Fairest of the fowl

August 14, 1991

GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST, without skin or bones, is everywhere -- popping up on restaurant menus and backyard barbecues. Chicken has fewer calories and fat then red meat and, if grilled properly, plenty of flavor.

Grilled chicken's biggest enemy is overcooking. Diane Rozas, author of "More Chicken Breasts," a new cookbook with nearly 100 recipes, has these suggestions for perfect chicken:

* Spray the cold grill with a non-stick vegetable coating such as PAM to keep the chicken from sticking and to make clean-up easier. Make sure the grill is cold. NEVER spray anywhere near an open flame.

* Prepare a charcoal fire. When the coals are glowing red hot and covered with a top layer of white ash -- this takes about 30 minutes -- place the chicken breasts on the grill and cook for about 20 minutes, turning several times during cooking.

* To test for doneness, pierce a breast with a knife. The meat should be white and slightly opaque throughout but still juicy. Do not overcook.

* Basting with a marinade or sauce during grilling helps to seal in the moisture and also helps keep the chicken from drying out. Try marinating chicken breasts in a fat-free Italian-type salad dressing for a couple of hours or try our low-fat barbecue sauce recipe below.

Herbal Seasoning

This herbal seasoning recipe, from Jane Kinderlehrer's "Smart Chicken" cookbook, is a sodium-free mixture that can be sprinkled on chicken before or after grilling.

1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon each dried parsley and sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon each: paprika, dried thyme, dried marjoram, onion powder

To roast sesame seeds, place in shallow pan and bake a few minutes in 350-degree oven, turning frequently, until brown.

Combine all ingredients and store in a shaker-topped jar.

American Cafe's Grilled Chicken

Caesar Salad

1 head Romaine lettuce

2 anchovy fillets, optional

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 hard boiled egg, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

2 slices light or diet white bread

4 4-ounce chicken breasts, boneless, skinless (leftover chicken can be used)

Trim Romaine and cut or tear into one-inch pieces. Wash and drain well and chill in refrigerator. Trim crusts off bread and cut into one-half-inch cubes. Place cubes on a cookie sheet and brown in a 350-degree, preheated oven. This will take about three to five minutes.

Grill chicken breast, as directed above, and keep warm while preparing the dressing. Leftover grilled chicken can also be used.

Using a fork, crush the garlic clove and rub the entire surface of four individual serving bowls. Remove and discard garlic. Set bowls aside.

In another bowl, mash anchovy fillets to make a paste, using a fork.

4 Add the egg yolk and stir vigorously to combine.

Add one tablespoon oil at a time, stirring well after each addition.

Add the lemon juice and stir to combine well.

Divide Romaine, Parmesan and croutons between the four serving bowls. Toss gently with dressing, using one-quarter of dressing per bowl. Slice the grilled chicken into one-half-inch wide strips. Arrange the slices on top of the Caesar salad in fan or circle pattern.

Serves four.

Chicken Sandwiches

1/2 cup white-wine vinegar or apple juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon instant minced onion

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound) (leftover chicken can be used)

3 tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing

1 to 2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

8 slices sandwich bread or 2 mini-baguettes, split lengthwise into halves

Lettuce

1 tomato, cut into 8 slices

Mix wine, 1 tablespoon parsley, the onion and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Reserve.

Cover and grill chicken five to six inches from medium coals for 10 to 20 minutes. Turn chicken. Cover and grill 10 to 20 minutes longer, turning and brushing two or three times with reserved wine mixture, until done.

Mix mayonnaise, mustard, one tablespoon parsley and one-half teaspoon thyme. Spread on four slices of bread. Top each with lettuce, one chicken breast half, two tomato slices and remaining bread. Cut diagonally in half. Makes four sandwiches.

"Betty Crocker's 100 Creative Chicken Recipes"

Barbecue Sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke seasoning, optional

1 bay leaf, finely crumbled

Dash hot pepper sauce

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent; stir in garlic and cook one minute more. Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes more. Store in refrigerator for up to one week. Makes 1 1/3 cups. One tablespoon has 30 calories and one gram fat.

"American Heart Association's Cookbook" by Ruth Eshleman -- 1991

Lime-Grilled Chicken

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