Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day

I was reading the summer grilling issue of Cook's Illustrated today. I'm not sure if this is always the case, but it seems like with each recipe their goal was to improve on something that was commonly accepted at levels of mediocrity. For example, the section on fajitas pegged them as generally being bland chunks of chicken and peppers that required excessive condiment application to disguise their lack of flavor.

Marinade

I'd never thought about it that way: we always tend to enjoy the condiments as much as everything else. How can you go wrong with fresh guacamole, salsa and sour cream? I saw the author's point however. You should be able to do enough with chicken that it can stand on its own. The recipe in question was for a quick marinade, primarily lime, cilantro and jalapeno based, with a suggested marinade time of just 15 minutes.

Chicken Marinade

Veggies

To compliment this, we chose another recipe from the same issue for a dill cream cucumber sandwich. One interesting technique highlighted here was for maintaining the crunchyness of cucumbers. It involved putting a ziplock bag of water on top of the sliced cucumbers to help squeeze out the internal water. In addition the slices were tossed with salt which further drew out the internal moisture. The result was supposed to maintain the delicious crunch of
a freshly cut cucumber, even after being dressed.

Cilantro

Draining

As should be no surprise when working under the written instruction of Cooks Illustrated, both dishes turned out to be a success. The chicken was tender and flavorful, and each primary ingredient in the marinade was distinctly noticeable after grilling. The cucumbers were every bit as crunchy as expected, and the fresh dill and sour cream dressing was a refreshing compliment to the citrus spice of the fajitas. Even a quick tip on covering your tortillas with a dish towel after taking them off the grill made a huge difference, keeping the tortillas warm and supple instead of hardening once they come off the heat.

The Spread

Nom nom nom nom

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cleaning out the fridge: vacation time!

Cassie and I are leaving for Cape Cod this weekend, so we made an attempt at cleaning out the fridge. A quick survey turned up the following items:
- 3 chicken breasts
- 3 burrito burrito size tortillas
- 2 bell peppers
- 1 onion
- Salsa
- A small chunk of cheese

Fajitas ahoy! I had a bottle of jerk marinade on the shelf. We cut up the chicken into finger sized pieces and let it soak in the jerk sauce with some pepper flakes (store bought jerk is never hot enough) for a few hours. This was quickly grilled with the veggies on kabobs for a tasty fajita filling. Not too bad for left overs. The jerk sauce went well with the corn salsa and sweet peppers.

Jerk Chicken Fajitas

I plan on doing some grilling on the beach while we're on the cape, so although I may be absent from posting for a week, expect some good stuff on my return. Hopefully Matt will be able to keep the blog moving with some Independence day cook out goodness.

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