Green Thai Chicken Burgers

As tasty as it looks.
Yum!
Well, hello there. It’s been about nine months since my last post, when Gemma and I completed our 30-barbecue challenge. We’ve barbecued plenty since, but this year there’s no challenge (what with moving house, and a thesis to finish, we’re rather short on time). Nevertheless, there have been some great new recipes for you to try out, and this one is no exception!

Having been inspired by a Thai green curry I had a few weeks ago, I decided to attempt some Thai burgers, along a similar principle. Actually making chicken burgers involves acquiring chicken mince, which is quite difficult to come by (most butchers don’t do it, because it’s too wet). If you can’t find any, mincing your own with a food processor and chicken breasts will do fine, and turkey is perfectly adequate (though will be a little drier). Anyway, it’s barbecue season – give this a try!

Ingredients

Thai food tends to have a few key ingredients which set it apart from, say, Chinese food:

Makes four burgers

  • 300g chicken mince (use turkey mince if you can’t find chicken, and more if you like big burgers. Obviously)
  • Half a red onion or one small shallot, very finely chopped
  • A thumb-sized piece of ginger, very finely chopped. If you can get its relative galangal, for a more authentic Thai flavour, do so.
  • Two fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of Thai fish sauce (trust me. It won’t make your burgers fishy)
  • Half a Thai green chilli. These are the hot little chillies you can find in supermarkets. If you can’t find one, use a whole, regular green chilli.
  • A small handful of coriander leaves (cilantro), finely chopped
  • The zest of one lime
  • One stick of lemongrass
  • Natural breadcrumbs, as needed (you may not need any, if you use turkey)

Recipe

Quite a list! Luckily, they’re quite easy to put together. Begin by preparing the lemongrass – it’s rather woody and tough on the outside, so top and tail it, and take the first couple of layers off, discarding them. Chop it as finely as you can, then combine it with the chopped coriander, onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. Add the salt and lime zest.

Combine this mix with the chicken, and add the fish sauce. You should have a fairly wet mixture. If so, add breadcrumbs until the mixture can be moulded into burgers easily. Divide the mix into four burgers, make a dimple in the middle on both sides (which stops them rounding out as they cook), and cook for around five minutes per side on the barbecue. Delicious!

Great with a chilli, soy and lime dressing. Oh yeah.

Barbecue 28: A Rush on September 8!

…aaaand we’re getting closer to mid-September! But we’re on target. Having just been away for the weekend, Gem and I pressed on with barbecuing once the weather had cleared up enough to do so. But with little time to prepare, I’m afraid there are no new recipes here. New ideas aplenty, though.

Weather

Like I said, it had been horrible for a few days, but picked up just enough for a barbecue on the 8th. Light winds, which are no match for the Weber. Good times.

Food

We’ll start with the small stuff first. Of course, the normal salad that we have with every barbecue. We’d also purchased some delicious (and idea-inspiring) pork, coriander and red pepper burgers (they turned out really well, so stay tuned for a recipe next summer, kids ;)) and a rather expensive but tasty-looking Sweet Chilli and Lime Spatchcock Chicken. If you’re wondering what a spatchcock chicken is, it’s basically a chicken that’s had some of its bones removed in order to flatten it. Typically the breast bone is removed, and sometimes the chicken is held flat with skewers.

(Not burned. That's the coating caramelising. Honest)
Either way, this needed precooking, and a different barbecue method. I gave it 25 minutes at 180 to cook the deeper parts of the bird well, and the transferred to the barbecue on an indirect heat: that means putting the charcoal at the sides of the grill, preferably behind rails. The indirect heat means that the barbecue acts more like a smoky oven, and prevents the meat closest to the skin burning before the rest is cooked through. Without an hour to spare, though (we were hungry), precooking was a quick method to get most of the way there.


The chicken turned out moist and delicious, and the chilli and lime sauce was perfect – again, look out for a recipe next summer. So, we were pretty pleased with this one considering the little work we did for it – and now we’re into the final two barbecues!
We didn't eat all the chicken. It was big enough for two meals after!

Barbecue 27: September 2

Ohhh deary me. I’ve been falling behind with this again. I have had a rather good excuse, though :)

So anyway, this is barbecue 27 of 30, and it happened over two weeks ago. An early evening job like most of them, with some brand new burgers!

