Indian-spiced Grilled Chicken with Fresh Tomato Chutney

Indian-Spiced Grilled Chicken with Fresh Tomato Chutney

When grilling chicken, low and slow is the way to go…

Springtime for me means that it’s time for ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, grilling and dining alfresco.  We’ve had warm, sunny days but chilly nights for weeks now. Nice enough to grill some nights, but too cool to eat on the deck. This past weekend, I took a chance and planted my herb garden.  And last night, we dined al fresco for the first time this season.

This recipe for bone-in grilled chicken uses a yogurt-based marinade to both flavor and tenderize the chicken.  Lots of do-ahead options: put the chicken on to marinate in the morning or at any point during the day, make the chutney earlier in the day or a day ahead, cover and refrigerate, then gently warm it while the chicken grills.

I like to keep the rest of the meal simple — Basmati rice and fresh sliced mango. Or maybe just some good naan with cilantro chutney.

Indian-spiced Grilled Chicken with Fresh Tomato Chutney

Ingredients:

For the Indian-spiced Grilled Chicken:

  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon spicy curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts (I always try to find the smallest ones)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For the Fresh Tomato Chutney:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 minced seeded Serrano chile
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic clove
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped seeded tomato
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Prepare the marinade for the chicken. Heat a small heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the coriander, curry, cumin, and black pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the spices release their aroma.
  2. Combine the yogurt with the lemon juice and spices in a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts evenly with the salt and put them in a large zip-lock bag.  Pour in the marinade and squish the contents around until the breasts are thoroughly coated. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. A couple of hours in the fridge would be even better.
  3. Prepare the chutney. Heat the olive oil in a medium heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and the Serrano chile. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the tomato, vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds and salt, then bring to a boil. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the chutney for 10-15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for about another 5 minutes or until the chutney thickens a bit. Set aside and keep warm.
  6. Prep a gas grill by preheating on high with the top down for about 15 minutes. Clean the grill thoroughly then carefully spray the grates lightly with cooking spray.
  7. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking it to let the excess drip back into the dish.
  8. Use tongs to place the chicken breasts on the hottest part of the grill, browning them for 4-6 minutes or so on each side. Keep a close watch so they doesn’t get torched.
  9. Move the chicken, skin side down, to the cooler part of grill, with the thicker side facing the hotter part of the grill.  If your grill is super hot, you may want to turn off the side burners and put the chicken there.  Low and slow is the way to go at this point.
  10. Grill for around another 20-25 minutes longer, turning the chicken occasionally until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Pull it off the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes, during which time the temp will rise to 165 degrees.
  11. Top the chicken with the tomato chutney and garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Equipment: Gas grill, meat thermometer

Prep time: 65 minutes (including one hour of marinating)

Cook time: 40 minutes

Bon Appétit!

Pan-grilled Salmon with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan Grits

grilled salmon with roasted cherry tomatoes and parmesan grits

This time of the year, I make a lot of what I call “One-Pot Wonders”.  This is not one of those recipes.  My recipe for Pan-grilled Salmon with Roasted Chery Tomatoes and Parmesan Grits messes up some pans, but comes together pretty easily with a company-worthy presentation.  It is a lovely meal to serve when Spring is still a longs ways off, but you want to pretend.  It is also a lovely meal when Spring actually arrives and it is warm enough to grill outside.

Grilled Salmon with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan Grits

Ingredients:

For the Parmesan Grits:

  • 2 cups chicken broth (see note in directions about grits to liquid ratio)
  • 2 cups milk (I use 2%)
  • 1 cup  white stone ground grits
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Cholula hot sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the Pan-grilled Salmon:

  • 4 6-ounce salmon filets, preferably with skin on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 8 small sprig of fresh thyme

Directions:

For the Parmesan Grits:

  1. Bring the chicken broth and milk to a boil. Note: follow the grits to liquids ratio on your brand and use half milk and half chicken broth.
  2. Whisk in the grits, turn down the heat and cook the grits for the time indicated on your brand’s packaging, stirring occasionally. Cooking times can vary between 5 for quick grits and 45 minutes for stone ground grits.
  3. Stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese, Cholula, salt and pepper. Keep the grits on low heat, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to serve. Add a little chicken broth to the grits if they become to thick.
  4. Taste the grits and add salt and pepper if needed.

