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Posts Tagged ‘grilled chicken’

Stuart and Dean_1186

Lately, we’ve been treated very well by so many of our friends.  For instance – Stuart and Dean, invited us to overnight at their lake house as a farewell get-together before they left for a European holiday (Italy and Provence, the lucky guys).  As usual when we spend time with these two wonderful men, we had a spectacular stay highlighted by their expertise at the stove.  Stuart welcomed us with a light lunch of a homemade onion-leek tart and garden salad and, of course, some lovely rosé.  We relaxed all afternoon – me with Stuart’s beloved Milly on my lap – and then welcomed Dean home with cocktails and dinner on the deck.  We had chicken on the grill – nicely scented with Middle Eastern spices (and beautifully grilled by Dean), yellow bell peppers stuffed with an aromatic Israeli couscous mix, zucchini from the garden with chiles, lemon zest, and mint.  And, to top it off Stuart made a luscious cheesecake drizzled with caramel sauce.  Off to bed fat, sassy, and happy and hoping for another invite when they return to hear all about their European adventure.

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20130407_Chicken_Lemons_DSC_9724

 

My favorite combo – easy as pie, beautiful to serve, and so delicious; grilled chicken halves with grilled lemon.  All you do is split small chickens in half, lengthwise, of course.  Place them in a resealable plastic bag with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and zest (as much or as little as you like, and some rosemary.  Marinate for a half hour or so and then season with salt and pepper and throw them on a hot grill – or, if you don’t have an outdoor grill, a hot stove top grill pan.  Grill for about 30 minutes, turning frequently, or until nicely charred and cooked through.  Just before ready, add a few lemon halves to the grill, cut side down.  Serve the chickens drizzled with more extra virgin olive oil (preferably a tart green one) and a good healthy dose of hot lemon juice.  Add a tossed green salad and, in this case, some warm cherry tomatoes, and some crusty bread and a perfect meal is on the table – an everyday one or a guest-ready one.

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Some years ago – perhaps with the advance of “upscale” Italian restaurants – everyone was cooking chicken under a brick (or pollo al mattone as Tuscan’s call it).  It became so popular that it was no longer cooked under a brick, but under a heavy cast iron implement made specifically for the job.  Traditionally, the chicken is not split into 2 pieces, it is simply opened up by cutting out the back bone.  But I prefer to cut it in half for quicker and easier cooking.  I use Cornish game hens as even a half of those little guys is more than I can eat.  I cut out the back bone and split the bird in half along the breast; then, I marinate for about 30 minutes in some olive oil, lemon zest, herbs (usually rosemary and oregano, but you can use whatever you have on hand), and just a little lemon juice.  I put my grill pan on high heat and when it is glowing I quickly season with a good dose of salt and pepper and pop the meat in, skin side down, top with my cast iron “brick” and wait a few minutes until they get nice and golden brown and crusty.  Give them a turn, cover again, and in another few minutes we sit down to moist, lemony chicken with crisp, salty skin.

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