Weather

More sun? Yes, you guessed it.
Rather nice! Given it’s now September, we’d better get a move on before it’s too cold to light the barbecue. We’d rather unfortunately run out of firelighters for this one, so it was newspaper to the rescue.

Food

Well, the main event for this one was the new burgers: Pork and Fennel burgers to be precise. Poached and altered from my good chum Mark, they’re pretty simple but very delicious.

These pork burgers. Are. Awesome.
Having decided (as is our wont) that this wasn’t enough, we also went for a couple of chicken breasts (salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of cumin and coriander powder), some guacamole (must be my most popular recipe by far) and some corn on the cob which we needed to use up. All in all, a swift one, but really rather nice! See you at 28!

Barbecue 25: August 30

I’ve really been rather slack with this blogging lark of late. I can see how blogs fall by the wayside. But not mine! Oh no. Here’s barbecue 25, for your viewing pleasure.

Weather

A little dark, but still perfect for grilling :)
Lovely! It’s getting a little late into August now, so by the time we’re both back from work, it’s getting darker, and a little colder. But that’s never stopped us before.

Food

Ah. Well, the food tonight was interesting. Both good and bad in places (yes that’s right folks – a bearded barbecuer failure. I’m so ashamed). On the menu there wasn’t anything particular out-of-the-ordinary:
So we’ve got… a couple of Gemma’s favourite parmesan and pancetta sausages, some Chinese Chicken legs and thighs, and some fish. Ah, the fish.

Gemma sensibly opted for a tuna steak. This was delicious – lightly doused in a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper, and cooked for 2-3 minutes per side so just a little pink remains in the middle (seriously, folks – this is the way to cook tuna steaks). However, I went for sardines. I know that they’re really good on the barbecue, so I picked a couple up from the store. I forgot to ask the fishmonger to gut them… and I didn’t do a good enough job doing so myself! Either that or the fish just wasn’t fresh enough, because some of it didn’t taste good. One of the pair of sardines was delicious with a little squeeze of lemon juice, but full of bones – alas, being sardines, there’s not much you can do.

Determined to improve on my sardine cooking ability – watch this space! That aside, though, another tasty barbecue, done!

Barbecue 24: August 28

Onward! We’re rather running out of time now – half a month to go, and seven barbecues to do. “Mid-September”… that’s a range of dates, right? 😉

Weather

Ominous!
Ominously cloudy! Luckily the rain mostly stayed off (a few spats, but hey) and the barbecue was a success (isn’t it always?).

Food

It’s new recipe time! As usual, we went with the standard things – burgers and sausages. These sausages were Gem’s “I’ll only eat these ones” type: pancetta and parmesan. I must say, they’re great.


Burgers, Parmesan and Pancetta Sausages, and Bacon-wrapped Roquefort Chicken.
Anyway, the main event was stuffed chicken breast – in this case, Bacon-Wrapped Roquefort Chicken. I’m a big fan of blue cheese, but if you’re not, manchego, cheddar, or mozzarella would work equally well. With a little care to prevent cheese leakage, the chicken was awesome.


24: done. 25: coming your way any minute now!

Chinese Chicken

It’s quite hard to find a good combination of ingredients for an authentic Chinese flavour. I’ve been messing with this one for a while and I’m quite happy with it, but if you’ve got any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Ingredients

  • One pack of free-range chicken thighs and legs
  • 3tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2tbsp dark soy sauce or tamari soy sauce
  • 1tbsp Chinese rice wine or cooking wine
  • Two star anise, crumbled
  • 2tsp five spice powder
  • 2tbsp oyster sauce
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Recipe

If the quantities above seem a lot, don’t fret – it’s a marinade. Combine everything except the chicken. Put the chicken in a bowl (the meat will be more flavoursome if you take the skin off), and score the meat so that the marinade can get right in there. Pour the marinade over, and put it all in the fridge for a few hours.

As usual with chicken joints, I recommend you parcook them in the oven first. About 20 minutes at 180 Celsius will be fine, then another ten minutes or so on the barbecue, turning every couple of minutes. Yum!

Bacon-Wrapped Roquefort Chicken

Everyone’s done chicken breasts. So, this is a pretty simple recipe, with a couple of twists. Like chicken? Like bacon? Like cheese? You’re gonna love it.

