This time of year is always bittersweet — summer is a time of relaxation, warm weather, vacation travel and family reunions; in other words, fun, and that is ending.
But fall has a lot going for it — crisp, cool air, the High Holidays, back to school, football. This year, of course, everything is different, but one constant, in my world anyway, is food.
This dinner came together as a bit of an ode to summer: Barbecued chicken is such a crowd-pleasing classic. I used boneless breasts, but any cut works here, as long as you adjust the cooking time. The oniony string beans added color and flavor and addressed my husband’s ongoing complaint that string beans are the most boring vegetable. And the truffle-salted grilled corn was a worthy farewell to that seasonal summer treat.
If you don’t feel inclined to make your own sauce/marinade, just use your favorite bottled barbecue sauce — if it’s too thick as a marinade, add beer, wine, juice, water or broth.
The key to keeping the chicken moist and preventing it from drying out is to cook it properly. For medium-sized boneless breasts, this means about 20 minutes over a combination of hot and medium/low temperatures. Searing the chicken first seals in the juices, and cooking over a lower flame keeps the meat tender.
Note: Large, bone-in breasts, thighs and legs can take up to 40 minutes on the grill, so be sure to time it right.
4 boneless chicken breasts (or your favorite cut)
¾ cup ketchup
½ cup dark beer (such as Guinness)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Hot sauce to taste (such as Tabasco)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Mix the ketchup, beer, vinegar, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Set aside half the sauce in a sealable container to serve with the chicken later. Place the chicken with the remaining sauce in a sealable container, toss it to coat and let it marinate for 2-12 hours.
Bring the chicken to room temperature and heat an oiled grill.
Sear the chicken over a medium-high flame for about 2 minutes per side.
The chicken will be ready to flip when it no longer sticks to the grill.
Once the chicken is seared, lower the flame and/or move the chicken to an outer edge or higher rack to decrease the intensity of heat. Lower the lid, and cook the chicken for about 8 minutes more per side. Remove it from the heat, cover it tightly with foil and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Red Onion String Beans
The color combo in this dish is quite pretty, but if you don’t have red onions, yellow or white onions work fine. Just avoid sweet or Vidalia onions as they don’t pack much flavor when cooked. We served this hot, but it would be fine at room temperature or even cold as a salad.
1 pound string beans, stems removed
½ medium-sized onion, chopped
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil, salt, pepper and onions over medium heat in a large skillet. When the onions begin to sizzle, lower the heat and continue cooking until they are soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
While the onions cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and immerse the beans. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the beans are just cooked to crisp-tender. Drain the beans, and add them to the skillet with the onions. Cook the beans with the onions a few more minutes until the flavors blend. Add more salt and pepper, if needed, and serve.
Grilled Corn with Truffle Salt
This is an indulgence, to be sure; truffle salt is a rare and expensive treat. But as we bid farewell to fresh corn on the cob for the season, this seemed a worthy tribute. If you don’t have, or don’t like, truffle salt, any seasoned or plain salt is fine to use in its place.
4 ears corn, husked
2 tablespoons butter
½-1 teaspoon truffle salt, or your favorite specialty salt
Place the corn on the grill over medium-high heat. Turn the ears frequently, allowing the kernels to cook and begin to char. This takes about 8 minutes.
Remove the corn from the grill and spread it with butter, then sprinkle it with salt. Cover it with foil for about 2 minutes to allow the salt to melt into the corn.