A Perfect Early Summer Grill Menu
At the table, just like in France!!

A Perfect Early Summer Grill Menu

As I prepared for an early summer grill class last week I pinched myself.  Anyone who has written a cookbook knows just what I mean.  After months of testing, tweaking, writing, re-writing, testing some more, editing, copy editing, agonizing, dreaming, there’s a book.  And then there’s someone saying,  “Please, please teach us how to grill!”

My New Book Hot Off the Press

What’s the expression? “When the rubber meets the road.”  This class would be that moment for me and the book, as I devised a menu entirely on the grill, from amuse-bouches to dessert.

In the kitchen
At work in the kitchen
Radishes and Asparagus on the Grill for Impressionist Vegetables

Naturally all ingredients were seasonal. Everything was purchased, organized, measured, chilled, softened, ready. The grills were polished to a fare-thee-well. I knew the recipes worked because they don’t get in a book if they don’t. But the night before I was sleepless. Timing had to be perfect, we had eight people, two grills, and 7 recipes each with several moving parts. So I worked and re-worked the game plan in my head, going over every detail until I had it right.

Mushrooms
Nell with the mushrooms
Avocados on the grill
Avocados on the grill
Grilling the chicken
Grilling the chicken

FRENCH GRILL featured on Grill Maestro Steven Raichlen’s blog Barbecue!Bible –  Take a Look!

arrived the next day in a flurry of enthusiastic nervousness because they’d rarely grilled, which is why they’d come of course. Once aprons were firmly tied and tea towels were hanging professionally at waists, the cooks settled in to work. There was much laughter, much talking back and forth, much visiting among stations as each person wanted to learn everything. They diligently peeled, chopped, blended, plucked and mixed.  I prepared the grills and once the coals were ready and the gas grill was hot, we moved outside. A light breeze had come up to sweep away the summer heat, and as the mushrooms went on one grill the avocados colonized the other. As an ingredient was grilled and removed, the grill was brushed clean and on went the next, so that everything proceeded apace, from radishes and asparagus that turned golden and juicy on the gas grill, to chicken crisping to perfection over the coals, as it was swabbed with spiced mustard on a regular basis.

When all the elements for the meal were ready, we put the shortcake to bake on the grill.  No one believed it could be done.

Shortcake
Shortcake baking on the grill

But Guess What?!  It Can!!

Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Shortcake

As each element of the meal came off the grill and went where it was supposed to, I realized I not only had a fantastic group on my hands, but those recipes were just as exciting, beautiful, and easy to prepare in this context as they’d been on my grills at home.

Amuse
Amuse-bouches
At the table
At the table, just like in France!!

We stood enjoying amuse-bouches, toasting each other and ourselves with rosé, then sat down to a meal that was a tribute to the season and the grill, and the infallible intuition of the newly accomplished grill cooks!  It was, and is, a moment and a meal to remember!

FRENCH GRILL featured on Grill Maestro Steven Raichlen’s blog Barbecue!Bible –  Take a Look!

