I try to make it to the Hollywood Farmers Market as much as possible to check out what’s new. It’s especially great this time of year when the stands are overflowing with fresh local produce. This past Sunday, we picked up a quick and easy dinner to throw on the grill. Fresh organic chicken breasts, figs and asparagus. (If you’ve read a couple of the posts on here, you’ll figure out that I am a fiend for grilled asparagus.)
This meal was super easy. The chicken was seasoned with some shish kabob seasoning (paprika, salt, cayenne, sumac, onions, saffron, turmeric, etc.) that I had left over from shooting some Moroccan recipes. Normally I try not to use pre-blended spice mixtures, but this stuff is delicious! Grill the chicken breast over direct medium to medium-high heat for 7 to 9 minutes total; just until they are done. They should feel firm to the touch. To tell by touch, hold your thumb and pinkie finger together. Now feel the fleshy part of your palm below your thumb – that’s what the chicken breast should feel like when you poke at it. If you have any doubts, cut one open and make sure it’s cooked through. Once you get the hang of cooking poultry and meats by touch, you should never have to worry about dried out or under cooked foods again (we’ll discuss beef and pork another time).
Figs are in the markets right now rand they are ripe and delicious. Cut the figs in half top to bottom and lightly brush the cut side with a little oil. Place cut side down over a medium hot grill and cook for 2 to 4 minutes until well marked and tender. The grilling caramelizes the sugars in the figs and takes them to a special place. Serve drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction.
If you have never had a balsamic vinegar reduction or glaze before, I would HIGHLY suggest you do. Reducing the vinegar gives you a sweet, slightly-sour, tangy syrup that is an amazing foil for fruits (try drizzled over fresh strawberries) and vegetables, and also makes an amazing glaze brushed over meats after grilling.
Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Take a bottle of inexpensive balsamic vinegar and pour into a saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. As the liquid evaporates, the flavors of the vinegar begin to concentrate. Let the vinegar reduce by about 75% (a 16-ounce bottle yields about 1/2 cup). Make sure you keep an eye on it toward the end because it can quickly burn. The syrup should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Keep in a jar or squirt bottle in your refrigerator. I guarantee you’ll find reasons to use it!
Forget Ray-Ray and her 30-minute meals. It’s all about quick, easy and delicious summer grilling! You could throw this together for friends and they would be amazed! Give it a try – season the chicken however you’d like… salt and pepper would be great with a little balsamic glaze brushed on at the end!. But definitely give the balsamic reduction a try drizzled over the figs, or fresh berries, or melon, or whatever!
Let me know what you think. If this post lights your fire, please pass it on!