Wednesday, June 10, 2009
What's Cooking Wednesday: Dinner for a Crowd: Super Simple Grilled Chicken
Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.
I've had a wonderful group of teens that I've worked with on writing for the past couple of years. Last year, they had a class on writing short stories with me, and this year, basically the same group took a course in advanced creative writing, where they worked on projects of their own choice. Next year, however, I start with a new crop for a "tasting" class in all aspects of creative writing, and most of these folks will be moving on to other things: one has just graduated, two are leaving for different schooling environments, etc.
Each semester, we put together a group project, based on a movie. The first semester we saw Once Upon a Mattress and the students came in the next day and wrote a movie musical script collaboratively, and this semester they did the same thing with a Noir piece after watching To Have and Have Not(okay, so To Have and Have Not is not exactly Noir, but they still managed Noir after seeing it). What was rejected this semester was screwball comedy, although the votes between screwball and noir were just about split, so I promised them a post school-year evening of screwball and dinner.
So we watched Bringing Up Baby with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and if you haven't seen it, you really should. It's hysterical. Truly.
Then there was the issue of what to serve: if you've got a bunch of teenage boys coming over, it's easy - meat and carbs and sugar - and lots of all three. This, however, was a group of girls. So I reached back into my memories for favorites of my exchange daughters over the years and this is what we had: Super Simple Grilled Chicken, Caprese Salad, Garlic Bread and homemade Strawberry Shortcake. I think it's safe to say that the menu was a hit, and I was happy to entertain these students whose writing and personalities I had so enjoyed over the past couple of years.
The chicken recipe has been a "go-to" for me this spring; I love the melding of flavors and the simplicity of the whole thing. I really took a page from Italian cuisine in terms of some of the 3-4 ingredient pasta dishes that I so love.
I meant to get a photo of all the chicken cooking on the grill, but I was too busy cooking at that point, and forgot. Needless to say, this can feed a CROWD. We ended up with about 1/3 of it left over, but that's just fine, because there are myriad uses for leftover chicken. You can also cut this recipe way down, by using just one lb. of chicken and halving the marinade.
Super Simple Grilled Chicken
To get an idea of just how simple, here are the ingredients:
4 - 6 lbs of a mixture of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and drumsticks (I find these are the two most popular cuts for a crowd)
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 big, honking lemons
4 - 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 TBS kosher salt
1 hefty sprig of rosemary
1. About 6 - 8 hours before cooking, wash and pat dry chicken pieces and cut each breast half in half again, so that you have portions of about 3-4 oz. Place all pieces in one, quart-size freezer bag. (Yes, you can be more ecological and place these in a pan, but I didn't have enough room in the fridge, and I actually think the bag method works better for marinating - I almost never use these, but for this recipe, I do).
2. Whisk together all the other ingredients (well, in the case of the lemons, the juice of those lemons), and carefully pour the marinade into the bag with the chicken.
3. Seal the bag and squeeze everything to distribute the marinade.
4. Place bag in the fridge and every time you open the fridge that day, change the position of the bag, to make sure every morsel of chicken gets marinated.
5. About 40 minutes before serving time (because usually you have to cook the chicken in batches) prep your grill for direct, high heat.
6. Watching for flare-ups, place chicken on the grill. The breast pieces will need 4 - 6 minutes on each side, and the drumsticks will need 8 - 10. If you're using a gas grill, cook these with the lid ON.
Note: To those watching your waistlines - don't worry about the massive quantities of olive oil - almost all of the marinade comes off as you take the chicken from the bag, so you end up with about 1/2 tsp olive oil per piece of chicken.