• Cooking: Gas or Charcoal?

    June 1, 2017 Leave a Comment
    The New York Times
    Grilled soy-basted chicken thighs with spicy cashews.

    Jessica Emily Marx for The New York Times
    WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2017

    Gas or Charcoal?

    Good morning. I spent a few days recently testing gas and charcoal grills with my colleagues from The Sweethome, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company. We worked in a Brooklyn backyard in plumes of smoke and fire, grilling hamburgers and chicken parts under the rigorous guidance of Lesley Stockton, the Sweethome’s kitchen manager and a writer for the site, who used her stopwatch and various thermometers in the manner of Michael Tilson Thomas directing the San Francisco Symphony.

    The Sweethome’s brief was simple: Find the best gas grills and the best charcoal grills for most people. I was happy to help. But I had my own agenda as well. I wanted to answer a question I’m asked approximately 700 times a summer, and especially in the run-up to Memorial Day weekend: Should I be grilling over gas or charcoal?

    The answer is complicated. I explored it in an article for The Times this week, “The Great Grill Debate.” Take a look and see what you think.

    And definitely check out the recipes. I learned some cool fish-grilling techniques from the chef Josh Cohen that I put to use in a new recipe for grilled flounder that you could use on pretty much any thin white fish fillet. And I pulled a few changeups on a fantastic old recipe from the grill masters Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby to deliver a new one for grilled soy-basted chicken thighs with spicy cashews (above) that could become an all-star of the summer 2017 grilling season.

    Regardless: boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They’re going to be the song of the summer, kid. Just you watch.

    As for dinner tonight, would you join us for a no-recipe Wednesday meal? The other evening I browned off a bunch of crumbled chorizo and added to it some chopped prunes and almonds, then splashed the mixture with chicken stock and allowed that to cook down to just a tablespoon or so of liquid. It became a filling for hot corn tortillas, and I would have topped the tacos with manchego cheese if I’d had any, but I didn’t. The super sharp Cheddar in the fridge performed as understudy and got an ovation. Did I swipe each tortilla with a wee little bit of mayonnaise before loading it with the sausage, nuts and fruit? Fat is flavor. I certainly didn’t tell anyone at the time.

    Actual recipes to cook this week are available on Cooking. (Consider especially this new one from Melissa Clark, who scored it from the San Francisco chef Mourad Lahlou, for Moroccan shakshuka with kefta and egg yolks.) Go browse them, and save the recipes you’re interested in cooking while you do. After you’ve cooked, you can put stars on the ones you liked, and add notes for yourself or others if you’ve come up with an ingredient substitution or a kitchen hack that makes a recipe better or different or easier.

    If you run into problems, just holler: cookingcare@nytimes.com. We’re here to help. That’s our job.

    Now, how about some lunchtime reading? Here’s Rochelle Oliver on the rise of the Jamaican beef patty, in The Times. Also in our Food section, here’s Pete Wells on why he won’t be going to Mexico to review the Noma pop-up restaurant in Tulum.

    And, finally, I missed it last week, so in case you did, too: Here is a great food-culture and neighborhood-culture yarn out of The Buffalo News, “Habitual sub eater may move lunch spot because of Tonawanda resident’s gripe.” Remember: Everything is copy. People are wondrous strange. The kicker on the story is sublime. Please read.

    Jim Wilson/The New York Times
    2 hours, 6 servings
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    Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
    GUIDES
    Get cooking with fire.
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    Grilled flounder prepared in a brine and served with lemon.

    Jessica Emily Marx for The New York Times
    20 minutes, 4 servings
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    Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
    For when you need flavor.
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    Grilled soy-basted chicken thighs with spicy cashews.

    Jessica Emily Marx for The New York Times
    1 hour, 4 to 6 servings
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    Emily Berl for The New York Times
    1 hour, 2 to 3 servings
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