Thursday, July 7, 2011

oh, bother.

Cell phone reception is notoriously shabby in the valley, which often leads to my sub-par cellular photos taking the scenic route to my inbox.  I decided this marinade is too good to make you wait for a "suggestive photo" that would not do the dish any justice anyways.

I have to say, those who loathe chicken the most, cook it the best.  We have all been victim to the dried out, unseasoned "healthy choice" on menus far and wide, this garlic & oregano based marinade will give some poor little chicken the after-life it deserves. I actually enjoyed this recipe over a salad[I tend to scoff at salads as well as chicken, I don't know why. I must just be cut from a strange cloth.], my vinaigrette recipe will follow this simple marinade, don't you worry.

What you will need:
4 chicken breasts, preferably organic

3.5 Tbsp White Balsamic* Vinegar 
7 cloves of Garlic, smashed & peeled
1 Tbsp Fresh Oregano leaves [guesstimate what roughly 30 leaves would look like. If using dried, reduce to 1 tsp]
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Cracked Black Pepper

*white balsamic is a touch sweeter & milder than regular balsamic... think about the difference between white and red wines.  

Feel free to measure all of the ingredients, except for the chicken, directly into a small food processor.
[tip #1: if you do not have a food processor, use a garlic press or finely mince the garlic and then sprinkle it with some of the kosher salt called for by the recipe and use a regular tablespoon to work it into a paste. tip #2: if you do have a food processor, make sure the blade is in the unit before adding your ingredients; laoding my food processor up and then realizing I forgot to put the blade in is one of my biggest gripes!]
  • Now that all of the ingredients, minus the chicken, is in the food processor, blend it until the garlic and oregano are finely chopped and all of the ingredients are incorporated [this should take about 1 minute of constant buzzing, max.]
  • Place the chicken breasts into a gallon-size ziploc bag.  Dump the marinade right into the ziploc bag on top of the chicken [don't forget to carefully remove the blade first, tapping any residual marinade back into the bowl of food processor!]; use a small rubber spatula, or your fingers if you really want to get into it, and be sure to scrape out as much of the marinade from the base of the processor as possible. 
  • Seal the bag, being mindful to squeeze out any excess air.  Make sure the bag is sealed and give those breasts a nice deep massage; you really want to make sure each breast is completely coated in garlicky goodness.
  • Marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or overnight.
Now lets get cookin'!
  • Preheat your grill, or grill pan, to medium-high heat [on a scale from 1-10, 1 being low, 10 being high, we're aiming for a 7-7.5 here, folks.].
  • While the grates of your grill are getting nice and hot, take the chicken out of the fridge and allow it to acclimate room temperature for no longer than 10-15 minutes.
  • Lightly lube up the grill and place the chicken on it, allowing room for rotation. Let the chicken sit for 4.5 minutes, undisturbed, and then rotate it roughly 90 degrees and let it sit, undisturbed, for another 4 minutes.  Flip the chicken over & allow to continue cooking for 5-6 more minutes, feel free to admire your grill marks in the meantime. 
  • Remove the chicken from the the heat and allow to rest on a serving platter or cutting board for 6-8 minutes before serving.

The following vinaigrette pairs famously with the recipe above.  Use it as a salad dressing or in place of oil & vinegar on a sandwich.

This recipe should yield approximately 1/4 Cup of deliciousness.  Here is what you will need:
1 tsp Honey [Eyeball it, or most of the honey will still be in your measuring spoon! Squeeze the honey into the base of a mixing bowl and once it is about the size of a quarter you have enough.  It should spread out to roughly the size a silver dollar.]
1/2 tsp dried Basil
2.5 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1.5 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 turns Cracked Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt [Adjust as necessary. The vinaigrette should be slightly on the saltier side if you are using it to dress a salad because the dressing is responsible for seasoning the vegetables.]
  • Whisk all of the ingredients together. Taste it. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper to taste. If you are using this vinaigrette for a salad, just whisk it all together in a large mixing bowl or your intended serving bowl and then mix the salad in that very bowl. If using this vinaigrette on a cold-cut based sandwich, cut the amount of salt by half; cold cuts are so salty, your poor taste buds may go into shock!]
And last, but not least, is just an example of some of the ingredients I used in my salad. A wonderful addition would be cherry tomatoes...

Salad for Four [though it served 2 in my house, because I'm a beast]:

1 healthy head of red leaf Romaine Lettuce, washed, thoroughly dried, and chopped [regular Romaine will suffice]
2 carrots, peeled and cut however you may please
1 small Yellow or Red Bell Pepper
1 handful of Alfalfa Sprouts [these little guys love to hog the dressing, so be sure to toss these in once the others have gotten their fair share]

Buon Appetito!

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