Saturday 9:45 pm
The house is quiet again (aaahhh) – the party is over.
This evening I hosted a family birthday party. We were celebrating the summer birthdays – mine and my two nephews’. We were also celebrating the arrival of our newest family member (my niece) who was born just last month. I really enjoy having my family over – I enjoy planning it and I enjoy seeing everyone – but I do get a little stressed getting the meal on the table. It seems no matter how prepared I think I am, when everyone starts arriving, it’s chaos.
Tonight I wasn’t as prepared as I had hoped to be. Thank goodness for my Mom – she set the table, pitted and chopped the cherries for the ice cream, helped with the salad, and later even dried the dishes. Also, my sister made the cake, which was a huge help (and it was so good!). The fact that I was grilling complicated things a bit, too. To get to my backyard from the kitchen, you must squeeze through the living/dining area where all my guests were, run down the basement stairs, cross through the basement and go out the sliding glass door. With my attention divided between activities in the kitchen and the chicken grilling out back, I got lots of exercise! But grilling was a necessity because it’s time for IMBB6 and the theme is grilling. This time around IMBB is kindly being hosted by the team at Too Many Chefs.
Normally, I go the charcoal briquette/lighter fluid route when I grill, but this time I decided to use real charcoal and a chimney starter. Whole Foods carries hardwood charcoal and I easily found a chimney starter at the hardware store. Once I got the newspaper lighted, the chimney starter worked like a champ. I love the idea of not using lighter fluid and plan to stick with this method in the future.
I grilled boneless chicken breasts that had been marinated for about half an hour. The recipe for the marinade is loosely based on a recipe I got from my grocery store that I use quite often. The grocery store recipe relies on dried spices, so I decided to enhance it by replacing the dried spices with fresh ingredients. I was concerned that lots of little chunks of things might burn when grilled, so I decided to puree the marinade ingredients in the blender. I did, and it created a lovely green emulsion.
Originally, I did not include the piment d’Espelette in the recipe, but when I tasted the marinade it wasn’t as hot as I had thought it would be (perhaps if I had left the seeds in the jalapeno it would have been). It probably would have been more appropriate to add a pinch of cayenne pepper as in the original recipe, but I had a little bottle of piment d’Espelette in the cupboard that I’d never used. I bought it because I’d seen it in so many of Clotilde’s recipes and I was really curious about it. I tasted the piment d’Espelette and it was quite hot, so I put just ¼ teaspoon in the marinade. I thought the little red flecks floating in the green marinade were very attractive, though I’m not sure they really showed once the chicken was cooked.
I thought the chicken tasted great. The flavor of the marinade came through but most noticeable was the grilled flavor. I really must grill out more often!
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp piment d’Espelette
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup lime juice
4 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Put the cilantro, jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt, and cumin in a blender and pulse a few times. Pour in about half of the olive oil and blend well. Add the remaining olive oil and the lime juice and pulse a few times to combine.
Divide the chicken between two zip-loc type plastic storage bags and pour half the marinade in each bag. Squeeze out the air and push the chicken around so that all sides are coated with the marinade. Flatten out the bags and put in the refrigerator for about half an hour.
Grill the chicken – time will vary depending on the size of the chicken breasts.