Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why did the chicken cross the road? I'm on a boat.

I love grilled pineapple. This week I thought about how I wanted to incorporate pineapple into a meal that was a little more than the canned pineapple ring thrown on a barbie. I looked around the internet. In fact, even my favorite food related site had nothing to offer in the way of the level of grilled pineapple that I was seeking. I found many recipes that featured meat stuffed with pineapple, but nothing with pineapple stuffed with meat!

Last week I stuffed pork with bacon and cheese. This week, I'm gonna stuff pineapple with chicken and onions and wrap it in bacon. 

This recipe is perfect for four people. Here is the ingredients list. 

-2 large pineapples
-1.5 large yellow onions
-0.5 cup brocoli
-21 Asparagus spears
-3 Chicken breasts
-9 slices thick sliced bacon
- .75 cup balsamic vinegar
-3 sprigs rosemary
-2 tblspns honey
-1.5 cup couscous
-0.5 tblspn chicken bouillon
-2 tblspn olive oil
-18 toothpicks (not for eating, unless you are entertaining termites)

I was planning on cooking this dinner yesterday, and had planned on a  24 hour marinade of the chicken breasts in a balsamic vinegar reduction sauce. First things first, a balsamic reduction sauce is so lovely -- it is versatile, and depending on what one is using it for, minor ingredient adjustments makes for a drastically different sauce -- it is easy to go savory or sweet. I started with 3/4 of a cup and 3 whole sprigs of fresh rosemary, over high heat in a medium sauce pan. I brought this all to a boil, and only then did I add the honey. Interestingly enough, I've been reading lately that honey doesn't have the allergen fighting power that I have long heard it does. That said, one should still by from local producers when possible. I turned down the heat to a low-medium and let it simmer for nearly an hour. At this time, I had a viscous and sweet sauce left in the pan. I poured the sauce over the three chicken breasts while hot, but there could be an argument made for letting the sauce cool down before marinating the chicken. That sat in the refrigerator for 48 hours, as dinner was pushed back a day. 

I had a couple of days to try and conceptualize how I was going to engineer the stuffing and maintenance of the stuffing of the pineapple. 

Idea #1: Halve the pineapple, core it, slice the rind off, stuff the pineapple and then tie the halves together with twine. Bacon would be attached to pineapple with toothpicks.

Idea #2: Halve the pineapple, core it, slice the rind off, try and attach the pineapple together with toothpicks that will also attach the bacon.

As can be seen from the photo below, wrapping the pineapple with bacon and keeping the two halves together proved difficult, especially considering that I would need to flip over the whole contraption while on the grill, dripping with hot, juicy goodness. 

 Idea #3: By virtue of necessity, I decided upon "pineapple boats" instead of a complete stuffed pineapple. This worked okay. 

Before I started to slice the pineapple, I began to carmelize the onions and broccoli. I used to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and also a good portion of the balsamic reduction sauce from the chicken marinade. When that began to smoke I added the julienned onions and finely chopped broccoli. This sat on a medium-high heat for 30 minutes or so before I added the chopped chicken to the mix. After adding the chicken, it didn't take long to cook through. As you can see from the photos, I just piled as much of the mixture as I could into the pineapple half, and then secured the bacon strips as best I could. 

The grill was hot, and the boats were ready to go. The asparagus was oiled, salted and peppered. I also sprinkled a little balsamic vinegar on them, as I felt it was necessary to spread the acetic acid to all involved parties. 

I would love to own a smoker. However, if I didn't know better, I would have thought that I was using a smoker tonight (sorry neighbors!) This is really no surprise, considering that there was pineapple juice, bacon grease, asparagus oil and leaking stuffing ooze all dripping down onto the coals. When I used to roast coffee for a living, there were multiple times that the fire department arrived, having been called by a passer-by seeing all the smoke, ready to put out the flames. For all of you out there who are considering starting a coffee roasting business, all I can say is that you had better become friends with the local FD. Send them away with bags of coffee and drinks -- at least then they aren't pissed at having to suit up and come out for nothing. 

Couscous is one of my favorite grains. It is quick and easy, and very much tasty. I added some chicken bouillon to the couscous tonight, as I wasn't planning on adding a sauce, although, a balsamic reduction sauce may have been perfect here.

Initially, my wife and I were having two dinner guests, but, one was not able to make, leaving only three. This was good only in that I ruined one of the pineapple halves. This is why there are only three on the grill. 

The finished, plated product, with an expectant, scrap hungry dog ready and waiting:

Gratuitous Food Porn shot:

I was pleased with how this turned out. 

Overall grade: A-

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