Monday, April 26, 2010

Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Pesto, Roast Yellow Peppers & Goat Cheese

Serves  4-6


For the sandwich
1 sub-like loaf Italian/French bread (the soft inside/crusty outside kind), about 2 feet long
3 Tbl balsamic vinegar, divided 
3 Tbl extra virgin olive oil, divided
about 3 oz goat cheese (the smooth kind, not the crumbly kind) 
3 grilled chicken breasts, sliced (see recipe below)
3 roasted yellow bell peppers (see recipe below)  
about 1/2 cup walnut pesto
2 handfuls arugula
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

Slice the loaf of bread in half, length-wise.  In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbl balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbl olive oil with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Liberally brush this vinaigrette all over the cut sides of the top and bottom halves of bread.  Sprinkle both halves with a bit of salt and pepper.  Spread the goat cheese evenly over the bottom half of the bread.  Evenly layer the chicken slices over the goat cheese, then the roasted yellow pepper slices over the chicken.  Spread about 1/3 cup of pesto over the top half of the bread.  In a medium size mixing bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining 1 Tbl of balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbl olive oil.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Arrange the dressed arugula over the bottom half of the sandwich, and top with the pesto-dressed top half.  Slice into 6 or eight equal portions.  Serve immediately.

For the grilled chicken:
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lemon
3 garlic cloves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
vegetable oil, for preparing the grill

Marinate the chicken - Slice half of the lemon, cross-wise, into circular slices, but leave one half whole.  Crush the garlic cloves with the broad side of a large knife (no need to remove the peels).  In a medium container, combine the sliced lemon, crushed garlic cloves, chicken breasts and thyme sprigs.  Mix to combine.  Add the olive oil and juice from the half of the lemon.  Season with salt and pepper and mix again.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to marinate at least six hours. 

Preheat the grill to very hot.  Here’s a way to tell if your grill is at the right temperature.  Hold your hand right over it.  If you you can keep it there for five seconds, it’s not hot enough.  If you can’t hold it there for even half a second, it's too hot. 
When the grill is hot, soak a clean rag or a bunch of paper towels with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, and using tongs, rub it over the grill rack.  Pick off the lemon slices, thyme sprigs and garlic cloves, and discard.  Place the chicken breasts onto the grill rack, close the grill lid, and cook about 5 minutes.  Flip the chicken breasts and grill a few minutes more, until cooked through.  For chicken to be officially fully cooked, the inside temperature should register 165°F.  But, if you pull the chicken from the grill when the temperature is about 155°F, then cover them with foil and allow them to rest for about ten minutes, the temperature should creep up to the safety of 165°F, giving you fully cooked but still juicy chicken.  No matter what, allow the chicken to rest about ten minutes, before you slice it.  Thinly slice the chicken, against the grain, on a slight diagonal.

For the roasted yellow peppers:
3 medium-sized yellow bell peppers
If you have a gas stove-top: Turn a burner onto high heat.  Place the peppers directly on the grate over the flame.  Keep an eye on the peppers, turning pretty frequently, until the skin is evenly charred all around.  Place the peppers in a container and cover with a lid or plastic wrap.  Allow them to set for about 15 minutes. 

[If you don’t have a gas stove-top: Preheat the oven to 500°F.  Place the peppers on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast, turning every 5-7 minutes, until the skin is loose and blistery.  Remove from the oven and place the peppers in a container. Cover with a lid or with plastic wrap. Allow them to set for about 15 minutes.] 

Remove the peppers from the container.  Slice each pepper in half, length-wise, and then into quarters, lengthwise again.  Remove the stems, seeds, and any tough, pithy membranes inside.  Using a knife, scrape off the charred skin from the outside of the peppers.  Refrigerate the cleaned roasted peppers, in an air-tight container, until needed.





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