Monthly Archives: August 2015

PINEAPPLE TEQUILA MARINATED GRILLED CHICKEN…

542515_3251677893198_1909468499_n Can you smell that?  Stick you nose closer to the screen, now can you??  If you can’t then you just have to make this yourself.  Let me just put this out there…this is infinitely better made with trimmed boneless chicken thigh cutlets.  However it will work with breast too, your cooking times will be adjusted.  Taste will determine what you eventually will cook but the thighs always work better with the direct heat that a grill provides.  Why?  It’s the make up of the meat itself..more fat in the dark meat which keeps the meat from drying out.  Breasts are wonderfully almost fat free but the downside is over cooking since there’s no self basting provided by nature.  The pictures are of thigh cutlets but feel free to use the breast cutlets.

One of the best flavor profiles with direct grilled heat is the chile, fruity, sweet, sour, spicy type which is wonderfully achieved with a mix of cumin, pineapples, cilantro or mint, tequila, lime, garlic, and chiles.   Your mouth should be watering at this point.  Layer the smoke and char of the flames on the grill and you are in grilled meat heaven.  This marinade sort of has a southwest US meets the Pacific coast of Mexico sort of vibe.  a cilantro or other fresh herbed rice is a very nice base to serve it over.  OK, let’s talk about pairings like this for a moment shall we? The chicken is the star, don’t have it become Jan Brady and become a middle child fighting for attention! All too often when a strong flavored protein is served with a side, or on a side, the side is way too highly flavored and instead of the chicken being complimented by the rice they are fighting for your attention and the combo of all strong flavor diminished the whole point of the dish…in this case the chicken.  A plain steamed long grain rice (short grain, too creamy, you want the rice to be fluffy and separate) that you finish with  a little minced cilantro or mint is all you need.  Let’s walk into the kitchen now.

TIME: 2 1/2 hours or more depending on your marinating time         SERVES: 4

MARINADE:

1 can CRUSHED PINEAPPLE , important  IN IT’S OWN JUICE,not in SYRUP  (the syrup contains too much sugar and will char quickly

1/8 cup OLIVE OIL or Grapeseed Oil or Vegetable Oil

1 sliced JALAPENO, cored and seeded

2 GARLIC CLOVES turned into a paste or pushed thru a Garlic Press

1 TSP KOSHER SALT

3 BRUISED SPRIGS OF CILANTRO OR MINT

1 TSP GROUND CUMIN

1 TBS. FRESH LIME JUICE

1/8 CUP TEQUILA

CHICKEN:

12 TRIMMED AND POUNDED to no less than 1/4 inch (ORGANIC IF POSSIBLE)  BONELESS CHICKEN THIGHS OR BREAST

KOSHER SALT, BLACK PEPPER

AGAVE NECTAR

CHILE POWDER

Prep your chicken and lightly season it with salt and pepper and cover it, place in a cool spot in your kitchen.  If it’s hot out and your kitchen is hot, place the prepped chicken into the fridge.  Safety first my cooking sisters and brothers.  Whisk all the other ingredients except the Cilantro together and leave alone for 1/2 hour. Now strain the marinade and reserve the pieces of crushed pineapple..place to the side in a bowl. Cover.  Add the chicken to the marinade and marinade for AT LEAST 1 hour, certainly the longer…the better the flavor .that’s up to you.  Prep your grill blasting it with the cover on for at least 15 minutes.  Open the cover and lightly oil those grated..make sure you cleaned them up after your last use.  C’mon…use that grill brush!! Grills with bits of meals past not only are gross, but that interferes with your cooking evenly and  you miss out on those REALLY COOL grill marks that I KNOW excite you.  Especially if you’re a food picture taking geek like me. When your grill is ready, smooth side down place all the chicken on the grill careful not to overlap any of the pieces.  (Steaming happens and not what you are looking for in this recipe).

While the chicken is cooking…in a small lightly greased pan, saute’ the the reserved pineapple for about 6 minutes..keep shaking the pan to get some color on the crushed pineapples. Reserve.

Grill for 4 minutes per side for breast meat, grill 8 minutes on one side and 5 on the other for thigh meat.  Now to complicate this dish, but it’s a good thing.  About 2 minutes before you are done grilling, top each piece of chicken with some of the sauteed pineapple.  Cover till done.

All GRILLS COOK DIFFERENTLY..make sure your chicken runs clear juices and it thoughroughly cooked before serving.  Better to be safe than sorry so use my cooking times as guides but you ARE THE COOK so make sure you are not serving either undercooked or overcooked chicken.

