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From Barbara's Kitchen Barbara, please help before I swear-off grilling chicken

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Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013 7:05 am

Dear Barbara: I’m not bragging, but everyone says I’m great on the grill. The biggest problem for me is chicken! I just can’t seem to get it right. My sister gave me this awesome gourmet chipotle and mango barbecue sauce. I have tried three times to make barbecue chicken with it, and I burn it every time, and, it is raw down by the bone! I am so embarrassed that I won’t even try it anymore. As hard as it is to ask, can you HELP? — Tracy from Lodi

Dear Tracy: You have a lot of company with your problem. Let me make a few suggestions, and please try grilling chicken just one more time. I have to guess what you might be doing differently, but I think one or two of these ideas may help.

Chicken on the grill takes a long time to cook, and you just can’t rush it. Next time, try making a medium-hot fire with the coals banked on one side only.  Put a drip pan under the grill top on the other side. This is called indirect heat. I am going to assume that your grill has a lid, because you need one to use this method.

Oil the grate over the drip pan where you are going to put your chicken pieces, without any sauce on the chicken. Cook them covered for about 25 minutes, turning them every 5 to 10 minutes. Then baste the chicken with the sauce and grill them for another 10 minutes on each side. There is sugar in almost all grilling sauces, and it burns before the chicken has a chance to cook through.

If the juices run clear, the chicken should be done.  This process will take about 45 minutes, so give yourself plenty of time.

I think you can save your status as grill master, and also have chicken you can be proud of!

Dear Barbara: I work, therefore I use quite a bit of convenience foods to get the dinner on the table before the kids need to go to bed. I’m trying to use more fresh fruits and vegetables in our meals because of the nutritional value. I found a  recipe that called for “haricot verts.” The picture looked like it was some sort of gourmet green bean. What is it? — Marti from Stockton

Dear Marti: I think because there is such an interest in cooking right now, mostly due to the popularity of the food network, that we are getting some very “gourmet,” as you say, names for things that are very familiar, but they are trying to make them sound more interesting.

Haricot verts are nothing more than a French green beans. They like to use very slender beans, but they are still just green beans. If you go to a store, and see fresh “haricot verts,” you will probably pay more than if you go to a store that sells fresh “green beans.” The same goes for restaurants.

Make the recipe, you will be doing your family a favor. I’ve also found that if you look around, there are a lot of healthy recipes that actually take less time than some of the so-called “convenience” foods.

Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at Please include your first name and city.



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