For the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the cherry tomatoes with the olive oil, thyme, garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the tomatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Roast the tomatoes for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. The tomatoes should be soft and beginning to caramelize.
  5. Turn the heat down to 200 degrees to keep the tomatoes warm until you are ready to serve.

For the Pan-grilled Salmon:

  1. Rub both sides of the salmon filets with the olive oil. Sprinkle the side without skin with the salt, pepper, and thyme.
  2. Heat a heavy, preferably cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat.  Spray with olive oil cooking spray.
  3. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the grate.
  4. Cook the salmon for 5 to 7 minutes. As the salmon cooks it will turn from opaque pink.
  5. Turn the salmon over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.  Do not overcook!

To plate:

  1. Spoon about 2/3s cup of grits into the center of each plate.
  2. Top each with a salmon filet and 1/4 of the tomatoes. Garnish each plate with two small thyme sprigs and serve.

Yield: 4 servings                                               Total time: 60 minutes

A word about the grits — if you can find stone ground grits, by all means use them.  If not, quick grits are an acceptable substitute.  Instant grits are not!  I usually use Charleston’s Favorite White Stone Ground Grits which are available online at various sites at outrageously inflated prices.

Bon Appétit!  Lynn

Kick-Booty Pork Chili

KICK-BOOTY PORK CHILI

The Super Bowl is tomorrow and lots of my friends are getting all geared and up and cooking up a storm.  We’re not much into football around here so if we venture out to a party it will only be for the food.  I mentioned to a friend at my Celebration of Chinese New Year Dim Sum Brunch today that I had a kick-butt chili recipe.  This is for you Adam.

I make a lot of different kinds of chili in the winter, but this pork chili will always be my favorite.  My recipe evolved from one I found in Bon Appetit magazine many years ago — it now  bears little resemblance to the original.  The pork cooks to tender perfection, the gravy is just the right consistency, and the  toppings of cheese, red onion, cilantro and avocado add textural contrast that is divine.

Kick Booty Pork Chili

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, 1/4 inch dice
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 pounds boneless country-style spareribs, cut into 1-inch cubes and excess fat discarded
  • 1/3 cup masa harina
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved
  • 1/4 cup good quality chili powder
  • 2 large jalapeño chilies, minced
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Cholula hot sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 16-ounce cans chili beans with sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

Accompaniments:

  • Grated Colby-jack cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Chopped red onions
  • Sliced avocado

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, using a slotted spoon.
  3. Add the pork to the Dutch oven in batches, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook over medium-high heat until no longer pink, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes per batch.
  4. Add all the pork and accumulated juices back to the pot.  Sprinkle with the masa harina, stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Return the onion mixture to the Dutch oven. Add the tomatoes with liquid, chili powder, jalapeños, cumin, coriander, oregano, Cholula and beef broth. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cover Dutch oven and simmer until pork is almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
  7. Add the chili beans with sauce and red wine to the chili.
  8. Simmer uncovered until the pork is tender and the chili thickens, about 45 minutes.
  9. Adjust seasoning. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese, cilantro, red onions and avocado.

Prep time:  30 minutes
Cook time: 2 1/2 – 3 hours

The spiciness of the chili depends on the heat in your chili powder and jalapeños. The Cholula adds flavor without adding a lot of heat.Whatever kind of chili powder (and cumin) you use, make sure it is fresh. Good quality spices can make a huge difference in flavor but standard grocery store buys are fine as long as they’ve been recently opened.

Often the jalapeños I buy at the grocery during the winter are not very hot so I use the whole  jalapeño– seeds and all.  Other options for bumping up the heat a bit are adding a small amount of chipotle in adobo or chipotle chili powder. Not too much! I like my chili hot and spicy but chipotle is fiery stuff.  Add a little, taste, then add more if you still want more heat.

Bon Appétit!  Lynn

Fast and Easy Sausage Pinwheels

Fast and Easy Sausage Pinwheels

fast and easy sausage pinwheels 2As the holidays are coming to a close, I’m not looking forward to the early morning hassle of  getting my kids out of bed on chilly winter mornings and ready for school.   They are 15 and 17 now, but they might as well be 5 and 7 as far as our morning routine goes. We pray nightly for the 6 o’clock AM phone call announcing a 2-hour delay.

