With boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand, options are no problem. But they can make a weeknight cook hit the wall just the same: What can be done with them that's different?
Try this preparation, done in about the time it takes to find and print out a usable recipe online. Sweet and tart elements in the vinaigrette marry the grapefruit sections, peppery arugula and grilled slices of that darn poultry. The chicken can be prepared on a stovetop grill pan as well. The pink peppercorns add a slightly fruity punch of heat, but there are alternatives (see TIP), if you don't have them in on hand.
Serve with warm garlic bread or grilled garlic crostini; either can fit on the grill as the chicken cooks. Citrus flavors in the glass would go well with what's on the plate, so pour a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc.
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pink peppercorns (see TIP)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 to 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (3 breast halves, minus tenderloins)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large pink grapefruit
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- 3 to 4 chives
- 7 to 8 ounces (1 bag) arugula leaves, washed and dried
Combine the vinegar and peppercorns in a small cup; let them soak while you prepare the chicken.
Combine 2 tablespoons of the oil with the balsamic vinegar on a large, shallow plate. Working with one at a time, place the chicken breast half between large pieces of plastic wrap; use a rolling pin or mallet to pound it to a thickness of 3/4 inch. Swish the chicken in the oil-vinegar mixture to coat it evenly on both sides, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes, while the grill is heating up.
Prepare the grill for high heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
Meanwhile, cut off the top and bottom of the grapefruit, then trim the peel and white pith from around the fruit, starting at the top and cutting downward. Working over a medium bowl with a fine-mesh strainer over it, use a paring knife to cut between the sections, detaching each section of fruit from its surrounding membrane; collect the fruit and its juices in the bowl, squeezing extra juice out of the remaining pulp.
When the chicken has marinated, use tongs to transfer it to the grill, letting it drain slightly; discard the marinade. Cook for 4 minutes, then turn the chicken breast halves over and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until just cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each chicken breast half into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide strips. Cover loosely to keep warm.
While the chicken is on the grill, make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the remaining oil, 1 tablespoon of the reserved grapefruit juice and the mustard in a large mixing bowl (reserve the remaining juice for another use). Use scissors to snip the chives into the mixture, whisking to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the arugula and toss lightly to coat.
Divide the arugula leaves among individual plates and arrange the chicken and grapefruit segments on top. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette left in the bowl over the chicken and fruit, then scatter some of the soaked peppercorns on top. Serve immediately.
Adapted from "The Spice Bible," by Jane Lawson (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.