The Tastetress Presents...a Winter Grilling Story.
Shall we begin. Once upon a time a girl lived in the cold city of Chicago and after a warm Holiday in St. Croix she was miserable at the idea of packing away her summer flip flops again in exchange for cold leather boots. Quickly exhausted by the bleak snow she wanted something that inspired warmth, reminded of summer & stayed on the healthy side with the Holidays behind her. As she peered into her fridge she saw items that inspired a summer solstice and a spark that only a grill could impart.
A tribute to the Mediterranean side of the family my brother and I worked on this meal together. Inspired by the kitchen we found large bone in chicken breasts, fresh asparagus, cous cous, lemons, and more. We immediately knew this grilled feast was in order. Here's how we did it.
Brined & Grilled Mediterranean Chicken
- 8 Cups Water
- 1 Cup Vinegar
- 1 Tbs Peppercorn
- 1/3 C Kosher Salt
- 1 Tbs Coriander Seed
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 3 Cloves Garlic smashed
- 1/2 Yellow Onion quartered
- 5 Large Bone in Chicken Breasts
Tastetress Tip:A brine is a great way to quickly finish defrosting any protein on those days you may have forgotten to pull something out of the freezer. In less than hour or 2 your chicken will have absorbed all your tasty brine flavors & be perfectly defrosted for cooking. Much better alternative than turning your microwave onto the defrost setting.
Start your brine in a large pot on the stove. In no particular order add all your ingredients except the chicken and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn the heat off and cool down the temperature of your brine before submersing your chicken breasts, room temperature or slightly warmer is fine. Make sure the chicken breasts are completely covered by the brine, if you need more liquid just add water to cover at this point. Keep on your counter for 1 hour or place in the fridge covered if you'd like to brine the chicken for a bit longer. With poultry I tend to keep my brine time much shorter than if I were using red meat or pork, I feel it allows the chicken to be moist without par cooking the outer flesh with the acidity the brine contains, 2-3 hours is plenty.
- 1 Tbs Pepper
- 1 Tbs Garlic Powder
- 1 Tbs Onion Powder
- 1 Tbs Sage
- 1 Tbs Rosemary
- 1 Tbs Parsley
- 1/2 Tbs Oregano, preferably Greek
- 1/2 Tbs Salt
For the dry rub you literally just need to throw all the ingredients in a bowl & taste. Depending on the spices you use, certain flavors may stand out more than others. See if it needs any adjustments. It will be a strong flavor, but try to give yourself a second to see what stands out. Does it need more garlic? More pepper? It's your recipe now, so play around with it. Note to keep the salt levels a bit lower since the brine is imparting salt to your chicken as well.
Once the chicken is done in the brine, remove it and pat it dry with paper towels. Cover every inch of your chicken liberally with the dry rub. I even try to get some under the skin & into any crevice I find. Let your chicken sit in the dry rub for at least 20-30 min before cooking. If it is going to sit longer be sure to keep your poultry in the fridge; however, always let your chicken sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before grilling. This allows for more even cooking & super moist chicken.
Once your chicken has soaked up its brine & basked in it's dry rub, it's time to spark your grill. Make sure your grill is nice and hot, because these bone in chicken breasts will take a bit longer than usual. If you are opposed to grilling during winter or live in the city where grills can be hard to come by, use a grill pan. I start my chicken out on the hottest part of the grill to get a good crust & char going, and then move it to a less hot area for anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on the heat of your grill. I used a grill pan to keep the char down. If your chicken starts to get too dark, no worries, you can finish it in the oven on 350 if you're worried it's going to burn.
Make sure before serving you let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes so your tasty chicken holds onto all those fabulous juices you've been flavoring.
Cous Cous with Asparagus & Lemon
- 4 Scallions chopped
- 10 Asparagus finely diced
- 1/4 Cup Red Cabbage shredded
- 1 Cup Baby Spinach Leaves chopped
- 2 Tbs Parsley chopped
- 1 Clove Garlic grated
- 4 Tbs Olive Oil
- 2 Lemons zest & juice
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 2 Cups Cous Cous
- 2 Cups Chicken Broth
cous cous in a separate bowl & cover immediately. The cous cous will take about 8-10 minutes to cook & absorb all the chicken broth. When finished fluff with a fork. To your cous cous add your sauteed vegetable mixture, the rest of the olive oil, lemon zest & lemon juice. Stir & taste, adjust accordingly. Cous cous tends to be pretty bland in flavor sometimes, so sometimes add a little extra lemon, olive oil, or a salt & pepper to achieve the flavor I want.
Garlic & Lemon Sauteed Broccoli
- 3 Cups Broccoli
- Leftover Broth or Water to Steam
- 2 Tbs Olive Oil
- 3 Cloves Garlic sliced thin
- Dash of Chili Flakes
- 1 Lemon Zest & Juice
- Dash of White Balsamic Vinegar
In a saute pan I heat my oil & then slightly brown my garlic & chili flakes. If your broccoli isn't ready for you once the garlic is brown, turn off your heat so you don't burn the garlic. When the broccoli is done toss them in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes. Taste your broccoli & add more salt and pepper at this point if the broccoli needs it. Toss in your lemon juice, zest, a dash of vinegar, and serve.
Greek Salad with Lemon Vini
- 1 Romaine Heart
- 1/2 Cucumber
- 1/2 Tomato
- 1/2 Green Pepper
- 2 Scallions
- 1/2 Cup Feta or Blue Cheese
- 1 Lemon Zested & Juiced
- 1 tsp Dijon
- 1 tsp Honey
- Dash of White Balsamic
- Salt & Pepper
Tastetress Tip:Whenever you are making homemade dressing...always add the olive oil at the end! You must season your vinegar well & allow all the spices to dissolve before you add your oil. If you add your olive oil before you impart all your flavors, your dressing will require a lot more seasoning. I always taste my vinegar concoction before adding my oil & adjust accordingly. Trust me on this one, it's a secret of mine that I swear by...and I promise you will learn to make the best salads & dressings!
First make your vinaigrette. In a jar or bowl mix your vinegar with all the other ingredients except your olive oil. Stir or shake really well until all the salt has dissolved & the honey is absorbed. I like to taste my vinegar and adjust my seasoning at this point. It should have a tart flavor with notes of honey & pepper.
Personally, I am not a whisk in oil kind of girl. I like my vinaigrette to be more separated, otherwise I feel like I am eating a creamy dressing. Plus I prefer a little more bite to my dressing from the vinegar, and when you whisk in the oil I find the vinegar flavor gets a little lost. I prefer to add my oil & then whisk lightly. If you'd like your vinaigrette to be more thick & creamy, add a bit more olive oil & either whisk in slowly or blend to get that creamy vinaigrette consistency.
These dishes were such a fabulous reminder of summer, offered a challenge outdoors amidst the snow, & all was still savory enough to feel like a winter meal. The chicken is absolutely phenomenal...you have to try it! If you get stuck or have questions be sure to send me a shout out to @TheTastetress on twitter. I will surely help you create something fabulous so you can finish your day in snowy stride!