[dropcap]S[/dropcap]undays at my house are typically “Soup Sundays”. Even in the summer. I can eat soup when it’s 100 degrees out and it doesn’t bother me. I mainly make it because then I have a huge pot for leftovers for lunches for the week. However, this past Sunday I really didn’t feel like soup. It’s been so nice out lately that the grill always sounds good. I try to limit my intake of red meat in general and I feel like we have had a lot of steak lately. I don’t eat pork (but I do LOVE bacon, I know, I have mentioned I am weird with food), we had just made shrimp and scallops in the past week so I figured let’s do chicken. If we do chicken during the week it’s usually cutlets on a salad because they are pounded thin and cook fast. My husband LOVES chicken thighs and we don’t really make plain grilled chicken as an entrée if it’s not on top of a salad so that actually sounded good.
I have been craving green beans and corn on the cob lately. I think because it’s summer and those are a summer staple for vegetables. I remember being little and going out to my grandma’s house. She had a HUGE garden. I remember one summer as kids my sister and I had an entire day filled with green beans. We picked a ton of green beans from the garden, then went inside and snapped them, canned them and had them for dinner. I am probably remembering it wrong but from what I remember it was a WHOLE DAY activity. I literally did not want to see a green bean again. Obviously that feeling has changed. As I have mentioned before, I like to do as much as I can on the grill. I used to grill green beans in aluminum foil but lately I tend to shy away from using foil especially heating it up. I have a great grill pan I put other veggies on and thought “I can totally do that with green beans”. I don’t know why I wanted bacon but I did and thought I could put bacon in with the beans. Bacon on the grill can be tricky. If you have too much of the fat drip down onto your grates it can cause a fire as that grease burns. I figured maybe if I chopped the bacon up small and mixed it in with the green beans that would help mitigate that from happening.
I decided to keep the beans really simple. The bacon would give the beans a lot of flavor so I didn’t want to overdo it. I drizzled a small amount of olive oil (you don’t need much because the bacon fat will start to melt however, I wanted a little to get the beans going and prevent from sticking to the grill pan), salt, pepper and the zest of a lemon onto the beans and mixed that in a bowl with the raw bacon slices and then threw them on a grill pan.
I am a child from the 90’s. When Abercrombie and Fitch was cool and just coming out. I also grew up in a small town where we did not have a big mall and “school shopping” was a 3 hour trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin. By high school my friends and I pretty much all had the same outfits from Abercrombie or J. Crew (the best catalogs you could order from). Abercrombie soon started coming out with their risqué catalogs with half naked girls on them but the catalog had more than clothes and skin. It had food recipes! I remember showing my dad a recipe for grilled chicken kabobs that was so good. I never remembered exactly what was in it, I just remember the combination of lemon and oregano. To this day I usually use some kind of concoction similar when I marinate chicken for kabobs. The acid from the lemon makes the chicken so juicy and tender. I decided I would modify my usual kabob marinade go to this time. I used olive oil, the juice and zest of 2 lemons, Dijon mustard, grated garlic (you can use your zester to do this or chopped garlic works fine, I like grating it because it gets finer and the juice of the clove of garlic comes out more and infuses in the marinade), oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper.
I used both chicken breasts and thighs. I have learned over the years how to perfect cooking chicken breasts. I can’t tell you how many times I have had grilled chicken where the outside cooks up too quick and then the inside isn’t done. I have learned to pound out the chicken so it is uniform in size. I usually try to keep the chicken ¼ to a ½ inch in thickness. This also helps the chicken cook faster as well.
I wanted to make corn on the cob but there wasn’t any organic at the grocery store that day. I could seriously eat potatoes every day. I love them. They are one of my favorite carbs. I could give up bread all day long, but I could never give potatoes. I really wanted another vegetable to go along with dinner so I decided to make a carb substitute and make mashed cauliflower instead. The consistency of mashed cauliflower is ALMOST like you are eating potatoes. If you season the cauliflower the same way you would a potato it’s a great fake out. I make potatoes a million different ways. I like to mix up what I mash in with them or how I prepare them. My favorite simple mashed potato is my version of a sour cream and chive mash but I use Greek yogurt and scallions instead. I started by steaming the cauliflower (if you put it right in the water you lose some nutrients when you boil the vegetable so if you have a nice pasta pot that comes with a steamer like I do use this instead).
