Griddle Me This – The New York Times

Good morning. You can make blackened chicken breasts (above) in your kitchen if you like, but really only if you have a good exhaust fan above your stove. If you don’t, you’ll be opening windows soon enough, and balancing on top of a chair to reach the shrieking smoke alarm.

I prefer the outdoor method, cooking on a steel griddle set over the burners on my gas grill. (Lodge makes one version, small; Steelmade another, large; you could always fabricate your own by buying some carbon steel and placing it over your grill grates.) Using a griddle is a reminder that a gas grill is as much a stove and oven as it is a place to grill things — and a way to keep smoke and grease and heat out of your home. Invest in a griddle this weekend, and you’ll be paid dividends all summer long.

First with that chicken, coated in smoked paprika, salt, cayenne, thyme, oregano and garlic, onion and mustard powders. The spices seize tight and blacken on the oil-slicked surface, releasing a powerful smoke and an incredible depth of flavor in the crust. (You could use the mixture on shrimp or fish instead, if you like, or on a steak or pressed planks of tofu.) Serve with a grilled Caesar salad, and you’ll be happy as a clam.

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Then, the following morning? Return to the griddle to fry bacon for breakfast, to cook eggs or buttermilk pancakes. There’s a lot of surface area, and you could add some sliced apples to the mix, tossing them with some of the fat left over from the bacon until they go soft and fragrant and begin to pick up some color. It’s nice to cook outside in the morning, accompanied by birdsong.

A griddle’s great for a weekend hot-dog party and for making smash burgers. I like it for making fish tacos, too, and for searing scallops. Make Steven Raichlen’s terrific recipe for shrimp a la plancha and your conversion will be complete: You’re an outdoor cook now, conditioned to the elements, ready to take on summer in all its complexity.

Not that you have to do any of that. Indoor cats are welcome here, too.

For them and for all of us: Karla Tatiana Vasquez’s recipe for a Salvadoran quesadilla, adapted by our Ligaya Mishan. It’s a sesame-seed-topped sweet bread made with Parmesan cheese, almost like a savory poundcake, exceptional alongside a cup of coffee at breakfast or as an afternoon snack.

You could make migas for breakfast inside, and fruit salad to go along with it. You could roast chicken thighs with hot honey and lime, and serve them with sautéed green beans. Miso-broiled tofu, to accompany roasted asparagus? That, too!

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Now, it’s nothing to do with garlic scapes or how to cook quail, but Walter Mosley’s latest Easy Rawlins novel dropped this week, “Farewell, Amethystine,” number 16 in the series. It’s 1970, Easy’s 50, his family’s great, his detective agency thriving. Enter Amethystine Stoller, whose ex-husband is missing. It all gets very complicated and difficult, fast.

Mark Bowden’s “Life Sentence” is worth reading, too: a searing nonfiction account of the rise and fall of Montana Barronette, a murderous gang leader in Baltimore. There are shades of “The Wire” to it, and “Homicide,” too. (For those just getting started on Bowden, try his “Black Hawk Down,” from 2019.)

I don’t like stories where the protagonist makes a bad moral choice, but the series “After the Flood,” streaming on BritBox, has plenty of excellent overhead shots of pretty English towns and countryside and sometimes that’s enough.

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