Archive for May, 2013

May 29, 2013

Greek Style Grilled Chicken Pita

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While trying to keep things light and healthy, I make a fair amount of chicken. Boneless chicken breasts are not very forgiving. Just a minute past perfect, breast meat will become dry and unappetizing. With everyone’s understandable concern that chicken be cooked to the proper temperature, overcooked white meat happens more often than not. I’ve grown to love chicken thighs, which stay juicy and flavorful whether braised, grilled or roasted.

For those recipes that call for boneless chicken breasts I always follow two rules of thumb to keep the meat juicy and packed with flavor:

  1. Give your boneless breasts a good beating to even out their thickness. This is a great trick that results in even cooking times. You want them to be about 3/4 of an inch thick. If they’re really huge you can butterfly the breasts, open them like a book and then give them a gentle whacking.
  2. Marinate the breasts in advance, even overnight. It will help impart lots of flavor.

This is a great weeknight dinner for spring and summer when vegetables are at their peak. You can use any combination of veggies your family likes. Even grilled vegetables like eggplant (my favorite), would be a delicious addition to the sandwich. Make extra. The leftovers are fantastic.

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Marinade adapted from Epicurious

INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN MARINADE

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2lbs)

Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness, not too thin. About 3/4 of an inch is perfect. I usually place the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or you can use a Ziploc bag. Use the flat side of a meat tenderizing mallet or even a rolling-pin.

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a baking dish or Ziploc bag. Place the chicken in the marinade and turn the pieces to coat evenly. Cover and marinate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat your grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry to remove excess marinade, which will just flare up and scorch on the BBQ. Grill the chicken for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

ACCOMPANIMENTS FOR THE CHICKEN PITA

  • Whole wheat pita (or white, if you must)
  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Hummus
  • Crumbled Feta
  • Assorted olives
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • Assortment sliced veggies (tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, avocado, etc.)

Serve all of the above at the table with the chicken and allow everyone to make their own pita sandwich. A schmear of hummus and a little tzatziki will top off the Mediterranean flavors of this perfect sandwich. Leftovers make a delicious lunch the next day.

* Grill the pita for a minute or two per side to make them soft and impart a little of that grilled flavor.

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May 8, 2013

Grilled Potato & Goat Cheese Napoleon

Grilled Potato & Goat Cheese Napolean

We’ve had a number of beautiful spring days over the past week, and it motivated me to clean our outdoor grill. I’m fortunate to have an indoor grill in my range-top, allowing me to grill year-round. However, I’m limited to lean meats and vegetables inside. Big meat causes big smoke, not pleasant. I know you grill masters out there don’t think twice about BBQ’ing in the snow. Not me, I wait until spring. So after giving the BBQ a good scrub, I dusted off some of my favorite grilling cookbooks and decided to leaf through this book from Bobby Flay to find a new side dish.

Bobby Flay's Grill It!

Bobby’s recipes are always flavorful and exciting. Lots of fresh herbs and char make for a good meal. His recipes can seem complicated at times. Many sauces and relishes, using blenders and food processors… but I say attack these recipes with enthusiasm and determination. Everything I’ve made of Bobby’s has proven well worth the extra dishes and time. Nothing complicated with these potatoes, just lots of steps needed to get them on the dinner table. Now that I made them once, the next time they will seem much less laborious. And I should emphasize I will definitely be making this again. These are some kick ass potatoes that I promise everyone will flip over.

Grilled Potato & Goat Cheese Napolean

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 large red potatoes, scrubbed under cold water
  • 1/4 cup balsamic dressing
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus a little to brush on the potatoes
  • Kosher salt & pepper (for the dressing & potatoes)
  • About 6oz plain goat cheese (a small package), thinly sliced
  • Fresh chives, chopped

Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until fork tender, but still a bit firm. Timing will depend on the size of your potatoes. Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool.

Place the vinegar, garlic, mustard, basil and olive oil in a food processor to make the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Set your grill to medium-high heat. Slice the potatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices. You can discard the end slices. Brush each side of the potatoes with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Carefully grill the potatoes until slightly charred and golden, about 3-4 minutes per side. Bobby said 2 minutes per side, it took a bit longer for mine. Keep a close eye on them.

Remove the potatoes from the grill onto a sheet pan. To make the Napoleons, stack the potato slices and the sliced goat cheese. My stacks included three potatoes slices and 2 cheese layers (see pictures). Place the stacks back on the sheet pan or onto an oven safe platter. Place in the preheated oven for just a couple of minutes until the cheese is soft and melty.

Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little dressing over each stack and a sprinkle of chopped chives. Voila! Seriously the best potatoes I’ve had in a long time.

Enjoy!

* Keep your goat cheese log in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. To make even slices without crumbling the cheese, use unflavored, unwaxed dental floss. It slices the cheese perfectly. 

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