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Grilled Chicken Italiano

June 30, 2015 Entrees, Menu No Comments

Growing up in South Philadelphia, I have enjoyed more than my share of delicious and delectable sandwiches. While cheesesteaks, hoagies and roast pork sandwiches rank among highest on most Philadelphians’ lists, my all time favorite ‘sang-weech’ is the classic Chicken Italiano. Seasoned chicken breast, broccoli rabe, prosciutto and provolone packed in a crispy Italian roll…what is there not to love? Now I do realize that there are different variations of a Chicken Italiano, using other ingredients such as peppers, mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes. But the prosciutto, provolone and rabe combination is the version that I fell in love with. For this post, I would like to share with you my grilled version of this amazing combination….a perfect dish for any summer cook-out!

This grilled version does differ just a bit from the classic sandwich. First, while broccoli rabe is one of my all-time favorite greens, I decided instead to use a home made basil-mint pesto. My garden is overloaded with fresh basil and mint, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to put both to good use. Of course, you can stick with the traditional broccoli rabe if you prefer. I also like to prepare and serve the chicken breasts whole. You can cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces to serve in a sandwich if you like, but I find that cooking and serving the chicken breasts whole allows for prosciutto, provolone and pesto (or rabe) to melt evenly on top.

You’ll want to marinate the chicken breasts for a good two to four hours before grilling. You can find a good, basic lemon and garlic marinade by clicking here. You can also used a bottled marinade of your choice, but I would stick to a basic garlic, lemon or white wine flavored marinade. There are too many good tastes happening with this dish, so you don’t want to overpower the chicken with an strong-flavored marinade.

Grilled Chicken Italiano

4-6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
4-6 slices prosciutto
4-6 slices provolone cheese
*Basic lemon-garlic marinade (see recipe below) or 1 bottle marinade (any combination of garlic, lemon and white wine will work)
**Fresh basil-mint pesto (see recipe below)

Pierce chicken breasts with a fork to allow marinade to soak in. Place chicken breasts in a plastic bag, pour marinade into bag, making sure that all of the chicken breasts are well coated. Refrigerate for two to four hours.

Pre-heat your grill to high. Make sure that your grill grates are brushed with oil to avoid sticking. Reduce heat to medium-high, and place the chicken on the grill, discarding the bag with the used marinade. Keep lid closed. Turn chicken occasionally, until browned and done. Top the chicken breasts with a dollop of the pesto, a slice of provolone and a slice of prosciutto. Allow to heat for another few minutes until the cheese starts to melt and the prosciutto starts to slightly crisp. Remove from grill, serve and enjoy!

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*Lemon-Garlic Marinade
Adapted from food.com

2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh preferred
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients together to pour over chicken.

Note – this recipe’s measurements are for 1-1.5 lbs of chicken breasts. You may need to increase the ingredients for the amount of chicken breasts that you are making.

**Fresh Basil-Mint Pesto
Adapted from simplyrecipes.com

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil and mint with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Use immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to a week.
Makes 1 cup.

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Chicken Cacciatore Casserole

February 19, 2015 Entrees, Menu, Pasta No Comments

Family recipes, whether followed to the tee or slightly altered, are a key ingredient to keeping family traditions alive. They are a major inspiration for many big weekend and holidays meals, and the backbone to my food blog. For this recipe, I’m taking one of my Grandmother’s signature dishes, Chicken Cacciatore (which you can find on my blog by clicking here), and am slightly adjusting some of the measurements to make it into a casserole. Although the presentation and serving size are just a bit different from the original – I made adjustments to better serve a large crowd – the spirit and essence of Grandmom’s dish is still the main highlight. There’s nothing wrong with adding a new twist to a classic family dish, and I’m sure that my Grandmom would approve of this recipe!

 

 

Chicken Cacciatore Casserole

4 chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes, lightly dusted with flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tspn rosemary
1 29-oz can tomato sauce (you’ll start off with about 2/3 of the can)
1 large red or green bell pepper (or two small), cut into small pieces
1 cup water
2 tblspn vegetable oil
pinch sugar
salt & pepper to taste
1lb cooked pasta (ziti, mini shells, or whatever you prefer!)
breadcrumbs
*although I don’t prefer them, you can also add mushrooms to this dish

Step 1: The Sauce
In a large frying pan, brown chicken and garlic in oil until chicken is golden brown. Add vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Simmer until liquid evaporates. Add rosemary, about 2/3 of the tomato sauce, remaining water, sugar, salt and pepper. Add peppers, stir together, cover slightly, let cook for 30 minutes.

Note – I’m suggesting that you start off with 2/3 of the tomato sauce. A full can may be too much to add to the pan. You can add in the remaining 1/3 of tomato sauce when stirring in the pasta. The added sauce will pick up the flavors while baking.

Step 2: The Pasta
Preheat oven to 350˚. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta until al dente. When pasta is done, mix it together with the sauce in a 13″x9″ baking dish. If the pasta doesn’t get fully coated, add the remaining 1/3 can of sauce, stir together. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs. Cover with aluminum foil, place in oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until slightly bubbling and hot.

