Easy summer dinner: Grilled Caesar salad with chicken breast

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I have blogged here before that I did not like chicken breast.  I used to find the meat bland and dry.  Last year, I found a few recipes that work really well for chicken breast, and I have been converted ever since.

This particular chicken breast recipe was found on The Kitchn.  The recipe guarantees moist and tender boneless skinless chicken breasts.  Once the breast meat is cooked with this recipe, the possibilities are endless.  I’ve served the meat with salads, cubed it to throw in curries, added to stir fries, etc.  One of my favorite salads is a grilled Caesar salad, so I’m also going to share a recipe here for it.  I love the romaine lettuce grilled because it gives it an extra layer of flavor.  Of course, if you don’t grill the lettuce, that’s fine too (I’m looking at you, Itti!).  You can use the dressing on the uncooked lettuce.

The chicken breast and the Caesar salad can all be made ahead of time, and pulled out of the fridge to eat the next day.  It makes for a great summer dinner.

Chicken Breast

Ingredients

1 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon freshly chopped herbs (optional)
Olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter

Equipment

10-inch sauté pan with lid

Direction

1. Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness with the handle or flat of a knife.

2. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts.

3. Mix about a half teaspoon of salt in with the flour along with a little pepper. Chop the herbs finely, if using, and mix in as well.

4. Quickly dredge the chicken breasts in the flour, so that they are just lightly dusted with flour.

5. Heat the sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add the olive oil and butter. Let them melt, and swirl the pan.

6. Turn the heat to medium. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for just about 1 minute to help them get a little golden on one side (you are not actually searing or browning them). Then flip each chicken breast over.

7. Turn the heat to low. Put the lid on the pan. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and walk away. Do not lift the lid; do not peek.

8. After 10 minutes have elapsed, turn off the heat. Reset the timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken breasts in the pan. Again, do not lift the lid; do not peek.

9. After the 10 minutes are up, take the lid off, and tada! Soft, tender, juicy chicken breasts that aren’t dried out in the least. Doublecheck them to make sure there is no pink in the middle. Slice and eat.

 

Grilled Caesar Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 canned rolled anchovy fillets with capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 to 3 large head romaine lettuce, cut lengthwise into halves

Direction

Mince 3 garlic cloves in processor. Add mayonnaise, anchovies with capers, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and mustard and process to blend. Transfer to medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Brush the dressing on the romaine lettuce halves.  Grill the lettuce on medium-high heat on the BBQ for 2 minutes, turning occasionally. Cut the grilled lettuce into bite size pieces.  Drizzle more dressing on the lettuce.  Sprinkle 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the salad.  Serve with chicken breast (see recipe above).

Tender Asian chicken breast stir fry

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I don’t know about everyone else, but I used to dislike chicken breast.  Secretly I called it the “white people meat” because Asian people tend to use chicken legs/thighs.  I found chicken breast to be bland and dry in general.  But back in the summer, someone changed my mind about this cut of meat.  I’ll tell that story another time.  It turns out that I’ve been over-cooking it all these years, causing the meat to turn dry.  With the right cooking method, chicken breast can actually be moist and flavorful.

My mom came to Vancouver a few weeks ago to help us with Joshua/Savanna/my postpartum care.  She made a stir fry dish with chicken breast that further solidified my new “like” of chicken breast.  I had no idea chicken breast can be *this* tender and flavorful.

With the way my mom cooks, there’s no “recipe”.  Everything is by estimate–a sprinkle of this, a splash of that.  So here’s the estimated recipe.  Please adjust all seasoning to your own taste.  You can use whatever veggies your heart desires.  Today we had a zucchini in our fridge, so that’s what I used.  But feel free to use green beans, gai lan, bok choy, whatever.

Joshua painstakingly picks out the veggies, but he eats up this chicken like there’s no tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of chicken breast (i.e. the entire breast from 1 chicken)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking wine (rice wine) (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • a dash of white pepper
  • a bit of graded ginger (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon of corn starch + 2 teaspoon of cool water
  • 1 zucchini or whatever veggies you want to use
  • salt
  • grapeseed oil (or whatever cooking oil you like to use)

Method

  1. Thinly slice the chicken breast.  I find it easiest when the meat is half frozen.  So I tend to defrost the meat from the freezer for a couple of hours, and slice it before it’s completely thawed out.
  2. Combine the sliced chicken breast meat, soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, white pepper, ginger together in a bowl.  Let sit either over night, or at least for 10 minutes.  Set aside and prepare the veggies.
  3. Cut up the veggies you want to stir fry, and cook them up first.  Generally I heat up a couple of tablespoon of grapeseed oil, stir fry the veggies till cooked, and add salt.  No magic here.  Place the cooked veggies on a plate.
  4. Combine corn starch and water in a separate small bowl until the corn starch is desolved. Add this liquidy paste to the marinated chicken.  Stir until the chicken has absorbed all the liquid.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil to the frying pan on medium high heat, and add chicken to the pan.  Continually stir and turn the chicken to ensure even cooking.  The biggest “trick” here my mom taught me, is that you only cook the chicken till it is 80 or 90% done.  So as soon as I don’t see any pink on the surface of the chicken, it’s time to remove the chicken from the heat.  Pile the chicken on top of the veggies, or you can throw all the veggies into the pan and mix it up with the chicken, and you’re done.
  6. Let the chicken sit for 3 or 4 minutes before serving.  The heat from cooking will continue to cook the chicken while it sits, ensuring super tender meat cooked to perfect done-ness.
  7. Serve with rice.