Monday, June 4, 2012

Mesquite Grilled Chicken with a Fiery Salsa Verde

We're back from the fishing excursion.   

Channel marker at Pensacola Pass, from where we headed out each day.

It was a fun filled family trip and we even caught a fish or two.   We caught a cobia, a few Spanish Mackerel, a sea trout and about 20 other various reef fish.  But it was really about getting in some family time.  Isn't that what family road trips are about?  I know that the word "road trip" instantly brings back some specific memories to you, right?  

We had some excellent food including cobia in a habanero sauce and grilled steaks at "home", local BBQ, breakfasts at Triggers (it's a seafood restaurant but they are Trevor's favorite breakfast place in the whole world), and lunch at Sunset Grille.

The view from our outdoor table at Sunset Grille.  Definitely worth a $9 half pound burger!

But I could not wait to get back to my Big Green Eggs and grill something yesterday!  I had some boneless, skinless chicken, which can be bland and boring, so I used a spicy marinade and made a kicking salsa verde.  

Mesquite Grilled Chicken with a Fiery Salsa Verde
serves:  4

  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, pounded to an even 3/4" thickness
  • 2 chunks of mesquite wood, 1 cup of mesquite chips* or use Kingsford Mesquite Briquettes
For the marinade
For the Fiery Salsa Verde*
  • 1 1/2 lbs tomatillo, husked
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 serrano chile
  • 2 cherry chile
  • 1 jalapeno chile
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced in thick slices
  • 1 Tbsp roasted garlic
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 3 Tbsp beer
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Make the salsa ahead of time.  Preheat a charcoal grill to 400-450f (medium high).   Fire roast the chiles and tomatillos.  [See Grilling 101 - How To Fire Roast Chile Peppers].     At the same time, grill the onion slices 3 minutes per side.  Place the chiles, onion, tomatillo, cilantro, and garlic in a food processor and do about 6-10 pulses, until a smooth consistency.
  2. Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of bacon fat or oil.  Add the chile mixture, agave nectar, and beer.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until an hour before use.
  3. Place the marinade ingredients in a mini-processor and blend.  Place the chicken in a Glad zip top bag and pour marinade over the chicken, massaging it to get coated well.  Seal bag, refrigerate and marinate 4-6 hours.
  4. Preheat a charcoal grill to 350f (medium).  If using mesquite chunks, add 10 minutes before starting to grill.  If using chips, add 3-5 minutes before starting to grill.  
  5. Remove chicken from marinade and grill 5-6 minutes per side, until chicken reaches an internal temp of 160f.   Serve with the salsa across the top of the breasts.  
  • Wood chips - I don't soak mine.  Some people do, I don't.  The theory is that you are getting the chips to smolder instead of burn.  First, we're just grilling here, not smoking, so it is an intense, short exposure to smoke.  If soaking yours makes you feel better, by all means do it.  It's a personal decision. 
  • If you don't want to make your own, you can buy a jarred salsa verde and then spice it up with a chipotle or maybe some cayenne pepper.  
Marinade ingredients, simple but full of flavor.

Mesquite and southwest seasonings seem like a natural pair to me.

Want to rock your salsas?  Fire roast the veggies first, it amplifies the flavors.

In the last few minutes, I stole a few pieces of the compound butter for the corn and topped the chicken with it.

Served with spicy grilled corn and Texas toast.
[Standard Disclaimer] I have business relationships with McCormick and Kingsford but did not receive compensation for this post.  I did receive the Southwest seasoning from McCormick as part of a care package earlier this year.