A year ago last November, the Critic was sent to New Zealand on business. It was a pretty flimsy excuse for a business trip: he was the chief page turner (or its modern equivalent: mouse clicker) on a presentation that was being given to the New Zealand government by the international organisation he works for here in Paris. I didn't like being left on my own while he went to exotic places (who would?) but I knew there would be a small compensation: exotic gifts. Nor was I wrong. He brought back a sheet of Lord of the Rings stamps (the film had its world premier while he was there), a small Art Deco table and three bags of dry rub spices. (You were wondering when we would get to the food, I'll bet.) One was for fish, one for poultry and one for beef. They were delicious. They made last-minute healthy meals a dream. Rub down a chicken breast/steak/piece of fish with the appropriate powder, slap it on a grill pan or a grill and 10-15 minutes later we had spicy delicious protein.
And, as good things will, eventually the supply started to dwindle. I conserved. I skimped. Nothing could change the fact that eventually I was going to run out and unfortunately the list of ingredients was depressingly short: spices, salt.
So now I'm stuck trying to reproduce them myself. Well, it's fun experimenting.
The one spice that definitely came through on the chicken variety was ground coriander and that's why I chose it as the base for this dry rub. And because Barrett had been telling me about his upcoming salsas, I guess that was in my mind too. However, unlike Barrett, I determined to stick with my classic fresh tomato salsa.
Some years ago when I first knew our friend Jonathan he complimented me on the authenticity of my tomato salsa. As he came to France fresh from a posting with the UK embassy in Mexico City, I was flattered and pleased. I'd always assumed my version (which is based on no recipe, just common knowledge as I was growing up) was Tex-Mex. Apparently, it was actually something like real Mexican food. Cool.
The salsa worked extremely well at bringing a little much needed moisture to the meat. And the flavours complimented the spicy rub perfectly.
Somewhat Mexican Chicken
2 Tbs coriander
1 Tbs dried onion flakes
large pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 chicken breasts
for the salsa:
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1-2 finely chopped shallots
1-t jalepeno peppers
2 Tbs fressh coriander
1 Tbs lime juice
pinch of salt
1 fat clove of garlic, very finely chopped
First toss the salsa elements together and put in the refrigerator so that the flavours can mingle and strenghten.
Next, turn on your grill or put a fire under your grill pan. Toss the dry rub spices together and roll the chicken breasts in the it, pressing firmly to get as much as possible of the spices to stick to the flesh. Toss them on the grill and let them sizzle. When the spices are toasted and there are grill marks on the meat, turn them over.
When the breasts are done, place them on a plate and spoon salsa over them. Serve with sweet corn and/or a large fresh salad and you'll have a fresh tasty (fairly) low-calorie dinner! (Sweet corn has a surprisingly high number of points in Weight Watchers, sigh. There is a reason they call it sweet.)
As meat dishes go, this one was fairly pretty. But I forgot to take a photo. Forgive me but I'm expecting you to fall back on your vivid imaginations yet again. I'm off to finish a surprisingly absorbing book that I recently bought...