A MAGICAL MARINADE

Not too long ago I shared with you the youtube channel from Helen Rennie. I landed there through baking, but quickly realized her area of expertise covers pretty much all things cooking. Including sous-vide. The marinade I am blogging about today works wonders to finalize meat prepared by that method, but I also tried it for straight grilling and was equally blown away by how well it performed. It gives the meat a mixture of sweet, salty and umami. I now call it my default marinade for all things protein, and I bet it will do a great job on tofu. That shall be tested in the near future.

MAGICAL MARINADE
ONE RECIPE, THREE USES
(from Helen Rennie’s youtube channel)

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated through a microplane (I omitted)
1 tablespoon za’atar (optional)
1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil

Whisk all ingredients except the oil together in a small bowl until completely emulsified. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly. Your sauce is ready to use.

to print the recipe, click here

PERFECT SOUS-VIDE CHICKEN BREAST
(adapted from Helen Rennie)

Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a bag appropriate for sous-vide cooking. Add 2 teaspoons of the magical marinade and rub it around the meat. Seal the bag and cook for 2 hours at 150F (or your preferred temperature).

Leave the meat to cool in the bag for 10 minutes. Remove from the bag, dry the surface blotting with a paper towel.

Finalize by searing on a hot skillet with a smidgen of olive oil, 30 seconds per side, pressing down with a lid. Marvel at the beautiful color, slice and serve.

Comments: The only drawback of this recipe is that it generates a bit of smoke during the final searing, and our kitchen has such poor ventilation that all fire alarms go crazy. I intend to use the outside grill next time, although it is really hard to beat the gorgeous sear from the skillet. The texture of the meat is perfect, no stringiness, it really elevates sous-vide to a new level.

Another way to use the chicken is to go from the sous-vide step into a stir-fry. I do that often, but with this magical marinade the result is even better. You can sous-vide a couple of days in advance, and just slice the meat and use it in any stir-fry recipe you are fond of.

For that version, I used zucchini, mushrooms and cashews, finishing the stir-fry with a soy-mustard sauce thickened with a touch of cornstarch. The texture of the meat is very similar to that obtained by velveting. Every week I cook some chicken breasts sous-vide and then incorporate in stir-fries. This marinade just makes it perfect.

But what if you don’t own a sous-vide and don’t have any interest in investing in one? Just use the same marinade to grill meats. I share here my recent version with boneless chicken thighs. Place them with enough marinade to coat the surface well, and leave in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight. Then, remove from the bag, dry the surface, season lightly with more salt and slap on the grill…

Isn’t that a thing of beauty? So I hope I convinced you to bring that magical marinade into your life. And a sous-vide would not hurt either (wink, wink).

Helen, thank you for another gem of a recipe!

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Sourdough

TWO YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite

THREE YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Paalak Paneer, a Farewell Post

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2015

FIVE YEARS AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

SIX YEARS AGO: Thai-Style Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)

NINE YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

TEN YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp

HERB GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS

After more than 6 years in the blogosphere, I often ask myself which types of recipes are “blog-worthy?” If you get a T-bone steak, season it with salt and slap in on the grill, is it worth writing a post about? Well, maybe it is if you come up with a twist on how to cook it to perfection, but… that would be a stretch. I prefer to share recipes that have some element of surprise in the ingredients and/or method of cooking. This one is a good example. Simple grilled chicken thighs, but involving a vinegar-based marinade that is also used in the initial stage of cooking before the meat hits the grill. The original recipe, known as Cornell Chicken, has been around for a while. You can read about its interesting development here. I noticed this variation in a cooking forum after many members raved about it. I made it twice in two weeks, trying to perfect it to our liking, which in the case of chicken thighs means a yin-yang kind of deal: meat falling off the bone plus crispy skin. I haven’t arrived there yet, but the recipe is great even in its original form. After all, what is perfection to me might not be the same for you. Give this recipe a try, it’s totally worth it. Unless of course, you are a vegetarian. In this case, skip this post. I will have something to please you soon enough…

😉

Herb Grilled Chicken

HERB GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS
(adapted from  The Creekside Cook)

½ cup fresh, whole sage leaves
¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves
⅛ cup fresh oregano leaves
⅛ cup fresh thyme leaves
½ cup olive oil
1 cup of cider vinegar
1 egg
1 + ½ tablespoons kosher salt
ground black pepper to taste
8 to 10 chicken thighs

Strip any stems from all of the herbs, and chop them well – they should equal about a half cup total when they are all chopped. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, egg, salt and pepper. The egg is to keep the mixture emulsified, and though it is often left out of the original recipe, it works better with it. Whisk in the chopped herbs.

