Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Homemade Chopped Challenge with Great Results!

This morning my Significant Other decided we were having Chicken Breast in our main meal for the day. As he is the one who usually deems what we take from the fridge/freezer this wasn't unusual. He just takes things out and I'm at the mercy of my pantry. Because he refuses that we go Grocery shopping at regular intervals, I perform everyday in my own version of an episode of "Chopped".

Because I always seem to pull something off, he thinks it's not a big deal. When I protest and beg to go grocery shopping at a regular interval so that I can plan and have a weekly menu, he scoffs. He says "I am always happy with what you make, you dont need a plan."
Ugh...Anyway....He is kinda right, but..though a sweet sentiment, this isn't exactly true. He doesn't know how the dish is suppose to turn out, so he just thinks the final result is Great, no harm no foul.
While I enjoy a challenge, I would sometimes appreciate a plan.

As I said, he took out Chicken Breast. I quickly mentally went through my pantry, and fridge. You know the picture you get when you think, "what am I going to make for dinner?" You see the cabinet opening and then you see the shelves of your cabinets and the things that go along with your "star" ingredient.Well this was my challenge. What is in my pantry and fridge that I can make a full meal out of? I am also thinking ugh.. he's doing it to me again.. Why can't I just have a plan? Ok, I think I have Raspberry Vinaigrette in the fridge..that will make a good marinade for the chicken. We had Rice yesterday. Polenta Cakes the day before. Not in the mood for potatoes, Ok, Salad! Vinaigrette = Salad. Ok, save some Vinaigrette and have a salad. Ooh, we have some cuban bread left , I'll make homemade Croutons!  Okay, We have a meal now! I did it again!

When putting the chicken in the marinade, I thought; "This is going to be too thin for the salad, I need to thicken it". Got out the blender, added the Vinaigrette, then added salt and pepper, a lil more rasp sauce, lemon juice and turned it on to whip. I then drizzled in 1/4 c additional vegetable oil to emulsify it. Done! Yummy!

Ok, ready for the real Recipe now? Here ya go!

Raspberry Sauce:
1 c Raspberries.
1/4 c Sugar
1/2 c Water
2 tsp lemon juice
Bring all ingredients to a boil. Simmer until sugar dissolved. Cool in fridge.
(great for desserts. I freeze leftover for other occasions I need a quick sauce)

Raspberry Vinaigrette:
1/2 c Raspberry Sauce
1/2 c Vegetable Oil
1/2 c Raspberry Vinegar (can sub, apple cider vinegar, white or white wine vinegar)
2 Tblsp Lemon Juice
1 Tblsp grated Sweet Onion (vidalia is fine)
Salt and Pepper

Adding Oil last, Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Shake or stir vigorously!

This is used as your Marinade. (keep 1/2 cup aside for New dressing)

*Cover Chicken Breasts with Marinade for as long as possible. (12 hours optimal, 1 hour minimum)

Homemade Croutons:
Heat Oven 450f
Cube 2 Sandwich Rolls or Italian Bread or whichever desired. (enough to cover bottom of baking vessel)
In bottom of baking vessel pour 3 Tblsp Olive Oil, 2 Tblsp chopped Garlic, 2 tsp Chopped Parsley and/or Thyme, Salt and Pepper.
Add Bread.
Coat Bread evenly in Oil Mixture.
Bake 5 minutes, turn. Bake additional 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Set aside.

Raspberry Salad Dressing
1/4 c Rasp Sauce
Remaining Rasp Vinaigrette
2 Tblsp Lemon Juice
1/4 c Vegetable Oil

Pour All ingredients except Oil into Blender. Cover and turn blender on to high/whip: Remove little insert in cover and drizzle Oil into dressing as it whips. When dressing is a light pink color and thickened it is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now what?

That's it really. Remove chicken from Marinade and Grill. (approx 7 mins on each side)  Set it aside to rest and retain it's wonderful juice. Make your salad..any greens you'd like. I like a mix of Iceberg chunks and Baby Spinach. Beefy Tomatoes, they stand up nicely to the sweetness of the dressing. Use a nice crisp Onion, maybe some cucumber. I used some shredded carrots too.Even a radish or two would be a great contrast to the dressing and add a nice flavor. Then I sliced the Chicken after it had time to rest and placed it on top of my salad. Placed a few croutons on top, then drizzled with the Dressing.
Not exactly a Chopped challenge, but great outcome!