Jan Norris: Food and Florida

Food, Restaurants, Recipes and Pre-Disney Florida

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Welcome Debbie Moose — A Gal Who Grills

March 12th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Jan writes: Today I’m thrilled to introduce a new columnist on JanNorris.com: Debbie Moose, of Raleigh, N.C.  Debbie is the former award-winning food editor from the Raleigh News and Observer, now freelancing. Look for her here every other Friday, writing Moose on Fire: A Gal and Her Grill, all about grilling and outdoor dining. She’s got great recipes galore, as well as tips for tools and more, and will answer your grilling questions here, too – just leave your questions in a comment under her column.

Moose On Fire: A Gal and Her Grill

Tropical Herb Chicken

We’re in my favorite time of year for cooking outside. My yard, with dozens of azaleas, looks its best in the spring, and heat hasn’t cranked up yet. I just have to brush the “yellow haze” (the plague of pine pollen) off the patio chairs – or remember not to wear white.

I love my grill, and I am completely a charcoal woman. I acquired a small, portable gas grill to test recipes for my cookbooks faster, but that’s all I use it for.


Grilling on charcoal forces me to slow down and measure time differently. It takes about one hefeweitzen or one side of Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes for the coals to be gray and ready. And food cooked over charcoal just plain tastes better – I don’t care what you gas grillers say. If I wanted to cook on gas, I’d go inside, throw something in the oven and turn on a basketball game.

Sunday evenings are a great grilling time at my house, especially now that the days are longer. My husband and I light the coals, settle down outside with a beer or glass of wine and try to finish the crossword puzzle we started that morning.


This recipe for grilled chicken is a longtime favorite. It’s great as leftovers, too – try it as chicken sandwiches or soft tacos. The recipe is from my cookbook Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home  (Harvard Common Press, 2007).

Use a hot sauce that has a fruit and habanero base, not a vinegar-based one like Tabasco. For nationally marketed sauces, Mo Hotta Mo Betta’s Red Savina Habanero is good, as is Melinda’s Extra Hot Habanero. But look locally – there are lot of good sauces in your own back yard. My favorite is one made in North Carolina: Flying Burrito Flounder Juice, that contains – no kidding – sweet potatoes and habaneros.

Hot Tip of the Week: Never reuse marinade that has been used on raw meats or seafood – the risk of illness is too great. If want to baste your food as it cooks, make an extra cup of marinade and set it aside. Your guests (and your insurance company) will thank you.

Tropical Herb Chicken

  • 1-1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Juice of  2 limes
  • 4 tablespoons fruity Caribbean-style hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf or Italian parsley
  • 8 boneless chicken breast halves (about 4 to 5 pounds)

 In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, lime juice, hot sauce, ground mustard, basil, thyme and marjoram. Mix thoroughly, then stir in the parsley.

Place the chicken breasts in a large reclosable plastic bag or a plastic container with a resealable lid. Pour in the orange juice mixture and distribute it evenly to completely coat the chicken breasts. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, turning occasionally.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct cooking. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken for 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the breasts, until the chicken is done (180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8.

Debbie Moose, a food writer and cookbook author from Raleigh, NC, writes twice a month here about cooking outdoors. Check out her cookbooks: Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool; Wings: More Than 50 High-Flying Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack; Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home; and Deviled Eggs: 50 Recipes from Simple to Sassy. Find out what else Debbie is cooking on her blog, Moose Munchies, at her web site, debbiemoose.com.

Tags: Moose on Fire: A Gal and a Grill

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 GPrimm // Mar 13, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Hi Debbie:
    Interesting post. I need to check out your blog.

    How do you find the right hot sauce, just make sure there’s no vinegar in the ingredients list?

    I’ll probably try it with with a chicken or two I cut up myself. I refuse to make Tyson and company rich by paying obscene prices for cut up birds. I’d guess that for bone-in, skin-on birds, I’d need to marinate it longer, maybe overnight.

    Unless you’re using hardwood charcoal, not briquets, you’re wasting your time and money. I’ve read that in blind taste tests they can detect no flavor difference between food cooked on charcoal or gas. Either way, they beat cooking on any stove or oven.

    Thanks for the recipe. – George

  • 2 Debbie Moose // Mar 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks, George! Look at the hot sauce label. What I mean by a vinegar-based sauce is something like Tabasco or Crystal, that’s basically just vinegar and hot peppers. You want a little Caribbean fruit and fire for this recipe. A little bit of vinegar (or citrus juice) is OK, but it should not dominate for this marinade. Yes, for bone-in, I’d marinate overnight. Works either way. Keep the home fires burning! – Debbie

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