BBQ Chicken with Ramp Mustard and Sweet Potato Fries

ESTIMATED CALORIC INFO
Serving Size 4 ounces chicken
Calories from Protein 75%
Calories from Fat 20%
Calories from Carbs 5%
Total Calories 400

So here’s the last post in my little mini-series from A Great Saturday with Friends™.

The day included minted white sangrias, mushroom pockets and BLTs for lunch, and some grilled asparagus as a side dish for this main course.

Here’s how it all went down…

Saturday morning I woke up early to hit the farmer’s market with very little idea of what I’d be preparing that evening for our anticipated guests. I made the sangria the day before, so – check. I had the ingredients for some light lunch fare as well, so that’s covered. But dinner? I’d been struggling all week with making a decision.

Enter the ramp. Now, this day was my first personal exposure (sounds naughty, I know… … and it was) to ramps. I’d read a lot about them recently and had filed a note somewhere in the back of my mind to keep an eye out for them soon at the farmer’s market, but on this particular morning they were the farthest thing from my mind. “So what the hell is a ramp?” you might be wondering.

A ramp is basically a wild leek. It’s a bit similar to a green onion, but .. well, different. More garlicky. You know, I don’t even really know what the hell a ramp is just yet. I feel under qualified to explain. But what I do know is they are DELICIOUS. And I know they basically only grow for a very short season around the mid-Atlantic region (a bit farther than the mid-Atlantic, actually going as far north as Canada). They are supremely popular in West Virginia, where they are used in countless dishes and the coming of ramp season is celebrated with numerous festivals and events. If you know more about ramps than me (and if you’re reading this and you had already heard of them then you probably do), then I’d love if you’d share some of your knowledge with me and my readers.

Anyway, I hit the market and went up to my local meat guy to see what he had left in stock. I got stuck in some ridiculous traffic (took over an hour for a 20 minute drive), and was worried what he’d have left, but still even then didn’t know what I’d be making. I picked up some bacon (always do), and a few other things I usually get. And then I asked if he had any chicken left.

“Yep… we’ve got…. umm… oh no, wait…. hm… yep, there’s one left. You want it?”

Clearly, a sign from above. Or below. Or somewhere, anyway. (I’m an equal opportunity non-believer).

So I bought the chicken from the man and my plans started formulating. Of course, pretty much implicit in this is the slow realization that I will have to butcher a whole raw chicken for the first time in my life if I wanted to bbq it. I suppose I could have roasted it over the grill but I just wasn’t into that. And the fact that I’d be using the grill was absolutely non-negotiable thanks to the beautiful weather we were having. So I thought, okay, now I just need to find some seriously kick ass bbq sauce and I’ll be well on my way.

ESTIMATED CALORIC INFO
Serving Size 4 potato fries
Calories from Protein 6%
Calories from Fat 1%
Calories from Carbs 93%
Total Calories 150

I went over to another one of my favorite stands at the market and asked if they had any bbq sauce. No luck. Asked if he had any alternative suggestions, and when pressed, he suggested… ramp mustard. That link goes to the actual producer, by the way, not just a random link. Bigg Riggs farm – they make some really great products. So, knowing what I knew about ramps (very little), I just went with it. I also picked up a bunch of fresh ramps while I was there to stash for another time.

Came home then and immediately starting brining the chicken (explained in this post) so it would thaw in time.

Then I went out for a run. Just shy of 7 miles with Amanda. Aaaaand I locked us out of the house. So we got back all sweaty and thirsty and ready to collapse and had to sit on the stoop and wait to be bailed out by a friend. You know, there are some things I’m really good at. Some things I even have pretty decent consistency with. Not being a complete and total idiot is not one of these things.

Despite the delay I still managed to get most of my prep work done by the time the guests arrived. I hacked, hammered, and carved my way through the raw chicken until finally I had 10 pieces that, if not perfect, at least approximated the idea of wings, thighs, legs, and breasts. I will spare you the pictures and the gory details, but it was definitely an eye-opening experience for me. You simply can not do something like that without becoming intimately familiar with your food – of course I see this as a very positive thing.

ESTIMATED FOOD MILES
Chicken 45 miles
Sweet Potatoes 200 miles
Ramp Mustard 90 miles
Total 335 miles

Once I had my chicken cut up – and yes, I did mean 10 pieces, I cut the breasts in half – I put it back in the brine for a little while longer just to make sure it had fully thawed all the way through.

Ingredients…

- chicken: legs, thighs, wings, breasts
- 4-5 sweet potatoes
- ramp mustard

Start by bringing the grill up to medium heat and boiling a stock pot with 4 or 5 cups of water. Bonus points if you’ve got a side burner on your grill.

Cut sweet potatoes into long fry shapes. You can skin them first if you want, but I prefer not to. More fiber that way. Add salt to the stock pot.

Drop some salt into the stock pot, and once the water is boiling add the potato slices and bring back down to a simmer.

Sweet Potato Fries

Liberally coat chicken pieces with Bigg Riggs ramp mustard (no, I’m not getting any kickbacks – it’s just GOOD).

If you have any experience with cooking a whole chicken, you’ve probably realized that all the parts of it will not cook evenly. So it’s best to coordinate when you place each piece on the grill so it will all come off at the same time.

Put the legs and thighs on the grill first.

5 minutes later add the breasts.

5 minutes later add the wings.

As you are going through this sequence, check and make sure none of the meat is too close to any flame that it will get burnt. You want a to sear a bit to seal the juices within the meat, but you should do that when you first put the meat on the grill and then move it farther away from the flame for the rest of the cooking. Also keep an eye on the dripping fat, as it may cause flare-ups and you don’t want anything catching. I like to re-apply the marinade or glaze (in this case the ramp mustard) pretty much every time I handle the chicken while it’s grilling.

The potato should have been boiling in the stock pot for about 10-15 minutes by now. Remove from the stock pot and let the water drip off in a colander for 5 minutes.

Once the breasts are on leave everything in there, away from the flame and with the hood closed, for about 10 minutes.

Open the hood, flip the meat, and add potatoes to the grill. You can put them near the flame because you just want to crisp them up, but make sure they don’t catch on fire.

Close grill and cook for another 10 minutes or so, turning potatoes half way through. Continue to check periodically for flare-ups.

Depending on how much chicken you are cooking, your length of time will vary – it usually takes 25-30 minutes total or so. Check legs and thighs for doneness as they will be the last to cook fully.

Remove chicken from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes for the juices to set before cutting into it. Serve!

BBQ Chicken with Ramp Mustard

The ramp mustard totally makes this. It is amazing. I was hoping to try to approximate a recipe for some homemade mustard but if you want to go that far it’s on you this time.

Cheers.

Cheers

What do you know about ramps? I think I’m in love.