Secret #1: Brining
You will think it’s not necessary. You will think it sounds too fussy. But I guarantee you won’t regret it if you do it. If you’re short on time, you can just salt & pepper the chicken, but the magic just might be in the waiting for the brining step.
1. Put 1 quart of water in a large ziplock bag and add 1/4 cup salt. Let the salt dissolve.
2. Add the chicken breasts to the bag. This will look gross; ignore it.
3. Put the bag in the fridge and forget about it for 2 hours.
4. Remove the bag from the fridge; ignore that it looks even grosser.
5. Rinse the chicken well. Think about something else as you do this so as not to notice that you’re holding raw chicken.
6. Place in a sieve to drain/dry while you move on to Secret #2.
Secret #2: Spice Blend
There are commercial blends out there, and there are certainly other things you can mix together, but this one is a crowd-pleaser. Promise! This makes enough for about 2-2.5 lbs. of chicken — tastes good on pork, too. (Also makes a nice sprinkle for sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and acorn squash, if you eat such things.)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a fork. Preheat a gas grill on high heat, with the lid closed, about 10 minutes.
2. Coat the chicken pieces with the mixture; massage and pat it on lovingly. You want the pieces pretty densely coated.
3. Place the chicken smooth side down on the preheated grill, close the lid, and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes with the lid closed, until the chicken is browned and cooked through.
Note: If you roll the meat in the mixture, you need to throw away any remaining spice blend. Don’t re-use it on vegetables or think you can save it for later. It’s once and done when raw chicken is involved.
Secret #3: Moroccan Dipping Sauce
Kinda like salad dressing, this would also be delish drizzled on raw cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and onions. It was killer on all of our meats, but really made the chicken sing… and I’ve been using it to spice up whatever I pack for lunch: green beans, cabbage, broccoli. It’s a great way to get a little extra dose of healthy oils.
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 medium clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika (sweet, hot, or smoked)
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced cilantro or parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1. Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and salt & pepper together in a small bowl. Inhale and rejoice that you have a nose.
2. Gradually whisk in the oil, then stir in the fresh chopped herbs.
3. Serve at room temperature.