Marinated Chicken Alla Griglia

Several people in my Saturday morning long run group are starting to gear up for the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October. I’m still pretty sure I never want to run a marathon but I do enjoy doing a bit higher mileage to a point. Two weeks ago, four of us gathered bright and early for a hilly and hot 13 mile run. I already had a mile and a half under my belt by the time I met up with my running buddies which made that run a total of 14.5 miles for me, the longest run of 2012. While I was really happy to get into some longer long runs, I wasn’t very smart running wise that week. I had added a mile or two to my usual  Tuesday and Thursday tempo runs, and therefore ended the week having run a little over 47 miles. Due to a little vacation the previous week, I had only run 27 miles and my highest mileage week prior to that was 43 miles. Needless to say my legs weren’t quite ready for that 47 mile week. Despite taking an ice bath and massaging my legs after the long run, I still went through the next day feeling more sluggish than usual and my legs felt like someone had tied 15 pound weights to my quads.

In hopes of putting some pep into my step, both literally and figuratively, I pored through my cookbooks in search of a comforting and protein filled Sunday dinner. Although I thought I had settled on the most perfect to roast chicken several years ago and would never want to make roast chicken any other way, I couldn’t stop coming back to Andrew Carmellini’s Marinated Chicken Alla Griglia in Urban Italian. I really liked the idea of marinating the chicken in a roasted garlic puree, various herbs, and a dash of dried red pepper flakes for some added kick. And despite the amount of time needed to marinate the chicken, the recipe didn’t really seem too complicated or time-consuming. For sides I took Andrew Carmellini up on his suggestion and served the chicken with Zucchini Bagna Calda and Potatoes Girarrosto-Style.

When everything came together, I had one of the best meals I have made in quite a while. After marinating for only five hours, the chicken was juicy and flavorful. The skin was crisp and I really loved the mix of garlic and herbs with a bit of tang from the rice vinegar and spice from the red pepper flakes. I may have found a new favorite roast chicken.

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Malaysian-style Chicken With Garlic and Lemongrass

Whoa! What the heck happened? There I was blogging along, documenting a life of running, eating, drinking, and sleeping and then life took over and blogging came to a halt. I guess taking the running, eating, and drinking to a new level cuts into the sleeping and the blogging.

I was reminded earlier this week by Major Janine Garner in the middle of a five mile tempo that she and others are waiting for updates on the old blog. As I huffed and puffed through the run, I promised her that REDS would indeed return, and with a vengeance.

I made this Malaysian-style Chicken with Garlic and Lemongrass way back in March(!). Every now and again, I feel the weight of all the feasting and search for healthy meal ideas, preferably those that do not involve giving up a lot of flavor. Instead of pork shoulder, short ribs, and beef, it’s fish, chicken, and vegetables. During a recent streak of health conscious eating, I dug into my e-mail archives and found a recipe sent to me by Tasting Table for chicken thighs packed with tons of flavors including tons of ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. The recipe requires a bit of advanced prep work but was completely worth it.

I put together the marinade in the morning and let the chicken marinate in the fridge while I went to work. When I got home later that evening I made some rice and went to work searing the chicken and putting it in the oven. The chicken turned out delicious and I figured it would also be great grilled if/when the weather cooperates.

Malaysian-style Chicken with Garlic and Lemongrass (adapted from Tasting Table)

INGREDIENTS:

Marinade
½ cup canola oil
4 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layer removed and stalk finely chopped
16 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
Four-inch piece fresh ginger, scraped and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons sambal chile paste
¼ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Juice of ½ lime
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

Chicken
Four 6-ounce bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

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Lemongrass Chicken

I originally wanted to name this blog “Work, Eat, Run, Sleep” because that is basically my life — day after day, week after week, month after month — especially when I am training for a race. When I am in full training mode I often tell friends and family that my life is WERS. So while my weekends are filled with delicious and elaborate meals, my weekday dinners are exponentially more hectic and haphazard.

On a regular (i.e. not busy) day, I leave my office anytime between 6:00pm and 6:30pm. After running five to eight miles, strength training, stretching, and commuting, I usually arrive home around 9:00pm, hungry and tired. Therefore, I try to manage my meals so that I only have to cook one quick meal during the week (two, if necessary), which is really for the next day’s lunch and dinner and not for immediate consumption.* After years of this WERS routine, I have a handful of go-to weekday dinners that take 20-30 minutes to make and can be easily reheated for lunch or dinner the next day.

My Top Five Weekday Dinners That Can Be Made in 30 Minutes or Less
1. Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken
2. Ziti with Sausage Onion and Fennel
3. Salmon with Andouille Sausage and Green Olives
4. Crusty Chicken Thighs with Mushroom Sauce
5. Lemongrass Chicken

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Chicken Tagine with Lemons and Olives

Despite making two batches of lemon ricotta muffins, I was still staring at a bag of lemons I had bought at Safeway firmly believing that roommate Alex and I would go through those lemons in no time. Additionally, after the bo saam feast-o-rama, I really wanted to eat something healthy and decided to make chicken tagine with lemons and olives which is healthy, delicious, and would make good use of those lemons I had sitting in the kitchen.

I found this recipe from Cooking Light about two years ago and love making it when the weather is a bit cooler. The use of cinnamon and ginger really warms up the dish and I love the brightness of the lemons and the hint of saltiness added by the olives. Cooked in the sauce, the chicken comes out moist and tasty and not dried out. I usually like serving this over couscous with a side of greens.

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Roasted Herb Chicken

Like many people, I love a good roast chicken. The gold standard of roast chickens can be found at Palena Cafe in Northwest Washington, D.C. I have never attempted to recreate Frank Ruta’s masterpiece. There are many ways to make a good roast chicken and each person has his or her preference as to how it should be done. For several years, I made various recipes for roast chicken and they were all good, none of them captured what I was looking for in a roast chicken. Two years ago, I found a recipe for Roasted Herb Chicken with Morels and and Watercress Salad in Food and Wine Magazine. The chicken was the absolute best roast chicken I have ever made and from that day forward, I never made roast chicken differently (although I have stopped making the morel and watercress salad and opted for roasted vegetables and a simple salad instead).

Roasted Herb Chicken adapted from Food & Wine Magazine

INGREDIENTS:
One 3 1/2 lb. chicken
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
3/4 cup chopped mixed herbs such as rosemary, parsley, oregano, and thyme
1 or 2 heads garlic separated into unpeeled cloves
1 cup dry white wine

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450°. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper and set it in a roasting pan. Scatter garlic in the pan. Roast for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Slowly pour 1/2 cup of the white wine over the top of the chicken, being careful not to disturb the herb crust. Roast for an additional 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300° and roast for 30 minutes.

Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of the white wine over the chicken. Roast for an additional 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bird’s inner thigh registers 165°.

Carve the chicken and serve with roasted garlic cloves.

The chicken came out perfectly and was delicious. By roasting the chicken for 450° for the first 15 minutes, the herbs were able to form a nice crust on the chicken. Pouring a half cup of wine at two points during the roasting time ensured a moist and juicy chicken as well as a delightful sauce. My favorite part may actually be the roasted garlic. Take the peel off of one of these babies and pop it in your mouth with a bite of chicken and you may never try another roast chicken again.