Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sesame Crusted Chicken

Last week, I wrote about my new Weber Performer charcoal grill. One reader asked me why I did not look at the Big Green Egg. But, as a matter of fact, I did. I liked what I saw with the Big Green Egg. And if you didn't have the space for a smoker and a grill, the Egg makes a lot of sense, for it can do both. And so if someone were to ask me what to get if they can only have one outdoor cooking system, I would tell them to get the Egg.

But from my point of view, it is a compromise. The Weber Performer is a dedicated charcoal grill. It's designed to one thing: cook food over charcoal. It does that job better than anyone else around. You can cook your meat in a $15,000 Kalamazoo Charcoal Grill and do the same in a $99 Weber Kettle....and they will taste exactly the same.

But when you have a cooking system that both grills and smokes, there will be compromises. Sure, it will get the job done, but it will not do it with the precision of a purpose-built piece of equipment. It's like all-season tires, which I like to refer to as "no-season tires". They are a big compromise, coming nowhere close to the capabilities of separate summer-performance tires and winter snow/ice tires.

But if you can only have one, the Egg is a good choice. But the best choice, if you have the room and the bank account, is to have a dedicated charcoal grill AND a smoker. There's a lot of truth to the old carpenter's saying of "the right tool for the job".

So now I'm going to leave the world of grilling and take you to the world of sautéing. This is a throwback recipe from the early 80's, but it has always been one of my favorites. The recipe was created by Pierre Franey and it appeared in his book "60-Minute Gourmet". I like it because it only takes 15 minutes, it's incredibly easy to make and it's supremely delicious. This recipe serves eight.

8 skinless chicken breasts
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup sesame seeds
7 tablespoons butter
Juice of half a lemon

  1. Place each chicken breast half between slices of wax paper or plastic wrap. Pound lightly with a mallet until the breast is of uniform thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Dredge the pieces on all sides in the sesame seeds.
  3. Heat three tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy skillet and add the breasts in one layer. Cook five minutes on one side. Turn and cook on the second side five minutes. Then transfer them to a heated serving dish.
  4. Heat the four remaining tablespoons of butter in a skillet and add the lemon juice. Swirl the butter around until it is hazelnut brown. Pour this sauce over the chicken breasts and serve hot.

Wine pairing: A big oaky Chardonnay

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