Trim the excess skin and fat from the chicken thighs, and pat dry with paper towels. Put the chicken in a large ziplock bag with the marinade.  A couple of times a day, flip the bag over and move everything around a little to make sure all the thighs are getting marinated.

After 24 – 48 hours, take the chicken out of the fridge. Arrange the thighs in a large saute pan or dutch oven – it is best if they can all lay flat, but if you don’t have a big enough pan for that, get it as close as you can. Pour over the marinade, and set the burner at medium. Watch carefully, and when it starts to boil, turn it down to barely simmering. After 10 minutes, turn each piece carefully, and cook another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Get your grill heated up, and be sure to oil the grates. Once the grill is well heated, place the chicken, skin side down, on the grates. You may have some flare up because the oil is going to drip down some, but a spray bottle of water kept handy will take care of those. Don’t turn the chicken until you can pick it up off the gates without tearing the skin – when it is ready to turn, it will come up easily. This will take around 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your grill. Brush the marinade over the upper side a couple of times during cooking. Turn and grill the second side for another 5 to 8 minutes. If you like, check the internal temperature, which should be about 165 F. Let it rest around 5 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Comments: I made the recipe the first time exactly as written. The flavor was great, and the crispy skin just the way we like it. The apple cider vinegar is the key ingredient, acting as a tenderizer but also imparting subtle acidity. I heard from people who made this recipe several times that leaving in the marinade for 48 is a good idea, but do not go longer than that. I loved the copper color of the skin as it crisped up on the grill…

Grilling

PlatedDinner is served!  Grilled chicken thighs, cauliflower mash, and a fresh salad…
Grab a fork, and dig in! 

As I  mentioned in the beginning of the post, I wanted to get a slightly more tender texture in the meat. So, the second time around I opted to sous-vide the meat in the marinade using water displacement instead of a vacuum-seal, and cooked it as described in this previous post. It all seemed to be going great, but disaster hit:  I was careless while grilling the pieces skin side down, and…. the thighs were charred to death. Black. Burned skin.  I was able to save some pieces for our dinner, but let’s say the looks were definitely not blog-worthy…  Oh, well. Lesson learned. Here’s the plan: repeat this recipe one more time using my favorite method, which is low and slow, then blasting it on a hot oven, or as I intend to do it, on the hot grill. Watching over it as a hawk. A hawk, I tell you!


Red Tailed HawkReady to grill?
(image from this source)

ONE YEAR AGO: Star-Shaped Chocolate Brioche Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

THREE YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

FOUR YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

SIX YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

TUSCAN GRILLED CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE SKEWERS

Talk about being slow to blog about stuff.  This recipe was made last August, so it will appeal a lot more now to the lucky folks who live in places such as Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, are enjoying the best time of their lives, aka SUMMER!  I was slow to blog, but even slower to give it a try, as the recipe is from Fine Cooking, year 2006.  Eight years and a few months ago.

You will need to prepare in advance a delicious rosemary-infused olive oil, and there will be leftovers. I confess that this was probably the reason why I dragged my foot for so long before making this recipe. I am not big on preparing infused oils and sauces and dressings that can be used later. They sit in the fridge making me feel guilty as the days go by and their expiration date approaches.  Still this rosemary concoction would be great in a simple spaghetti aglio & olio or drizzled over your favorite pizza topping.  Very flavorful stuff, the smell as it simmers will make you wanna dance. Not a dancer? It will make you wanna sing. Not a singer either? I will settle for a smile. Make it a big one, though.

