Mike's Mexican Chicken
Get a bunch of chicken thighs. Not just two, three, or four, but a bunch of them. Also ice down some lighter-bodied beers. As the editors of Esquire Magazine stated a couple of years ago in their summer-party primer:
“Who knows best what beer to drink in hot weather? Mexicans. So buy Mexican beer for your warm-weather parties.”
Do with that information as you will. We recommend icing down a twelve-pack, because your friends are going to be with you for this event. Best tip yet – tell them to bring the beer.
Critical secret ingredient - a bottle of Valentina picante sauce. It’s in your grocery store in the Mexican section – all you have to do is look for it. It’s there, and it’s cheap. A big ‘ol bottle is usually less than five bucks. And guess what? It goes perfectly with Mexican beer.
Here is the secret to the recipe:
Give this some time!!!
Getting your Cauldron to the perfect temperature is the first step. Don’t dismiss this. Build a biggish fire and give it time to burn down to a nice bed of coals that will last a good long while. Use big logs. You own a Cowboy Cauldron, ‘fer chrissakes, so take advantage of its capacity. Build the fire down in the bottom of the basin – not on the charcoal grate. Doing so would put the heat too close to the grill for this recipe. Getting the coals right will take at least as much time as it will take to drink two, or possibly three beers. Give it a full hour if you are a fast drinker and “beer timing” isn’t accurate for you. Listen to some music. Tell some stories. Now would also be a good time to consider lighting a cigar.
Now To The Cooking
Most people don’t realize that chicken needs a lot of heat. Few things in life are more disappointing than whitish-pinkish, flabby-ass chicken meat next to the bone. Get it cooked tight to the bone, and you will be rewarded. Fail and you will literally have that nasty pink poultry right in your face.
Flip the thighs occasionally over medium heat until they are mostly done, and only then baste on the Valentina sauce. Give each side two or three good coats, letting each one dry and bind to the meat between coats. By taking the time to let a couple of coats really bind, your meat will be done and the valor of the sauce will really shine. Heat and smoke are perfect for Valentina sauce.
If you need more heat as you are cooking, you can cheat and top-dress your coals occasionally with lump charcoal as you go along. This is a foolproof way to insure you have the heat you need, and one of the reasons your Cauldron’s grill is hinged – so you can get in and play with the fire. One of the beautiful things about this recipe is that if you have a big bed of coals, the heat will be gradually dissipating, making it difficult to burn the sauce, which really just needs to dry out, layer by layer.
If you want to play Mystery Chef, don’t bring the bottle out. For real showmanship, you can put the mostly-cooked thighs in a really big bowl, pour sauce in (from another small bowl, to preserve the mystery) and then toss the thighs the way you would wings. Flip them up and over one another until they are coated well, the put them back on the grill. Your buddies will seriously think you have taken the next step up when they taste [Your Name Here’s] Mexican Chicken from the Cauldron.
When the thighs come off the grill for good, pull it off, throw a bunch of small pieces of wood on the coals, and dine next to a merry blaze. You made it through another winter. You, and your friends, deserve this.
As you soak up the accolades, take one last tiny moment to thank us for these instructions. We make it easy for you because we’ve already made all the mistakes. They are the result of many year’s worth of experience.