Brad Prose is a home chef who has devoted his life to all things grilling, barbecue and chiles. One of the results is his new cookbook, Chiles and Smoke: BBQ, Grilling, and other Fire-Friendly Recipes with Spice and Flavor (Harvard Common Press).

He writes in the cookbook about how his quest began when he tried to figure out what to cook for his girlfriend — now wife — who was a vegetarian (note past tense). As a lifelong resident of Phoenix, Arizona, Prose wanted to highlight the cooking influences of that area and his own love for Mexican food as well as celebrate the food from his wife’s home state of Chihuahua in Mexico. 

As Prose studied global foods from Eastern Asia, India, North Africa and more, he realized that one of the common ingredients that tied these various cuisines together was the chile pepper. And so, as he was exploring barbecuing and grilling techniques, Prose began playing around with chile peppers in all their iterations. 

Chiles and Smoke is the happy compendium of all Prose’s work. Filled with recipes for chicken, lamb, beef and seafood, the book is meant for the home griller interested in doing more than slapping a piece of meat on the grill. Prose gives tips on smoking, barbecuing and grilling so you can take your outdoor cooking experience to the next level. He also highlights various chiles and the characteristics of each so the home cook can try their own culinary experiments down the road. 

Here are two recipes to whet your appetite and take your outdoor cooking to the ooh-ahh level.

Chipotle Tahini Grilled Chicken
Photo courtesy Chiles and Smoke.

Chipotle Tahini Grilled Chicken

Serves about 4-6 people

Ingredients

Chipotle Tahini Chicken 

  • 4 pounds bone-in chicken legs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 5 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Slices of lemon 

Marinated Onions

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • ½ teaspoon white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

For garnish

  • 4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Pat the chicken dry. Using a sharp paring knife, cut parallel slashes into the chicken about 1-inch apart, all the way to the bone on both sides of the leg.
  2. Add the canola oil, orange juice, tahini, chipotle chiles, soy sauce, and garlic into a high-speed blender and purée until smooth. Place the chicken in a sealed plastic bag or container. Pour the marinade and rub the chicken to make sure it’s evenly coated. Allow the chicken to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, up to six.
  3. Prepare the onions. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, sumac, sugar, and salt. Taste and adjust with more salt if needed. Pour over the sliced red onion and parsley, tossing to combine. Allow these to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe off excess sauce.
  5. Prepare the grill for a two-zone cooking setup at medium-high heat, about 350-400°F, with the hot coals on one side. I recommend adding hardwood to the charcoal, such as apple or hickory.
  6. Clean and oil the grill grates when ready. Place the chicken skin-side down directly over the coals and grill for about 5-6 minutes until the chicken is seared and releases from the grates. Flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes to sear the other side. Move the chicken to the cooler side of the grill when ready and close the lid, allowing the chicken to finish cooking for another 10 minutes or until the meat registers at least 170°F.
  7. Remove the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve with the Marinated Onions and garnish with sesame seeds. Squeeze a slice of lemon over the chicken before serving.
Garlic Mojo Skirt Steak Tacos
Photo courtesy Chiles and Smoke.

Garlic Mojo Skirt Steak Tacos

Serves about 4-6 people 

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds skirt steak
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup Spicy Garlic Mojo Sauce

Spicy Garlic Mojo Sauce

  • 20 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • Juice of 2 limes

Creamy Corn Salsa

  • 4 ears sweet corn, husked
  • 3/4 cup Mexican crema (or sour cream)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, diced finely
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 medium white onion, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 teaspoons Spicy Chili Powder* 
  • Kosher salt to taste

For serving

  • 8-10 corn tortillas
  • Hot Pickled Red Onions*
  • Slices of lime

*Note: You can get Prose’s recipes for Spicy Chili Powder and Hot Pickled Red Onions recipes in his book Chiles and Smoke.

Instructions

  1. Prepare the mojo sauce first by heating your oven to 300°F. This can be prepared days ahead of time.
  2. Add the garlic cloves into a medium, ovenproof saucepan. Pour the olive oil in, making sure that the garlic is covered. Cover the pot with foil or a lid and cook for about 45 minutes. Garlic aromas will be coming out of the oven, and the cloves should start to be a golden, nutty brown in appearance. The texture will be soft, almost like peanut butter.
  3. Remove the pot from the oven and let the garlic and oil cool completely to room temperature. Place the garlic, oil, cilantro, chipotle chiles, salt, pepper, and oregano in the blender. Purée until the mix is very smooth and squeeze in the lime juice. Blend briefly to mix, season, and adjust if needed. This should be a strong, spicy, and salty flavor.
  4. Slice the skirt steak into two manageable pieces, making sure they will fit on your grill. Pat the steaks dry and season with the salt on each side. Brush the Spicy Garlic Mojo Sauce on each side and place the steak in a resealable container. Allow the steak to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, up to overnight.
  5. Heat the grill for direct cooking at medium-high heat, about 350-400°F. Clean the grill grates and oil them as needed.
  6. Grill the corn first, cooking for about 8-10 minutes total with the lid closed. Turn the corn every few minutes to cook evenly and build char. Remove the corn from the grill when ready and allow to cool.
  7. Turn up the heat a little and place the skirt steaks on the grill. The oils from the marinade may drip down into the coals, so be mindful. Flip the steaks every minute or so for about 6-8 minutes total. Aim for about 130°F internal temperature if you’re cooking to a medium finish and remove the steaks from the grill. Allow them to rest and prepare the salsa.
  8. Cut off the corn kernels and add them to a bowl. Mix the other salsa ingredients together, adding as much Spicy Chili Powder as you’d like for additional heat. Season with salt to taste.
  9. Slice the steak into cubes. Serve with warm corn tortillas, Creamy Corn Salsa, Hot Pickled Red Onions, and slices of lime.
Chiles and Smoke book cover art
Chiles and Smoke: BBQ, Grilling, and Other Fire-Friendly Recipes with Spice and Flavor
Brad Prose | Harvard Common Press | $26.99 | 192 pages

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