Tuscan Chicken Sausage Skewers

TUSCAN GRILLED CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE SKEWERS
(from Fine Cooking magazine, issue #80)

2-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut in half
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. Rosemary-Garlic Oil (recipe follows)
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 2-inch pieces
24 large fresh sage leaves

Up to a day ahead and at least a couple of hours before serving, toss the chicken in a medium bowl with 2 Tbs. of the infused oil, the fresh rosemary, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

Heat a grill to medium heat. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup oil into two small bowls (one for grilling and one for serving, if desired). Alternately thread three pieces of sausage, three pieces of chicken, and four sage leaves onto each of six 12-inch metal skewers.

Grill the skewers, covered, until one side is browned and has good grill marks, about 4 min. Brush with some of the rosemary-garlic oil, flip, and cook the other side until it, too, has good grill marks, about 4 min. Brush with more oil and flip again. Continue cooking, flipping, and brushing with oil until the sausage and chicken are both cooked through, about 10 min. more.

Let cool for a couple of minutes and then arrange on a platter, and serve with additional oil, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

RosemaryOil
ROSEMARY-GARLIC OIL
(slightly modified from Fine Cooking magazine, issue #80)

1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic starts to bubble steadily, 3 to 4 min. Add the rosemary, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a clean glass jar or other storage container, cover, and refrigerate. Use within five days.

ENJOY!

to print the infused oil recipe, click here

skewers

Comments:  This was a pretty nice recipe! I did not baste the skewers often while grilling, only once, but that did not hurt them a bit. Vegetarians forgive me, but the mixture of chicken with sausage is a winner, and the sage leaves add a lot of flavor and visual appeal.  If you want to add veggies to the skewers, I think eggplant cubes could work well, they would stand to the cooking and be done more or less at the same time as the meat. Of course, onion would be another great option. Something to consider when summer is finally back bringing with it my beloved flip-flops, shorts, and t-shirts. By now I am even looking forward to golf…   😉

Note added after publication: I was kindly reminded by my readers in Florida that they are currently all happy under a 70 F sunny weather.  It is a bit like sticking the knife and twisting, so yes, go ahead Floridians, and make this recipe.  Think about me as you do it, and send me some of your warm weather ASAP.

ONE YEAR AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Pork Tenderloin & Apples

TWO YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

THREE YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

FOUR YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

FIVE YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

 

 

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH A SPIRAL KICK

When I planned this dinner, I did not think it would turn out so delicious, and definitely not something that could go into my files of “Celebrate Wednesday“.  A simple grilled chicken served with a humble zucchini salad?   What could be so special about that?   Hard to pinpoint a particular reason, but I feel this meal was a gastronomic jackpot: the whole combination of flavors is perfect.  Refreshing, light, and satisfying.  You can change the salad around in lots of ways, as long as you add the dressing a few minutes before serving.  That will make sure the zucchini will get the right texture, losing some of its raw bite.  Fresh mint, shaved celery, shaved fennel, those are some of the ingredients that come to mind as add-ons. The chicken marinade will go with pretty much any protein. Including tofu, if you are so inclined…  😉

MisoChickenZucchini

GRILLED MISO CHICKEN
(adapted from Happy Food Happy Home blog)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons miso paste
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
juice of 1 lime (2-3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt

Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag and add the marinade. Toss everything around in the bag to coat all the chicken pieces. Marinade for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours.

Grill the chicken using the 7-6-5 method:  seven minutes on the first side, flip the pieces over, grill for 6 more minutes. Turn the grill off without opening the lid, and let the chicken stay inside for 5 minutes. Remove from the grill, let the meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes slightly tented with aluminum foil, slice and serve.

to print the Grilled Miso Chicken recipe, click here

sliced

SPIRALIZED ZUCCHINI AND CUCUMBER SALAD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Skinny Kitchen)

2 zucchini, ends trimmed, cut on a spiral cutter
1/2 English cucumber, end trimmed, cut on a spiral cutter
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon olive oil or to taste
1 avocado, cut in pieces
handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Use a spiralizer or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade and cut the zucchini into very thin, spaghetti-like strands. Do the same for the cucumber, but place it over paper towels to drain excess liquid. To make it easier to serve,  trim the strands cutting with scissors or a sharp knife, so that they are about 8 inches long. Place both veggies in a large serving bowl.  Reserve.

In a small bowl, make a quick emulsion whisking the olive oil and lemon juice, a touch of salt and pepper.  When it’s all emulsified, add the lemon zest.