Serve and enjoy!

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Coconut Lime Chicken

September 13, 2014 Entrees, Menu No Comments

This past weekend, we had our annual end-of-summer neighborhood grill fest. Since chicken is always a crowd pleaser, and coconut and lime are two of my favorite summer flavors, I did some research and put together my own variation of grilled coconut lime chicken. Although I did not win the coveted Friendship Road ‘Golden Spatula’ for favorite dish, my entry seemed to be a big hit with everyone…so I’ll take that as a win any day! This is definitely a tasty dish that could be served up any time of the year, so I’ve also included baking instructions for those who do not like to venture out into the cooler weather to fire up their grill.

 

 

6 chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise (makes a total of 12 pieces)
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
juice of 4 limes, plus zest of two limes
1/4 tspn ground ginger
1/2 tspn light brown sugar
2 tspn salt
1/4 tspn black pepper
1/4 cup shredded coconut

In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut milk, olive oil, garlic, lime juice and zest, ginger, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined. If grilling, reserve 1/3 cup of the marinade for later use.

Cut about 4 to 5 small slits into each chicken breast. Place the chicken breasts into a plastic baggie, then pour the remaining marinade mixture over the chicken. Squeeze all air out of the baggie, then tightly tie the bag closed. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

Grilling

Heat your grill to medium-high, evenly coating your grill grates with cooking spray. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and place on the grill. Discard the old marinade. Pour a small portion of the reserved marinade into a bowl. Grill for approximately 15-20 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the chicken is browned and evenly cooked. Baste the chicken occasionally with the small portion of the marinade, discarding what is left of the small portion of marinade when grilling is done.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the grill and place it in a baking dish. Pour the remaining marinade evenly over the chicken, and place the baking dish into your oven set to warm for 10 minutes. This will allow the remaining marinade to slightly thicken into a sauce.

While the chicken is in the oven, place the shredded coconut into a large pan. Toast over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the coconut starts to brown.  Remove chicken from the oven, sprinkle with toasted coconut. You can also sprinkle with chives for extra color and flavor!

Baking

Preheat oven to 375˚. Remove marinated chicken from refrigerator, place in a baking dish. Pour marinade over chicken, making sure that all pieces are well covered (there is no need to reserve any marinade when baking). Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked, flipping once half-way through. Remove from oven, top with toasted coconut (see instructions above for toasting coconut).

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Baked Pasta, Chicken and Artichoke Hearts in a Lemon Cream Sauce

May 8, 2014 Entrees, Menu, Pasta No Comments

For this recipe, I’m combining chicken with two of my favorite ingredients – lemons and artichoke hearts – to make a tasty and filling baked pasta casserole, perfect for the spring season. You’ll need a little bit of time to prepare this dish, as it is a multi-step recipe. For the first step, we’ll sauté the artichokes and chicken in a lemon, wine and butter sauce. For the second step, we’ll prepare Lidia Bastianich’s lemon cream sauce recipe. We’ll then combine everything and bake it for 30 minutes. This is a great dish to serve to your family and friends as a beautiful weekend afternoon meal.

 

 

 

 

Step 1: Sautéing the Chicken and Artichokes

Ingredients:
1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ to 2″ pieces
2 tbspn olive oil
2 tbspn butter
1 shallot, minced
zest plus juice of one lemon
1/4 cup white wine
6 oz jar artichoke hearts, roughly chopped

Directions:
Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter melts, add chicken. Sauté until chicken is browned and cooked. Remove chicken, set aside. Add shallots, cook briefly until shallots start to soften. Add wine to deglaze pan. When the liquid starts to reduce, add lemon zest and juice, stir well. Add artichoke hearts and chicken, stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until liquid reduces by half. Remove from heat, set aside.

 

Step 2: Preparing the Lemon Cream Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Lidia Bastianich
Ingredients:
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
zest plus juice of 2 lemons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:
Drop the butter into the large skillet, and set it over medium heat. As the butter melts, scatter in the grated lemon zest; stir it around until sizzling. Pour in the white wine and lemon juice, add the salt, stir, and bring the liquids to a bubbling simmer. Cover the skillet, and let cook for a couple of minutes.

Uncover the pan, and slowly pour in the cream, whisking it steadily into the simmering wine and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquids reduce to a saucy consistency you like, 2 or 3 minutes more.

Note: as you are making the lemon cream sauce, you will also start to prepare a pot of boiling water to make 1 lb of pasta (zit, rigatoni or small shells will work well with this dish). As the sauce simmers, start to boil the pasta.

 

Step 3: Combining the Ingredients

When the pasta is done boiling, you will combine the pasta with the chicken and artichoke mixture (and its reduced liquid) in a 13″x9″ baking dish. Carefully pour the lemon cream sauce over the pasta mixture and stir it until the pasta, chicken and artichokes are all covered with the sauce. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake in a 350˚ over for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, serve and enjoy.

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