a chicken, skin side down, over indirect heat, set
bricks on top, and grill, covered, until skin is
golden and crisp, 25-30 minutes. Using tongs, remove
bricks; turn chicken, skin side up.
weather is a little chilly, the sky more dull shades of gray
than bright blue, and itís actually raining again, thanks
to El Nino. Welcome to winter in Los Angeles, where we break
out the scarves when the temperature falls below 70 degrees,
and even a little rain is enough to stall the freeways. But
it doesnít stop us from grilling.
from being just a summer sport, winter is the perfect time
to show your grill a little love. Get a batch of coals going
or fire up the gas burners, and in minutes youíre ready to
roll. Thereís nothing like the simplicity of cooking over
a live fire, particularly when the weather is less than
love grilling," Josiah Citrin says. The chef-owner of
Melisse ó his venerable Michelin-starred fine-dining
restaurant in Santa Monica ó has just opened Charcoal
Venice, its menu an ode to cooking over live fire.
"This is one of those things Iíve been doing with my
family for years. Itís real."
menu features an assortment of dishes Citrin has perfected
for years at home, whether using a wood oven, over charcoal,
in the coals ó or even using a Big Green Egg. Cabbage
baked in embers, one of the starters at the new restaurant,
is similar to a camping dish you might remember from when
you were a kid. Except instead of wrapping onions or
potatoes and tucking them into the burning wood of a
campfire, a whole head of cabbage is wrapped in foil and
placed among smoldering embers. The cabbage is baked until
the outer leaves are caramelized and the vegetable itself is
tender. Still warm, thick wedges of the cabbage are served
alongside a yogurt dipping sauce flavored with sumac and
lemon zest. Itís camping food, but seriously glorified.
all about seasonality for Citrin. "Cabbage is a winter
vegetable. There are so many great things to grill this time
of year: other winter vegetables, such as endive. And Iím
also doing duck that Iíve aged at the restaurant."
produce offers easy inspiration for the grill this time of
year. Quickly sear winter lettuces before composing a salad
ó the char lends an almost meaty depth to the dish. Toss
winter vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels
sprouts or onions, with a little oil before grilling in a
perforated pan or wrapping them in foil, cooking them until
theyíre tender and caramelized. Grill thick wedges of
seasoned sweet potatoes on a rack until the outsides are
blistered. Or grill slices of citrus to add a touch of smoke
to their bright fruit flavor.
may not be grilling aged duck at home, but you could try
slow-smoking duck over a low fire, or maybe ribs, brisket or
when the weather isnít so cooperative, part of the beauty
of the grill is that so many foods cook quickly, with
minimal mess and cleanup. For a quick dinner, try a classic
grilled "brick" chicken. Itís an old cooking
method, and it goes by a number of names, like "chicken
under a brick" and "spatchcocked chicken."
The technique is simple: Cut the backbone out of a chicken,
and flatten the bird out, much like opening a book. (You can
do this yourself or have your butcher do it for you.) Season
and grill the chicken, skin-side down, keeping the chicken
flat under a heavy brick, paving stone or cast-iron skillet.
The chicken cooks in less time than it would normally take
to grill or roast a whole chicken, and youíre guaranteed
crispy skin throughout.
because it is winter, youíll want to make sure you have
enough fuel on hand, as the weather can be cold (at least
for Angelenos), and it can take longer for your grill to
heat. But please skip the scarf.
2 hours. Serves 4 to 6
tablespoon kosher salt
teaspoon onion powder
teaspoon garlic powder
teaspoon ground cumin
Using a pair of kitchen shears, remove the backbone from the
chicken, cutting all the way from neck to stem on either
a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, onion and garlic
powder, cumin and several grinds of black pepper to make a
Place the chicken skin-side up on a cutting board, opened
like a book. Press down on the center of the breast to crack
the sternum to flatten the chicken. Very lightly oil the
surface of the chicken, then rub the spice blend all over
the chicken, massaging it over the limbs and into the skin.
Flip the chicken over and repeat, very lightly oiling and
then rubbing with the spice blend. Set the chicken aside for
an hour to lose the chill before grilling.
Meanwhile, wrap a heavy brick or paving stone in aluminum
foil, or find a heavy cast-iron skillet. About 30 minutes
before grilling, start coals in a chimney.
When the coals are lightly coated with gray ash, empty them
into the grill, arranging them against one side of the
grill. Replace the grill rack and lightly oil it.
Place the chicken skin-side down on the grill rack, away
from the direct heat. Place the brick on top of the chicken.
Grill over moderate heat (around 350 degrees) until the
chicken is well-browned underneath, about 30 minutes. Remove
the brick and flip the chicken over, placing it skin-side up
directly over the fire. Continue cooking until the juices
run clear and a thermometer inserted into the breast and
thighs reaches at least 160 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove to a carving board and rest for 10 minutes before
BAKED IN EMBERS WITH YOGURT, SUMAC AND LEMON ZEST
hour, 30 minutes. Serves 6 to 8
of 1 lemon
tablespoons chopped chives
of 1/4 lemon
mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon zest, sumac, chives
and lemon juice and mix well. Transfer to a container with a
tight-fitting lid and keep cold.
large head green cabbage
Start a batch of hard lump charcoal in a grill or barbecue,
watching for all of the coals to turn red, 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon
quart of water. Add the cabbage to the water and boil for 1
minute. Immediately remove the cabbage and transfer to an
ice bath to cool.
off the cooled cabbage and drizzle all over with oil. Wrap
the cabbage in foil and place directly in the coals,
rotating every 5 minutes for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Remove and
set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Cut the cabbage into
quarters and place on a platter, sprinkling the cabbage with
fleur de sel. Have guests tear pieces of cabbage with their
fingers, dipping the cabbage into the sauce.
Adapted from a recipe by Josiah Citrin from Charcoal Venice