ORIGINAL ENTRÉES: BBQ CHICKEN Friday, September 30, 2011

What can you say about a chicken that already hasn’t been said? They’re not very pretty (they look like forgotten, feathered dinosaurs), they’re not very nice (they can turn cannibalistic) and they’re not very bright (they cross roads* for the sole, thick and simple reason of merely getting to the other side).

And despite the fact that their hens produce perhaps the world’s most versatile food—the incredible, edible egg—chicken, as a dish, is often, in a word, boring.

Because when you get down to it, chicken, as a rule, taste pretty generic. If you don’t spice it up with something (anything), it can tend to taste an awful lot like hospital food: bland and indiscriminate.

Fortunately, through years of technique and inspiration, the collective peoples of the world’s cultures have found countless and, yes, versatile, ways to transmogrify the meat from this fowl into some of the most memorable feasts imaginable.

And, of course, in the United States of America, and we like our chicken barbecued, and as any Texan worth his or her shiny boots knows, the secret’s in the rub.

So before we smoke and barbecue our chicken, we rub it with, variously: extra virgin olive oil, chiles, garlic, onions, red wine vinegar, honey, our housemade harissa (a peppery Moroccan sauce) and a pestled mixture of chile flakes, coriander and pimentón (Spanish paprika).

After it’s smoked, for an extra dose of good measure, we rub the chicken once more and plate it, finishing it off with a relish made of pickled okra and peppers.

What you choose to pair it with, though, is up to you. Perhaps you want to starch it up or veg it out. Either way, each dinner entrée comes with your choice of two pairings (pictured here with our bacon-braised mess ‘o’ greens and our soufflé-like mac ‘n’ cheese).

But the best part might be that this dish is now available for dinner and lunch.

*Why did the chicken cross the road? Perhaps the best answer of them all is the Ernest Hemingway-inspired answer: “To die. Alone. In the rain.”