Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kitchen Success with a Kick

When your husband walks in from his first taste of NCAA basketball viewing for the night (yes, my friends, tonight is a deal buster for most of us bracket babes and boys) and yells, "Whatever you're cooking smells awesome" and even throws in a Rachael Ray "Delish!" a wanna-be kitchen diva can't help but feel like a bad@$$ in an apron.

Tonight I introduced myself to Ezra Pound Cake's Grilled Spicy Chicken with Black Bean Salsa, and it was sure nice to meet it!
I always take much longer than the suggested preparation time and cook time, especially with the first attempt at a new dish; however, none were listed for this particular recipe anyway. The entire process took about 45 minutes, but again, I can be slow.

Originally tagged for its weeknight feasibility, healthy ingredients, and its kicked-up take on chicken, this dish satisfies all expectations and perhaps with some lagniappe (Cajun French for "a little something extra") as it carries quite a spicy punch. Want to give it a shot? I'd recommend perhaps including less chipotles in adobo to reduce the heat and, of course, adding more SALT! More importantly, the recipe recommends marinating the chicken while preparing the black bean salad and preheating the grill. My personal taste buds would be delighted further perhaps with marinating the chicken overnight and adding the sliced avocado. Next time I'll give it a shot.

Before I move on, I must address the second feat of the night--I conquered the grill pan! Until tonight my chicken would not cook properly. Until tonight my chicken turned out dry. Until tonight my spirits flared in anger as I could not reach the sometimes unheathy expectations of perfection I set for myself in the kitchen. Until tonight the grill pan laughed in my face while I read a recipe requiring its use. Tonight, though, I came through in the clutch (much like the stocky point guard of Pittsburg might I add). The keys follow and perhaps you know this, but perhaps you don't, so here goes: preheat the pan to a high heat; add your chicken and avoid the temptation to move it or turn it for 4 to 5 minutes; set the timer and turn chicken at 4 to 5 minutes; after flipping the chicken, again avoid the temptation to fool with it; if necessary, press down on the chicken to cook though after cooking for about 8 to 10 minutes on each side. You migth even test with a meat thermometer. I actually pulled one off to cut and was amazed with my work. Dorky, I know.

Now what might take this recipe to the next level? Can you keep a secret that just might doctor it up to perfection? Here goes--keep the same spice (that means the chipotles) and on top of each serving drizzle a healthy dose of Jalepeno Cilantro Ranch (JCR). Boom!

I will partake in such a condiment addition next time I prepare this dish. In the meantime, stay tuned for the JCR recipe.
Marinate overnight, fire up your grill or grill pan, grab a cold beverage (or two) and enjoy!

Grilled Spicy Lime Chicken with Black Bean Salad

Adapted from “Cook’s Country”

Serves 4

  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 chipotle chiles, roughly chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions (or red onion)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced thin (optional)
  • Lime wedges for serving

1. Light grill, or heat grill pan to medium. Whisk lime juice, cilantro, oil, chiles and sauce, honey, garlic, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in small bowl.

2. Toss chicken with 1/4 cup lime juice mixture in separate large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate chicken in refrigerator while grill (or grill pan) continues to preheat.

3. Toss beans, scallions, red pepper, and avocado with 1/4 cup lime juice mixture in serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Grill chicken over very hot fire (or in grill pan) until well-browned on both sides and cooked through, 8 to 13 minutes. Transfer chicken to serving platter and drizzle with remaining lime juice mixture. Serve immediately with black bean and avocado salad.

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