Just in time for the 4th of July and summer barbecue season, we’re sharing two easy-to-follow recipes developed by our Head Corporate Chef Michael Northern and his team, along with a few bonus expert grilling tips—a helpful guide to achieving the best possible results.
Blog Editor Jeff Powell makes a delicious, simple-to-prepare marinated chicken and grilled vegetable side dish with a complementary and complex vinaigrette. Proving, with his photographic evidence, that you don’t have to be a professional chef to turn beautiful, fresh ingredients into irresistible food perfect for summer entertaining—it’s What’s Cooking.
I recently bought a new charcoal grill, and I was looking forward to putting it to the test this summer as our head corporate chef and I were deciding which recipes to feature next. We settled on two that are perfect for sunny-weather grilling and entertaining around the BBQ. So simple, but they taste and look amazing. The chicken breasts can be marinated up to a day in advance, and the Chardonnay, lemon and herb marinade imparts a surprising amount of flavor while also acting as a kind of brine to keep the chicken moist. The bright assortment of grilled vegetables is topped with a vinaigrette so tasty that one of my dinner guests turned to me and said, “Jeff, you need to tell Nordstrom to bottle this up and start selling it immediately. I want to buy it!”
Before starting to cook, I sat down with one of our expert chefs, Dan Wood, to soak up any words of wisdom on grilling he had. He was full of so much great information that it’s definitely worth sharing some of his basics here: 5 Tips to Mastering Your Grill.
Dan turned me on to grilling with hardwood lump charcoal (well worth finding) for more intense temperatures as well as the importance of allowing your grill to fully preheat, which ensures the grates are hot and ready to sear. (Hello, better grill marks.) Speaking of marks, I also found that patting the chicken lightly with paper towels just before grilling reduced the amount of moisture on the chicken and seemed to help with those little caramelized diamonds.
Grilled Chicken Chardonnay
from the Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook
“Marinades penetrate deeply to improve the flavor and succulence of foods, especially chicken breasts. This simple combination of olive oil, Chardonnay, lemon juice, rosemary and oregano imparts crisp, clean flavors to the meat that are enhanced by the smoky flavors from grilling.” —Nordstrom Corporate Chef Michael Northern
Chicken Chardonnay Marinade
8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Chardonnay
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for brushing
Place the chicken in a 1-gallon lock-top plastic bag or in a shallow baking dish. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, wine, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper, and whisk until thoroughly blended.
Pour the marinade over the chicken, coating all sides well. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and seal it, or cover the dish. Refrigerate and marinate the chicken a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 24 hours. Turn the bag or the chicken breasts once to distribute the flavors evenly. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling.
Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill (see tip #3) or preheat a gas grill on medium.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and drain the chicken of excess marinade. Brush the grill grate with vegetable oil. Place the chicken directly over the fire. Cover the grill and cook on one side for about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken about 90 degrees to create attractive cross-hatching grill marks and cook for 2 minutes longer.
Flip the chicken breasts over and continue grilling, covered, until they’re tender and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife, about 4 minutes longer. Serve immediately.
“Grilled vegetables, whether served as a starter to a summer dinner on the deck or arranged on a buffet for an outdoor party, make a splashy, colorful presentation. This dish is perfect for entertaining because the vegetables taste great either warm or at room temperature. My hunch is that once you have tasted the Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette, it will become a pantry staple. Drizzled over the grilled vegetables, this dressing completes the dish with a sweet yet tangy finish.”
Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) dry-packed, sun-dried tomatoes
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
To make the Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette, place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and soak them in boiling water until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain the tomatoes. In a blender or in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the softened tomatoes, vinegar and olive oil and process until the tomatoes are puréed and the mixture is well blended. Season with the salt and pepper. Add the basil and pulse for a few seconds. Set aside.
Italian Grilled Vegetables
1 pound jumbo asparagus
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 summer squash, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 plum tomatoes, cored and halved
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded, de-ribbed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, de-ribbed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
3 portobello mushrooms, stems and black gills removed, then halved
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette (recipe above)
Snap the woody bottoms off of the asparagus spears; trim any ragged edges and make the spears uniform in length. Using a vegetable peeler, lightly peel the bottom half of each spear, removing only the thin, fibrous outer layer.
Lay the asparagus and all the remaining vegetables in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Brush the vegetables on both sides with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
When ready to grill, brush the grill grate with vegetable oil. Place the vegetables in a single layer directly over the hot fire. Grill the vegetables on one side just until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Turn and grill until tender but still firm, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Remove the vegetables from the grill and arrange them attractively on a large serving platter. Stir the Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette and drizzle it over the grilled vegetables. Serve immediately.
Download a printable PDF of this Grilled Chicken with Vegetables recipe, and find more tempting dishes in our Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook. Have a favorite recipe from our restaurants or cookbooks that you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!
Find more great recipes for your grill, along with more expert tips for grilling with charcoal from Culinary Logistics Manager and Chef Dan Wood.
[Photos & commentary by Jeff Powell]