Juicy Grilled Chicken

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Grilled chicken… Need I say more? The mere sight of a good, juicy, tasty and charred piece of chicken makes my mouth water. It makes me want to dive right in. It’s good on its own, cut into strips and tossed in a (pasta)salad, and even on a bun. Or even shred the whole thing and make your own chicken salad.

When I was younger, I didn’t like chicken breast at all. In my opinion, it was a dry, chewy, tasteless piece of meat. In all honesty though, the only meat I really liked when I was little was meatballs! Thankfully, I grew up and learned that chicken does not have to be dry. As long as you employ the right methods of cooking it. For me, what does the trick is an acid-based marinade, high heat and just enough cooking time to get rid of the pinkness. Because, we don’t want pinkness in our chicken, now do we?

Ingredients
for 2-3 people

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

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Add olive oil, vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl.

 

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Add your oregano, salt, cayenne and black pepper. You’ll notice I use larger teaspoons in the picture above, because I was making a double batch. You might want to consider following in my footsteps!

 

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Grate the garlic into the bowl and stir well.

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You can tell this is going to be tasty by now. But we’re not done! The fun has yet to start!

 

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The problem with chicken breasts is that they are not even in thickness. One end is thick, the other is thin, you get it. If you would cook it as it is now, the thin end would be way overcooked before the thick end is even close to being done. Solution? Brutal force! Note: brutal force is, of course, never the solution. Just in case of uneven chicken breasts, ha! Oh, the first world problems…

Grab your chicken breasts and place them between two sheets of grease proof paper, or any other foil to your liking. Now bash the heck out of the thick ends with a hammer or the flat base of a pan. Or any other blunt object you trust yourself with, such as a rolling pin. Or a baseball bat… I don’t judge.

 

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Now that your chicken breasts are flattened, put them in a ziploc bag and pour that dark, tasty marinade all over it.

 

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Yum.. looks good enough to eat already. Don’t though, please. Instead, massage it all in and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The longer, the better, though! You can leave it to marinade overnight, but it’s best to cook it up within 24 hours.

 

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Ideally, this chicken would be barbecued. I live in The Netherlands however, and our weather is not barbecue proof for about 99% of the time. So if you can light up your barbecue or outdoor grill, go for it. If not, this chicken will still taste delicious when cooked in a grill pan. Just make sure the heat is on high and let the pan heat up before you put in the chicken. No need for extra oil in the pan, unless you want to create a misty, foggy (read: smoky) climate inside your house. Cook just long enough for the chicken to be done, 2-3 minutes on each side.

 

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And there you have it! Simple, yet juicy and incredibly tasty grilled chicken. Enjoy!

Hearty, Chunky Pasta Sauce

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I have a huge thing for comfort food. I can spend a day looking forward to a big plateful of it. Not that I need comforting that much, but it does warm your heart even if you didn’t think you’d need it. This pasta definitely fits the bill. Especially when eaten on the sofa out of a big bowl that you can warm your hands to. It is chockfull of fresh veggies, hearty sausage, and apart from a little bit of cream cheese, I like to think it’s not even that unhealthy. For comfort food, that is.

Here’s what you need for about 4 hungry people. Keep in mind that this sauce freezes really well, so you can always freeze part of it, or make an extra-large batch to freeze up and use later on.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound / 450 gr penne pasta
  • 1 pound / 450 gr ground beef
  • 0.5 pound / 225 gr salami sausage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 oz / 140 gr tomato paste
  • 1.75 pound / 800 gr canned, diced tomatoes
  • 0.5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 0.25 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 0.25 tbsp salt
  • 4 tbsp cream cheese
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Directions

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Here’s the veggies that go into this dish. Pretty, no?

 

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Start by browning and breaking up the ground beef in a large pot.

 

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I use a dried sausage, cervelaat, for this dish. It is a bit milder than salami, but you can definitely opt for the latter. You might want to tune down the amount of garlic if you do, though. Whichever sausage you choose, cut it in two, halve it lengthways, then quarter it. Cut in slices about 1/8 inch thick. Add the slices to the pot and stir until they start to render some of their fat.

 

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No need to wash the carrot, just peel it with a speed peeler and give it the same treatment as the sausage: quarter it lengthways and slice it coarsely. I like the chunkiness (is that a word?) of this sauce, but if you don’t like chunky vegetables, or if you have little kids that don’t, you can always choose to slice everything as small as you wish.

 

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Coarsely chop the onions. Wash the celery, cut it in thin strips and dice finely.

 

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Add the chopped carrot, onion and celery to the pot and fry for about 5 minutes, until softened.

 

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Coarsely chop the bell peppers and finely dice your garlic. Add them to the pot and fry for another 5 minutes.

 

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Add the tomato paste to the vegetables and fry for a minute or two. This will sweeten the paste.

 

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Pour in the cans of diced tomatoes. Fill up half a can with tap water and pour that into the pot as well.

 

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Add the salt, dried oregano, dried basil and freshly ground black pepper. Stir and let the sauce simmer on low heat for half an hour.

 

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In the meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the package.

 

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This last step is completely optional, but I think it really brings everything together and adds that comfort factor to the sauce. So go ahead and stir in some cream cheese. Nothing excessive, just a couple of tablespoons.

Check the seasoning and correct to your taste, if needed. If the sauce seems a little too acidic, you can add ½ tablespoon of sugar.

Time to plate up: ladle a nice amount of sauce over the pasta, garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and dig in!

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