Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eat a little something, will ya? - Tiki Month

All this TikiMonth-ing has made me ponder the matter of edibles and what I generally have developed for our Tikifests.

Food wise, it is pretty easy, at least on paper. Heat a lot of Trader Vic's-ish storebought stuff (Polynesian meatballs, coconut shrimp, spring rolls...all available at my neighborhood Costco) and only make a couple of other items: crab Rangoon (in the form of a hot dip with wonton chips from Whole Foods, instead of the bundled in wontons and then deep-fried...basically the same taste with a fraction of the work) and grill off a coop's worth of huli-huli chicken* or Asian-style BBQ ribs.

The Crab Rangoon, incidentally, was a smash and another of those absurdly easy things to make.

1lb flaked crabmeat (no need to get the super expensive Jumbo Lump, the lowest grade -- not lowest quality -- will do, because all those expensive chunks will be processed down into flakes anyway...so just get the cheaper flaked crab) from the fish counter, not the cheap stuff in the tuna aisle
1lb cream cheese (I prefer Neufchatel-style, which is also 33% lower in fat...you do whatever)
3 cloves garlic mashed to a paste (use a light hand with garlic, as it's easy for the mild flavor of crab to be overrun)
3 good dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 good dashes hot sauce (I like "regular" Tabasco)
1½ t salt
1 t white pepper
OPTIONAL: Some minced chives could be nice, and would add a splash of color.

Mix everything in a stand mixer or food processor. Put in a shallow-ish soufflé dish and bake at 375F (190C) until the top is golden brown. Serve with wonton chips. Alternative, you can spoon a little blob onto the wonton chip and then broil. (Traditionally, the crab would be folded into a wonton wrapper and deep-fried. I can't be bothered.)

Guests and assorted hangers-on invariably have a great time.

Since my marriage is based on the very equitable (ruthlessly so) principle of "I clean, you cook" my beloved was free to mingle and sparkle and play hostess and generally gab freely with her mom-pals. Once everyone leaves, I prop up my feet and exhale with a beverage or 3.

-J.

* Huli-Huli Chicken
Chicken
2 qt water
2 c soy sauce (I prefer San-J low-sodium, and not for the low sodium)
1 T peanut oil
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 T grated ginger (fresh, peeled)
8 lb. chicken on bone (I like thighs for a crowd)


Glaze
18oz pineapple juice, fresh (or, in a pinch, from a carton)
¼c packed light brown sugar
¼c soy sauce
¼c ketchup (Heinz organic is the best, regular Heinz 2nd best)
¼c rice vinegar
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 T grated peeled ginger
2 T sriracha or Asian chili-garlic sauce
2 c wood chips (opt), soaked for 15 minutes


Instructions
1. Mix water and soy sauce in large bowl. Heat oil in a skillet at med. high heat until it shimmers. Cook garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add to water/soy mixture. Put in chicken and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours (8 if using regular soy).
2. Mix pineapple juice, sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and sriracha in a saucepan and at medium heat simmer until you have about 1 cup, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Wrap the wood chips in foil packet and poke vent holes in top. Put foiled chips directly on coals or gas burner. Preheat grill until wood chips begin to smoke heavily, about 5 minutes for charcoal and on a gas grill 15 minutes. (Turn all burners to medium-low after the chips smoke up.)
4. Take chicken out of brine and dry with paper towels. Arrange chicken skin-side up on grill (do not place chicken directly above foil packet). Grill until chicken is nicely browned and a thermometer hits 120F, about 30 minutes. Flip chicken over and continue to grill until skin goes crisp and the thermometer hits 170F, figure +/-20 to 25 minutes more. Remove chicken, hit it with about half the glaze, and let rest 5 minutes.

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