Cook the Book: Grilled Cilantro Chicken with Pickled Tomato and Avocado Salsa
The editors of MyRecipes.com are excited to announce the release of our first cookbook, America's Favorite Food, on September 11, 2012. In anticipation of the book's launch and throughout the rest of the month, we've decided to "Cook the Book" to share our thoughts, experiences, pictures, and critiques. From editors and interns to brand managers and PR team members, you'll hear from all of us. Since today is the first day of "Cook the Book," we thought it would be appropriate to start with the first recipe you encounter, the cover. I jumped in and offered to make Grilled Cilantro Chicken with Pickled Tomato and Avocado Salsa to kick things off.
I won't lie, I wasn't quite sure what to expect of this recipe when I volunteered to make this dish. The picture on the cover is beautiful but the ingredient list is longer than I normally would make on a weeknight and the idea of "pickling" anything at 7pm just didn't excite me. After a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients I didn't already have on-hand, my sous chefs (my husband and 1 year old daughter) and I got started.
Based on the total time quoted in the book and what I experienced, I wouldn't recommend choosing this recipe for a weeknight meal if you're in a hurry to feed a hungry family. I would, however, highly recommend it when entertaining. The final dish is beautiful with exotic, fresh flavors that are out of this world. I was extremely pleased with the end result and since I took a few shortcuts along the way, I'm sure it would be even better if prepared as written.
I started by infusing olive oil with mustard seeds, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cumin, ginger, and garlic while the combo of vinegar, brown sugar, and salt was heating.
These two mixtures were then tossed with the "salsa" of tomatoes, serrano chiles, and green onions. (Note: The avocados are added about 45 minutes to an hour before serving.)
Since I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat, I only used one serrano chile, seeded and chopped versus slicing it as called for in the book. I also cut my tomato into pieces versus quarters and used less green onion than recommended. After everything was tossed together, I refrigerated the salsa for about an hour to let the flavors have plenty of time to meld.
Another change I made was to use the boneless chicken breasts I already had in the fridge instead of the bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts as called for in the recipe. I cut the breast into tenders so they would cook fast and prepared them in a skillet instead of on a grill. This method was a good timesaver but flavor-wise, I think I'll go all out next time since the amount of lime juice called for in the marinade made the thin chicken tenders a little tough.
When everything was ready, I topped the dish with a squeeze of lime juice for a bit more zing. I was amazed at the flavor of the sweet, hot, spicy, pickled, tangy, Indian-inspired salsa. There was quite a bit of "sauce" from the salsa leftover so I would suggest either saving it to use as a dressing or marinade or doubling the tomatoes in the salsa. What a treat! I'm already looking forward to tonight's leftovers.