I have ALWAYS dreamed of becoming an astronaut! Just one year after I was born, Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. A few years later, I watched from the beach as the Saturn V flamed through the sky after it’s launch from Cape Canaveral, FL. Then there was the trip to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to touch the moon rock – the line was FOREVER long, but SO worth it! I grew up in a family of pilots. I read every book about Amelia Earhart. When Toby went to flight school in Orlando, we were lucky enough to witness not one, but three Space Shuttle launches.
Sadly, by the time we were in Orlando, I’d given up my astronaut dream for a “career” in food service distribution. It wasn’t until today that I realized that I could have had the perfect job at NASA: Senior Research Scientist building the menu for the 2030 journey to Mars. Can you imagine that?! They must take into consideration: shelf-stable products for the six month journey to (and from) Mars, proper nutrition, the importance of food and mood (morale), and budget constraints. Honestly, that would be very hard for me. I’m an emotional eater and I own that. I can’t eat the same thing every day. I’d rather go hungry than eat a pouch of reconstituted, dehydrated ice cream (remember getting that in your stocking back in the 70’s?!). But, it would truly be a challenge! Like Paula Deen meets the Jetsons.
Apparently, the menu at this point is all vegetarian because they won’t have access to dairy or meat products. A “Thai pizza” with no cheese, but a spicy sauce and lots of veggies is the item the Mars team seems most excited about right now. How sad! Especially when I consider the Thai meal I enjoyed last night: Thai Grilled Chicken.
This was Thai street food at its best! The bone-in, skin-on chicken breast was brined so that it remained moist and juicy. It was rubbed with a mixture of garlic and spices and then grilled to create a delicious, crunchy char on the outside. We tore juicy pieces off the bone and dipped them in the spicy, sweet, vinegar-y sauce….mmmmmmm! This I would miss on the mission to Mars!
- For the brined chicken:
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup Kosher salt
- 4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
- For the rub:
- 12 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
- 2 Tbsp. dried ground coriander
- 2 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- For dipping sauce:
- 1 tsp. red chili flakes
- 1 tsp. fresh jalapeño, seeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. shallot, sliced thin
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- ¼ fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- Dissolve the sugar and salt in 2 quarts cold water. Add the chicken breasts, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Combine the garlic, ginger, coriander, pepper, cilantro and lime juice into a paste to create the rub.
- Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry.
- Gently work your finger between the skin and meat to create a pouch on each breast without tearing the skin.
- Place about 2 Tbsp. of rub into each pouch and gently massage it so that it spreads evenly over the chicken meat.
- Spread a thin layer of rub on the outside of the skin and on the underside of the breast.
- Cover and refrigerate the chicken while heating the grill.
- To grill the chicken: Turn all burners on gas grill to high, close lid, and heat until grill is very hot, about 15 minutes.
- Scrape grill grate clean with grill brush.
- Using long-handled grill tongs, lightly dip wad of paper towels in a small bowl of vegetable oil (1/4 cup) and wipe grill grate.
- Turn all but 1 burner to low. Place chicken, skin-side down, on hotter side of grill; cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Using tongs, flip chicken breasts and cook until browned on second side, 4 to 5 minutes longer.
- Move chicken skin-side up to cool side of grill and close lid; cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast (not touching bone) registers 160 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer chicken to serving platter; let rest 10 minutes.
- Serve, passing sauce separately.