Thursday, August 04, 2011

Lighter summer fare...heavy on flavor!

After making the seasonally inappropriate (though scrumptious) fennel and chicken sausage bean soup, I felt that it was only right that I turn my attention to something lighter and more summery.  So I fired up the little smoker/charcoal grill that we affectionately refer to as R2D2 and made some tandoori-style chicken breasts that was another one of the winning recipes from The Pioneer Woman's and Bush's Grilling Beans contest. (I previously made both the harissa-crusted ribeye and the sweet-n-sassy chili pork chops--both excellent!) These chicken breasts come out so tender and incredibly flavorful, and they make an AWESOME sandwich the next day, if there are any leftovers, that is.

Though I may have been muddling the various cuisines of the Orient once again, I made an Asian noodle salad to accompany the tandoori-style chicken. The recipe came from a card I picked up at the Healthy Living Market in Burlington, and it had been stuck up in the visor of my car for months, waiting patiently to make an appearance on one of my dinner menus. The salad is light and zesty and just yummy, so I will not be waiting so long to make it again!

Grilled Tandoori-Style Chicken Breasts
(Source: Adapted from contest winner, Rebecca, via The Pioneer Woman)

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup plain yogurt (I used 3/4 cup sour cream thinned with 1/4 cup buttermilk)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt (I would cut this back to 1 1/2 teaspoons, maybe even just 1)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (I used sriracha instead)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 tablespoon grated ginger root--even better!)

Add all of the ingredients except the chicken to a zip-top re-sealable bag (or whisk together in a flat baking dish.) Set aside. This is your marinade.

Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and lay out flat on a cutting board. Holding a large, sharp knife parallel to the cutting board, cut the down the length of the chicken breast, dividing it into two evenly thick pieces. This is easiest if you press your other hand down flat on the chicken breast to hold it steady. Transfer the chicken breasts to the zip-top bag that contains the marinade. Seal the top and squish the bag around gently to coat all the chicken evenly. Place the bag in a bowl to catch any leaks and stash in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight prior to grilling.

When you’re ready to cook the meat you have a couple options. The best option is to grill. You can use a grill pan or hot oven if you don’t have a grill at your disposal. For a gas grill, preheat the grill, with the cover down, to high. For a charcoal grill, build a bed of hot coals. Oil the grill racks very well as the chicken has a tendency to stick. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shake off excess and place on grill racks. Don’t move the chicken around once it’s on the grill. Give it a chance to develop a nice crust.

Cook, covered for 4 minutes, flip the chicken breasts and continue cooking, covered until the internal temperature of the chicken breasts reaches 160 degrees F. It’ll have charred bits on it and look delicious. Transfer to a platter and tent loosely with foil until ready to serve.

*Next time, I might add some tumeric just to give it that nice yellow color that is so common in Indian food. I think my curry powder (Madras), though spicy and tasty, didn't have tumeric like many others do.

Asian Vegetable Salad with Rice Stick Noodles
(Source: Adapted from Healthy Living Market, South Burlington, Vermont)

1 1/2 cups purple cabbage (I used Napa but purple would have been prettier!)
8 oz. thin rice stick noodles (my package was only 7 oz.)
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded cucumber
1/2 cup shredded daikon radish (I didn't have this so I doubled the cucumber)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, slivered
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon sriracha (or to taste)

Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl, salt heavily and cover with cold water. Let sit for 15 minutes then drain, rinse and dry on paper towels. Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and cut noodles into approximately 8-inch lengths.

In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the vegetables, mint and cilantro. Whisk together the lime juice, rice vinegar, sugar, ginger,soy sauce, sesame and canola oils. Toss with the noodle/vegetable mixture. Transfer to a platter and serve. (Or chill until ready to serve.)

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