Ingredients

  • Two free-range chicken breasts
  • Four slices of smoked streaky bacon
  • Two sprigs rosemary, and a few leaves of basil
  • About 50g roquefort cheese, or your preferred cheese (mozzarella works, too)

Recipe

Quite simple, this one. The hardest part is the first bit – cut a hole in the chicken breast! Use a sharp knife, and cut through the long side, but not all the way through – make a pocket. Stuff your cheese in there, and the basil.

It's gooooood.
The idea is that the bacon seals the cheese in. So, place the rosemary sprig on, and then wrap two slices of bacon around each breast, ensuring you’ve covered the cheese. You know the rule – if cheese can leak out, it will.

Now it’s up to you how you cook the chicken on the barbecue. I tried on top of some foil, but didn’t get enough colour on the bacon. In the end I put the meat directly on the grill. Yes, you lose some cheese that way, but you get colour and flavour.

Give this one a try; whether on the barbecue or not, we’ve been doing it for a few years, and it goes really well with a simple salad.

Barbecue 23 (we’re flying): August 17

Woo-hoo, I’m up to date! Barbecue 23 was just last night. Another impromptu one, since the weather turned out nice after all, and there’s a target to reach, folks! I should add that we were spurred on by the smells of our neighbours’ barbecue action.

Ooh, atmospheric.

Weather

Cloudy but warm, which is always nice, but a little worrying. Good job I have rain contingency plans, eh?

Food

We had already planned Milano Chicken (which is chicken with a basil pesto marinade, in this case), and it turns out that it tastes even better when cooked on the barbecue.
Other than that, burgers! I saw some rather tasty looking venison burgers in our supermarket of choice, and we had some frozen beef burgers (Gemma isn’t a fan of game).

Don’t worry, health-crazed folk. We didn’t eat everything you see in the picture – cold barbecued food for lunch the next day = awesome.

Anyway, onward and upward with less than a month to go!

Barbecue 21: August 8

My my, it’s been a while. This is the first of three barbecue updates that I’ll be posting today. We’ve got about one month, one week to get to barbecue 30 – 23 was done yesterday. That’s right, barbecue fans: 7 barbecues, 5 weeks. Will we succeed? Stay tuned!

Weather

A typical sunny affair. See the picture on the left: I’m afraid I didn’t rotate it. I’m sure you’ll cope. Early evening.

I forgot to rotate this. You get the idea.

Food

Now for the fun bit!


Mmm. Oozy.
We bought a couple of chicken legs, which were marinaded in Levi Roots’ Reggae-Reggae sauce, with a few chilli flakes, lime juice, paprika, garlic granules and a touch of soy sauce added (don’t worry, we didn’t eat them all at once).

With that, a couple of thin sausages (more on those later), and my delicious American Stuffed Cheeseburgers (I’ve already been asked if they’re stuffed with Americans. No). Look at them. Don’t you want to try one? Then get that recipe and get on it!


Anyway, this barbecue provided the perfect opportunity to test out the awesome Sausage Holders I received from @redhatman last month. They did me proud:

To readers of a sensitive or prudish disposition, I apologise.



Right then, lots to do – on to barbecue 22!

Milano Chicken

This recipe couldn’t be much simpler. We’ve tried it a couple of times in the oven, and it’s really good, so thought we’d give it a shot on the barbecue. Surprise surprise, it’s better. This possibly qualifies for the least ingredients of any recipe I’ll ever write.

Ingredients

  • Two chicken breasts, preferably free-range. Other joints will be fine, too
  • 2-3 tablespoons good quality basil-based pesto (make your own if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan

Recipe

Remove any skin from the chicken pieces. Using a sharp knife, cut slits about one third deep into the chicken – this means it will cook more quickly, and be more flavourful. Place the chicken pieces in a small bowl.

Mmm. I think that about covers it.
Get the chicken thoroughly covered in the pesto, top and bottom. Now, leave the bowl of chicken in the fridge for at least four hours: this makes a huge difference to the end result.

When you’re ready to cook, sprinkle the top of each chicken piece with parmesan. Place on the barbecue, with the non-parmesan-covered side cooking first. Turn after 5-6 minutes and cook for a further 5-6 minutes. The chicken should look like the picture on the right when done.

Simple, and very delicious. Give it a try!