Big bold Helvetica letters “K-I-S-S” were plastered on the wall of my Graphic Design class. “Keep It Simple Stupid” was ingrained into us as we created one white-on-white design after another. It was frustrating at the time to spend hours holding the page up to the sunlight, painstakingly removing any wayward bits of glue and aligning everything “just so.” I attribute my focused perfectionism (simultaneously my greatest strength and worst weakness) back to that Spring semester long ago.
But sometimes, I fall off the wagon. Sometimes, I overcomplicate things in my excitement.
Josh Morton gave me a bottle of Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, and after a few sips I just knew I wanted to cook with it. The sweet, spicy and citrusy liqueur is made with fresh ginger in small batches (look for the handwritten batch number on the back of each bottle). I would have sworn that Josh added oranges in the process (ginger and orange make a delicious combination) to achieve the citrus note. Thankfully I didn’t bet on that because he doesn’t…amazingly, it comes from the fresh ginger.
Barrow’s all started on Barrow’s street. Josh started experimenting with creating liqueurs to serve to friends when he threw dinner parties. Over time he created a ginger liqueur made purely with fresh ginger and it became a hit. Friends started asking him to make bottles for them to take home…and it grew from there.
I decided to play with Asian flavors since ginger is one of the cuisine’s base ingredients. I excitedly added garlic, cilantro, jalapenos and a handful of other ingredients into my Barrow’s Intense marinade, envisioning how the ginger liqueur and the jalapenos would layer different types of spiciness. After mixing up my concoction, I marinated the chicken overnight.
Have you ever heard of an epic failure? The resulting dish had too many ingredients, resulting in muddled flavors. It was like that time I impatiently brushed on too many colors in my oil painting class without waiting for it to dry…it looked like someone threw brown poo onto my canvas. Not pretty, and certainly not appetizing.
Back to square one. This time I am going to keep it simple.
Step 1: Just use Barrow’s Intense for the marinade. It already brings a complexity of flavors, and it will give the chicken just a hint of Kansas City BBQ style sweetness. Add olive oil because fat will carry the flavor and help infuse the chicken.
Step 2: Head to the market and take inspiration from summer’s fresh ingredients. Firm, ripe apricots look gorgeous right now. Their sweet tartness complement and balance the ginger and citrus notes in Barrow’s Intense. I won’t be able to extract enough flavor from fresh apricots for the marinade, so I’ll make a chunky apricot sauce.
Step 3: Add more Barrow’s Intense. By cooking the apricots in the ginger liqueur, the Barrow’s Intense would seamlessly connect the two components of the dish.
I place the serving platter on the table as my family gathers around. They are one of my most discerning
guinea pigs testers. My mom cooks prime rib every holiday and serves Kobe steaks every weekend we get together. We talk about the dinner menu while we eat lunch. I seem to have also turned them into cupcake snobs! The best part is they are brutally honest with their feedback…which is exactly what I need to keep improving.
Rave reviews all around for the Barrow’s Intense Apricot Grilled Chicken. The moist and flavorful chicken is delicious with the apricot sauce, but equally stands well on its own. So much so that my brother asks to see the Barrow’s Intense bottle and wants to get one for himself. My brother-in-law piles on the apricot sauce, and when we run out of chicken he asks me to save the sauce so he can eat it straight from the bowl.
Reduce the salt to a pinch, and the Barrow’s Intense Apricot Sauce can be used as a dessert component. Put it on top of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream, or pour it over a slice of rich butter cake.
I love how this 6-ingredient recipe (not counting salt and pepper) with its simple preparation turned out so well. And in the spirit of “K-I-S-S” I took all of the photos for this post with an iPhone 5. You can’t pry my Canon 5D Mark III out of my hands, but at the end of the day photography distills down to two key ingredients: composition and light. It turns out that design and cooking have quite a bit in common!
Barrow’s Intense Apricot Grilled Chicken
1 chicken, skin-on bone-in and cut into pieces (wings, breast, thighs, legs)
1/2 cup Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Combine the chicken and all of the marinade ingredients in a zip lock plastic bag. If you use a large bowl instead, cover with plastic wrap. Ensure all of the chicken pieces are well-coated with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
Pre-heat the grill to medium-high (~400F). Place the chicken on the grill skin side down. Cover and grill for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken and transfer the wings to a cooler section of the grill (or on the top rack). Cover and grill for about 15 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink.
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 apricots, seeded and diced
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
Pinch to 1/8 teaspoon salt
Melt the butter in a medium-sized pan on medium-low heat. Add the apricots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and Barrow’s Intense and simmer until the apricots are tender, 5 – 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste.