The Bird Is The Word…Grilled Asian Chicken Salad!
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are one of the most popular cuts of meat sold in America today. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to keep in the freezer, low in fat and are very versatile to cook – you can fry, bake, boil or my personal favorite, grill them for a quick and tasty meal. During the summer I rarely, if ever, turn on my oven. Who wants to be slaving over a hot oven when you can be enjoying the outdoors and comfortable temperatures by grilling in the growing shadows of late afternoon and early evening! However, grilling skinless chicken breasts can be a bit tricky. Without the chicken’s protective skin and because of the uneven-ness of chicken breasts in general, you could easily wind up with a dry and tough piece of meat. But don’t despair; the trick to grilling a tender, juicy and flavorful skinless chicken breast is achievable by following just a few simple, but important steps.
Step #1 – Pound your chicken to a uniform thickness. Normally, when you buy skinless, boneless chicken breasts at the supermarket they have a tapered shape with tenderloin attached underneath. Just remove the tenderloin (you can re-purpose it into chicken tenders for the kids) and pound out the chicken breast to about ½ inch thick for even cooking. An added bonus here is that you can work out some of your aggressions here by pounding on the chicken, trust me, it’s easy and cheap therapy!
Step #2 – Make sure your grill is HOT. You want to grill the chicken quickly, over a high and direct heat. This method cuts down on over drying by sealing in the moistness. And of course, don’t forget to make sure to lightly oil the grill before placing your meat down to prevent sticking! I’ve had this happen to me before and it’s so frustrating. I try to keep a grill spray can – I use Webers Grill Spray, but PAM makes a grilling version too – out by the grill before I even turn it on so I won’t forget. You don’t have to go out and get some fancy spray, all you have to do is pour some olive oil on a paper towel (soak it) and use tongs to lightly wipe it on the grill grates.
Step #3 – Turn your skinless, boneless chicken breasts regularly – two times for each side, four times in total. This helps to minimize any flare ups and move the thinner edges of your chicken away from the heat to prevent burning. Also, since you’ve pounded the breast out, you’ve now expanded your surface area, so moving the chicken around will also create some pretty grill marks on your bird and you’ll look like a Food Network pro to those you’re serving this meal to!
Here’s my recipe for an easy Grilled Asian Chicken Salad. I think it’s the perfect meal for a hot summer day. It’s got protein, but balanced with some nice cool and refreshing veggies. Now, I’m not really sure how “Asian” this dish is. I just call it that because of the use of Asian cooking ingredients I use — sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, mirin and honey. While your chicken is sitting in the marinating you can cut up and prep the “salad” part of this dish.
The actual cooking part only takes about 12 minutes in total. You could serve a light dressing over this salad, but I find the marinade on the chicken mixed with the flavors of the grilled mushroom and the sweetness of the roasted red peppers is enough.
Grilled Asian Chicken Salad
Prep time: 1 hour, mostly marinating
Cook time: approximately 8-12 minutes
Serves: 2 people
2 4-6 oz skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ thickness
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp stone ground mustard
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
¾ tbsp mirin (sweet sake)
1 tsp honey
½ tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp dried cilantro
Salt & pepper to taste
1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
2 large roasted red peppers
1 8 oz can of artichoke hearts, quartered
2 large Bella mushroom caps
Salt & pepper to taste
1 – Place chicken breasts between layers of wax paper and pound out evenly, to approximately ½ inch thick
2 – In a large shallow bowl, mix sesame & extra virgin olive oil, mustards, rice wine vinegar, mirin, honey minced garlic, dried cilantro, salt & pepper and whisk until all ingredients are incorporated. It should be the consistency of a medium thick marinade. Place chicken breasts into the dish, coat and cover with marinade for at least 45 minutes before grilling.
3 – Take the two large Bella mushroom caps and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder and set aside until time to grill.
4- Wash & chop romaine lettuce, drain & rinse quartered artichoke hearts and slice roasted red pepper into bite-size pieces. Toss all together and place divide onto two plates.
4 – Turn the grill on to medium-high heat.
5- When grill has heated up, coat grill with grill spray or olive oil to prevent sticking. Place chicken and mushroom caps (top side down) in the middle of grill
6 – Turn both chicken & mushrooms 45 degrees after 4 minutes to get good criss-cross grill marks.
7 – Flip chicken & mushrooms after 8 minutes and follow steps # 5 & 6 again.
8 – Cook chicken until it reaches 165 to 170 degrees on a meat thermometer.
8 – Remove chicken and mushroom caps from grill and let stand at room temperature for about 5-8 minutes allowing food to cool down enough to handle.
9 – Cut both chicken and mushrooms into ½ inch chunks and divide evenly among each salad/dinner plate.
10 – Serve and enjoy!
With just a little bit of planning and preparation there’s always time for a home cooked meal!
About the Author:
Debra Rutt AKA “The Harried Mom” is the mom of two kidlets under the age of five who is just trying to safely navigate her way through parenting, playdates, preschool and oh yeah, a career. What she’s learned so far is that you have to be able and willing to laugh, mostly at yourself. She can be found online at her blog The Harried Mom at http://theharriedmom.com. On Thursdays she hosts a weekly grilling-recipe blog hop, so feel free to visit and see what dish she’s cooking up next and link up your own favorite recipes!