Thursday, June 27, 2013

Homemade Grill Seasoning for Chicken ~ Summer Recipes!

It's that time of year again and boy... am I thankful for that! Time to bust out the charcoal (or propane, if you prefer rolling with the fast crowd) and grill up some burgers, veggies, steaks, ribs and of course... chicken.

As many of you know, I have two serious food addictions.... pasta and chicken. I love all kinds of food, but if you've done a little exploring around here, I'm sure you've already come to the conclusion that they have a special place in my stomach heart. The thing is, when you really enjoy a particular type of food, you want the  ingredients that are used with them, to enhance the natural flavor; not make them taste like something other than what they are. Chicken is an extremely versatile meat. It can be fried, broiled, baked, poached or roasted. It has a mild flavor that goes equally well with both savory and sweet accompaniments.

Like most folks, I want a lot of flavor from the food I eat, but I don't want the seasonings that I use to mask or cover up the essence of the food itself. Beef should taste like beef. Broccoli should taste like broccoli. Well, maybe not when you're seven. ;~)

In my experience, there's a fine line between using too much and not enough seasoning. Certain herbs and spices just seem to belong with the foods they're often paired with. Thyme and sage, for instance, just seem to naturally go with poultry and pork. And what good would a roast leg of lamb or a big juicy prime rib of beef be, without a little garlic and rosemary?

Back some years ago, I found myself pacing up and down the spice aisle at the grocery store, scratching my head as I was bombarded with this grill blend and that saute blend. Eventually, the little voice in my head said: "Why don't you just make your own, Mary?" I mean, we all have a little "mini me" that speaks to us at the grocery store, right? And in the shower... and in the dressing room at the bathing suit store. (I don't care for that particular mini me very much, btw)

If you've been cooking (and certainly eating) long enough, after a while you should have a pretty good idea what a particular herb or spice tastes like on it's own, as well as what it would add (or not) to a particular vegetable, fruit or meat, if they happened to be combined. You might not think you do, but trust me... it's there. So, I went home from the store that day and started rummaging through my spice cabinet, pulling out all of the bottles and jars and lining them up on the counter top.

I grabbed all of the "usual suspects" first. Kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and thyme. These five seasonings are the "basics" that I've used when cooking chicken for as far back as I can remember, but I wanted to include a few more, to try and add some depth of flavor, but more importantly, to enhance the chicken without masking the subtle flavor of the meat itself. I also like to try and use flavors that will work well with the other dishes that I'm serving on the side.

After using this mixture for a few years now and tasting the chicken that's been seasoned with it, I'm quite happy with the resulting blend and I hope you will be, too!

Homemade Grill Seasoning for Chicken
Makes approx 1 Cup of seasoning

2 Tablespoon of each:
  • Dried Thyme
  • Onion Powder
  • Granulated Garlic (powder)
  • Adobo Seasoning
  • Kosher or Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon of each:
  • Dried Oregano
  • Dried Marjoram
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon of each:
  • Ground Cumin
  • Sweet Hungarian Paprika
2 Teaspoons of:
  • Dried Sage
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir or whisk them together well. Store the mix in a small container with a tight fitting lid, in a cool dry place; preferably in a kitchen cabinet or spice drawer, or an enclosed pantry. I keep mine in an old pickle or condiment jar, that I ran through the dishwasher to remove any of the aromas or flavors that it picked up from it's original "occupant". It will keep this way for several months.

Remember to always measure out just the amount that you need, each time you use this (or any seasoning) and put it in a small bowl or ramekin. This is important to help avoid any possible cross contamination, from touching the chicken with your fingers and then dipping them back into the seasoning mix.

For 4 to 6 chicken breasts or a small whole chicken, 1-2 Tablespoons should be plenty.

I take the chicken out of it's package, trim it (if necessary), brush it with a little light olive or safflower oil and season it with the dry mix.

Then, I cover the plate with some cling wrap and place it back in the fridge for a couple of hours. You can also do this the night before, or in the morning before you head out for the day. There's basically nothing in this mix that will break down the meat, like a lot of the bottled liquid marinades will do.

Don't get me wrong. I'm definitely not knocking the bottled stuff. It has it's place. It's just that most store bought liquid marinades, contain some kind of acidic ingredient (like lemon juice, citric acid or vinegar) to help tenderize the meat and do it quickly, so they're great when you're really pressed for time.

I make my own liquid meat and vegetable marinades and other seasoning mixes too, but I'll save those recipes for some future posts. :~)

This seasoning mix isn't just for cooking on a grill, either. I use it when I'm roasting or pan sauteing  or pan frying, as well.

As you can see by my almost empty jar, it's time to make up a new batch!



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  1. This recipe is right on time, Mary! We might actually find the time to grill some meat in the coming week, and with both of us having issues with our blood pressure, it makes sense to eschew the store-bought stuff in favor of homemade where I can control the amount of sodium that goes into it. I have thought about doing this several times, but now you have put it right out there in the forefront of my mind. I have all of these ingredients except 2 on hand, so I'm going to start experimenting soon. (I've always wondered what the heck marjoram is for!) Pinning this!!!

  2. Hi Mary!!
    I love the flavors of herbs on chicken! Yes, these sound really delish! I love that you have it all measured out her. Thanks so much for your wonderful advise! Praying you are healthy and happy!


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