I can not believe that we are half way through August. The kids start school in a week (I'm going to have 1st graders!), the temperatures are quite literally scorching, and I've taken off any restrictions on the number of popsicles that are allowed to be consumed. I just want to soak up as many summer vibes as I possibly can right now before we are back to uniforms and homework (even Cha cha will be in a uniform this year... which apparently isn't quite as exciting as the unicorn shirts the thought I was talking about).
Between the trips that I have been lucky enough to take over the summer, the family trips that have been had, and splitting the kid's summer between myself and their father, it can be very easy to miss out on some good at home fun with family friends. That is why we were all excited to have one of our favorite families over for supper last week. The kids were excited to have more kids to splash around the backyard with, and I was excited to have wine and another adult to cook for (hashtag priorities).
If I have a group of people to cook dinner for, they will almost always receive some version of Melissa Joulwan's "The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat. Ever". I linked it from her website, however, I initially encountered this recipe when I purchased the first Well Fed book and essentially cooked my way through the entire thing in a couple of months. I now also own Well Fed 2 (which makes it incredibly easy to follow an AIP protocol btw) and most recently I found Well Fed Paleo Fresh & Hearty Salads at market check out stand. I don't know Melissa (and she certainly doesn't know me) but I really really love these books and have been using them to feed myself and my family delicious whole foods that aren't boring for years.
The real not so secret secret that I learned from this recipe is that brining chicken is key. It
looks gross (pictured) but gives so much juicy flavor that it is worth taking the extra five minutes in the morning to throw chicken in a bag with seasoned salty water to let flavor magic happen. This particular meal I used a handful of salt (such a precise measurement I know), enough coconut aminos to turn the water brown, crushed garlic cloves, and an Italian seasoning blend. I generally don't care for the way typical Italian seasoning blends taste (oregano isn't one of my favorite flavors) but I knew that I was going to pair this with a Caprese style salad, since I have been on a kick since I returned from my tour of Italy last month.
My chicken usually sits brining in the fridge for about eight or nine hours, however long it takes from when I put it in in the morning to when I take it out before dinner. The longer it sits the better, I would probably do it the night before if I ever remembered. Just be sure to get at least a good five hour soak. Before you cook the chicken follow Mel's instructions and dry it off throughly followed by rubbing a sort of seasoned paste all over it. In her recipe she has a very specific home made blend and it is delicious, but I've been following this method so long that I mix it up depending on the rest of the meal. I used melted coconut oil, salt, rosemary, garlic powder, and onion powder. I probably should have peeked in the book to see how the cooking part is supposed to go, but I use a grill pan that is already nice and hot. The chicken always comes out so good with a crunchy seasoned layer. This is why you have to dry the chicken off before you season it. It won't be as good otherwise.
When I was in Capri I inhaled a freshly made (gf) caprese sandwich while walking around deciding what to do with the afternoon. It was amazing, and I have been obsessed ever since. Being a cheese lover I obviously have eaten caprese style salads before but this was so fresh and the flavors melded together so nicely I was in heaven. I mean, Capri might actually be heaven.
Unfortunately, I just can't reproduce that kind of freshness and flavor exactly, but I did
throw together a fresh tasty salad using the traditional ingredients of mozzarella, fresh basil, and tomato. I actually added red onion as a throw back to this old school Italian restaurant that my family used to frequent as I was growing up, and arugula to add some bulk to the salad since I was feeding eight people. I don't have a recipe that I followed to link, but it is a salad that has mozzarella as one of the main ingredients, it seems pretty hard to screw up. The dressing was EVOO, a drizzle of balsamic reduction, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Refreshing, delicious, and most importantly super freaking easy.
After we ate dinner (all the chicken was gobbled up) the kids all linked together on their respective devices and played Minecraft while my friend and I sipped some wine and gossiped about ourselves and laughed about pretty much everything, because life gets crazy and you can't really do much about it except laugh sometimes.
It was exactly the type of good company and yummy food that makes me so happy to have my friends and their families over in the first place. So the next time you have a similar group to cook for I really do recommend that you give this chicken a try, and the next time you are in Capri I really recommend that you go have a fresh sandwich made at Salumeria Da Aldo! You will know it by the yellow.