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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Supper

Tonight we had one of our family's favorite meals...Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad.

There are two things that are critically important to this salad...
...the homemade croutons and the grilled chicken.  I will tell you how I do it.  Not that my way is the only way, it's just the way we like it ;) Tonight it was even better because everyone chipped in to help prepare it. 

The first thing I do is get the croutons started because they will take about 30 minutes to crisp up in the oven.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  I always start with 1/2 stick of butter, add 2 large cloves of fresh chopped or pressed (I always press) garlic into the bowl with butter and nuke till the butter is melted (about 30 seconds).  Then I add about 1/4 cup of olive oil to the garlic butter and whisk it together.  Using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter/olive oil onto both sides and edges of thick-sliced italian bread.  (I use Publix bakery Chicago Italian bread, almost a whole loaf.  I would use a whole loaf but I can't resist eating a slice or two while I'm buttering it.)  After it is buttered, I cut it into approx 1" squares, carefully so you don't squish the want it to spring back to shape.  A really sharp bread knife is good for this, but my bread knife is duller than dull.  My husband sharpens it for me frequently but it is past keeping a sharp edge.  Anyway, when you have about 2 slices left to butter, you will inevitably run out of garlic butter and you will have to, a) make some more or, b) eat the two slices quickly before anyone catches you.  I am not saying which one I did, but I am feeling a little overstuffed right now for having eaten salad for supper.  Put the bread squares on a baking stone and into the preheated oven.  In 30 minutes they will be crispy on the outside and still soft on the inside.

For the chicken, I have a basic marinade I use that is really simple.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil
a few sloshes of balsamic vinegar
juice from 1 lime
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 - 3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
This is enough marinade for an entire bag of frozen chicken breasts.  Don't make this much if you are just grilling a couple breasts.  I marinate mine for at least a couple hours.  I guess I should have put this step first.

When I grill the breasts, I don't shake the oil off really well before I put it on the grill.  The dripping oil makes the grill catch on fire so you need to shut the lid really quickly and watch the smoke billow out the sides.  This is good because all that smoke is giving the chicken a really GREAT smoky flavor!  I learned this by accident one day and I've been doing it ever since ;)  Tonight DW did the grilling and they were amazing!  He does not naturally like a grill billowing smoke, it goes against his nature to leave it alone...but I convinced him.

By the time the chicken is grilled, the croutons will be ready and all that is left is assembly.  I like to line the dishes up on the counter assembly line style.  This is the order I like to use when I assemble the salads:
1.  Fresh romaine lettuce is best.  I have seen someone cut a garlic clove in half and rub fresh garlic on the bottom of the bowl first, but I always forget to do that.
2.  Cardini's Caesar Dressing is next.  This is the only brand I use, and I've tried almost all of them.  Again, just my preference.

3.  Chicken breasts go on next.  I like to slice them in strips first.

4.  Freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Eden loves to do this step in the food processor with the grater blade.

5.  Coarsely ground black pepper

6.  Warm croutons

Because SOMEONE in this family does not like salad much,

he made some pasta instead. 
Pasta with Alfredo sauce from a jar, lime juice, grilled chicken and coarse ground black pepper.  Waverly is the official pepper grinder/salad assembler for this meal.

1 comment:

  1. I am making chicken tonight, I think I might try your marinade. But since Paul and I are really the only ones who eat salad in our house, I guess I will be making something else to go with it as well. I have a great new corn recipe I want to try, I think I'll make that. :)(Marcia)