It's spring and it's time for us to dust off the grill and start cooking outside! There isn't a better way to break in your grill than to cook up some hamburgers.
Now, I like a good beef (grass-fed, of course) burger, but my family does not always want to eat red meat, leaving me to become creative in which meat I cook. So, I like to use chicken thighs whenever possible. They grind up well and have a lot of flavor (way more than breast meat).
To grind up chicken thighs, you will need to use either a food processor or a meat grinder (like the attachment for a KitchenAid Mixer). Otherwise, you will be chopping up chicken thighs with a knife, which will be time consuming.
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be found in the Mexican food section of the grocery store. They add a nice smokey flavor to the burgers along with a little bit of heat.
Chipotle Chicken Burgers
Makes 4-6 burgers
Place the chicken thighs in a food processor. Pulse several times to roughly chop up the meat. Add the garlic, onion, chipotle peppers, salt, and pepper. Pulse several times until blended and the meat is chopped up.
If using a meat grinder, run the chicken through the coarse blade. Then mix it with finely chopped garlic, onions, chipotle peppers, salt, and pepper.
Form meat into patties. Cook on a grill or on the stove, about 4-5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature of the burger reaches 165ºF. Add cheese if desired. Serve on a toasted bun with all the regular burger fixings.
Spanish Paella. I'm not sure what to say about paella other than it's one of the most awesome dishes to prepare on the grill, providing you have a grill (charcoal is preferable) and a paella pan that will withstand the heat.
There are many variations of paella. Some are made with chorizo; some are not. Honestly, it all boils down to preference. I'm offering my preferred way of making paella. A basic paella recipe is made with a short grain rice (like arborio or bomba*), chicken, seafood, and saffron. You need saffron or else it won't be paella. Check out the Spice House and Penzey's Spices for saffron.
Then you need a large shallow pan. There are several places to buy paella pans -- all cooking stores will carry a few different brands that vary in price. If you are going to grill your paella, look for a pan that will withstand the high temperature of the grill -- like something made with cast iron or anodized steel. I used Mauviel 14-inch paella pan.
Paella is a great dish made for a large crowd. If you like to entertain friends and family, always have an arsenal of great dishes you can make easily and that are sure to please. Add this recipe to your stack of dinner party recipes.
*Bomba rice is a short grain rice that the Spanish typically use in their paella. Arborio rice is a short grain rice from Italy that is easier to find in most grocery stores.
Season the chicken with the paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up 1 day.
Preheat the grill. (This recipe can be made inside on the stove -- use medium to medium high heat.)
Heat the stock in a small saucepan with the saffron. The saffron will infuse the stock. Keep warm. Heat the olive oil in the paella pan on the grill. Brown the chicken on all sides in the hot oil. Remove from the pan. Continue to cook the chicken on the grill as you sauté the vegetables. Add the onions, garlic, and parsley. Sauté until soft, about 3-5 minutes; season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the chorizo sausage; sauté for another 3-5 minutes. Add the rice; stir to coat with the oil and vegetables. Add the white wine and tomatoes; cook until mixture reduces, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of stock. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken to the pan. Cook until the rice and chicken are cooked through; about 20-25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the seafood; cook until clams/mussels open and the shrimp turns pink; about 5-10 minutes. Add the peas at the last minute. Serve with bread and wine.
Now it's time to feast.