Our dinner crew had our first meal of the 2015-2016 season. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been doing this since 2010 and this is my 420th post!
So much has happened in the intervening years….trips to Europe, Asia, Latin America (including Cuba), and all around the USA. There have been graduations, weddings, new jobs, remodeled houses and new houses, including a shore house and charming tiny house that you can read about here. We’ve celebrated birthdays, holidays, a mayoral inauguration (The First Lady of our Borough is part of our crew!), planted new gardens and enjoyed the fruits of our labor. We’ve welcomed new puppies, bunnies, kittens and returning graduates (we seemed to have spawned the boomer-rang generation!). We ate, drank, gossiped (just a little), giggled through the happy times and cried and supported each other when things got challenging. All-in-all, it’s been a wonderful six years of enjoying meals and moments with cherished friends.
We look forward to Dinner Night each week. It’s like eat therapy.
To usher in this new season, we had dinner at M.’s house. We also planned her birthday celebration and when we realized that she was cooking her own birthday dinner, we felt really bad. To compensate, I made her a cake — Gingerbread Cake with Orange Buttercream Icing….it was really, REALLY good but not as good as the chicken M. served.
This recipe is from The Splendid Table. Listening to Lynne Rossetto Kasper on American Public Media is like listening to a dear friend tell a story. She has a wonderful laugh and her style is so easy and conversational that it’s hard to believe she’s not sitting in the same room with you enjoying a cup of tea. As I read the recipe, I could hear her voice saying these words as an introduction…
“This dish seems simple, but I can’t tell you how much I love it. I’d heard about a Turkish relish-cum-salsa made with crushed green olives and chiles and the desire to try it became overwhelming one night. I have no idea whether this is anything like the Turkish relish I was told about and I don’t care. I just bashed everything together, adding and adjusting. When I’d finished I knew I would make this for the rest of my life. It packs a punch, it includes my beloved cilantro, and is so hot it makes you reach for a beer.”
You know what, Lynne, our crew agrees, although we reached for wine! The chicken is perfectly seasoned and the relish is absolutely delicious. M. served the grilled beauties with basmati rice and more than one of us enjoyed seconds (not at all uncommon on our Wednesday nights!). M. usually tinkers with recipes, but not this time…she made it exactly as written and it was wonderful.
This recipe calls for salt flakes or "fleur de sel." Flakes are formed when wind dries the surface of water that has a high salt concentration, producing thin, flaky crystals. These crystals are known as salt flakes. When using salt flakes, use a bit more than regular salt, so if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, use 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt flakes.
We took advantage of the late summer magnificence and ate on the deck…it was peaceful and so completely wonderful.
Turkish-Spiced Chicken with Hot Green Relish
The Splendid Table
For the chicken:
6 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, grated
salt and pepper
6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
For the relish:
2 garlic cloves, chopped
sea salt flakes
1 green chile
1 red chile
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
leaves from 8 sprigs of mint, torn
1/3 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
A good squeeze of lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
To marinate the chicken, mix the regular oil, cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper together to make a marinade. Make little slits all over the underside of the pieces of chicken with the point of a knife. Put the chicken into a dish. Add the marinade and roll the chicken in it to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight. Bring it to room temperature before cooking.
Make the relish just before you cook the chicken. Put the garlic and salt into a mortar and bash it with a pestle until it is crushed. Halve and seed both chiles and chop them roughly. Add them to the mortar with the cilantro, mint, and olives and bash everything together, gradually adding the virgin olive oil and balsamic until you have a rough paste (it should be chunky, not puréed). Add lemon juice to taste and set aside.
Heat a ridged grill pan. Lift the chicken out of the marinade, shake off the excess, and set it on the pan. Start off cooking it on medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 4 minutes. The chicken should be cooked right through and charred, but not burnt.
Serve the chicken with lemon wedges, rice or flatbread, a bowl of Greek yogurt, and the relish.