Transfer all  to a platter.  Mix about 1/8 cup of Agave Nectar with 1/8 teaspoon (or more , to your taste) ground Chile Powder together and drizzle over the finished chicken.  Let rest for 5 minutes…then serve…over the steamed rice (ooooohhh Jasmine or Basmati , those fragrant ones are best for this).

Happy Grilling, Happy Cooking!!!

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WHEN “FUSION” IDEAS MAKE SENSE, SPAGHETTI WITH ALMOND OREGANO PESTO WITH LEMON AND FETA

003  FUSION CUISINE, for this home cook those words make me shudder.  Truth is I’m very closed minded about 95% of anything termed FUSION. They say good cooks need to have an open mind but let me explain myself here, and btw, my opinion is only …my opinion.  Even if I’m 100% right..LOL.  I believe Lidia Bastianich best said this, and I paraphrase..that food tastes best when the ingredients come from the same place.  Fusion when using that guideline can be a good thing.  The current craze in many 3d generation Italian American restaurants is the Sausage and Broccoli Rabe EGG ROLL.   Again, just my opinion, no thank you.  Chinese and Italian cooking have zero in common with each other on every level except they share the same regional philosophy of using great ingredients and they take great pride in their cuisines and their food culture.  I’ll enjoy the broccoli rabe and sausage filling inside of a fried calzone. That makes sense for me.  So…using that line of thinking..countries with different cuisines but sharing a general type of produce, weather, seafood, meats, etc..THOSE cuisines seem to be candidates for a fusion of sorts.  Let’s take the Mediterranean region rich in Olive Oil, Olives, similar seafoods, cheeses, produce, wines, herbs, fruits,nuts…with varying degrees many dishes are all decended from or related to other cuisines in the region.  Religious and local customs have created many of the subtle or not so subtle differences but whether it is Southern or Southeastern French, Corsican, Moroccan, Sicilian, Maltese, Tunisian, Israeli, Turkish, Greek, Croatian, Italian, Dalmatian, Cypriot, Lebanese..well you get the idea…there’s a common thread in the region’s cuisine which then allows for lack of a better term, some “fusion”.  When the cuisines are unrelated fusion, for me, is disastrous.

Fresh herbs are part of the Summer season so…here’s a fusion of Greek and Italian ideas in a wonderfully bright and satisfying pasta dish…SPAGHETTI WITH ALMOND OREGANO PESTO with FETA AND LEMON.    Let’s cook!!!

SERVES:  4-6                       TIME: 1/2 hour

1 lb IMPORTED ITALIAN SPAGHETTI (or other long pasta) cooked al dente according to package directions

1/2 CUP FRESH OREGANO LEAVES, packed well..no stems, make sure leaves are gently cleaned

1 TBS. DRIED OREGANO

1/8 CUP FRESH CHOPPED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY

1/4 CUP TOASTED UNSALTED ALMONDS

1/8 CUP GRATED PARMIGIANO REGGIANO

3 ROUGH CHOPPED PEELED GARLIC CLOVES

JUICE OF ONE LEMON

1 TSP. LEMON ZEST

1/4 CUP OF GOOD EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1/3 CUP OF GOOD QUALITY FETA CHEESE, CRUMBLED OR DICED, IMPORTED GREEK WOULD BE BEST

KOSHER SALT

FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER

Using a food processor, add the herbs, lemon juice and zest, garlic, and almonds.  Pulse until they are all crushed.  DON’T over pulse.  Next, slowly add the Olive Oil in stream while the blade is processing.  It should look like a pesto now, nice and smooth.  Now add the feta, reserving a little for garnish, and gently pulse until is somewhat blended in.  TASTE, based on what you think, add salt if necessary to taste and add about 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper.  Gently pulse. NOW..leave it out at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions in well salted water and only till AL DENTE. Drain. At that point, pour the pesto over the pasta a gently blend well. Top with some Feta and fresh sprigs of Oregano, even a little squeeze of lemon would be nice. Done..  Enjoy.

So here’s some sidebars…never cook pesto. ever.  If pesto is off colored it means it’s old or was cooked..make your own.  Herbs are one of the cheapest foods out there in the summer unless you are growing your own, even better.  The Consistency of the pesto even with the most exact and tested recipes can vary. If you find the pesto is too thick as more Olive Oil and Lemon juice to get to the consistency you are looking for.  Don’t over do the oil though as it will separated out from the mixture and it will get “oily”.  Mint (fresh) is an alternative to the grassy green flavor of the Parsley.  Feel free to use!  Fresh Thyme is another herb to use but it’s quite strong so don’t use too much of that.

Enjoy this sunny dish from my kitchen to yours!!