July 8, 2008

Chicken and spice

Chicken is one of those great summer grill foods. You can marinate it, you can spice rub it, you can grill it and then spread it with a barbeque sauce. A couple years back I came across a yummy Middle Eastern spice rub recipe from Rachael Ray that I now like to use with boneless chicken breasts. It also works well with fish and other meats. The key to getting moist and tender boneless chicken breasts is in the preparation and the cooking. You can buy thin sliced breasts known as cutlets, you can buy pre-sliced tenders, or you can buy boneless breast halves. I find the very thin cutlets work best in recipes where they are breaded and fried or in stir-frys where you cook the chicken very quickly. For this spice rub recipe, I prefer the boneless breast halves. To prepare the chicken for the spice rub, I find it best to use the butterfly and pounding technique. You all have surely eaten dry boneless chicken breasts cooked by someone who didn't know that the uneven thickness of a chicken breast that is thrown on the grill straight from its package creates a situation where the thinner part of the breast cooks first and then the thicker part is still not fully cooked. So these cooks flip the chicken over and over until they get that (what I call) shoe leather consistency. Anyhow, once you have prepared the chicken using the butterfly and pounding technique, you can then spice rub the chicken as directed in the recipe. I wrap the spiced chicken tightly in plastic wrap and then let it marinate for as much as 24 hours. When you are ready to cook the chicken, place the chicken on a medium to medium high heated grill pan (drizzle some olive oil in the pan first) or on your heated gas or charcoal grill. And here's where you really need to pay attention. I time the first side for 3-4 minutes, then flip and time the second side for 3-4 minutes. Immediately place the cooked chicken on a clean plate and then tightly wrap with aluminum foil. The meat will continue to cook in this warm setting. Mix some additional spice rub and a little sea salt with extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes and use this as a dipping sauce. The chicken can then be served with any grilled veggies, salad, corn on the cob, and rice or garlic/rosemary oven roasted red potato wedges. Hope you enjoy and happy grilling!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As wonderful as the recipe sounds it would be even better is you cooked it for me. Marinating for 24 hours? I never think that far ahead with food anymore. I keep saying I will get back to cooking one day. Maybe your recipes will encourage me to do that!