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Grilled & Spicy Merlot Chicken

We’re always on the look out for a good base recipe to try and flare up a bit and that’s precisely what happened when I found a recipe on for grilled chicken and roasted carrots. The original recipe can be found here and I’ll run you through some of the changes we made that resulted in a chicken breast that actually tasted very much like a beef steak.  It was tender, juicy and spicy and made for a great dinner for two.

For the Chicken:

  1. 2 tsp ground fennel seeds (you’ll need your spice grinder for this)

  2. 1 tsp Kosher salt

  3. 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  4. 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes

  5. 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 oz each)

  6. Fresh rosemary sprigs

Firstly, grind up your fennel seeds in your spice grinder.  The aroma will be amazing as you whirl the seeds into oblivion.  Next mix up the ground fennel, Kosher salt, black pepper and chili flakes.  Next, take your chicken breasts and pat them down with a bit of vegetable oil. This step helps the rub adhere and allows the goodness to penetrate into the meat.

Now what I did next kind of deviates from the original recipe – I used all the rub on two pieces of chicken as opposed to 4 as called by the recipe I followed.  The result of this creative license meant that the chicken was super spiced.  If you’re not into really spicy food, only use a bit of the rub as opposed to ALL of it!  Place the rubbed chicken on a plate and cover it with cling film and pop it back into the fridge for 3-4 hours.

At this point you can prep the merlot reduction that will accompany the chicken. What you’ll need for this includes:

  1. 3 1/2 cups merlot

  2. 8 pieces dried Chinese mushrooms

  3. 2 shallots, thinly sliced

  4. 4 cloves garlic, smashed

  5. 4 tbsp light cream

Bring the merlot to a simmering boil and then add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic.  Have this reduce down over a 20 minute period.  Once done, pass the liquid through a fine strainer and be sure to squish down hard on the mushrooms as they’ll absorb a lot of the reduction.  Once done, set aside and don’t add the cream just yet!

OK, set up the grill for direct heat cooking at about 400 degrees F – this is my favorite temperature for most things grilled.  Remove your chicken breasts from the fridge and allow them to come back up to room temperature.  You don’t ever want to throw cold meat on a hot grill! Spray some oil on the grid and place your chicken breast thick side down.  Cook for 5 minutes then flip and cook for another 5 minutes more. At this point I also added the rosemary on the thick side of the breast.  The oils then get drawn out and it adds a wonderful taste to the chicken. Once your cooking is complete remember to let the chicken rest under some foil and prepare your veg and reduction sauce. Resting time is about 5-7 minutes.

For the veg we used carrots that were blanched for about 4 minutes and then roasted over open flame for another 5 minutes (basically whist the chicken was having a rest.) I coated the carrots in some olive oil and Kosher salt too just before I chucked them on the grill.

Right, the sauce – simply heat up the reduction and then whisk in the light cream.  It will turn a really cool shade of purple and will  soften the bite of the chili peppers on the chicken.  To plate it all up, set your carrots down, chicken on the carrots, sauce on the chicken and finally a sprig of fresh rosemary on top.

Heather found the spice a bit much, and I loved it.  There was almost a cajun flare to this dish and I’d highly recommend trying this rendition or the original recipe when you’re looking to spice up some chicken!

Bon apetite!

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Overall Heather Rating: 7.5/10

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