Welcome back, Fam! It’s Tuesday and it’s time to get cooking. In honor of Summer being just a week away here is a delicious recipe for your first Summer Cookout!
This summer I challenge you to think outside of the box. Ditch the burgers, hot dogs, and potato salad. This summer it’s all about healthy, delicious dishes you can serve up to the whole block without them batting an eye. They will probably be coming back for more!
Don’t get me wrong. I could write a whole post full of healthy comfort food alternatives like cole slaw and potato salad. Even though they are healthier, they are still a treat. So let’s focus on foods that you could include in a weekly meal prep and not just a Saturday night barbecue!
This dish has it all! Its a little sweet, a little spicy. Its savory, tangy, and full of summer flavor.
The protein – Y’all I absolutely LOVE chicken thighs. They are easy to cook, have amazing flavor, and break up the monotony of chicken breast. I’m sure a lot of us include chicken breast in our diet quite often. Even if we cook them in a different fashion, it still gets boring. Chicken thighs are a cheap way to switch up your meals while staying on track with your nutrients.
***WARNING*** Word of caution. When eating chicken thighs, as opposed to breasts, keep in mind the nutritional value will change. For the same serving size, a thigh will contain slightly less protein, slightly more fat, and more calories. For a 3oz serving, a breast contains about 25 grams of protein and a thigh 21grams. The thigh also weighs in about 30 calories higher than the breast. Overall, its not a big issue. Just be mindful of your portions! (source: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrition-chicken-breasts-vs-thighs-1815.html)
The sides- We are going to serve up two sides with this awesome chicken. Cauliflower rice for our main staple and grilled pineapple for a little something extra. If you have never grilled pineapple (or any other fruit) you’re really missing out. The mixture of the sweetness of the fruit and the savory from the char is unbelievable. I recommend buying the pre cored and peeled pineapple from the produce section of your local grocer. We will use the juice for the glaze, and the pineapple slices will get put right on the grill. If you need to slice the pineapple slice it into rings about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
You have two options for the cauliflower rice. You can buy the Green Giant brand riced cauliflower straight from the frozen vegetable section of the store. It’s about four servings, and all you have to do is heat it up in a pan. If you’re feeling adventurous you can certainly make fresh cauliflower rice. Just take your cauliflower heads to a cheese grater and go to town. Then you cook until tender, but we will get there later.
The flavors- The flavors in this dish are island inspired and perfect for a summer cookout. Fresh lime juice and fresh pineapple juice bring the dish a nice tangy citrus flavor. Balanced out by the smokey, savory spices we will use to dry rub the chicken. Then everything ties together with fresh cilantro that will be mixed into the cauliflower rice as it cooks.
*Cilantro is one of those herbs that people either love or hate. I love it. If you are the latter, then substitute in fresh parsley. You will get a nice herb flavor that blends well with the rest of the meal.
Let’s Get Cooking!
This dish is light and delicious, but we are going to make the cauliflower rice a little more on the hearty side. I eat cauliflower rice often, and I will admit it can be kind of bland even when seasoned well. So to give this cauliflower rice a little more flavor, and richness, we are going to stir in some ghee while we cook it. This is certainly a step that can be skipped, but remember, FAT IS GOOD!
What you will need:
- 1 package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 package of cauliflower rice – or 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 container of cored and pealed pineapple (juice reserved)
- 1 lime cut in half
- equal parts garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, and paprika (roughly 1/2 tablespoon)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon of ghee
What to do:
- In a baking dish, arrange your chicken thighs spread out to be seasoned. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with dry rub, set aside.
- In a small sauce pan on low heat, combine 1//4 of a cup of fresh pineapple juice and the juice of 1/2 a lime. Simmer on low heat until liquid reduces slightly.
- After 10-15 minutes of simmering, or until the liquid has thickened and reduced, pour over chicken. Cover baking dish and let marinate up to 24 hours.
If you’re using fresh cauliflower use a cheese grater to grate the cauliflower into riced size pieces. If using frozen, break up the clumps in a bag then add to a pan on medium heat.
- Stir together one tablespoon of ghee with your cauliflower rice on medium heat.
- Once rice has thawed, or fresh rice is tender, squeeze the juice of half a lime into the rice and reduce heat to low. Salt and pepper to taste. Let rice cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is heated or cooked through.
- Chiffonade your fresh cilantro, about a half a bunch, and stir into your rice about 5 minutes before removing from heat.
After you have let the chicken marinate for your desired time, it’s time to grill. Preheat your grill and let it get to about 375-400 degrees farenheight. I like to grill my chicken smooth side down first and I prefer to only flip them once. This seems to lock in the moisture and keeps the chicken tender and moist. Thighs are really thin, and a little fattier. They will grill nicely as long as your temperature is consistent and you don’t play with them. Let them grill for about 7 minutes on each side. Let them get some nice grill marks. If you need to, use one as the tester. Cut a portion open to check its doneness or invest in a meat thermometer. Some people get nervous when cooking chicken. It’s almost second nature to me. As long as its not pink, it’s done. You want juicy chicken so try not to overcook it in fear of it being undercooked. Make sense?
Don’t forget our pineapple! Throw these bad boys on the grill with your chicken and let them char up. Get some nice black lines on each side, just don’t burn them. They might take roughly the same time as the chicken so keep an eye on them.
The combination of the tangy and savory chicken with the fresh lime and sweet pineapple covers all the bases! This is a beautiful light dish that you can enjoy while eating al fresco (in the open air). Serve this up for your family for dinner or your friends for the next barbecue!