A passion for food + fashion

Playing with Fire: Smoked Habanero Garlic Chicken

In Food, Recipes on December 13, 2010 at 9:16 pm

When I walked into my kitchen yesterday afternoon it was like I’d been sucker punched by Manny Pacquiao—that is if the Pac-Man were made out of garlic. Here was the scene: My husband and his friend Francis (who is shooting a totally AMAZING docu-series on Homeboy Industries—more on that soon!) were in the kitchen at the beginning of a three-hour cooking odyssey. Francis was teaching him how to smoke Habanero Garlic Chicken over hickory chips on the grill, a recipe Francis learned from a dude in Austin, TX, upon whom the character of  David Wooderson in Dazed & Confused is said to be based. And in Texas, it’s all about slow and low. Trust me, this is man’s work. What follows are Mr. Foodinista’s photographs of this burly business. Outside, hickory chips were soaking in our toddler’s bucket:

Inside, Francis had lost feeling in his fingers deveining and seeding the hotter-than-hell habanero peppers before pulsing in the food processor. You want to end up with about a cup of minced peppers.

Meanwhile, my husband was peeling six HEADS of garlic.

They also got pulverized, and then mixed in with the habaneros and at least two cups of olive oil. Francis chopped up what amounted to a large handful of fresh rosemary and tossed it into the mix.

Me? I would have used gloves for this part, but Francis was feeling no pain. Starting at neck end, he put his hand between skin and breast meat to loosen skin of each chicken. Then he spooned several tablespoons of the habanero mixture over breast meat under skin, and also brushed remaining mixture over the outside of the two chickens. (For god’s sake, if you try this at home, do NOT touch your eyes after handling habaneros.)

Inside each cavity he placed half a lemon to keep the birds from drying out. Outside my husband loaded up the smoker box on his beast of a grill with soaked hickory chips. The boys placed the birds on the grill over indirect heat and smoked ’em at 250-275 degrees for close to three hours.

During which time beers disappeared. If it sounds like we’re in the middle of summer over here, there’s a reason for that. I hate to share this with people living in places where sports arenas are collapsing under the weight of snow, but we’re having a heat wave in Los Angeles. Yesterday was in the mid-80s. But the truly scorching news was how crazy good these chickens were. Smoky and juicy with a fiery heat that slowly builds. Just totally hot in every sense of the word.

Do try this at home, preferably at mine.

  1. This smocked habanero garlic chicken came out GREAT in the pictures. This recipe sounds simply delish.

  2. Haha! Wow how awesome and creative!!! This looks and sounds absolutely delicious. ANd yes, this summer, I ignorantly rubbed my eye after chopping habanero peppers. I was blind in one eye for about 30 minutes

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