the safe temperature for cooked chicken is 165 degrees. I eye it out. Cooking at low temperatures maintains tenderness and juiciness. Patience is always a virtue.

Dinner Time, Yea!

To accompany the chicken, sauteed mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli.

There you have it!

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