I actually know the pedigree of this recipe—it’s from Pacific Grilling: Recipes for the Fire from Baja to the Pacific Northwest, by Denis Kelly. I really recommend this book if you can find it; I bought it for my friend L for her birthday because I knew she was getting a gas grill, and I ended up paging through it and writing down a bunch of good-sounding recipes before I sent it to her. I was very excited about grilling, since it’s easy and tasty and can be practiced year-round in California (as I realized when I was riding my bike around the neighborhood on Easter and smelled cookout after cookout). But we haven’t actually fired up the tiny charcoal grill on our patio yet, because of the George Foreman Grill (GFG). Yes. I’m almost embarrassed, but I love it. A got it as a gift from his brother, but had never used it until I moved in. Although I had always thought GFGs were kind of silly, I gave it a try and now I’m a convert. So quick! So easy! No scary fire involved! So we grill things a lot.
I tried this recipe for the first time a week or so ago, but it makes enough herb/spice rub for several meals, and I’d kept the extra in a jar in the cupboard. I didn’t get around to dinner until late in the evening last night, so I decided to just pull a couple of chicken breasts out of the freezer and whip out the rub. The convenience of this recipe is its main attraction to me. A and I both agreed it wasn’t quite as tasty as some of the marinade recipes we have for grilled chicken, but it was still flavorful and you didn’t have to start it the night before and wait around for it to marinate. (On revisiting the book online to write this entry, however, I did notice that Denis Kelly says he usually rubs the chicken with the spices and then lets it sit in the refrigerator a few hours or overnight so the flavors sink in. Maybe I’ll try this next time.) I should also point out that this rub can be used on any chicken parts you want, and also on pork.
Postscript: I haven't bothered to make this again.
Herb and Spice Rub:
¼ cup paprika
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon chile powder
½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (the recipe says these should be “ground,” but this sounded complicated, so I just smashed them a bit with the bottom of a glass jar—sorry, Denis)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Mix all the rub ingredients in a bowl. (I used a former Grey Poupon jar I keep for making salad dressings--very handy because you can just shake it instead of stirring.) Denis says the rub will keep, covered, for a few months.
2. Start the grill. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Denis neglected to really describe the “rubbing” portion of the process, so I just poured some herb/spice rub into my hand (maybe a teaspoon or so per breast?) and rubbed it all over the chicken with my fingers. You can use however much you think is appropriate. I didn’t find the result overly spicy, though, so don’t be afraid of overflavoring.
3. Grill and eat.
Serves: I’m not sure. We’ve gotten 4 servings out of it so far, and I don’t think we’ve even used half of the jar of herb/spice rub.
Time: Maybe 20 minutes