This Mediterranean-style chicken is perfect for a meal with the family, or some friends, on the patio.
Patio Mediterranean Chicken
Bone-in Chicken, whole in pieces, or 4 bone-in “airline” chicken breasts; boneless also ok
3 cloves garlic, smashed, save a bit for sauce, minced
3 Limes, juiced and zested
1 Lime, for service (can sub oranges or lemons)
1/3 cup soy sauce
½ cup Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Basmati or Jasmine Rice, prepared to package directions
1 T Lavender blossoms
1 T olive oil or 1 T butter
1 Onion, diced
2 Shallots, fine diced
4 Tomatoes, rough chop (in season, fresh peeled; out of season, canned)
1 Fennel bulb, sliced thin, save fronds for other use
¼ cup Green Olives, halved or chopped
¼ cup Black Olives (Kalamata preferred), halved or chopped
1 T Capers, rinsed
Sun gold tomatoes, or other cherry tomatoes, garnish
Asparagus, washed and cut fine on bias. Do not cook
1. Make Mediterranean ragu, i.e., chunky sauce: in skillet
a. Sauté: onions, garlic, shallots in oil until soft
b. add thin sliced fennel, , cover until fennel softens slightly,
c. add peeled fresh chunked tomatoes or cannedd. add Green Olives, Black Olives, and Capers. Salt and Pepper. Remove from heat and allow cooling to room temperature. Taste. Adjust seasoning.
If made in advance, label, date, refrigerate. Return to room temperature before service.
2. Marinate chicken in quick 15-30 minute marinade: combine garlic, lime/lemon juice, zest, soy sauce and oil, salt and pepper
3. Prepare rice to package directions, generally 2 parts water to one part SALTED water. Bring to boil. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to absorb water about 15-20 minutes. Return to heat briefly if water is not absorbed. After water is absorbed, add oil or butter and lavender blossoms. Hold.
4. Prepare grill; rub grate with paper towel soaked in vegetable oil or use grill brush; if using charcoal or wood, bank coals on one side of grill; do not place chicken directly above heat. Same for gas grill; preheat both sides grill; turn one side off; keep heat on one side only. Place chicken on side grill heat is off.
5. Remove chicken from marinade. Block with paper towels to avoid flare-up. Place chicken on grill; skin side down. Cover grill to allow smoke to work on chicken. Turn and continue grilling until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (chicken will continue to cook off heat to recommended temperature, 165 degrees while resting), about 15 minutes per side. Remove from heat, cover with foil and allow to rest 10-15 minutes.
6. Service: Place rice in rings in middle of plate. Fill well inside ring of rice with generous serving of ragu. Place chicken atop. Squeeze lime juice on chicken. Scatter slivers of raw asparagus and sun gold/cherry tomatoes around perimeter. Garnish with sprig of Lavender (optional)
7. Add a crisp white wine like a Sancerre to the evening and you are briefly awash in Mediterranean blue sea and sky. Or your taste buds can so imagine.
Susan Delbert joined The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club as Executive Chef after working at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. as Sous Chef for several years. Delbert has worked in several Washington restaurants, including The Oval Room, BeDuCi in Dupont Circle and Gerard’s Place. She started her culinary career as a Front of the House Maitre d’ in Clyde’s of Chevy Chase. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she graduated at the top of her class. She was an invited participant in an Italian regional cooking program sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.