I am an abandoner.
A leaver in the dust.
Love’em and leave’em type.
Not really, I have just been overwhelmingly busy with school, work, life and now an impending move.
Really a move?! Yes….a move. The sad part is that I will be moving into a smaller kitchen with and itty-bitty oven. Hopefully I won’t be roasting any giant turkeys for Thanksgiving this year.
Another reason I haven’t been posting. Because it has been 285 degrees outside for around two months now and hardly a drop of rain. Ok, 285 degrees maybe and exaggeration, but it hasn’t gone below 3 digits. It takes away virtually all desire to cook or even move for that matter.
However if I am going to cook it might as well be something fresh, light, and featuring a newly discovered favorite combo of lemon, mint, and peas.
Everyone always chooses sides when it comes to chicken, white meat vs. dark meat. People get pretty passionate about it sometimes. Myself, I am a dark meat gal, chicken thighs specifically. However I enjoy a nicely grilled chicken breast every once in awhile. But in order to ensure maximum juiciness I like to brine my chicken breast. There is nothing worse then a dry stringy chicken breast and to combat the enemy called dry stringy chicken, your best culinary ninja move is to brine your chicken.
This is my go to bine….it works everytime.
In a very large bowl combine 4 cups of water, 3/4 cup of orange juice and 1/4 cup of lemon juice.
You will also need 1/2 cup of kosher salt.
1 cup of honey.
The kind the bees make, not to be confused with my sweet dog Honey, because that would be weird.
Add 1 tablespoon of black pepper.
And most importantly don’t forget 2 tablespoons of granulated garlic. Because garlic is awesome and everything is better with garlic. Except ice cream, seriously I tried garlic ice cream one time….not so good.
Place chicken breast in a large bowl with a big spring of thyme.
Pour the brine over the chicken until submerged, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile back on at the counter, collect all that is green.
I wish my grass looked this green instead of the brittle dead yellow color it’s sporting right now.
Blanch peas in heavily salted water for 1 minute. See the salt crystals on the sides of the pot. Like I said heavily salted.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl of ice water.
Boil spinach and mint in same pot until wilted, 5-10 seconds. Be careful not to boil longer or you beautiful green mint and spinach will turn and ugly brown.
Transfer to bowl with peas. Reserve 1/2 cup ice water. Drain pea mixture well.
Transfer peas, spinach, and mint to a blender.
Purée in a blender, adding reserved ice water by tablespoonfuls if mixture is too thick. Add oil and sugar to purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.
In a small bowl combine all the ingredients for the salsa and set aside.
Grab your chicken out of the refrigerator and pat dry with paper towel.
Lightly brush chicken with a bit of the lemon salsa.
Because it was 285 degrees outside it was far to hot to stand in front of a grill. I decided to pull out my trusty old cast iron grill skillet and keep my grilling in doors with the A/C.
Brush your grill with oil. Grill your chicken for about 5-6 minutes on each side our until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Reheat the pea puree and mix in 2/3 cup of thawed whole peas. Divide the purée among 4 plates, top with chicken and spoon lemon salsa over chicken.
I had been wanting to try a mint pea purée for a while. Why I don’t know exactly, I just did. I love trying new flavor combinations, it one of my favorite past times. Which is the only reason that could possibly explain why I ever tried garlic ice cream.
Mint, peas, and lemon who would have thought!? It’s really a combination that is hard to explain. The sweetness of the peas is amplified by the mint and is very refreshing. Combined with the acid from the salsa, it burst with flavor without being heavy or over bearing on the palette. What can I say? It’s good chicken. If you want to make it lighter you can swap the chicken out for a flaky white fish. Just be sure to skip the brine if you decide to do fish.
Another great thing about this dish it that it would be great and easy to do for entertaining. It looks pretty on the plate and you could do the brine, purée, and salsa ahead of time. That way all you have to do is brine the chicken for 30 minutes, brush with salsa and grill. Your guest will think you spent hours on it.
Like the Cows say, “Eat Mor Chikin!”
Grilled Chicken with Lemon Salsa and Pea Purée (adapted from Bon Appetit June 2011) 4 Servings
- 4 cups hot water
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup honey
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 2 tbs garlic powder
- 1 tbs black pepper
- 4 6-ounce chicken breast
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 cups fresh shelled peas (from 2 lb. peas in pod) or frozen peas, thawed
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/3 cups (packed) fresh spinach leaves
- 1/3 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
- 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
- Pinch (generous) of sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 preserved lemon, fresh Meyer lemon, or regular lemon
- 4 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
- 1 tablespoon (scant) Champagne vinegar
- Pinch of kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for brushing
- 4 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3/4 teaspoon (scant) honey
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup fresh shelled peas or frozen peas, thawed
Combine first 6 ingredients for brine into a large bowl, whisk until well combined. Remove from heat and let cool. Once brine has cooled submerge chicken breast in brine and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from brine, pat dry with paper towel and set aside.
Cook peas in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl of ice water. Boil spinach and mint in same pot until wilted, 5-10 seconds. Transfer to bowl with peas. Reserve 1/2 cup ice water. Drain pea mixture well. Purée in a blender, adding reserved ice water by tablespoonfuls if mixture is too thick. Add oil and sugar; purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.
Prepare a grill or grill skillet to medium-high heat. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel without the pith. Thinly slice peel. Put shallot, vinegar, and pinch of salt in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add peel, 1/3 cup oil, parsley, and honey; whisk to blend. Season lemon salsa with salt and pepper.
Brush grill rack with oil. Brush chicken with a little of the lemon salsa. Grill chicken until an internal temperature of 165 degrees , about 5 minutes per side.
Rewarm pea purée over medium heat. Stir in peas; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Divide pea mixture among plates. Top with chicken and spoon lemon salsa over.