Friday, 26 August 2011

Life as Ginger Chicken Salad

It’s Friday!  Welcome to ‘The Chronicles of a Reluctant Housewife’ where I document my love/hate relationship with my current occupation.

I have a lot of thoughts about house-wifing today.  I haven’t been able to put them in a sensible form, although I think this picture sums me up right now.

Maps, Laundry & Sparkle.
(please ignore the dingy bath towel)

And I’m kinda fine with that…for now.

Despite my muddled brain, I wanted to give you something today, so I am offering up my ginger chicken salad recipe.  This started as a recipe I tore out of a magazine and now I can’t even remember the original.  I pre-made this yesterday afternoon.  This is not a usual or necessary step, however, I had defrosted the chicken the day before and we ended up having pizza for dinner (I know, housewife fail) and yesterday we were both out doing our own thing and ate separately so it needed to be done.  Luckily, it is not a hard recipe, but the chicken does have to marinade, so allow time.
What you need:
-Enough chicken for however many people are eating.  I would say a breast each is fine.  Cut into whatever form you wish.  For salad I like strips, for pasta, maybe chunks. Your call.
-Stuff to make your favourite salad base. This time around I used Red Cos Lettuce, seedless cucumber, spring onions, red and orange peppers, strawberries, sliced almonds, feta, cran-raisins, avocado, Newman’s Own balsamic dressing
-olive oil
-runny honey
-garlic cloves crushed (or garlic powder if you’re feeling lazy)
-Chinese five spice (or black pepper, powdered cloves, powdered cinnamon, which does not make Chinese five spice, but is what we use and prefer)
-grated ginger root (or powdered ginger, which is what we usually use)
-griddle or grill pan
-baking sheet covered in foil

For the marinade:

This depends on the amount of chicken, and your personal tastes.  I no longer measure, but I will give it a shot. I marinade in a bowl but I am sure it works just as well, if not better, in a large freezer bag. All measurements are ‘-ish.’  Feel free to experiment.
-2 TBL olive oil
-1 TBL runny honey
-1 tsp Chinese five spice (or equivalent)
-2 tsp grated ginger (or equivalent)
-2-3 cloves crushed garlic

Pretty, No?

Mix it all up, throw in the chicken pieces, mix it up again making sure the pieces are equally covered.  Unlike most marinades, this isn’t really liquid-y.  When you first throw the chicken in, it may appear that you haven’t made enough. You have, just keep mixing, it will eventually coat all the pieces. 

Let the marinade sit, preferably in the fridge, for at least a half hour. 

While the chicken is relaxing in its spice rub, do a few pre-dishes* and prepare the baking sheet with foil.  Get out the grill pan, find some tongs or other implement to handle the chicken, and turn on the oven.  I think I pre-heat mine to about 180-200C, but I can’t be entirely sure. 

After 30 minutes:

-Turn up the heat on your grill pan/griddle.  NEVER oil the grill/griddle.  It will smoke you out.  ALWAYS oil the meat/veg.  Your chicken pieces are good to go due to the oil in the marinade.  Make sure the griddle is HOT!!  If not, you will lose most of your chicken to the grill.

-When hot, start laying the pieces of chicken onto the grill.  They seriously only need to be on there for a few seconds each side.  The object is to ‘mark’ or sear each piece, not cook it.  You are locking in the flavours and moisture (I think).  If you’re reading this while cooking, you probably have already left the chicken on too long! Go! Turn them or get them off the grill! Transfer the ‘marked’ pieces to the baking sheet.  Depending on how much chicken, you might have to do this in a few batches. 

I think the red salt-pig in the back makes the shot, yes?

-When all pieces are seared and on the baking sheet, take a brush and brush any remaining marinade onto the seared pieces.  There really shouldn’t be much left in the bowl, but you want to get the most out of those spices. 

-Then pour some boiling water into your grill pan (heat is obviously off at this point).  You have inevitably left a lot of chicken on the grill and this will enable you to wash it a bit easier. 

-Throw the baking sheet into the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes.  Check around 15. 

-During this time I like to make the salad bases and do some more pre-dishes.

After 15 minutes:

Check the chicken.  Depending on your taste, you may want to remove them.  We like ours a little bit crispy, so we go a bit longer.  However, we have a fan oven and the food at the front cooks faster if we don’t rotate (I rarely rotate) so we get a nice selection of juicy crispy pieces. 

When the chicken looks right to you, pull it out, turn off the oven (I do tend to forget this step) and divide between salad bases.  Add dressing.  Enjoy.

No, it's not a salad balancing on a fork.
Blogger flipped the photo and I can't be bothered to fix it.

This is a regular meal around here and if you have timed it right, you only have the dinner plates, cutlery and baking sheet to wash at the end.  Extra Bonus!!

A meal that is tasty, quick, and allows for housework multi-tasking.  It's the perfect recipe for the Reluctant Housewife.   

*pre-dishes are dishes washed during food preparation, before the meal is actually consumed.  I like to get as many done as possible during this time.  It isn't always doable, but with meals I know well, and a good soundtrack, I can manage it.  Sometimes.

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