Saturday, March 27, 2010

130. Gas-Grilled Bone-In Chicken Breasts

Date Cooked: March 16, 2010
Page: 609
Rating: B

Ever since we won our grill last summer I have been a lot more enthused about grilling, and now that winter was beginning to close I figured I should fire it up and make sure it was ready for a new season. Grilled chicken sounded like a reasonably simple meal and I figured a rub or paste would spice things up.

Preparation for this meal was not exactly tough. I didn’t brine the chicken due to time constraints and the paste was pretty quick to throw together, so this recipe was all about the grill. I will confess. I am not a griller. While I have made big strides in the kitchen I still struggle on the grill, constantly double guessing myself and prone to burn food. I wouldn’t call what I do grilling… I’d probably call it arson. Isn’t grilling supposed to be buried deep in the male DNA? Or is it buried so deep in mine it got lost? Anyway let’s see how this first foray into grilling for the season turned out.

I spread the Asian spice paste on the skin side of the chicken breasts before placing them on the hot grill skin side down. While the skin side seared I spread the paste on the chicken’s other side. Once the skin side had sufficiently burned, I flipped it to burn the other side. I suppose referring to it as burning isn’t to promising is it. After searing both sides I moved the chicken to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking. After several minutes I returned to a hot smoking grill to remove the charred poultry remains.

Rating: B-. I didn’t hate this recipe but I need to figure out how to better understand my grill temperature. The chicken wasn’t overcooked except for the outside of it which was well beyond overcooked. I wish I could really comment on the taste of the Asian spice paste but I have no idea what it really tasted like since it was pretty much burned off. I really must not skip brining, but it is so hard to find that hour to brine when I get home from work.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

129. Asian Spice Paste for Chicken

Date Cooked: March 16, 2010
Page: 610
Rating: B

First off I didn’t snap a picture of this paste. It was a component and I didn’t even think about getting out the camera until the dinner was ready. I’ll try to describe it for you. Imagine pesto. Okay done. Making this paste was simple. Let’s see, I had extra virgin olive oil, cilantro, soy sauce, minced jalapeƱo, minced ginger, minced garlic and probably some other stuff. I threw everything together and then used my immersion blender to help the ingredients form a harmonious society. The cilantro was definitely the king of this society, both in color and smell.

Rating: B. As with most marinades, rubs, and pastes that are intended to be used before cooking they are hard to rate by themselves. The best I can do is say that it was not offensive in smell and was easy to prepare. How it benefited the chicken I will describe in my next post.

Friday, March 19, 2010

128. Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary

Date Cooked: March 16, 2010
Page: 186
Rating: A

I don’t like potatoes. Well that used to be the case. Let me try and narrow down my distaste a bit. I detest potatoes boiled until the only thing holding the dried out, flavorless vegetable matter together is the flavorless starch that is a potato. I grew up with bad potatoes for too many meals and I feel that I have unjustly stereotyped all potatoes in the same manner, and as I have mentioned before, French fries aren’t potatoes. But these roasted potatoes came out PERFECT. Notice how I typed that all in capital letters. They were that perfect. The last time I cooked roasted potatoes was for Christmas dinner back in 2008. The difference between these ones and then (aside from the garlic and rosemary), was this time I didn’t have to cook for a dozen people and the potatoes had ample room on the baking sheet. Something that absolutely improved their crispiness.

I started by halving a bunch of small potatoes and tossing with extra virgin olive oil. The potatoes then spent 20 minutes roasting on a baking sheet cover with foil before being removed for their first turning. With fewer potatoes to flip I was able to give them individual attention and ensure each potato was comfortable on the baking sheet. After another 15 minutes in the oven they received their second flip before 5 more minutes in the oven.

While the potatoes were roasting I chopped some fresh rosemary and made a garlic paste of minced garlic and salt. These I placed in a bowl and when the potatoes were done in the oven I tossed everything together.

Rating: A. I liked these and they could not have been easier to prepare. My oldest ate these without issue and actually asked for a few from my plate. The crispiness of the exterior was perfect and the flesh was soft and creamy. The rosemary didn’t do much for me and there was not enough garlic but those were minor points. I will make these much more often as a dinner side. I will also find ways to spice these up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

127. Steamed Broccoli with Balsamic-Basil Vinaigrette

Date Cooked: March 16, 2010
Page: 140
Rating: B-

t’s been awhile since I cooked something new from the book. I actually use many of the recipes in the book frequently, but as my repertoire increases my use of new recipes slows down. Also having a newborn baby means I am not spending so much time planning and preparing meals, in fact I am spending more time refereeing the wrestling matches between my 6 and 3 year old. Three boys is going to get interesting. But let’s get back to the purpose of this blog. Cooking… or attempting to cook.

I chose this recipe simply because we had broccoli in the fridge. It is one of the few vegetables that we frequently have fresh, asparagus is the other. Also looking through the ingredient list I had everything else (which is not as rare an occurrence as it used to be). Preparation for this was really simple. I combined extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl to which I added minced shallots, garlic and basil. Having a basil plant in my kitchen window is definitely a great thing. I hope this summer to plant a nice little herb garden, once I find an area of my yard to grow them in.

I cut up some broccoli and steamed it. The steamed broccoli was tossed in the bowl with the vinaigrette and then plated with the rest of the meal. I would like to write a fantastic tale of culinary magic but the reality is that I steamed some broccoli and then tossed it with a handful of other ingredients. Not hard.

Rating: B-. I’m not rating it very high for two reasons. It really wasn’t very magical. Definitely not bad and is a perfectly fine manner in which to dress up broccoli. But still I wasn’t impressed. Now I will concede that the quality of ingredients is very important since they aren’t hidden. This leads to the second reason I scored it low, the shallots I used overpowered it. Overall it is a preparation I will tweak for the future.
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