A Grill and a Skillet: Yogurt Marinated Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Chicken grill When the weather gets all hot and in your face, it helps to shout back. Fire up the grill, douse your food with loads of spice and fight fire with fire. What I love about this method is that not only is the food intoxicatingly flavored with aromatics, spicy heat and char, all of the cooking remains outside on the grill. In this recipe, chicken is swathed in a creamy-smoky-spicy bath that permeates and tenderizes the meat as it marinates. While the meat grills to crispy perfection, a basket of cherry tomatoes cooks down to a sweet sludge dotted with nubby chickpeas, which becomes the bed for the finished chicken. It’s served with couscous to absorb the rich pan juices and topped with a dollop of fragrant yogurt sauce. Bright, spicy and very shouty, indeed.

Yogurt and Spice Marinated Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Serves 4 to 6.

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

4 large chicken breasts with skin, de-boned, about 8 ounces each

1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1.  Whisk the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the marinade to another bowl and set aside for the sauce.
2.  Place chicken in a rimmed baking dish. Rub all over and between skin and meat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
3.  Prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium heat.
4.  Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over indirect medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook until they just begin to break down and release their juices, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, chickpeas, cilantro, cumin, red pepper flakes and salt. Cook until the tomatoes collapse and the sauce thickens, about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. While the tomatoes cook, remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken, skin side down, over direct medium heat, until cooked through, turning once. Remove from heat.
6. Whisk the reserved marinade with 1/2 cup yogurt and fresh cilantro.
7. Cut the chicken breasts in half crosswise. Nestle into the skillet with the tomatoes and chickpeas. Serve with the yogurt sauce.

This dish and its many iterations I’ve enjoyed making is originally inspired by a recipe from Bon Appetit. 

Skillet Dinners: Spicy Sausage, Mustard Greens and Cauliflower

sausage greens tastefood

~ a farmers’ market bounty in a skillet ~

Last week I came home from the farmers’ market with an armful of mustard. I shop with my eyes and couldn’t resist the bunches of mizuna mustard leaves – frizzy purple, spiky red, scalloped green – not to mention their sunny flowers strung together in tidy bouquets. Since then, they’ve made themselves at home in my fridge, while I’ve reached for pinches and handfuls at each meal, tossing in salads, sprinkling as garnish. Yesterday was our last hurrah. I up-ended the remaining mustard into this quick one-dish skillet dinner, along with my other market acquisitions: spicy Italian sausages, violet-tinged baby cauliflower, orange cherry tomatoes and a few handfuls of curly kale for good measure.

Spicy Sausage, Mustard Greens and Cauliflower in a Skillet
Serves 4

Extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 ounces Italian sausages, sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 cups cauliflower florets, any color works
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 generous bunches mustard greens and/or kale, tough stems removed
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage in one layer and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once. With a slotted spoon transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. If the skillet is dry, add 1 more tablespoon oil. Add the cauliflower and a sprinkle of salt; sauté until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the greens, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, paprika and black pepper. Saute until the greens are tender and bright in color, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sausage. Cover partially, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm with couscous or farro.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes with fresh mustard:
Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Pickled Mustard Greens from Hunter Angler Gardner Cook
Mustard Greens, Tofu and Chicken Soup from Viet World Kitchen
Grilled Shrimp and Mustard Green Salad from White on Rice Couple

Skillet Pizza with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Roasted Peppers

Rapini Sausage Pizza

One of the downsides of moving is you lose things.  Over the past 10 years we have moved between 4 countries and items have disappeared. I don’t just mean little things, either.  My daughter asked me one day where her painted toy chest was. Painted toy chest?  Oh, you mean the one that I handpainted when she was an infant in Switzerland, that served as storage for her duplo in London and her dress-up clothes in Copenhagen?  The last time I remembered seeing it was in Denmark, and, even worse, had completely forgotten about it. (Upon further investigation, we located it in our garage which doubles as a storage container. The chest was wrapped in moving paper, and served as a base for a crated mirror I had also forgotten about.)

Which brings me to pizza.  I decided to make pizza for dinner the other night and went to grab my pizza stone from the kitchen cupboard.  Er, which kitchen cupboard?  Good question. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing it anywhere in our kitchen, or for that matter ever unpacking it.  I have a sinking feeling it’s buried in one of the boxes back in the garage, ubiquitously labeled “kitchen.” I’m not sure which is more embarrassing: the fact that I cannot locate my belongings, or the fact that I haven’t made my own pizza since moving to the U.S.

So, part of a cook’s skill-set is going with the flow in the kitchen. Stuff happens. The pizza dough was already made. If I couldn’t locate the pizza stone, then I would come up with another idea. So, I decided to make a skillet pizza.  I stretched the dough out so that it fit in the bottom of my cast iron skillet which I had heated with a little olive oil. Once one side had browned slightly, I flipped the dough. Then I mounded the toppings on the cooked side, while the bottom continued to cook, and then quickly finished it under the oven broiler. The results were delicious.  The dough was crisp and slightly charred while remaining soft in the middle.   I served it on a big wooden board and used a kitchen knife to cut it into pieces.  I would have used my pizza cutter, but I couldn’t find it.

Broccolini, Sausage and Red Pepper Pizza

Skillet Pizza with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Roasted Peppers

The classic Italian combination of broccoli rabe (rapini) and sausage is nicely rounded out by the sweet roasted pepper. You will need 2 skillets to prepare the pizzas at the same time, otherwise one will have to be prepared before the other.

Makes 2 10″ pizzas or 4 small pizzas

2 uncooked pizza crusts, rolled out to fit in bottom of a skillet, 1/4-1/2″ thick.

1/2 lb. broccoli rabe, washed, ends trimmed
Olive oil
6 oz. (180 g.) hot Italian sausage, crumbled
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 sweet red pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded, diced
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe and blanch 30 seconds. Drain. Transfer broccoli to a bowl of ice water.  Cool and drain again.  Arrange in one layer on a kitchen towel to absorb excess water.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and saute until turning golden brown, 1 minute.  Transfer sausage to a bowl. Pour off excess drippings from skillet, leaving one tablespoon.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe and saute one minutes. Remove from heat.
Lightly oil a clean cast-iron or nonstick ovenproof skillet with olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat. Add pizza crust and cook one  minute. Flip dough. As the other side is cooking, arrange 1/2 the mozzarella over dough. Arrange a layer of broccoli rabe over cheese. Top with crumbled sausage and diced red pepper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmeggiano-regiano cheese and one tablespoon grated Pecorino romano cheese over. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until cheese is golden and bubbly. (Alternatively, slide pizza onto baking tray before placing in oven.) Before serving sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

This recipe also be used for a traditional oven-baked pizza. Instead of using the skillet, bake pizza on a pizza stone or oven tray on lowest rack in a preheated 450 F. oven until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Pizza Dough Recipe:
This recipe is a variation of Alice Water’s pizza dough recipe. Makes 2 large (10″) or 4 small crusts.

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup olive oil

Stir yeast and lukewarm water together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and semolina. Mix well. Let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Combine remaining flour and salt in another bowl. Add to yeast with cold water and olive oil. Mix well to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead with hands until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (Or use a mixer with a dough hook and knead about 5 minutes.)
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides with oil.  Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rise another 45 minutes.
Divide dough into 2 equal disks (or 4 if you would like small pizzas.) Let rest 30 minutes before shaping. Lightly flour a work surface. Using your fingers or heels of your hands, stretch the disks out to desired size.