Once the cauliflower is steamed I empty the pot and add a small pat of butter (not even a tablespoon) and cook my scallions for a few minutes. I then added the cauliflower back to the pot and cooked a few minutes more (this helps cook out any water from the cauliflower) and add a splash of chicken broth (you could use vegetable broth to keep this completely vegetarian), Greek yogurt, salt and pepper and then pureed with my immersion blender (you could use a potato masher or even a hand mixer for this, I prefer the immersion blender because it whips up the cauliflower to a mashed potato like consistency)
I then added in some grated cheese. This is where if you use a good strong cheese you can use less. Cheese is great but it quickly adds calories and fat to any dish. If you use a stronger flavored cheese you can use less. I found a good sharp grass-fed (I LOVE Trader Joe’s) New Zealand cheddar that went perfectly into this dish.
This is a perfect meal for the summer on the grill when you want to pretend you are getting the same comfort from a carb loaded meal.
- 1/3 c. olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 2 TBS Dijon mustard
- 3 lemons
- 3 TBS oregano
- 5 cloves of garlic grated (or finely chopped)
- 1/8 – ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like things)
- 1 ½ - 2 lbs. of raw chicken (I used a mixture of breast and thigh meat)
- 6 slices of bacon chopped into ½ inch pieces
- 1 lb of fresh green beans ends trimmed
- 1 head of cauliflower, if small 2 chopped into florets
- 1 small 8 oz container of plain Greek yogurt (I like Brown Cow brand because it’s organic and non-GMO)
- 4-5 scallions sliced thinly
- 1 TBS butter
- ¼ c. grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar but gouda or Monterey Jack)
- ¼ c. chicken broth or stock
- At least 2 hours before you want to grill your meat start to make the marinade for the chicken. In a bowl combine olive oil, the zest and juice of 2 lemons, grated garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, oregano and cayenne. Whisk until the mixture is all combined. In a shallow baking dish or anything with a cover place raw chicken in and cover with marinade turning to coat chicken. Refrigerate until ready to cook. You could marinade chicken in the morning even and cook in the evening.
- Once you are ready to cook, preheat grill and pull chicken out of refridgerator. Allowing meat to come to room temperature before cooking allows for even cooking through out.
- In a big bowl combine trimmed green beans, zest of one lemon, raw sliced bacon, salt and pepper (I usually do 5-6 cracks of each using a grider) and a small drizzle of olive oil (1/2 TBS would work here). Toss with tongs to coat beans evenly.
- Grill chicken. For chicken breasts ¼ - ½ inch thick I usually grill over medium-medium high heat for 6-7 minutes a side. For chicken thighs usually 4-5 minutes a side. If the chicken does not pull away easily from the grates it is not ready to be flipped. Remove chicken from grill and let the meat rest 5 minutes. One trick my husband taught me is to put the meat in the microwave. DO NOT turn the microwave on, just put the plate of meat in there. This helps insulate the heat so your meat does not get cold while it is resting. The meat will continue to cook internally for a few minutes. Also you never want to cut into meat without letting it rest. The juice (aka FLAVOR) will just run out. By letting it rest the juice of the meat has time to rest into all of the meat.
- Once you get your chicken on the grill put the green bean mixture in a grill pan and grill over medium heat. Stir every few minutes to get the bacon to crisp up. I cooked my beans the entire time with the chicken and they were still a little crunchy which is how I like them. If you like your beans a little softer place on the grill before you place chicken on. I tried to keep the bacon towards the bottom of the pan under because I like crispy bacon.
- Over a pot of boiling water steam cauliflower florets. If you do not have a steamer, use about ¼ inch of water in the bottom of a pan and add the cauliflower to the boiling water and cover with a lid. Cook about 6 minutes or until you can easily pierce the cauliflower with a fork. Drain the cauliflower. In the same pot melt butter and scallions together to cook the scallions a little bit over low. Add the cauliflower back in for a minute or 2 to help dry out the remaining water that might be left in cauliflower. Add in Greek yogurt and chicken broth. Puree with immersion blender, hand mixer or use a potato masher to mash the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. If the cauliflower is too thick you can add chicken broth a few tablespoons at a time to loosen them up. Add in cheese and stir until the cheese melts into cauliflower.
- Serve everything together. The best part was stealing some of the bacon from the green beans and mixing it into my cauliflower on my plate!