Thursday, August 21, 2008
Spice and Easy
What could be easier than mixing a bunch of dried spices, rubbing it on some chicken, and grilling it to perfection? It's the perfect summer supper. Spice rub mixtures are about as varied and different as the number of spices that exist, but when you find just the right one, you know it. Just pick spices that go together, adjust the amounts depending on your preference, and you've got your own blend. (This one is almost identical to what I put in my chili.)
I paired our chicken with a side dish my wonderful friend Maggie showed me a long time ago. When she came home after spending a college semester in Spain, she had our friend Lytle and me over for dinner, and she cooked us a dish she had eaten in Spain. Since then, this dish (I think it's served in tapas bars) has been one of my favorites. The mineral flavor of spinach and the creamy/nuttiness of the chick peas is a flawless combination. It's even great as a light lunch...
This rub makes more than you will use, but it will keep a long time in the pantry.
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
With a mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken lightly between two sheets of wax paper until the thickness is mostly even. In a small bowl, combine all the spices. Generously sprinkle some of mixture on first side of chicken, then use fingers to rub the mixture to cover completely. Flip and repeat on other side. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 30 minutes.
Preheat grill. Place chicken breasts on well-oiled grates, and cook for about 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness. When it feels firm but still springy, remove from grill. Let side a few minutes before serving.
*Ancho chile powder is my go-to chile powder. It's slightly sweet and smoky without tasting like smoke. It has more depth than regular chili powder. You can certainly substitute regular, but give ancho a try—you won't regret it.
Spinach & Chickpeas
You can add in some chopped garlic if you like, but if you're feeling lazy (like I was tonight), it's fine to just toss it all in the skillet and let it go.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (10-ounce bag spinach)
3/4 (15-ounce) can chick peas, drained but not rinsed
kosher salt and ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and chick peas, salt, and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Serve.