Print Recipe
HOT TOAD CHICKEN - LE POULET DE DIABLE EN CRAPAUDINE
A crapaud is a toad, which is what this chicken looks like when its backbone is removed and it’s flattened, like a toad that’s about to hop! But don’t worry, it will sit still as you rub butter under its skin, then slather it with a gorgeously piquant mixture of mustard and peppers, à la diable. Why go to the effort of removing the backbone? Well, it’s no effort first of all; once you get the hang of cutting out the backbone, you’ll do it with your eyes closed, in seconds. Second of all by flattening it out, it cooks evenly over the coals and ends up looking intriguingly delicious. Serve this with a delicious micro-brew, one that’s not too dark. ASTUCE: remember to cut the bones at either side of the base of the neck, so that you can flatten the chicken easily. And if you want this truly “devilish” you’ll likely want to increase the amount of spicy smoked paprika and piment d’Espelette. SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: poultry shears or heavy chef’s knife, pastry brush (for brushing butter and mustard mixture on chicken), tongs, gloves. PREPARATION AND COOKING TIME: about 1-1/2 hours DIFFICULTY LEVEL: moderate
HOT TOAD CHICKEN - LE POULET DE DIABLE EN CRAPAUDINE
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • One 3-1/2 to 4 pound (1.75-2kg) chicken at room temperature,
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • fine sea salt
  • teaspoon ½piment d’Espelette – or to taste
  • teaspoon ½sweet paprika – or to taste
  • teaspoon ¼spicy smoked paprika – or to taste
  • 1/3 cup (75ml) Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted
  • Flat leaf parsley or other herb sprigs – for garnish
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • One 3-1/2 to 4 pound (1.75-2kg) chicken at room temperature,
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • fine sea salt
  • teaspoon ½piment d’Espelette – or to taste
  • teaspoon ½sweet paprika – or to taste
  • teaspoon ¼spicy smoked paprika – or to taste
  • 1/3 cup (75ml) Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted
  • Flat leaf parsley or other herb sprigs – for garnish
HOT TOAD CHICKEN - LE POULET DE DIABLE EN CRAPAUDINE
Instructions
  1. Turn the chicken on its breast. Using poultry shears, cut from the tail towards the neck on the right side of the backbone; you’ll need to feel your way through this, but it’s easy to do. Repeat on the other side of the backbone, remove the backbone piece and reserve it (it’s great on the grill). Flip the chicken and remove the giblets, which you can grill or use for something else. If your chicken isn’t completely flat, you can make a short vertical cut at the top of the sternum/base of the neck (this is advisable for true free-run chickens with actual tensile strength; not necessary for flabbier varieties). This will allow the chicken to lay flat.
  2. Carefully loosen the skin from the meat of the chicken, making an effort not to tear or poke a hole in it, by gently inserting a finger between skin and meat. Brush the meat with half the butter as evenly as you can, then pull the skin back over the meat.
  3. Salt the chicken all over.
  4. Build a fire in the grill, and when the coals are red and dusted with ash, divide them in the barbecue, putting half the coals on either side. Set the grill over the coals.
  5. While the grill is heating, whisk together the peppers and the mustard in a small bowl.
  6. Place the chicken, skin-side down, in the center of the hot grill. Cover and cook until the skin begins to turn golden, for 15 minutes (the temperature of the grill should be about 325F; 165C). If the skin isn’t golden at this point, remove the cover of the grill and move the chicken over the coals, watching it until the skin browns nicely, which will take just a few minutes.
  7. Flip the chicken onto the meat side, and rub the skin with 2/3 of the mustard mixture. Cover the grill and cook the chicken for 10 minutes, then flip the chicken back to the skin side. Rub the remaining mustard mixture on the meat of the chicken and sprinkle it with half the breadcrumbs, pressing them into the mustard. Shake a few drops of butter over the breadcrumbs. Cover the barbecue and grill the chicken until it is nearly cooked through, about 15 minutes. The breadcrumbs will be crisp and lightly golden Turn the chicken onto the meat side, sprinkle the skin with the remaining breadcrumbs and press them onto the chicken. Drizzle with the remaining butter. Cover and continue to cook until the breadcrumbs are golden and the meat is cooked through, an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the chicken from the grill and place it, meat-side down, on a warmed platter. You can serve it immediately, when it’s lukewarm, or at room temperature. Garnish with herb sprigs before serving.
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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Cathy

    I have made the shortcake recipe several times and it always turns out so delicious. I can’t wait to try the Hot Toad Chicken. I also need to try radishes on the grill – what fun.

    Your classes always look like SO much fun!

    1. Susan

      cathy – you’ll love the radishes, and my classes ARE so much fun!

  2. Mark

    Radishes on the grill?? Never would I have thought of grilling radishes! Cannot wait to try them on my grill!!

    Mark

    1. Susan

      Mark – you’ll love ’em!!! Ideal to cut the big ones in quarters….

  3. Dawn

    Susun, is there a dressing for the radishes or are they “au natural”

    1. Susan

      Dawn, this question is answered handily in FRENCH GRILL. There is a cilantro oil that goes with them!

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