June 29, 2010

First Vegetables of the Season!

Jalapeno peppers on my grandmother's old dessert plate

My first garden swag: Two perfect jalapenos. I didn't want them to go to waste so I used one this evening in a marinade that Ormond and I love. Unfortunately things didn't turn out as planned.

Remember the steak from last night? The grill was full of leftover awesomeness from that steak rub, but I had no clue. Charred black stuff (the stuff which coats the grate) is charred black stuff. Besides I've always figured if you turn the grill on HIGH and close the lid for a few minutes it will burn off anything that's sticking to the cooking surface. So I made this subtly flavored marinade, one which we've used over and over for shrimp and chicken, and slapped my skinless, boneless chicken breasts on the grill, and -- then I turned them over to sear the other side. That's when I saw with horror that that charred black stuff was bright red chili and paprika rub, and it was all over my chicken! Waaah!

Well the meat was delicious but it wasn't what I was trying to make for dinner. There wasn't even a hint of the wine or the fresh-from-the-garden jalapeno. I learned my lesson: CLEAN THE GRILL FIRST!

But the recipe's worth sharing. I guess you would say it's my own concoction but it's derived from a favorite stir-fry recipe of ours which was originally posted in the recipe thread of a Johnny Depp fan forum I used to frequent. Someday I'll post that recipe, but for now, here's my marinade:

Lime Marinade for Shrimp or Chicken

1/2 small onion, chopped fine
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Chop the onion, jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Heat the oil in a small skillet on medium heat until good and hot, then dump in the onion, jalapeno and garlic and turn the flame down to medium low. These are small bits and you don't want them to crisp up or brown; slow heat is what's needed to release the delicate flavors of the onion and garlic. After two minutes the onion should appear yellow and translucent, if not continue with the saute until the mixture seems soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer a few minutes to combine flavors. Let cool.

I put this marinade in a large plastic zipper bag with boneless, skinless chicken breasts or a pound or two of peeled and deveined raw 30-40 count shrimp and let it all sit an hour or two. You should probably refrigerate the bag while it marinates but I set it on the counter because I'm a risk taker!  Haha!  No, it's because we've discovered that meat cooks more evenly if it's at room temperature before we put it on the grill.

I don't know how to tell you how to cook chicken breasts on a grill. With me it's hit or miss.* I tend toward underdone so I rely on my microwave oven to bring them up to speed after I pull them off and discover the fat ones are slightly pink. For shrimp we use a grill basket and stir them around for a minute until they're nice and pink.

*My husband is an excellent grillmeister and he always does chicken to perfection.