Chimichurri Chicken Bites: The Meal That Happened By Accident

I'm sorry for the lackluster picture - Chimichurri Chicken is apparently not very photogenic at all!

This past week, I was introduced to a red chimichurri sauce. This recipe has no limits. It has no boundaries. I can think of so many different guises that such a recipe could take. Forget that this is another recipe attempting to take the always-forsaken chicken breast from bland and boring to flavorful and fantastic - this is a recipe for a sauce, a spread, a condiment. Think: burger condiments, vamped up salsa, pasta dressing - hey, why not a salad dressing for a santa-fe type of salad? I won't say that this was the most earth-shattering amalgamation of tastes to ever hit my mouth, and I certainly have some suggestions (what would an entry in this blog be without my opinionated nose butting into every tried-and-true recipe known to man?) but it certainly is flexible, and I think a good recipe to keep in your back pocket. And to think, I never meant to make this recipe at all!

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm not always the most organized, well-planned and scheduled person in the kitchen (the ironic thing, is that you could not find a more anal person in any other aspect of life). So, it should come as no surprise to you that I walked out of the house the day that my mom was set to go food shopping, without having looked at the recipe I was making that night. We needed ingredients. Luckily, I had the pages bookmarked in a cookbook and asked my sister to go into them and tell my mom the ingredients. She agreed.

I got home, opened the fridge, and saw an odd array of food that isn't normally there: a whole head of garlic (have you noticed we often use minced over here at Floptimism?), hot peppers, and fresh thyme. I panicked. I scurried over to my cookbook and there, sitting on the opposite page of my lemon chicken skewers (remember those?) was a concoction known something to the effect of "Rachael's Chimichurri Chicken Bites." I scanned the recipe - it was hot. Spicy. Different. Would my family eat it? It didn't matter, I decided - I was making it. I wasn't letting these ingredients go to waste. I had enough ingredients to make the lemon chicken skewers that night, and reserved this crazy alternate one for a few days later. So, there I was, with a recipe that I never would have picked for my family, but was forging on anyway.

This trepidation led to a slightly-on-edge cook, nervous already that no one would eat my food and annoyed that my sister put me in the situation of having to make it (alright, alright: she held no gun to my head, but I did tell her to look for "chicken skewers," and I was feeling a little bitter about what I would assume was an honest mistake on her part). Then, I may have not taken the "constructive" criticism as well as I should have. I'm not saying I'm the most resilient character out there - I tend to take things personally and negatively, and read into every suggestion as meaning, "this isn't perfect. You could've done better. Here's how I would change things to do it even better than you did." I understand that's not the case, but when it's happening, that's how I take it. I'll work on it. You see, I haven't cured my Floptimism just yet. Or, you know, much at all.

As it turned out, I enjoyed the recipe. I thought it was a little too one-dimensional with its heat, and could have used a little sweetening up - maybe from a tomato (of course only my own suggestions are constructive and not a sign of my shortcomings). It wasn't burn-your-mouth spicy, but delivered a nice enough kick to keep it flavorful. The recipe, like most of Rachael Ray's, could not be easier to put together at the drop of a hat. I paired it with some more bulgur in an attempt to use more of it from said chicken skewers the other week, but I imagine that in a less-stubbornly-nutritious kitchen, white rice would be just about perfect with it (or, in a moderately-stubbornly-nutritious kitchen, brown rice).

Rachael's Chimichurri Chicken Bites, courtesy of Classic Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals Cookbook
Yield: 8 servings
2 serrano or jalapeno peppers
1 rounded Tbsp. sweet paprika
1/2 C fresh flat leaf parsley leaves (I used approx. 2 Tbsp. dried)
4 sprigs oregano, leaves stripped (I used approx. 2 Tbsp. dried)
5 or 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and chopped (omitted: by the time I got to make this, the fresh thyme we had bought had vanished, and the dried container was hiding)
2 bay leaves, crumbled (I used dried)
1/2 small white onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 C extra virgin olive oil (I put in 1/4 C and it was plenty)
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (We didn't have any so I used a different vinegar)
1 tsp. coarse salt (omitted)
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 lb. chicken tenders (I used cubed boneless, skinless breasts)
(added: 1/2 red bell pepper for color and substance)

The Method
1. Preheat a grill pan over high heat

2. Char peppers by holding over a gas flame or placing under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to blister them all over (mine were under there for three times that long without a single blister, but they started to make popping sounds that scared this amateur cook into removing them sans char).

3. Seed and coarsely chop the ppers and place in a food processor. (And remember, never touch your face without washing your hands - that is, unless you'd like to spend ten minutes with your face under your sink's faucet. Seriously, it's not fun, but it certainly teaches you a lesson!) Add paprika, herbs, onion, and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped.

4. Transfer to a bowl and stir in oil, vinegar, and salt. Taste to adjust seasonings.

5. Cut chicken tenders into thirds (or, if using breasts, chunks), and place in a shallow dish. Spoon half of the chimichurri over the chicken and coat completely and evenly.

Note: I did everything up to this step in advance, and refrigerated the chicken and extra sauce until later. If you choose to do this, just don't preheat the pan in the beginning.

6. Using tongs, transfer the chicken bites to the hot grill and cook, 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer bites to a serving plate. Serve with party picks and reserved chimichurri sauce for dipping (or, if you're using it as a meal as opposed to a party treat, serve over grain of your choosing).

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS


Post a Comment