Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day, Part 2

Now that I've covered the appetizer I made for Mother's Day dinner, we can dive in to the main course! I wanted to make something delicious but not too labor intensive and this definitely fits the bill.

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado and Tomato Salsa 
(loosely adapted from this recipe by Sunset Magazine)

Here's what you'll need...

Marinade & Chicken:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 limes - zest from one, juice from both
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
2 to 2 1/2 pounds of chicken (the original recipe calls for boneless skinless breasts but I like boneless skinless thighs way better, they get dry less easily and have lots of flavor).

About 1 pound ripe beefsteak (or similar) tomatoes, chopped
2 avocados, cut into small pieces (about 1/2-1/4 inch)
4-5 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (probably 1/2 teaspoon of each)

As part of the salsa (keep reading for the recipe), quick-pickled onion and jalapeno:
1 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Ok, it sounds like a lot going on but I promise it's not complicated. Let's break it down!

About 4 hours before you're ready for dinner, make the marinade. Just combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl, stir it up, and pour it over the chicken, making sure all the chicken pieces have a good coating on them. Cover it up and refrigerate until you're ready to grill! want some photos?

I might have a small obsession with citrus zest and juice 

Cilantro, chopped 


Zest and olive oil...after this point the marinade just started looking like muddy compost 
so I figured I'd spare you the ends up tasting good though, I promise!

Right around the time you make the marinade, you'll also want to get the quick picked onions and jalapenos going. Lightly pickling them is a great way to add a little something extra to salsa, and it helps mellow out the really strong onion bite and jalapeno spice. Just mix together the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a bowl until salt and sugar are dissolved, add the chopped onion and jalapeno, cover, and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.


When you remove the seeds and some of the spines (the white part), it lessens the intensity of the spice. In this case, I have some family members - ahem, Dad - who aren't such a fan of spice, so I did my best to accomodate them.

All chopped up

Sitting in a nice vinegar bath

All right! Marinade and pickles are done, so you can get on with your day. About an hour before you're ready to eat, start getting the salsa together. Before you start the salsa, preheat your grill to 450-550 degrees, basically as hot as it gets. Again, just combine all the ingredients - tomatoes, avocados, green onion, cilantro, salt, pepper. Then gently drain the liquid off the onions and jalapenos and stir them in. Seriously, that's it!

Finally, the chicken. It helps if you have an awesome grill master like my brother:

Just set the chicken on the grill, discard the marinade, and let it get a nice sear for about 3 minutes. Turn down the heat just a little, closer to 450, and let it continue to cook, flipping occasionally, for about 15-17 minutes or until it's no longer pink inside.

Then set everything up on a plate and dig in!

It sounds (and looks) like a lot of work, but it's not really, just a lot of steps. The "cooking" parts mostly involve putting things in a bowl and mixing them, which is something I'm sure you all can do!

And I know this has been a super photo-heavy post, but if I may leave you with just one more...

I did not pose this picture, I swear. She just loves the computer.

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