April 29, 2009

Summer's Almost Here!

Okay, I'm getting nervous now. Why? Because in Upstate New York, our summers go by so quickly, that we actually start opening our pools when the snowbanks are still melting, and the temp is above 48 degrees. Everyday is a cause for celebration when you can see actual blades of grass in your backyard. I want to take every advantage of each beautiful, warm, sunny day....and as we've discussed, I still haven't found that perfect gas grill. :(

Anyway, let's get in the mood for this much anticipated season. Enjoy the summer music on the sidebar, and let's grill some chicken! (You can use your grill probably sitting on your deck, I'll be using the old grill pan on the stovetop......sniff, sniff.)

Okay: boneless, white, chicken breast cutlets. (I could say something weird, but I'll save it for your own imagination). They are a popular cut of poultry, and they're easy to destroy if you're not careful. Nothing is worse than dried out, chewy chicken. This happens frequently, especially when grilling outside.

First know, that because there is virtually no fat on these cutlets, it is absolutely necessary to marinate for at least an hour, cook them fast, and take them off the heat a few minutes before they're done. You also have to let them sit for at least 8-10 minutes before slicing into them....which is funny, because I'm going to partially slice these little cuties before cooking.

I saw this method of grilling awhile back on a cooking show, and thought I'd give it a try. Needless to say, I have never gone back to old habits. The poultry remains moist and flavorful, and rarely are there any leftovers. If there are, you can slice up leftover cutlets on salad for lunch the following day, and they're still delicious. Get ready for:

Italian Grilled Garlic Chicken

You'll need:

3-4 boneless chicken breasts
1 package of Good Seasons Basil Vinaigrette
kosher salt, fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons white wine
3 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of parsley

Make sure you are buying good, quality chicken. The meat should look pink and fresh, trimmed of visible fat. Just a note, I prefer to make the trip to my favorite butcher shop, instead of shopping at the grocery store. I've found that the meat is fresher, about the same price, and the portions seem larger.

You're going to be marinating the chicken in Good Seasons Basil Vinaigrette. I like to make this with white vinegar and olive oil. If you can't get the Good Seasons packets, then just use your favorite Italian salad dressing. You'll need about 1 cup. (Balsamic vinegar is a nice variation as well).

Wash your cutlets and pat dry. On a clean cutting board, lay the chicken breast down, with the smooth side of the cutlet facing up. With a sharp knife, make three slices width-wise, carefully cutting about halfway through the cutlet. You don't want to slice the poultry into pieces.

When all the pieces have been evenly sliced, season with kosher salt, then cracked pepper, and place into a ziploc freezer bag. Pour the dressing over the chicken right into the bag. Add the wine, and the juice of a 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons).

Chop up the fresh basil, and add it to the bag, along with the pinch of parsley. Seal the bag, give it a gentle squeeze to mix everything around, and set aside.

Now before we add the garlic, I hope you have this handy little tool. I bought this garlic press about five years ago, and it's a great little thing to have around. The nice thing about it, is that you don't have to peel or try to chop those tiny garlic cloves.

Take your garlic clove, drop it in the opening, and squeeze the handles together. The fresh garlic squeezes right out and smells great.

Scrape the garlic into a small cup,
and then remove the garlic skin from the press.

Now that you have this wonderful, fresh garlic, put it right into the bag with the chicken. Zip it up and again, give it a good squeeze. Put the bag in your fridge to marinate at least one hour or more (even overnight). At this point, you can also put this right into the freezer; just defrost it when you're ready to grill it another time.

After an hour, you're ready to fire up the grill - high heat. (Again, I'll be cooking this inside, on my little grill pan.) Lightly spray your grill racks with Pam cooking spray. They actually make a spray especially made for outdooring grilling; see if you can find it at the store.

When hot, place your cutlets on the rack. You'll want to "sear" these cutlets for about 2 minutes on each side, no more than that. Now turn the grill down to medium. Grill one side for about 8 minutes, then turn. Grill 8 minutes more. Press the cutlets with your finger. If they feel firm, they are done. Remember, don't overcook. Use a meat thermometer if you're not sure. Put on a plate, cover with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes.
This is even tastier the next day. If you want to use cooked chicken in other recipes, just store it sealed in a new ziploc bag.

As we get closer to summer, I'll be sharing some great salad, veggie and summer recipes. These will be even better.....once I get that grill.

Thought for the day:
"Avoid fruit and nuts, you are what you eat."
- Jim Davis


Anonymous said...

Who is your favorite butcher? I've been so sick of the meat/poultry from the stores lately. Not very good quality. This sounds yummy.

Anonymous said...

didn't mean to sound so anonymous...that was me! Diane

gmluzzi@yahoo.com said...

yeah who is your butcher?

the chicken looks great ---can't wait to try it

Aimee said...

Did you put hot fun in the summertime because you know that is your daughters FAVORITE summer song :)

Anonymous said...

I just came back from the farmer's market and have a ton of basil. Do you know how to keep basil fresh or how to freeze it ?