Saturday, April 13, 2013

Quick Grilled Chicken

April 6, 2013
Quick Grilled Chicken
Grilled Asparagus
Grilled Cherry Tomatoes
Steamed Rice
Vella Chardonnay
Strawberry Shortcake

Quick Grilled Chicken Breasts with Grilled Cherry Tomatoes
from The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

Anticipation for the start of baseball starts to build shortly after the previous season ends. It builds through the Fall and Winter, increases as Spring Training starts in February, and finally, finally climaxes with the start of the season in early April. Opening Day for me and Diane was Sunday, April 5, the first San Francisco Giants game that we attended this year. Going to the San Francisco for a game is an all-day outing and we almost always eat at the ball park. (Baseball is not meant to be played in a stadium or indoors, but in a Park.) Thus, I cooked dinner on Saturday and I needed something relatively quick. I found a recipe for grilled chicken in the America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook which included grilled cherry tomatoes and a vinaigrette to form the basis for this meal.

I started the chicken and rice at the same time based on the time estimates in the chicken recipe, but, alas, the rice was done much sooner than the chicken. Our gas grill is apparently not as hot as the Test Kitchen grills judging by the extra time I needed to finish cooking the chicken.  For most of the cooking time I had two of the three burners lit on high and the burner under the chicken was off. After 15-20 minutes, the time in the recipe, the chicken was not done. I turned the third burner on low and this sped up the cooking.

The chicken came out nice, we had some of the smaller pieces for dinner and they were not overdone. The bigger pieces, which were done according the thermometer, were saved for another day. There was not a lot of variation in the temperatures between the big and small pieces.

Cherry tomatoes were grilled following the instructions in the recipe. The procedure for the tomatoes and asparagus is similar: just toss with some olive oil and cook until tender, the only difference is that the asparagus is seasoned with salt and pepper before grilling. The tomatoes were especially good cooked this way, warm and juicy and filled with flavor, much more flavor then you would get eating them cold. Since for a very long time I didn't even like to eat tomatoes, for me this is saying something.

The vinaigrette added a nice brightness to everything. It was made for the chicken and the tomatoes but once added to the plate some invariably got onto the asparagus and into the rice. It enhanced the flavor of everything it touched.

Our early season strawberries have been pretty good for the most part, and not unreasonably priced. Our benchmark price for most produce is $2 a pound, anything that costs less than this we consider to be reasonable. Because the flavor of the berries is not quite up to summer standards I have been adding extra sugar. I always macerate the berries in advance: the stems are removed and the berries are quartered. Sugar is added and the berries then rest for several hours, either on the counter or in the refrigerator depending on how long they will be sitting.  The sugar sweetens the berries and draws out some of the juice which then helps flavor the cake or ice cream that is served with the berries.

We had plenty of good, grilled chicken, one of the more versatile of leftovers. We had a simple chicken salad one night with enough left over that we both had some for lunch the next day. It was also served at two meals with a delicious orange sauce that Diane made: the meat was partially heated in the microwave then added to the hot sauce to finish heating. We also had leftover grilled cherry tomatoes which were served with the vinaigrette, and this worked well, too.

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