Monthly Archives: December 2012

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (6)Grilled chicken is great on a salad.  Grilled chicken is great period.  I believe it is the best way to cook chicken.  As long as it is done correctly, you end up with moist, flavorful and tender chicken that lends itself well to just about anything you want to put it in or eat it with.  Although I put this chicken recipe on a salad, it will be just as good with rice or on a sandwich with a honey mustard mayo. 

I had mixed greens with iceberg lettuce for the salad.  I don’t normally buy iceberg lettuce since it has very little nutritional value.  Generally, it is the dark, leafy greens (including spinach) that I eat.  There is a bigger nutritional bang in the darker greens

As far as making up the salad, I always have a variety of options.  No one in our household like the same things on his or her salad, so a salad bar is set up and each can pick whatever to put on their own salad.  Tomatoes, nuts or sunflower seeds, Craisins, different cheeses (I like feta and goat cheese) are some of the items on our salad bar.  I grilled up this chicken when tomatoes were ripening, so we had homegrown tomatoes.  The yellow grape tomatoes went very well  with the raspberry balsamic chicken.  Fresh raspberries would be a nice salad addition as well.  Honey mustard, raspberry vinaigrette and balsamic vinaigrette dressings are excellent choices to finish off the salad.

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (3)

The chicken will marinate for a few hours or overnight to fully absorb the flavors.  I had a 2 pound chicken breast that I left whole.  For the marinade you will need:  1/2 cup of oil, 1/4 white (or dark) balsamic raspberry vinegar (or you can make your own.  1 pint raspberries will yield about 1/2 cup of juice.  To juice the berries, press through a sieve and discard the pulp and seeds.  Add the juice to 1/2  cup of balsamic vinegar.  If that is not a strong enough berry flavor for you, add more juice.  This uses fresh berries, so I recommend making this right before you are going to use it), 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor to emulsify.  Emulsification blends the oil with the other ingredients in order to keep the oil from separating.  This is definitely a time when you want the oil and vinegar to stay blended.  You will know the ingredients are emulsified when the mixture is thick and you can no longer see the individual ingredients.  In a plastic bag, add the marinade to the chicken and seal.  Store in the refrigerator at least a couple of hours before grilling.

To grill, prepare a fire for indirect grilling.  While the coals heat up, take the chicken out of the fridge to warm-up in anticipation of the hot fire.  I’ve mentioned this before, but it doesn’t hurt saying again-the meat is just like us when it gets cold.  It tenses up and needs to relax prior to being placed over direct hot heat.  When the coals are ready, place the chicken directly over the coals, searing each side for about 3 minutes.   Move the chicken to the opposite side and place the lid on the grill.  In about 20 minutes, the chicken will be ready.

Searing

Searing

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (11) Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (9)

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

In these photos, you can see how moist the chicken remained.  No dry, rubber chicken here!

 

Grilled Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Salad

I chose a honey Dijon mustard dressing to top my salad.  It was very good! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy your grilled chicken!  Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Cranberry (sauce) Conserve

I have been enjoying what is left of the Cranberry “sauce” that I made for Thanksgiving. It turns out it is more of a conserve or whole-fruit jam vs. a sauce. 

Over a hunk of a crusty french loaf.

Over a hunk of a crusty french loaf.

A conserve or whole-fruit jam is basically stewed fruit.  The cooking time is shorter than the time for a regular jam, so not as much natural pectin is released from the fruit to “jell” the fruit.  It does thicken up quite nicely, though.  It is thick, but not as thick as a fruit butter (which is actually pressed through a sieve for a smooth fruit spread).  Plenty thick enough to spread over a warm slice or hunk of fresh bread. 

One 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries, 3 large, seedless oranges and honey to taste are all I put in this concoction.  Rinse and sort through the cranberries, discarding any that don’t look right and removing any stems that remain.  Pour them into a large saucepan.  Juice the oranges, scraping out some of the pulp right into the saucepan.  One trick I learned (I think from Rachael Ray) about juicing citrus fruits:  set the fruit out to warm up a bit to room temperature or pop in the microwave for about 30 seconds-after poking a hole or two through the peel to prevent an exploding orange or lemon-then roll the fruit on the counter with the heel of your hand to break up the pulp, easing the juicing process.  When I juice an orange (or lemon or lime), I use a flat wooden spatula.  Cut the orange in half, insert the spatula into  the center of one half and squeeze the orange while pressing the sides of the orange.  Then press/scrape some of the pulp out with the spatula.  I scraped some pulp out of 2 of the oranges and most out of the 3rd.  Finally, the honey.  Honey is an excellent sweetener for this.  The smooth sweetness derived from honey counteracts the tartness of the cranberries.  A honey with floral notes adds another dimension altogether.  Clover honey is the most common variety found in  grocery stores, but you may also find orange blossom honey or plum or lavender.  Mmmm.  Anyway, I started with about a 1/4 cup of honey and added more through the cooking process as needed.  It all depends on how tart you like your cranberries.  Once all was in the saucepan, I stirred together on medium-high heat until the cranberries started to burst.  The mixture also started to simmer/boil at this point.  I turned the heat down to low-medium and cooked about 20-25 more minutes, stirring frequently.  The mixture will slowly drip from a spoon held vertically.  As it is hot, it will thicken up even more as it cools.  Start checking the thickness around 15 minutes-if it cooks too long, it will become juicy and therefore runny.  You don’t want a runny conserve.  You want it nice and thick for those slices of bread, ham, turkey, pork or whatever. 

I’m going to play with this recipe some more.  See what else I can pair with the cranberries.  I’m imagining a cranberry/mango chutney glaze over ham or a pork tenderloin…

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!