Chorizo-Spiced Grilled Chicken with Spanish Caesar Salad
Chicken and Brine
4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 gallon water
½ cup salt
¼ cup sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp chile powder, (mild, such as pasilla)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
Smoked Paprika Dressing
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tbsp. anchovy paste
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise
4 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped, cleaned
1 cup Manchego cheese, grated
4 slices bread, grilled, optional
STEP 1:Brine chicken: Pour the water into a 6-qt. plastic container and dissolve the salt and sugar into it. Add the crushed garlic and the chicken breasts. Close the container and place it into a refrigerator. Brine the chicken for about 3 hours.
STEP 2:Make/Apply Chorizo-Spice Rub: While the chicken is brining, mix together the spice mix. Once the chicken has been brined for about 3 hours, drain the chicken in a colander, then pat it dry with paper towels. Add a tablespoon of the vegetable oil to the spice mix and make a paste. Now rub the paste all over each piece of chicken. Place the chicken into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
STEP 3:Make dressing: Place all the Smoked Paprika Dressing ingredients into a blender pitcher. Process until the garlic is very finely minced. Correct the seasonings if needed. If the dressing is too thick, add a little water to it. Place the dressing in a smaller container and set it aside.
STEP 4:Grill chicken: Cover a sheet pan with two layers of foil. Place the chicken breasts on the sheet pan and let them rest for a few minutes before grilling. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Brush the chicken pieces with a little more of the vegetable oil and place them onto your grill, presentation side down (where the skin was). Grill the chicken breasts for about 8 minutes on this first side. Turn the chicken pieces over and grill them on their second sides for about another 6-8 minutes, or until they are fully cooked inside. The cooking time will vary, depending on how large/thick the pieces of chicken are. Remove the top layer of foil from the sheet pan, yielding the second, clean layer. Place the cooked pieces of chicken on the sheet pan and allow them to rest for 5 or 6 minutes.
STEP 5:Assemble salads: While the grilled chicken is resting, prepare 4 dinner plates with salad ingredients. Place large handfuls, about a cup each, of the romaine lettuce onto each plate. Drizzle a generous amount of the Smoked Paprika dressing over each pile of greens, then sprinkle a generous amount of grated Manchego cheese over each salad. Now place a piece of the grilled chicken onto each salad. Add a piece of grilled bread, if using. Serve salads while chicken is still warm. Makes 4 salads.
Chef’s Notes: This is a nice recipe to make during hot weather since the chicken can be enjoyed chilled, too. Grilling vegetables and/or bread make the salad even more substantial. Extra grilled ingredients are nice to have on hand for more recipes a few days later. *Regarding chile powders: Personal preference reigns in your kitchen, but do keep in mind that very spicy food will negatively affect the wine you’re enjoying with it!