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Fire and Ice

These complimentary dishes created and shared by Chris Najmola, head chef at Füse Restaurant, are the perfect duo for a delicious summer day. When friends and family come over, Chocolate and Chili Rubbed Chicken, a familiar dish with a major twist, is a personal go-to for ensuring that his guests are well-fed and wowed. Chris’s penchant for using hyper-local and seasonal ingredients inspired his Charred and Chilled Summer Veggie Salad. Füse Restaurant is located in downtown Augusta at the corner of Tenth and Broad Street.

Chocolate and Chili Rubbed Chicken
Serves approximately eight

—6 pounds whole chicken
—1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
—2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
—Fresh cilantro and lime wedges

Chili Rub

—3 tablespoons 100% cocoa
—3 tablespoons dark chili powder
—2 tablespoons smoked paprika
—2 tablespoons granulated garlic
—2 tablespoons kosher salt

Where the magic starts:

Mix all dried spices, cocoa and salt thoroughly. Taste, then nod in approval. Section chicken into 10 pieces (legs, wings, thighs and halved breasts). In a large mixing bowl, mix chicken, oil and chili rub. Massage into meat evenly, making sure to get flavor into every nook and cranny. Allow to marinate for at least two hours in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and warm up cast iron skillet on stovetop at medium-high. Add all chicken to skillet, skin side down, and brown for about five minutes. Flip each piece of chicken. They should have a nice color. Slide the skillet directly into 400-degree oven; bake for 35 minutes. Heat barbecue sauce in small saucepot on medium-low. Cook chicken until it reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Ladle sauce onto dish under chicken (nobody will likely need it after tasting your rub). Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges, then enjoy!

Charred and Chilled Summer Veggie Salad

—1 cup green onion, cleaned and cut into thirds
—1 cup red bell pepper, julienned
—1 cup baby portabella, cut in half and washed
—1 cup cherry heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
—1 tablespoon salt, fresh ground black pepper
—4 cups spring mix/favorite salad greens
—1/4 cup feta
—2 tablespoons fresh oregano

Champagne Vinaigrette

—1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
—1/4 cup champagne vinegar
—1 teaspoon honey
—Salt and pepper to taste

Where the magic starts:

Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Toss bell pepper, green onion, tomato and mushrooms in  2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Once skillet is hot, toss in veggie mix. Leave until a nice char develops on the bottom of veggies (about three-five minutes). The top half of veggies should remain raw. Slide charred veggies onto a cold plate and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Mix olive oil, champagne vinegar and honey. Add salt and pepper to taste. Congrats, you just made champagne vinaigrette! Lightly dress the greens, oregano and chilled veggies in a mixing bowl, then transfer to the chilled plate. Top with feta and enjoy!

  • Chef Chris Najmola