1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 cups water
4 slices lemon (1/4 inch thick)
1 Tbs. black peppercorns
1 Tbs. mustard seeds
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves2 T olive oil
To make the brine, combine the salt, sugar, water, lemon, peppercorns, and mustard seeds in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the salt and sugar dissolve, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium-large bowl, add the coffee, and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes. Put the chicken breasts in the brine and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Heat a gas grill to high or prepare a hot charcoal fire.
Make a dry rub mixing the spices. If you don’t have adobo seasoning, feel free to improvise mixing flavors you are fond of 😉 Drain the chicken and blot dry with paper towels. Lightly brush both sides with olive oil, and coat one side with the dry rub mix. No need to make a thick coating, just sprinkle the spices all over. Place the breasts on the grill, spice side down, grill for about 3 minutes, rotate them 45 degrees (do not flip them yet) to get a nice pattern of marks, continue grilling 4 additional minutes. Now flip the breasts and grill 4 minutes with the spice rub up.
Remove from the grill and tent with aluminum foil for a few minutes before slicing at an angle.
If you are wondering about the side dish, nothing could be simpler. When you have these beauties available (anticipation paid off!) plus some gorgeous yellow grape tomatoes from the farmer’s market, simple is best!
I cut them in half, placed in a serving bowl, cut a ripe avocado in small chunks, added to the tomatoes. A juicy lemon was squeezed on top to coat the avocado pieces. Salt and pepper. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The mixture sat for maybe 10 minutes until the chicken was ready. We ate and moaned with pleasure. As hubby said, “the avocado almost turns into a dressing”. Absolutely delicious…
General comments: the flavor of coffee is barely noticeable, it gives a certain smokiness that goes well with the smoked paprika (by the way, if you have never used it, please give it a try). Adding the dry rub made this dish shine, I highly recommend this extra step.
To make this dish weeknight-friendly, you could brine the chicken breasts the day before, remove them from the brine and store in the fridge, covered. When you get home from work, all you have to do is turn your grill on, get the dry rub going, cut the tomatoes and enjoy a very quick but very flavorful meal. Don’t forget a nice loaf of bread….