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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

mediterranean chicken in the lower east side of manhattan - aka "belly dancing chicken"


Through the magic of cooking and blogging I am able to transform regular ingredients into exotic ingredients from far away lands with the application of herbs, spices and heat all in a two hour span. I know that may sound like some kind of tricky mumbo jumbo but its absolutely true. Take this chicken for example: yesterday evening a long time friend, a buddy I have known since we were both 18 years old or so calls me up and says "I have some chicken breasts and I am thinking of grilling them, do you have any ideas?" Well thats like asking if there is sand on the beach - of course I have ideas. Fortunately my friend is usually pretty well stocked so when I asked him about mint he said "growing in the garden" and when I asked about feta cheese he said "a half pound in the fridge" so before you know it he was pounding out his chicken and spreading this mediterranean mixture I had described to him inside the flattened breasts and rolling them back up and tossing them on the grill. We also discussed a potato that was first parboiled then sliced and rubbed with olive oil, oregano and coarse salt that was also grilled. (he sent me a picture from his cell phone)

The consensus between his 9 year old daughter, her 9 year old friend who was over for dinner, his girlfriend and him was - no leftovers - so as much he was hoping to save some for a nice lunch these delights disappeared faster than a wizard in a sandstorm. Well, since I now have mint and lemon zest and chicken and oregano on my mind - I had to get busy.

I had chicken thighs not breasts so I made a nice rub but since I didnt have feta I had to use goat cheese and since I didnt have a garden with fresh mint I had to use some dried mint I had dried myself from my last mint purchase so my version was going to be slightly different. I made a nice mixture in my mortar and pestle of goat cheese, garlic, oregano, mint, lemon zest, salt and olive oil and this was rubbed all over the thighs then I ground fresh pepper over the whole lot and they were allowed to rest in this for half an hour before they were first seared on the stove top then popped in a hot oven.

Chicken is out of the oven looking perfect and doing its resting thing while I slice some cucumbers and fluff up the rice with some of the marinade that I had reserved on the side just for this very flavor footprint, I wanted everything to stroll harmoniously together.


Now if you cant tell these are three different plates then you have no business in my kitchen. The flavors were outstanding, the chicken was juicy with a nice crispy skin, the rice danced ever so seductively with the rest of the plate - it was like belly dancing with out the music and with out the belly dancer but with everything thing else that makes you feel exotic, a little of the far away right here in Manhattan.

16 comments:

Belinda said...

Belly dancing chicken...love this! Love the flavors and can't help but smile.

beth ebin said...

Wonderful combination of flavors! Looks delicious.

Lizzy said...

Looks like both you and your friend had delicious meals :)

FOODalogue said...

This is a very lyrical post -- stroll harmoniously, belly dancing -- lots of mental visuals. And the chicken looks delicious - thighs are my favorite part!

Gooby said...

Beautiful pictures, lovely description and I am sure, delicious meal.

Stacey Snacks said...

What time does the show start?
Chicken looks succulent and delicious. I love belly dancing.

Tangled Noodle said...

I do believe mah belly would do a little happy dance of its own with a bit of this dish! I so enjoy reading the adaptive evolution of this dish, from your friend's dinner to your belly dancing version. This is the only way I would find the words 'cheese' and 'thighs' in close correlation appealing...

nutmegnanny said...

I wish I could be like you in the kitchen. I suck if I'm not following a recipe. Maybe that's why I like to bake? Who knows....

Next time I'm in the city I'm coming to your house looking for lessons...:)

Marjie said...

I prefer chicken thighs any way and I'm thinking of planting mint this year. I expect it to take over the garden.

mywanderingspoon said...

What a beautiful blog this is, I love your rusty fork, looks so cool.
For the dish, looks delicious, my type of food:)

Barbara said...

Now why haven't I though of drying any leftover fresh mint? Duh.

So, I think your friend had a nicely stocked pantry over there. Impressive. Much prefer thighs though, so I'll eat at your house.

Creative Mish said...

oh yum! The thighs are the best part!

Vickie said...

I was a goner with chicken that had "nice crispy skin" and that seductive rice business. Delicious-ness!

Jamie said...

Wow! And I may even offer to belly dance for one of those plates of chicken and rice... although you may chase me out of the house rather than serving me some so forget it. Lucky friend to know someone as creative in the kitchen as you! Luscious! Love the flavors!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I like your ingenuity using what you've got on hand. Both versions sound terrific.

Magic of Spice said...

What fantastic flavors...excellent, and love the name :)

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