Sunday, 25 August 2013

Persian Grilled Chicken Wings

It seemed so easy; post one blog each week on Wednesday. But last week I had a very bad cold and felt horrible. And with posting a new blog every week the problem is not just to have a topic. I like to have a recipe with it, a recipe that I tried and tested before off course. Plus self made pictures to accompany the recipe and make the story more visible.
But sometimes our plates are already empty before I realise a photo of it would have been nice!
And last week I did not feel like cooking at all; a real sign of being sick for a crazy Dutch foodie...

The weekend before I felt miserable we had a great BBQ with a few of our neighbours. It's a tradition that was started 4 years ago by my Iranian neighbours when they moved to our street. A typical gesture of Iranian hospitality we came to know!

It has been more than once that they brought us some delicious Iranian/Persian food. And our favourite is their grilled chicken with crispy skin and really fluffy rice (which I found out after I Googled it is known as Zereshk Polow) One time it happened that I was at their door around dinner time and my husband en myself were immediately invited at the dinner table. Our neighbours told us it's Iranian hospitality to always have an extra plate at the table for unexpected visitors! It's this kindness and hospitality that makes us want to travel Iran in the near future. I think it must be a wonderful Foodie Destination, with extremely friendly people, to explore.

It took me some time do discover the 'secret' of our neighbours delicious grilled chicken wings (or drumettes to be more precise). One of the reasons I guess was their way of speaking Dutch and me not speaking their Persian language known as 'Farsi' ;-)

First of all there is the special BBQ with skewers they use. (see pictures below) I guess in Iran it's common to buy that kind of BBQ but in the Netherlands he had it custom made.

Persian chicken drumettes on skewers

The second 'secret' of the crispy chicken skin is to grill it as far as possible from the charcoals.
Slow cooking on the BBQ. This way they will be done but not burnt.

Grilling chicken on skewers at my neighbours Persian BBQ

For a while I thought he used a marinade for the chicken pieces, until I found out that it was not really a marinade like I know it. But when I asked my neighbour last weekend again to explain me how he marinades the chicken this were his words; 'just some salt & pepper and a bit of saffron for the color'. And then, at the last minute just before I was about to leave, he said: 'but what's really important is the onion'.
The onion???
I had never seen any onion with the crispy chicken drumettes from their Persian BBQ before. It turned out that he 'marinated' the chicken drumettes overnight with some salt, pepper, saffron and finely chopped onions.

It found out that it's a commonly used method for Persian chicken kebabs (Jujeh Kebab) and off course there are many variations possible. Eugenia from the blog Culinaria Eugenius  advises to pulverize the onion instead of chopping it. While Sanam from My Persian Kitchen and  Laurie from Laurie Constantino both add some yoghurt to the (grated) onion and use chicken breast instead of chicken wings or chicken drumettes.

Chicken wings and drumettes marinating with onions overnight in the fridge

It was the first time I heard of this and off course I had to test it immediately as soon as I felt better this weekend.  Even though we don't own a Persian BBQ with skewers it worked out perfectly on our normal BBQ! 
I'm not sure what kind of chemical process  takes place with the onions and the chicken, but the chicken skin was as crispy as when our Iranian neighbour grills it!

Persian chicken grilling on our  'normal'  BBQ

The only thing I have not figured out yet is the amount of salt and pepper I have to use, because the taste was a bit to bland at our first attempt.
Update 10/09/2013: I made it again and wrote the exact amounts of salt and pepper I used in the recipe.

Here is my version of my neighbours Persian grilled chicken:
For the Dutch recipe you can click here.

Persian grilled chicken

For about 4 persons as part of a  BBQ or as a main dish with other side dishes

  • 1 kilo chicken wings or drumettes (our neighbour uses drumettes, we also like the wings so we mix)
  • approximately 160 grams of finely chopped onion
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper & 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Grind the saffron with a mortar and pestle and mix with the chicken pieces and chopped onion in a plastic bag. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Refrigerate overnight! Or at least for a few hours before grilling them.

3. Heat the charcoals for the BBQ. Place the chicken pieces ( without the onions!) on the uppermost grill of the BBQ or on skewers and roast slowly until golden and crispy.


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