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Chicken Breasts in a Middle Eastern Marinade

My boyfriend Brian is a food snob. Have I mentioned this before? The good side of this is we end up eating a lot of tasty food. The bad side is that he's not excited to go eat street carnival fare like nachos with the unnaturally orange cheese or fried dough with powdered sugar. At least he has a weakness for good chocolate. When he bites into something he doesn't care for, he'll eat a few more bites and then just sort of pick at it listlessly until we can order something else for dessert or go to another place to eat. But when he likes it, it's all "mmmmmmmmm" and contented munching. The first bite might make his eyes widen in surprised pleasure. He'll scarf things down and head to the stove for seconds.

This is all a prelude to saying that this recipe resulted in chicken that he loved. Chicken that he declared quite possibly the tastiest chicken he had ever eaten. This makes me happy. The fact that the recipe is really easy makes me even happier. The recipe had been on a page for Middle Eastern food but I haven't done much cooking in that category so I don't know if it's authentic. All I know is that the chicken was indeed as flavorful as the recipe promised and there was not a single thought of calling it bland. The chicken can be marinated 24 to 48 hours in advance so you could prepare it one night and let it marinate all day and then just cook it up when you get home from work. And once when I was pressed for time, I only marinated for 40 minutes and it still tasted great.

One make-ahead question. Could I throw frozen chicken breasts into the marinade and let it thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours? Would the meat thaw enough to absorb the flavors?

small photo of the cooked chicken

Chicken Breasts in a Middle Eastern Marinade

* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1/4 cup lemon juice [I just juiced one lemon]
* 1 tablespoon kosher salt
* 1 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
* 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 small onion, finely chopped
* 1/4 teaspoon thyme
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1-1 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Combine olive oil, lemon juice and dry ingredients to create marinade.

Pound the chicken breasts a little to flatten them out and make it an even thickness throughout.

Up to 24-48 hours prior to cooking, marinate chicken breasts in a covered dish, refrigerated. Be sure each side of the chicken breast is covered in marinade.

Spoon some of the olive oil from the marinade into a frying pan and heat over medium heat.

Cook chicken for about 8-10 minutes each side, or until thoroughly cooked. Cooking time depends on temperature and the thickness of the chicken breasts.

bigger photo of the cooked chicken

Modified slightly from this recipe: http://mideastfood.about.com/od/chicken/r/grilledchicken.htm

Thread at food_porn

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STOP! STOP! You're killing me here!

Okay, not really, but this is another one to copy. YUM!

What did you serve with it?

First time I was bringing it to a friend's house for a fondue party so we just cut it into chunks and dipped into cheese fondue. Second time I served it up with a Chunky mashed potatoes roasted with garlic and onion. I thought the potatoes were a tasty accompaniment but Brian barely noticed them since he was so engrossed with the chicken. Next time I think I should get some kind of a green veggie in there. Maybe roasted asparagus (one of Brian's favorites). I'm not sure what veggies to pair it with. Any suggestions?

ok i am tottally going to make this this week!
have you ever made a mushroom sauce?

Which kind of mushroom sauce? I've tried a few recipes that includes sauces with mushrooms in it. I love mushrooms though so I'm always happy to try a new recipe if you've got a favorite. The ones I've tried and posted so far are:
Pasta with Mushrooms
Baked Pork Chops in Mushroom Sauce
Chicken Marsala a la Michael

Okay, this I *have* to try! As for your question about marinating while it thaws, I would think that it wouldn't asorb much flavour, but I'd also worry about the marinade becoming a little diluted with the juices that come out of the meat... but I honestly do not know and have never tried that before. If you've marinated it before for only 40 minutes, then surely with this recipe, thawing in the marinade for 24 hours just might work.

I would think it might work too. My sister keeps frozen chicken breasts on hand and doesn't get a lot of time to cook so we had wondered if this would work or not.

MMm! That looks like a nice and simple recipe. I'm going to try it with some saffron couscous!

Surprisingly flavorful for how simple it was. Brian's ecstatic response was a big bonus given how easy this one is to whip up.

I sometimes think that I should put the marinade in with the chicken or fish or whatever, before I freeze it, so it gets the flavour as it freezes and as it thaws.

I had cross-posted this to food_porn and someone else replied that they had tried it and it very much watered down the marinade. I wonder if it would work if I just let it marinade for an even longer time? Maybe let it sit in the marinade for 48 hours? Not sure. I'm reluctant to try it since this dish is so popular at our house that I would hate to ruin a sure thing.

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Heh, mine is. And, if need be, he'll eat anything. But in general, he kinda is a food snob!

Just looking over the ingredients, I can tell it will be an instant hit in this house.

yay! I sent the recipe to my sister and she liked it too :)

Oh yeah, that looks tasty! Easy, too

Do let me know if you try it. My sister who doesn't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen tried this and liked it :)

What was the spicyness degree here?
just curious because of the amount of salt and pepper

That might be because I pushed most of the marinade bits off the chicken before I cooked it because I wanted to have the meat itself in contact with the hot pan. Not much heat in the spiciness department. Very flavorful. I mostly identified the lemon/pepper/salt. My tastebuds aren't sophisticated enough to pick up on which flavors are the cumin and thyme. And if I watched carefully, the meat cooked up wonderfully moist.

I will be trying this soon---looks yummy and easy. I think I'll serve it with couscous and cucumber tomato salad.


Yay. Let me know what you think. It is indeed easy to whip up. Is it also reasonably healthy? I know it marinades in a lot of olive oil but most of the oil stays behind in the marinade, not in the final dish.

We loved it!

Even my two-year-old son made happy noises when eating it. I served it with mashed up squash and potato puffs (!) - maybe not fine dining sides, but still yummy.

Yay! What are potato puffs? I love all things potato. I'm happy that even your two-year-old approved. Thanks for posting and letting me know how it went :)

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I'm so happy you enjoyed it and posted to let me know. Thanks! :)

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Sure...I bet that would work to marinate the whole chicken. Maybe stab the chicken a few times to let the marinade work farther into the chicken? I've never cooked in a crockpot so I don't really know how to adapt the cooking part but it sounds like you have a good idea. I hope you enjoy them :)

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