Drizzle the dressing all over the strands of zucchini, and toss to coat.  Allow it to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the avocado pieces, the tomatoes, toss gently to combine.  Sprinkle cilantro, adjust seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the salad recipe, click here

Comments:  First, my apologies for being unable to give immediate credit to the grilled chicken marinade.  I found it in the internet, thought I had bookmarked it, but instead I did a cut and paste of the ingredients and sent to myself by email.  (Palm hits the forehead!)  Since I clear my bookmark history every week, no luck tracking it down. (Head shake in disbelief…) Hopefully a lesson was learned. However, thanks to one of my dear readers, I could retrieve the source, and correct my mistake.  It came from Happy Food Happy Home. Cute name for a blog… 😉 Thank you, Nan, for finding the source for me.

The salad.  Of course, the spiralizer makes it super fun and interesting, but taste should come first, and in this category we also have a winner. However, depending on how watery your cucumber might be, you could run into problems.  One way around it would be spiralizing only the zucchini and adding the cucumber in small pieces together with the avocado & tomatoes. You can salt them very lightly and wait for a few minutes until the salt draws most of the excessive liquid out.  A brief rinse, a brief encounter with paper towels, and voilà: perfect cucumber!   This is harder to do with the strands, so keep this in mind if you try this salad.

The husband verdict: you can make this recipe ANYTIME. It is awesome!  

When you witness a man who loves pasta, rice, and potatoes giving such a compliment to zucchini, you know you got something special going…  As special as offering two recipes in a single post (wink, wink). Almost as special as a Wednesday evening rescued from the boring middle of the week…
.
ONE YEAR AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

TWO YEARS AGO: Granola Bars

THREE YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

FIVE YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

 

 

 

GRILLED CHICKEN WITH TAMARIND AND COCONUT GLAZE

For most people, there is such thing as a grilling season, and it’s starting right about now.  For us, the grill is going all year-long, no matter the temperature outside. We never stop. Of course, it is a lot nicer to be out  moving stuff around the grill wearing shorts and a t-shirt instead of a down jacket. Let me rephrase that: it’s a lot nicer to do anything wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

This is the perfect recipe for those busy days.  Boneless chicken thighs stay the whole day in the fridge, marinating in coconut milk, tamarind, and a few selected spices.  When you get home, bring the chicken to room temperature as you heat your grill and get your side dishes going.  The meat will be moist, tender, with the right amount of heat.  You will love this!

ChickenCoconutTamarind2

GRILLED CHICKEN WITH TAMARIND AND COCONUT GLAZE
(slightly modified from One Perfect Bite)

1/2 cup coconut milk (or yogurt)
1 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon garam masala (or ground cumin)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 lemon, cut in wedges
Sprigs of fresh cilantro for serving (optional)

In a large bowl, combine coconut milk, tamarind paste, garlic, salt, garam masala and cayenne. Add chicken and turn to coat well with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.

Remove chicken from  marinade, and grill for 8 to 10 minutes per side. You could also brown chicken in a skillet on stove, place on a baking sheet and finish cooking in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click

composite2

The classic substitution suggested for tamarind paste is lime juice, as the main purpose of the tamarind is to bring acidity into the equation. Of course, it’s acceptable, but the paste is one of those ingredients that once you start using, you will get more and more fond of.   Just like miso, it keeps forever.  You can use it in drinks, in desserts, in all sorts of recipes. Not sold yet? Let me share a few delicious options:

Tamarind-Glazed Honey Shrimp, from A_Boleyn

Chickpeas and Chana Dal Cooked Together in a Mint Sauce, from Eats Well with Others

Thai Red Curry with Pork Belly, from Rachel Cooks Thai

Creamy Peanut Chutney, from Love Food Eat

Prawn Sambal, from Sea Salt with Food

Indian-Spiced Pulled Pork with Tamarind Barbecue Sauce, from Angela’s Food Love

Tamarind Date Cake, from Dan Lepard

Tamarind and Fresh Ginger Cake with Lime Glazing, from Anh’s Food Blog

Mozambique Chicken, from The Perfect Pantry

Tamarind Rice (Puli Sadham), from Chitra’s Food Book

Agua de Tamarindo, from A_Boleyn

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ONE YEAR AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

TWO YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

THREE YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread