This recipe is inspired by a fantastic dish eaten in Las Vegas. It was probably the highlight of the trip. Ryan and I spent part of a week in Vegas last July when I attended a work conference there. Let me say something about Vegas in July. It is like the surface of the sun. I'm convinced that conferences are held there only because hotels are half empty because any sane person would wait until it's freezing everywhere else in the country to visit Vegas. The conference was great, but I am not a fan of Vegas.
Hot, loud, expensive. It's an introvert's nightmare. When we flew into the city at night and I could see how far the neon urban sprawl expanded into the horizon, I could feel my blood pressure start to rise. What Vegas has to offer, however, is a plethora of celebrity chef dining options. My favorite, Mesa Grill inside Cesears. Getting there, if you're not staying in the hotel, is a challenge, especially in 110 degree heat, but it's worth the walk, and maybe even the subsequent heat rash I got from walking a mile in such heat down the strip.
We each ordered one of the signature dishes, and Ryan's was a favorite. Super juicy chicken, grilled with a spicy rub and served with mashed potatoes. Sounds simple enough, but it was incredible. Probably the best chicken we had ever eaten. This is my homage to that dish; super juicy chicken with a spicy rub and a great roasted garlic and jalapeño sauce.
Start by brining your chicken. This is such an important step and really helps make the chicken super juicy. Fill a non-reactive container with 4-6 cups of water (depending on the depth of the container) and stir in 1/4 cup each of kosher salt and brown sugar. Place fresh (or frozen) chicken breasts in the brine, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours but no longer than 8 hours. I will often use this brine to defrost my frozen chicken breasts. I put them frozen in the brine in the morning and they are ready by dinner.
In a small bowl, mix together the spices for the dry rub. You can double or even quadruple this and save the remaining rub to use at a future time. These quantities make enough for one use. 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon of red chili pepper, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix together well. This spice rub is a rare instance in which I use powdered ginger and garlic powder. I typically prefer to use fresh garlic and ginger, but that would not work as well in this spice rub.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small piece of tinfoil, place one jalapeño pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Do the same with two cloves of garlic in another piece of tinfoil. Wrap up and roast in the preheated oven, about 10 minutes or until garlic is soft and the skin of the jalapeño has blistered. Place the jalapeño in a small dish and cover with plastic wrap to steam - this helps in removing the blistered skin.
In a food processor or a small bowl using an immersion blender, combine the peeled roasted jalapeño, roasted garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, the juice of 1 lime, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of Sriracha, 1 teaspoon of honey, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Blend until smooth and combined well. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and heat two tablespoons of olive oil in an oven safe skillet. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and discard the remaining brine. Dry with clean paper towel. Rub each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, coating evenly. Sprinkle with dry rub and coat each piece of chicken thoroughly.
Brown chicken in olive oil for 3-4 minutes per side. Move pan to preheated oven and continue to cook until internal temperature registers 160 degrees. Alternatively, you can grill the spice rubbed chicken. Ryan and I live in a high rise apartment that doesn't allow outdoor grills. We try to keep our indoor grilling at a minimum since half the time it results in setting off our incredibly sensitive smoke alarms.
Rest the chicken for 3-5 minutes before slicing and serving with prepared roasted jalapeño garlic sauce. Serve with your favorite side; mashed potatoes, slaw, fresh grilled corn.
This chicken isn't quite the same as the dish served at Mesa Grill in Las Vegas, but for an introvert it's perfect. Prepared in my own kitchen, without the glaring lights and noise of the Vegas strip. Vegas, sadly, I don't think we'll be back. But thanks for the inspiration for this great chicken!
Spice Rubbed Chicken with Roasted Jalapeño Garlic SauceBy Land of Noms, May 09, 2015
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 4-6 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of red chili powder
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 jalapeno
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of sriracha
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Prepare chicken for brining, in a non-reactive container (plastic works perfect) combine 1/4 cup of salt and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, stir in 4-6 cups of water depending on the size of the container and stir to disolve salt and sugar
- Submerge chicken breasts in brine and cover and refrigerate 4-8 hours
- In a small bowl combine spice rub ingredients; 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon of red chili poweder, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper; mix well
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees; drizzle 2 cloves of garlic with olive oil and wrap in tin foil, repeat with jalapeno
- Roast garlic and jalapeno 10-15 minutes or until garlic is softened but not browned and jalapeno is soft and charred on the outside
- Unwrap jalapeno and place in a small dish; cover with plastic wrap to steam, when slightly cooled, peel and remove seeds
- In a food processor, or with an immersion blender, combine roasted garlic and jalapeno, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, the juice of 1 lime, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of sriracha, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper
- Puree sauce until smooth and evenly combined
- Remove chicken from brine and pat dry, discard brine
- Drizzle chicken with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and coat evenly
- Sprinkle with spice rub and coat thoroughly
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees; heat two tablespoons of oil in an oven safe skillet
- Brown spice rubbed chicken on each side, 3-5 minutes per side
- Move pan to preheated oven to finish cooking, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees
- Rest 5 mintues before slicing and serve with jalapeno garlic sauce
Sharing our culinary adventures in Cascadia with simple, sustainable & satisfying eats. Bon Appétit!