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Coconut Butt Chicken!

Sunday night dinner took a completely different turn last night.  I’d like to say that I came up with this one but I have to confess, it was down to our friends Naomi and Mo who quite thoughtfully gave me a book called “The Asian Barbecue Book” for my birthday.  In that book, there’s a recipe that stopped Heather in her tracks and so we had to try the Coconut Butt Chicken (though it’s officially called “Coconut Roast Chicken with Honey Glaze.”

A couple of things about this recipe before we dive in. First, as with all food, it’s really important to have the right and fresh ingredients on hand. As we live in Singapore, coconuts are more than plentiful. In fact, if our little daughter wasn’t restrained, she’d probably be able to climb the coconut tree in the front garden and pluck one for us right out of the tree.  Anyway, make sure that if you are trying this recipe out, get yourself a fresh coconut, preferably one that’s already been scalped and prepped for cooking.  In the supermarket here, they call them “ready to drink” coconuts.

Second, the grilling technique calls for indirect heat, that is, no flame, just convection heat from within the grill.  What I would strongly suggest is to wrap your chicken’s wings in aluminium foil along with the shoulders and breast.  The glaze on this chicken contains honey and coconut water – that is, its sweet and will burn very easily. Fortunately I managed to stave off some of the char by jumping in quickly but for next time, just wrap the bird and then remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of roasting.

Third, make more marinade than the book tells you, you’ll need it.  In this entry, I’ll give you three times the amount so that you can reserve 1/3 and use 2/3 on the bird.  Lastly, I would say marinate the chicken in the fridge for a couple of hours.  I followed the book and it only called for thirty minutes.  With such a wonderful glaze and marinade, go for a few hours if you can!

OK, on to the main event! Here are your ingredients:

  1. 1 fresh coconut

  2. 1 small onion thinly sliced into rings

  3. 2 scallions, or green onions

  4. 2 green jalapeno peppers, de-seeded and cut into thin slices

  5. 1 whole chicken (cleaned and prepped)

For the marinade you’ll need:

  1. 6 tablespoons of light soy sauce

  2. 9 tablespoons of honey

  3. 3 teaspoons of granulated sugar

  4. 9 tablespoons of coconut water (I had an extra coconut)

  5. 9 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or blended up in the food processor

  6. 3 tablespoons of fresh old ginger, finely chopped or minced

  7. 1.5 teaspoons of fresh black pepper

  8. a healthy pinch of curry powder

Preparing the coconut (which replaces the can of beer in traditional beef butt chicken) you simply add in your onion rings, scallions and jalapeno peppers and stir it around with your finger.  I actually prepped my coconut about 3 hours in advance so that the water inside took on the spice of the pepper and onion.

Next, get your marinade ready and that simply combines the soy sauce, honey and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, add in your coconut water, garlic, ginger, pepper and curry powder.  Let this simmer for about 10 minutes on a low heat then place it to the side and let it cool down to room temp.  Once done, reserve about a third of the marinade for basting.  I don’t like re-heating marinade that’s coated raw chicken.

You can marinate the chicken in a bowl or in a heavy-duty zip top bag, your choice.  Allow the chicken to sit in the marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes or what I would suggest is about 2 hours.  That way the ginger and coconut water really penetrate the chicken meat.

At this point, get your grill up to about 375-400 degrees F.  Wrap your chicken in foil or if you’re brave, you can do that after the first 10 minutes – this bird will burn quickly!  Reminds me of my dad when he comes to visit Singapore – gotta work on a quick tan!  Place the bird, sitting on the coconut over a drip pan and over indirect heat.  Close the dome and let it go for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  I happened to open the dome quite a few times to manage the burn.  Not to worry but if you are going to open your grill cover often, make sure you make up for it in lost time and heat.  Nothing worse than undercooked chicken!

In the last 10 minutes of your roast, baste the bird in the remaining clean marinade and you’ll see the beautiful colours that the glaze creates.  Crispy, sweet and subtle. At the 1 hour 20 minute mark, remove the chicken and wrap it in foil, preferably the same foil you used whilst on the grill.  Let that bird rest for about 10 minutes under the foil and a tea towel. This helps redistribute all the internal juices throughout the bird.

We served our coconut butt chicken with grilled aubergine and a bottle of red wine. No starches necessary for this light and perfectly summer type dish!  Hope it works for you as well as it worked for us! Cheers!

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Overall Heather Rating: 7/10

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