This week is shaping up to be a bit of a scorcher and when the mercury rises my enthusiasm for standing in front of a hot stove dips dramatically. The thought of actually turning the oven on more than once a week, on a Friday, plummets into negative equity!
My griddle pan has seen such active service over the past few days that it really deserves a medal.
For example, last night I made griddled chicken. Super easy, super tasty and super fast.
Take a couple of tablespoons of olive or rape seed oil in a Pyrex dish seasoned with salt and pepper and then the grated rind of half a lemon and the juice, followed by a couple of grated garlic cloves and whatever finely chopped fresh herbs you fancy. Louis Mann's extra thin chicken schnitzels are then turned in this mixture and cooked on the griddle over a medium heat.
You will know when they are ready to turn as they turn almost opaque and just need a further minute on the other side to char a little.
I normally take a couple of courgettes and slice them lengthwise and dip them in the remainder of the marinade, as it's a shame to waste it, and onto the griddle to serve with the chicken alongside a crunchy green salad.
Thigh fillets (pargiot) bashed out are just as delicious but need more cooking and I have successfully used this catch-all suggest-ipe on large lamb shoulder chops where I add finely chopped rosemary and oregano alongside the usual parsley etc.
There is a general perception that when it is hot, spicy foods cool us down, and if the cuisine of much of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is anything to go by, this must certainly be the case. I am always looking for new ways to jazz up chicken which is the perfect vehicle for stronger flavours and the two recipes below are just the job. The recipes are 'heat adjustable' as the amount of spice can be increased if you like it hot or reduced if you have a milder palate.
Both dishes require very little in the way of equipment; a sharp knife, a bowl for mixing the marinade and a medium hot griddle, grill or bbq.
I would serve the harissa chicken kebabs with a rice and chickpea pilaf and the chipotle orange chicken with some cumin and coriander flecked couscous.
HARISSA GRILLED CHICKEN KEBABS
1kg cubed chicken - breast, thigh or a mixture
1-2 tablespoons harissa paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 red pepper cut in chunks
1 courgete sliced
1 red onion in small wedges
1 lemon cut in wedges
Mix the harissa, olive oil and honey in a bowl, add the chicken breasts and stir to coat. You can of course just dump it all into a zip-lock plastic bag seal up the top and give it a good shake and squidge to mix.
If you are using bamboo skewers give them a bath in warm water for about 20 minutes and this will stop them charring so badly.
Thread the chicken and vegetables onto skewers and grill, griddle or bbq until the chicken is cooked through and there is no pink meat and the vegetables are nicely charred.
Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over and some rice and salad.
CHIPOTLE ORANGE CHICKEN
Chipotle (chip-oat-lay) are smoke-dried Jalapeños. If you can't find them then just use regular chili powder and some smoked paprika to give it the smokey taste.
1kg chicken thighs - skin on, no bone
(if you want to use bone in as it is more juicy you might have to finish them off in the oven)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons ground chipotle - or 1-2 teaspoons chili powder and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small oranges cut in 1/4s
2-3 sliced spring onions for garnish
put all the ingredients apart from the chicken, olive oil, oranges and spring onions into a bowl and mix.
Toss the chicken in the oil and rub with the spice mixture before grilling, griddling or cooking on the bbq.
When the chicken is cooked through with no pink meat and the juices run clear remove to a serving dish and scatter with the spring onions.
Lightly char the orange segments on the griddle and serve alongside the chicken for squeezing over.
If you are a complete chili-phobe this dish is just as tasty made with just the smoked paprika but up the quantity to two teaspoons.
Later on this week, I will be posting a rather yummy lamb and artichoke kebabs and an orzo and roasted vegetable salad.