Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Chicken, New Tricks: Sweet and Spicey Chicken, Mac and Cheese Grill Style, and Chopped Veggie Salad

Before leaving for tennis Sunday, I was faced with a package of chicken cutlets purchased on sale Friday afternoon. I thought to myself, it is the beginning of the grilling season I don't want to start out with boring chicken - after looking through all the spices I thought sweet and spicey sounds like the way to go. I proceeded to rub the following on the chicken and let it sit in a ziploc in the fridge for what I thought would be a couple of hours...

Sweet and Spicey Chicken
2 tbl brown sugar
1 tbl paparika
1tsp cayanne
1 tsp garlic salt
a dash of chili powder
and lots of fresh ground black pepper
I returned from a nice afternoon outside, which unfortunately included a 3 hour tennis match ended in a third set tie breaker loss. I was craving comfort and carbs, which lead to a thrown together macaroni and cheese, and I didn't want to undo all the good I had done by running around on the courts so I paired it with a chopped veggie salad.

Macaroni and Cheese - grill style
Set a pot of water to boil and add pasta to cook, once boiling, I used a small whole wheat penne, but any pasta will do (about a cup of uncooked short cut pasta)
Melt 2 tbl of butter in a small sauce pan, when foaming add 2 tbl of flour and whisk for about a minute or 2. Stir in 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of half and half (if you don't have half and half use milk, but a little less). Once sauce cooks about 4 or 5 minutes and has begun to thicken add any sort of cheese, here is what I had but anything would really do: 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, 1/2 cup shredded mozz and 2 slices torn up colby jack. Once the noodles are done stir them into the sauce, and pour the whole mixture into a small buttered casserole dish (I used a 7x9 pyrex) and top with bread crumbs and a little grated parm. Set this dish on the grill for a total of 15 minutes including the grill pre-heat time. This way the mac and cheese and chicken will be done about the same time. If you aren't grilling you can bake the mac and cheese at 350 for 15 minutes.

Chopped Veggie Salad
I grilled 2 skewers of mushrooms which were doused with a little worcestershire and soy sauces. Diced one tomato, cut a handful of olives in half and slices a couple hearts of palm. I topped some field greens and a couple of romaine leaves with all the veggies and paired with an Italian dressing. This is the first of many "veggie salads" I see in my future.

It all came together relatively well, and here is how: I pulled the chicken out of the fridge to come to room temp when I got home, as that was happening I chopped the field greens and veggies, skewered the mushrooms and put the macaroni and cheese together. The boyfriend and I headed down to the grill area with all our food and a couple of beers to end the weekend. I set the macaroni dish on the grill and turned it on high to heat up. Once the grill reached 375 I put the chicken cutlets on and let them cook for about 3 minutes on each side (they were quite thin). I added the mushrooms to the grill right before I flipped the chicken. The timing was perfect when the chicken was done the mac and cheese was bubbling and the mushrooms were perfect. We topped the salad with the mushrooms, added a little italian dressing and enjoyed a wonderful dinner.

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