Summer’s still on us and we’ve got all those great veggies to choose from, but its too darned hot to cook in the kitchen. Get out the barbecue. Whether its a gas grill, charcoal or a wood burner, the food will taste great cooked this way. One technique I love is called “panning” which simply means you pound the meat to a uniform thickness, coat with seasonings and oil, then place it on the grill and cover it with a heavy pre-heated skillet. Cook and turn once. The meat will be uniformly cooked, it will be crisp and golden brown on the outside and tender and delicious inside.
We found these great organic chickens at the farmers’ market. We used the thighs from three to make our barbecue, and tomorrow, I’ll tell you what to do with the rest of those legless birds. Remember when buying organic poultry, that the flavor will be more intense, you can eat less of it and be satisfied, and I’ll teach you to use up everything but the squawk so you don’t feel as if you’re wasting precious food.
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 medium Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
1 sweet yellow onion, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-wide wedges (leave root end intact)
2 large dead ripe tomatoes, halved crosswise
4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
6 chicken thighs, boneless (about 3 pounds)
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place a clean 10-inch cast iron or other heavy skillet on the barbecue to heat. Place vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Grill vegetables until tender and slightly charred, about 4 minutes for peppers and 7 minutes for remaining vegetables. Use tongs to transfer to a bowl and set aside. Place chicken thighs on a board and pound to a uniform thickness with a mallet. Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Grill chicken, covered with the preheated skillet, until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side. Let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop vegetables. Toss with basil and vinegar and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Slice chicken crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; serve with ratatouille.