Monday, August 23, 2010

The Dilemma - How do I make this boneless, skinless chicken breast interesting QUICKLY

Pictured above is the face, or type of face as I admittedly have never cooked for Simon Cowell, that I get pretty much every time I tell my lovely wife, Danielle (pictured above), that we are having grilled chicken (also pictured above, and I think fairly tasty looking) for dinner. As a side note, I don't think I'd want to cook for Simon because 1)I hate his show and everything to do with it 2)He probably wouldn't have anything nice to say about the food anyway, and 3)I don't need that kind of negative aura in my life, but that's really neither here nor there.

Back to task, Danielle usually says something like "AGAIN?" or "Really, chicken?", at which point I get huffy and tell her she's more than welcome to cook for herself, but I don't know if the microwave is currently operable. Just to define this, I don't condone microwave use, but to suggest that she use anything more culinarily challenging would be foolish. I cook, but can't organize anything more complex than the silverware drawer. She is a disaster (literally fires, explosions, unplaceable smells) in the kitchen, but can plan/organize our entire life on our Mac. What can I say, we play to each others strengths, and happily. My God, I'm rambling today. Anyway, this post is to help you avoid such disparaging remarks when you inform your dining companion that you are having grilled chicken. Below are five delicious marinades for chicken. Simply follow the instructions, and let the bird marinate overnight, ie think a little ahead. If you want chicken tomorrow, marinade it tonight and you will have something flavorful. Try to do it for only 3 hours, and you're really just wasting your $$$$. Last tip before the recipes, when ready to cook, let most of marinade drip off of chicken breast, and season with kosher salt, and FRESH ground black pepper. If you throw it right on the grill, slathered in marinade, it'll probably burn or char, and all of your hard work will be for naught. Not to mention, you will probably hear more disparaging remarks about your chicken, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid. So now, with no further ado:

All recipes are for 2 Lb chicken
#1 The Greek
1 cup plain yogurt, i like greek
1 tblsp toasted cumin seeds, cracked (to toast any dried spice, just put it in a dry pan over medium heat until you can smell it)
2 lemons, juiced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tblsp oregano or marjoram, chopped rough
1 jalapeno, chopped - you could sub dried chili flakes here, but I prefer the fresh chile taste
2 tblsp tahini paste - you could just sub toasted sesame seeds, but as above
1 tblsp caper, chopped

#2 The Far East
2 tblsp corn oil
1 tblsp sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stick lemongrass, whacked - lemongrass is hard to chop through, but just give a good whack and bruise it, and it'll release it's oils
1.5 tblsp ginger, grated - use a microplane
1/4 c rice wine vinegar, unseasoned
1 tblsp thai chile paste, srirachi is the best, but I don't know what's available on your pond side
1 tsp SWEET soy
1 tsp miso paste
1 bunch of scallions, sliced thin

#3 The Middle East
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp fresh chili paste - make your own, just grab a blender, or coffee grinder, and mix fresh red chiles and a handful of garlic cloves with enough oil to puree them. Cheaper and better than store bought, just keep it thick
1 tblsp toasted cumin seeds, ground
1 tblsp toasted coriander seeds, ground
1 tblsp toasted mustard seeds, black or yellow, ground
1 tblsp toasted cardamom, green or black, ground
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp turmeric

#4 The Italiano - possibly the easiest, and also, possibly my fave
3 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 stick fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tblsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tblsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tblsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
zest of 2 lemons

#5 The South
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tblsp molasses or cane syrup
1 tblsp tomato paste
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 tblsp fresh thyme, chopped
6 oz coca-cola, or your preferred soda
3 oz apple juice or cider
2 tblsp mustard, i use whole grain, but your choice
1 tsp paprika

Give these a try, and see if they lessen the groans next time you say "grilled chicken tonight".

As a disclaimer, please use all-natural chicken. I have been to poultry plants, and seen the horror of hormone and other insanity pumped chicken. Not only is it not good for you, but it's not right to do this to an animal. Also, if you don't have a grill, you could easily pan-sear these, or even broil them in a pinch.

Since I have given you 5 recipes, a wine pairing is a touch difficult, but I would say that for most of these a citrusy New Zealand or South African Sauv Blanc would be a good choice. If that's a little boring, try a gavi or maybe a greek assyrtico. Play around with it, these are pretty versatile flavors.


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