Dalai Mama Dishes

by Catherine Newman

Catherine Newman cooks for the family

Dalai Mama Dishes

Catherine Newman cooks for the family

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Double-Delicious Grilled Chicken

Posted August 10, 2009
Find more about dinner , chicken , dalai mama , grilling
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I always try to make extra, so that we can leftovers in sandwiches or salads, but it doesn't seem to work out that way.

Marinating the prosthetic feet. I mean chicken.

This has a very Starship Enterprise look to it, doesn't it? Who knows what Michael does out here, seeing as how I never participate. Maybe he throws the chicken away and then drives to a grilled chicken place and buys grilled chicken and then drives back and puts it on the grill. I have no idea.

Already, the chicken is delicious, so imagine how delicious it will be once it's redressed! Not redressed in the compensation way. Re-dressed.

Cilantro and lime.

I like cutting up the chicken because it's manageable, and it allows you to eat your own perfect amount. Which, for me, is a lot of it.

Even green-stuff-minding children made an exception for this chicken.

Ben actually loves the green stuff. Except for the zucchini, which he eats, but in the way of a yogi swallowing a long and cleansing strip of gauze.

As you know, chicken kind of gives me the willies. Even, yes, this lovely Nature's Promise chicken. Did nature promise to lop off the pink little breasty cutlets, these fleshy Illinois shapes sliced out of a topographical map of the United States of Poultry, and then did nature promise to shrink wrap them like miniature severed limbs before double-plastic bagging them in their chickeny little Hazmat suits? I didn't think so. I had to consult Houdini's ghost just to wrangle them out of their wrappers.

And yet, despite the fact that I'm a real farm-to-table girl, and this is more of a biochemical-lab-to-polymer-techno-factory-to-table scenario, I am drawn to packaged chicken because, well, it's so unleaky. I know that's a bad reason. I should be out there with Barbara Kingsolver personally lopping the heads off of anybody we plan to consume. I totally agree. Honestly. That's a battle I'm still planning to pick at some point. And really, if that's the worst of my troubles--a bit of chickenish hypocrisy? Well, to quote The Breakfast Club, "B-O-O H-O-O."

Meanwhile. Where was I? Oh right. Another delicious dinner! This is an absolute favorite summer meal, and it's a recipe, but it's also a philosophy. Not in the Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling sense, but in the oh-wow-yum sense: you marinate the chicken before cooking, like usual, but then also after cooking. In a different marinade, of course, so as to not get salmonella, which may be part of the Fear and Trembling philosophy, but not of the oh-wow-yum one. But oh, wow, yum--the chicken is so, so succulently excellent: tangy, herby, and mouth-watering. The pre-cooking marinade makes it delightfully tender and seasoned, but then the post-cooking marinade introduces all the fantastic and fragile flavor component--the herbs and citrus zest and garlic--that would have burned off on the grill. Also, since you slice up the grilled chicken, you maximize the flavor-absorbing surface are. You will be a hero to your family and dinner guests. Seriously.

Okay, not seriously. But we had friends over last night, including one young friend who is not famous for her hearty appetite, and there was some of that child-parent whispering, you know, when your kid doesn't think she's going to like something but you've trained her not yell gaggingly across the table, "Yuck, it's too yucky to try." But then, after I had made this particular young friend a nice, plain quesadilla, she actually tried some chicken after all. And then had seconds--but in this funny kind of grudging way--"Fine, I'll take another piece."--like she didn't want it to go to my head. But it did. It totally did.

Double-Delicious Grilled Chicken
Serves 8
Active time: 20 minutes; total time, including marinating: 1 1/2 hours

So yes, there's lots of salt, as you'd expect from me, and lots of zest for a full, rounded citrus flavor. There are many different ways to make this, of course: sometimes I use lemons instead of limes, and switch the herbs to lemon thyme and parsley or else basil. Yum. Sometimes I add a bit of chopped shallot or scallion to the first marinade or a bit of chipotle puree to the second. And sometimes, if there are people around in whom the flecks of green are going to inspire fear and trembling, I leave some of the grilled chicken out of the second marinade and serve it plain. It is still delicious, just not so zingy. As you would imagine, this chicken makes an excellent addition to salads.

For the chicken and the first marinade:
8 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and (shudder) gristle (Ours were really quite small--around 2 pounds total. If yours are large, buy four and halve each into two skinny cutlets.)
The juice of 1/2 a large, juicy lime (scant 1/4 cup--if your limes are small, you'll need more of them)
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Stir together the lime juice, soy sauce, olive oil, and salt, then pour it over the chicken in a large dish, tossing the chicken to make sure it's all covered with the marinade. Cover the dish and leave the chicken in the fridge to marinate for an hour or so (too much longer than that and the acid in the lime juice can make it mushy). Preheat your grill or broiler, and grill or broil the chicken (drained from the marinade, which you then discard) turning it once, until it's cooked through, around 3 or 4 minutes per side. Let the chicken rest for a minute, then slice it against the grain and toss it with the second marinade in a wide serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For the second marinade, whisk together:
The zest and juice of 1 large, juicy lime plus the zest from the 1/2 you already juiced (zest the limes before juicing them)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A large handful of cilantro, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and pressed through a garlic press
Freshly ground pepper

Get a printable version of this recipe.

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Double-Delicious Grilled Chicken

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About Catherine Newman

Catherine Newman is the author of the memoir, Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family, available online and in bookstores nationwide.

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