I’m not exactly a morning person and my kids seem to have inherited that gene.  It is painful for me to get up before seven (yes, I am really a wimp).  I have to remind myself that it only hurts for a minute. They do not buy this philosophy however and inevitably drag out putting their feet on the floor for a good five to twenty-five minutes.  Then they can’t find their clothes because are still on the bathroom floor, having failed to magically levitate down to the laundry and wash, dry and fold themselves.  Don’t get me started on the socks.

All of these shenanigans do not leave a lot of time for breakfast.  And yes, I know that they are making their problem my problem.  I generally have much better boundaries, but when it comes to a filling school morning breakfast with sufficient protein, I just can’t let it go.  I need something that needs little tending, is tempting hot or at room temp, and can be eaten in the car if needed.

I grew up eating these sausage pinwheels and still love them.  Fortunately, my boys do as well.   They are  super easy — make ahead, freeze and throw  in the oven to bake as needed.  Warren Buffet is now in charge of making them after repeatedly depleting the supply in our freezer.

Fast and Easy Sausage Pinwheels

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Dust a pastry or large cutting board with the flour.
  2. Unroll the Crescent sheet, gently give it a few turns of a rolling pin, then use your fingers to square it up.
  3. Break the raw sausage up and sprinkle it over the pastry sheet.
  4. Use your hands to press the sausage into a thin layer that almost completely covers the pastry sheet.  Leave only a half-inch on the edge closest to you uncovered.  The sausage should be spread all the way to the other three edges.
  5. Roll it up length-wise starting with the edge closest to you.  Roll it as tightly as possible so there will not be gaps between the sausage and dough.
  6. Put the log on a cookie sheet and freeze for approximately 30-45 minutes until it is hard enough to cut through without the log losing its shape. Check it at 30 minutes, then every 5-10 minutes. Do not freeze it solid or you will have to wait for it to thaw out a bit.
  7. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 1/3 inch slices. One log should make about 35 slices.
  8. Place the slices back onto the cookie sheet and freeze solid.
  9. Store the frozen slices in a freezer bag until ready to serve.
  10. To serve, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the frozen slices on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until the sausage is cooked and the pastry is golden brown.

Yield: Approximately 3 dozen
Prep time: 30 minutes + 30-45 minutes in the freezer
Cook time: 15-20 minutes

These tasty pastries also make a perfect knosh to go with your Bloody Marys at brunch or  a quick appetizer to serve with cocktails.  It is not too late to make a batch for New Year’s Day!

Sweet and Spicy Steen’s BBQ Sauce

New Orleans and the South Louisiana region are home to a number of “specialty items” that aren’t widely available so are on my at-least-semi-annual visits — Camellia red beans for red beans and rice, olive salad for muffalettas,  Savoie’s Roux in a jar for making gumbo in a hurry, Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix for my children who insist there is only one beignet, various perishables  and one of my favorite”secret ingredients”, Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup.
The Steen Syrup Mill has been producing cane syrup in south Louisiana for over 100 years.   They harvest the ripe cane at its sweetest, grind it down to extract the juice, then cook it in open kettles until it is thick and dark.  In addition to sauces, I like to use it in cures and on pancakes.
Local food historian Poppy Tooker speaking a couple of years ago at the  International Food Blogger Conference in New Orleans on sustainability,  promoted the idea that the way to save the region’s “endangered local foods” like Steen’s cane syrup (as well as Creole cream cheese and rice calas) is “Eat it to Save it”.  This is my contribution.
Sweet and Spicy Steen’s Barbecue Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 5 cups roughly chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic
  • 5 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup Steen’s syrup
  • 1/4 Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Melt the butter in a dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions to the dutch oven and saute for 10 minutes or until the onions wilt and begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and continue to saute for about 5 minutes, until the excess liquid has cooked off.
  3. Stir in the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Steen’s, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke and red pepper flakes. Add the salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce, or cool the sauce before transferring it in batches to a conventional blender. After pureeing, simmer the sauce for 3-5 minutes. Taste to correct seasonings and remove from the heat.
Yield: 6 cups
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
I made this batch of sauce to serve with pulled pork sandwiches topped with Creamy Cole Slaw (a serving will be about two tablespoons per sandwich).  Since I planned to store and serve the sauce in plastic squirt bottles, it needed to be completely pureed and very liquid.  The longer the sauce cooks, the thicker it becomes.  If needed, the sauce can be thinned with a combination of water or chicken broth and vinegar.  I also use a thinned down version of the sauce to baste ribs or chicken while barbecuing and a cooked down version to sauce the meats just before I take them off the grill.

