Corn-Smoked Chicken with Arugula

The team over at Ideas In Food have genius ideas. They also have the luxury of lots of time and fancy equipment. Fortunately, some of their ideas are easily applicable for the home cook, like using a variety of food by-products to smoke other foods. This time I used corn husks to add smokey flavor to grilled chicken breasts. Just a side note: I split a chicken breast between two people. If you want a whole breast for everyone, double the number called for.

Serves 4

  • 1 garlic scape
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 crushed piquin chilies
  • 4 corn on the cob
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 3-4 cups loosely packed arugula

Light a chimney full of charcoal. Slice 1 garlic scape (if that’s unavailable, use 1 clove of garlic), and add that to a sauce pan with 3/4 cup olive oil and 2-3 crushed piquin chilies (or a large pinch of red pepper flakes). Heat the oil gently for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and let it sit. Don’t let it get too hot, otherwise you will ruin some of the flavor of the oil. When the coals are nice and hot, dump them into your grill, adding more if necessary. If you are using a gas grill, you can light it now and let it get hot. Trim the hair and wispy leaves off the husks of 4 corn on the cob. Roast the corn for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the husks are deeply charred. Set the corn aside and pull off the husk, leaving the inner-most layer. Move the coals to one side of the grill, or adjust the gas burners so half of the grill is off. Add the husks to the coal-free portion of the grill, under the grate. Add 2 large chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on is preferable) onto the coal-free portion of the grill and cover, leaving a little bit of ventilation. Baste the chicken occasionally with the oil prepared earlier (wait until the chicken has been cooking for a few minutes). Once the chicken is cooked ~1/2 way through, flip it over and put it above the coals. Continue to baste occasionally. Pull the chicken when feels firm and it’s internal temperature is 150-155: carry-over heat should take it the rest of the way. While the chicken is resting, reheat the corn on the grill for a few minutes. Toss 3-4 cups loosely packed arugula with a few spoonfuls of the oil (make sure to get plenty of garlic and chilies), along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove the bones from the chicken breasts (you can probably pull them off), and slice on a bias. Remove the husks from the corn and slice off the ends of each cob. Rub some butter all over the cobs and sprinkle with salt. Either slice the corn off the cobs, or leave the cobs whole.

To plate, swirl the arugula to make a little nest, and add a handful to each plate. Top the arugula with half of a chicken breast, and add the corn. Enjoy!

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