Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grilling Grief

As much as I cook and as much experience I have in the kitchen, surprisingly I have no experience grilling. Normally, every time I am part of a dinner where grilling is involved the men take care of that aspect. Eager to have the tables turned, I never object or offer to help. They are men after all and offering help would be insulting, right?

In addition to the traditional grilling gender stereotypes, another factor that has added to my lack of grilling experience is that we didn't have a grill the entire time we lived in DC. Grills weren't allowed in the condo building we lived in so we didn't have that cooking method as an option.

Well this recipe thrust me into the world of grilling quickly. I knew the recipe required grilled chicken and I knew someone would have to do that step, but I just figured someone else would be around to help out. Unfortunately, I figured wrong. When it was time to grill the chicken I found myself home alone and realized it was now or never. I called Forrest and asked how to light the grill and then I went for it. I threw the seasoned chicken on the grill and hoped for the best. I wish I would have taken pictures of my virgin grilling attempt, but the horror of what I saw was just too much to bare. When I turned my chicken I lost half of the breast as it stuck to the grill in a violent manner. I think this means that I turned the chicken too early (according to Mr. Flay and the few bits of knowledge I learned from watching his show on Saturday mornings). I was able to salvage enough for the recipe, but my grilling still needs a little work. What do you think - Was that my problem? Did I turn the meat too early? Or should I have greased the grill?

Grilled Chicken and Pesto Farfalle
Adapted from Cooking Light September 2008

  • 1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 20 ounces uncooked wheat farfalle (bow tie pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% low-fat milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 (3.5-ounce) jar commercial pesto (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 cups halved grape tomatoes (about 2 pints)

1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

2. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until done, turning after 6 minutes. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces; keep warm.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Place pasta in large bowl.

4. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Combine 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Stir in pesto.

Gradually add remaining 1 cup milk and half-and-half, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Cook 8 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 cup cheese; stir until cheese melts.

5. Add chicken and sauce to pasta,

tossing well to coat. Add tomatoes; toss gently. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Serve immediately.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe


Danielle said...

Hey Elizabeth! I grill chicken or fish/shrimp most nights of the week in the summer...so I might have a few tips! Or maybe nothing I say will be news to you! :)

My take on grilling chicken...
1. I like to pound the thicker areas a bit with a meat tenderizer so the whole breast is an even width (about 1/2" thick). The whole thing will cook at the same rate, and you won't have dry patches.

2. Take the chicken (or any meat) out of the fridge about 15 minutes before cooking to "rest" and come to room temp. If it's too cold when it hits the heat of the grill, it will seize up!

3. I only oil the grill when I'm cooking fish - haven't needed to do so for chicken yet. You're right that if you flip too early, it'll stick. If you let it sit without moving it for about 5 minutes, you should have a nice sear and therefore it won't stick.

Anyway, sorry to go on and on! Good luck next time! :)


Ashley said...

I think you might have turned your chicken a bit too soon. The trick is to put it on the grill and leave it. Like Danielle said, pounding to an even thickness makes grilling a little bit easier.

Also, if you want to try an even simpler pesto sauce, I've just taken store bought pesto and thinned it with the pasta water and tossed with a little fresh parm. That's it! The starch in the pasta water helps it stick to the pasta, and makes the sauce creamy without using any dairy! Fabulous with gnocci.

Taylor said...

I have no tips for you on grilling, as I don't mess with the grill, but I just have to say this pasta looks delicious!

Adrienne said...

Yum, that looks good! I agree with the opinion that your just flipped the chiken too early. Nothing a little practice can't fix.

Caroline said...

Your salad looks really delicious...I love that combo.
Pam cooking spray is our #1 grilling tool. Hot Wok - Cold Oil technique works for us... grill rack needs to be clean and hot, then either spray and jump back (!!) or make sure the chicken has been sprayed. Now, getting grill partner to stop turning the meat too soon, that's another story...

Chanel said...

Get an olive oil sprayer. It's my favorite kitchen item. I spray the grill as it starts to heat as well as any meats or veggies before I put them on the grill. It's a great way to control the amount of oil and it sprays evenly. It also helps keep the grill from rusting.

Krista said...

Oooh. This looks delicious! I used to "man" the grill, but my husband has officially taken over. I'm okay with that. But it's good to know that I can do it if I need to. Happy grilling! : )

Amanda, FL said...

I made this with my own homemade pesto it was pretty good.