Thursday, April 26, 2007

tequila lime chicken + green onion slaw

margarita chicken

If it’s true that the definition of stupidity is to do something over and over again and expect different results, then I am indeed guilty as charged, because I made something for dinner last night that I know I never, ever like. Somehow I believed it would be better this time, and when it wasn’t, I proceeded to take two bites and then returned to the kitchen to make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

yeah yeah

It seems unfair to blame the margarita chicken, as Alex ate it without complaint, but he’s always been the kind of boy who knows on which side his bread is buttered. Frankly, not only do I not blame the margarita chicken, I was downright jealous of it for getting to marinate for 24 hours in a freshly-squeeze, potent cocktail while I marinated in front of a flat screen monitor, shivering in an over air-conditioned low-walled cube. But in the end, I just can’t give an objective review of the recipe because guess what? I don’t like grilled, boneless skinless chicken cutlets and I never have.

I’m not sure I’ll ever understand this American obsession with them. I went out for lunch with my coworkers a few weeks ago to a restaurant that, well, is not exactly known for its innovative cuisine, and eight out of the ten lunch specials involved some form or another of grilled chicken breast. Do people like them because they really don’t taste like anything? I mean, if you slather them with enough barbeque sauce, I’ll probably forget that they have the texture and excitement of pressed sawdust. They’re also occasionally forgiven when they’re braised or cooked in a luscious sauce. But on their own, deprived over what little moisture they have left in their cells on a hot grill? I fail to see the charm, though I do understand that I’m in a distinct minority on this.

finished slaw

Onwards to something that I loved, and can actually recommend (because, well, I actually ate it) and that is Bobby Flay’s Green Onion Slaw. On the Diner’s Journal blog, Frank Bruni often asks chefs what items can always be found in their refrigerator and it occurred to me last night at least 90 percent of the time in mine you’ll probably find both green onions and some sort of half-cabbage head, tightly wrapped in clear plastic, the first because I can’t think of anything not improved by a light, springy onion flavor and the second because it keeps forever, can never be used in the first sitting and comes through in a jam if you forgot to pick up salad greens.

red cabbage for slaw

This fantastic slaw combines both of those things, but takes it one step further with serrano chiles. Now, I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking the exact same thing: “Bobby Flay, you are insane. Two serrano chiles would blow the taste buds out of the average person’s mouth. How about creating some recipes for the rest of us?” And you might even go as far as to only use one in the food processor with your green onions, mayo, olive oil and vinegar but you’d be wrong. Because this is exactly what I did, and honestly, I wished it had a little more kick. All of the other ingredients of the salad create such a comforting bed for the flavors, if you only use one, you won’t get any heat at all. You will, however, still get the loveliest of light green dressings that you may find impossible to not dip carrot sticks and other crudités into, and that counts for something. It also makes an excellent side-dish for your PB&J.

green onion dressing

Tequila Lime Chicken
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

1/2 cup gold tequila
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 whole (6 split) boneless chicken breasts, skin on*
Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat a grill with coals and brush the rack with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and grill them skin-side down for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from the grill to a plate. Cover tightly and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

* I actually used boneless skinless chicken thighs; thighs because I prefer dark meat and skinless, because I was trying for something healthier. I have little doubt that this dish would be much juicier and less deserving of my complaining with the skin on.

Green Onion Slaw
Bobby Flay

My only eensy concern about this dressing below is that the next day, it looked a bit gritty. It certainly tasted as good as the first day, but didn’t look as pretty, thus if appearance is a primary concern, I’d just make the dressing right when you need it.

One more slaw suggestion: I always store my chopped cabbage and vegetables and dressing separately, mixing them a few minutes before I serve it so they don’t get watery or soggy.

1 cup green onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 serrano chiles
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup pure olive oil
1 head purple cabbage, finely shredded
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Blend green onions, vinegar, chiles, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and oil in a blender until emulsified. Place cabbage and red onions in a bowl, add the dressing and stir until combined. Fold in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.


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