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Thrill of the Grill

Big flavors on the barbecue

These recipes for inexpensive choices are perfect for grilling and serving with bold spices, sauces, and stuffing.

JIM SCHERER / Styling by SUNNY RICKS (food) and LAUREN NILES (props)

GRILLED SPICE-RUBBED CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS

Serves 6

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1½ tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons dried mustard powder

1½ teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper

6 chicken leg quarters, trimmed

Neutral oil, for the grill

> > TIP To remove the backbone from a chicken leg quarter, hold the thigh with one hand and bend the backbone with the other to expose the joint. Cut at the joint, and freeze the backbones for stock.

In a small bowl, mix the spice rub ingredients together with 1 tablespoon salt and 1½ teaspoons black pepper. Rinse and dry the chicken, and coat, both on and under the skin (take care to loosen, but not detach, the skin), with the rub. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

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Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high for 15 minutes. (If using gas, adjust burners to maintain the grill temperature around 350 degrees.) Oil the grill grate and grill the chicken skin side down, covered, until browned, about 15 minutes, checking often for flare-ups. Turn the chicken skin side up and grill, covered, until meat reaches 175 degrees, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter, tent loosely with foil, rest for 5 to 10 minutes, and serve.

Variations

GRILLED MEXICAN-STYLE CITRUS CHICKEN

(Pollo al Carbon)

Follow the recipe for Grilled Spice-Rubbed Chicken Leg Quarters, making the following changes:

 1) Omit the spice rub mixture.

2) In a blender, puree ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper with 1 chopped onion, 6 chopped garlic cloves, 1½ tablespoons grated zest from 1 large orange, 2 teaspoons grated zest and 3 tablespoons juice from 1 large lime, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, ¾ teaspoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon salt, 1½ teaspoons black pepper, and 1½ tablespoons olive oil.

3) Substitute this mixture for the spice rub and marinate and grill the chicken as directed. Serve with lime wedges.

 GRILLED VIETNAMESE-STYLE 5-SPICE CHICKEN WITH LIME DIPPING SAUCE

Follow the recipe for Grilled Spice-Rubbed Chicken Leg Quarters, making the following changes:

 1) Omit the spice rub mixture.

2) In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon 5-spice powder, 2 teaspoons each salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1½ tablespoons neutral oil.

3) Substitute this mixture for the spice rub and marinate and grill the chicken as directed.

4) Meanwhile, make dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (with pulp), 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 minced serrano pepper (seeded, if desired), and 2 tablespoons water. Serve with the chicken.

JIM SCHERER / Styling by SUNNY RICKS (food) and LAUREN NILES (props)

SOUTH CAROLINA-STYLE BARBECUED PULLED PORK

Serves 8

Serve pulled pork on soft buns alongside coleslaw and bread and butter pickles.

SPICE RUB AND PORK

¼ cup dried mustard powder

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon onion powder

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper

1 5-pound boneless pork shoulder roast

4 cups wood chips

Neutral oil, for the grill

“CAROLINA GOLD” MUSTARD BARBECUE SAUCE

1 cup yellow mustard

¹/³ cup cider vinegar

¹/³ cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

Salt and black pepper

In a medium bowl, mix the spice rub ingredients with 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper. Rinse and dry the pork, then rub the mixture all over. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

In a large bowl, cover the wood chips with water and set aside to soak for at least 20 minutes. Drain the chips and wrap in a double-thickness of foil to make a shallow packet. Cut vent holes all over the packet and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling: For a charcoal grill, make sure bottom vents are open and prepare a hot fire; when coals are covered with gray ash, push them to one side of grill. Place the wood-chip packet directly on the charcoal, position the grate, cover, and let the grill heat for 5 minutes. For a gas grill, preheat on high for 15 minutes. Place the wood-chip packet directly over the primary burner, replace the grate, cover, and let the grill heat until wood chips begin to smoke, about 10 minutes longer. Leave the primary burner on medium and adjust other burners as needed to maintain the grill temperature at 275 to 300 degrees.

Oil the grill grate and place the pork on the cool side of the grill (opposite the fire or burner), cover (for charcoal grill, make sure the cover vents are halfway open and positioned over the meat), and barbecue until the meat has shrunken and formed a dark crust, about 2 hours.

With the rack in the lower-middle position, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the pork from the grill, place it in a large baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake until the pork is very tender and reaches at least 190 degrees, about 3 hours longer. Remove the pork from the oven and rest, still covered, for 30 minutes. Unwrap and, when cool enough to handle, use forks to pull meat into thin shreds, discarding fat, if desired.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk the barbecue sauce ingredients with 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper and bring to a bare simmer, about 5 minutes. Set aside off heat to cool and thicken. Add about 1½ cups sauce to the pulled pork and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.

Variation

NORTH CAROLINA-STYLE BARBECUED PULLED PORK

Follow the recipe for South Carolina-Style Barbecued Pulled Pork, making the following changes:

1) Omit the mustard spice rub mixture. In a medium bowl, mix 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Rub, refrigerate, cook, and shred the pork as directed.

2) Omit the “Carolina Gold” Mustard Barbecue Sauce, and use this North Carolina-style sauce instead: 1¹/³ cups cider vinegar, ½ cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, 2½ tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1½ teaspoons black pepper whisked together (and not heated).

JIM SCHERER / Styling by SUNNY RICKS (food) and LAUREN NILES (props)

GRILLED WHOLE SPANISH MACKEREL

Serves 4

Serve the fish simply with lemon slices, or with a lemon, tomato, or caper vinaigrette. While you’re eating, watch out for small bones.

 > > TIP Use both a long spatula and tongs to turn the fish and to remove them from the grill.

4 Spanish mackerel (1 pound each), gutted and cleaned

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

12 3-inch sprigs fresh parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, or marjoram, or a mixture

1 large lemon, cut crosswise into

8 slices, 4 slices reserved and

4 cut into half-moons

Neutral oil, for the grill

Rinse the fish and dry well. Smear the exteriors and cavities of the fish with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In the cavity of each fish, place three herb sprigs and two half-moon lemon slices. Refrigerate until ready to grill.

Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high for 15 minutes. (If using gas, adjust burners to maintain the grill temperature around 350 degrees.) Oil the grill grate and grill the fish, covered, until meat is tender-firm when pressed lightly and opaque, about 14 minutes, gently turning once halfway through grilling. Remove the fish to a large cutting board and either serve whole or gently scrape off the skin and lift the flesh from the skeleton, discarding the skin and bones and serving the fish with lemon slices.

Adam Ried writes the Globe Magazine’s Cooking column. Send comments to cooking@globe.com.
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