Summertime & the living is easy

There is so much to love about summer meals — savoring the abundance of fresh seasonal produce, grilling on the deck at the end of the day, dining  al fresco and lingering at the table, sipping crisp whites and rosés. We spent this weekend at the lake so I stopped at Josh’s Farmers Market on my way out of Mooresville yesterday and bought bags of (mostly) local fruits and vegetables — strawberries, tomatoes, peaches, new potatoes, summer squash and zucchini. I’ve planned my meals for the week around those bags!

roseMy new grill is going to get a workout this week.   I’m encouraging the boys to  learn to grill but lately the weather has been so lovely that I’ve done it myself — relaxing on the deck with a glass of wine while I wait for the grill to heat up, then another while I cook.  With the long days this time of year, we eat a little later.  The early evening light is my favorite of the day and I relish being outside to enjoy it.  Its been a little cooler than usual lately so we sometimes need our hoodies to be comfortable eating outside, but I pretty much insist unless it is pouring down rain!

On Friday night, I’m hosting my first dinner party in ages.  I’m taking a chance on a new grilled chicken recipe from this month’s Food and WineFive-herb Grilled Chicken with Green Aioli.  I used to make new recipes for dinner guests all the time, but haven’t in quite a while now.  The rest of the meal includes all long-standing summertime favorites so if the chicken isn’t fabulous, it should still be a great meal.

My plans are to use up all that great produce and grill every night:

Monday – grilled chicken and summer vegetable tostadas, black beans, guacamole

Tuesday – grilled salmon with herbed butter compound, basmati rice, zucchini and tomato gratin

Wednesday- bacon avocado burgers, baked beans, grilled corn on the cob

Thursday – caesar salad with grilled shrimp

Friday – five-herb grilled chicken with green aioli, minty roasted potatoes, marinated tomato salad, white chocolate blueberry bread pudding

Later this week I’ll be posting about some of my favorite rosés — perfect wine for the season!

Brunch for Two: Spinach Salad with Scallops, Mango, Avocado and Candied Macadamia Nuts

Brunch for Two: Spinach Salad with Scallops, Mango, Avocado and Candied Macadamia Nuts

scallop salad 1

Brunch is my new favorite way to entertain.  In the past I have hosted big, somewhat lavish brunches — tables full of friends and family, noshes to nibble with a Blood Mary or Brandy Milk Punch  before the main event, dessert and coffee afterwards, much fun but a lot of work.

My brstrawberriesunches these days are much more relaxed — one guest, fresh fruit and bubbly, a dish which can be mostly be made beforehand, more fruit and bubbly for dessert.

This Spinach Salad with Scallops, Mango, Avocado and Candied Macadamia Nut is perfect.  The nuts can be candied and the dressing blended the night before leaving you free to sip champagne and enjoy your guest until just before you are ready to serve.
Spinach Salad with Scallops, Mango, Avocado and Candied Macadamia Nuts

Ingredients:

For the Macadamia nuts:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup whole Macadamia nuts
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cooking spray

For the dressing :

  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup sliced peeled mango
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the scallops and salad:

  • 2/3 pound sea scallops
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 2/3 cup diced avocado
  • 2/3 cup diced mango
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Directions:

For the Macadamia nuts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Combine the sugar and tablespoon of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the macadamia nuts. Toss so that the nuts are thoroughly coated.
  4. Spread the nuts onto the baking sheet  and sprinkle with the salt.
  5. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes, stirring once.
  6. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray.
  7. Remove the nuts from the oven and immediately scrape them onto the sheet of foil. Spread  the nuts evenly on the foil.  When completely cooled, lightly chop the nuts and set them aside.

For the dressing:

  1. Combine  the the water with the mango, lime juice, olive oil, ginger, and cilantro in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Set dressing aside. Note that this will make more dressing than needed for two servings of salad.

For the scallops and salad:

  1. Dry the scallops gently but thoroughly between two layers of paper towels.
  2. Sprinkle the scallops with the salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the scallops and sear for about 2 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcook!
  5. Arrange 2 cups spinach on each plate. Top the spinach with half the scallops, 1/3 cup mango, 1/3 cup avocado and 1/8 cup red onion.
  6. Drizzle each salad with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons chopped nuts.

Yield: 2 servings

Cook time: 12 minutes                                                                                  

Prep time: 30 minutes

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