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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Add the ginger and garlic to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
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.
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.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking it to let the excess drip back into the dish.
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.
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.
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.
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)
My boys are both in high school now, and both are running cross-country. My older son is driving now so the two of them leave the house around 7:45 in the morning and are gone until 6:30 or 7:00 in the evening. I am hearing faint whisperings of an empty nest. At first I felt a bit at loose ends, but then I remembered how much I relish time home alone. And in the past few weeks, several tasks that have lingered on my to-do list for an absurdly long time have finally gotten done. I had hoped that if I ignored that stuff long enough it might go away but apparently the IRS had no interest in cooperating.
Family dinner is more important than ever. Warren Buffett is constantly begging to watch New Girl during dinner but I resist. We talk about school, all the crazy politics these days, Warren Buffett’s latest plan to make a million dollars. I tell them goofy stories about my students, correct their table manners and insist they eat their vegetables. They make me laugh. They make each other laugh. And then we watch New Girl.
This recipe for chicken meatballs with pasta and a pomodoro sauce served with a green salad is a perfect family dinner — lots of carbs and protein for the athletes. The meatballs can be a do-ahead or a chance to drag the kids into the kitchen and put them to work. It is a versatile meal– skip the meatballs and go vegetarian or skip the pasta and go low carb. Make a double batch of the chicken meatballs to use in meatball subs for a later meal. I freeze them before baking, but you could also bake and freeze, then rewarm in the sauce.
Wipe out the non-stick skillet and heat the 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Add the minced onion and cook for about 10 minutes until it softens and begins to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1-3 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium and add the crushed red pepper flakes, tomatoes, basil puree, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, about 20 minutes.
Add the 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pot of boiling water then drop in the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions until it is not quite tender (about 2 minutes less than the prescribed cooking time). Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
Turn the heat up to medium high and stir the pasta water into the sauce to loosen it. Bring the sauce to a boil and stir in the drained pasta, continuing to stir until the sauce coats the pasta and the pasta is al dente.
Serve the pasta in shallow bowls. Top each with 3 meatballs and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano and parsley.