As I vacationed in New Orleans over the holidays I came to realize how much I missed having the option to have something grilled when I ordered at a restaurant. While I had an amazing time trying foods like fried alligator, fried dough varieties and fried oysters, I must say I immensely missed my grilled salmon, chicken, veggies! So, when I got back early this week all I wanted was some grilled chicken tacos (because I also missed having mexican food!)
Since I don’t have a grill at home, and even if I did I wouldn’t be able to use it during the winter rainy days I came back to, I got a little creative at home. Have you ever heard of liquid smoke? Well if you haven’t it’s a liquid that you buy that is highly intense in smoke flavor. It’s very potent by itself so the key is using it in small amounts (a little does plenty) and incorporate it when you want to take your food to that level of smokeyness. In my case, there were 3 things on my agenda (crave list) as I prepared my first meal back home. One, to have salad (MY GOD I missed fresh greens!), but I’ll get to that later. Two, grilled chicken (no more fried food please!), and three to use the dried pasilla chilis that I have been wanting to get into lately. So, here’s what did:
I took a dried pasilla chili and a garlic clove and boiled in about 2 cups of water. Once it was soft (about 10 min), I placed the chili, garlic and a little bit a water (excluding the seeds) into a blender and made into a pure/sauce. I used some of the remaining water to water it down a bit.
I cut up 2 chicken breasts into small slices (fajita style) and season with salt and pepper. Then I took some of the pasilla chili sauce and poured over the chicken. I poured about 1 table-spoon of liquid smoke and combined the sauce and liquid to make a marinade for the chicken. Let that sit for 30 min.
Using a grill mark cast iron skillet (you can also use a Panini press) I lightly drizzled some olive oil and I brought it to med-high heat. I place the chicken on my skillet and let the chicken cook evenly on all sides. [Make sure you don’t immediately turn the chicken so you give the skillet enough time to make its marks]
While that was cooking I turned my attention to my side. I wanted to make a salad, but also incorporate some of that grilled flavor. So, I sliced some white onion sautéed on a small pan until the onion was soft and a little black around the edges. Set that aside.
Now for the side salad.
In a plastic container I placed mixed greens, chia seeds, toasted flax-seed, chopped tomatoes, feta cheese and a dressing I made using turmeric, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I toss my salad by closing the container lid and mixing it by shaking the container to allow all the ingriendts to mix. Only the lid wasn’t secured enough as I began to shake the container, half of my salad completely flew across my kitchen and all over my (startled) face.
After a few seconds of shock, wiping my eyes from a turmeric dressing mess and removing spinach from my hair, I pushed forward and started again. Nothing was going to come in between my side salad and I, I’d come too far! Second time around there was no raining salad in my kitchen so I was able to plate it, cut up some avocado on top along with the charred onions. It was perfect!
So there, after being a little shaken up, I warmed up some corn tortillas, spread some of my pasilla chili sauce, then the chicken, and some chopped onions cilantro. Since it’s the new year and recently came back from a trip where I pretty much ate my way through each street in New Orleans, I figure it’s a good time to get back on track and focus on healthy eating and home cooking. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!