If it weren't for the story attached to this post, I may not have considered this "blog worthy". You see, pollo a la plancha, or grilled chicken, is a very simple, almost no-brainer of a dish. It's basically a boneless, skinless chicken breast that is grilled with some onions, and is available in every Cuban restaurant in Miami. It's healthy and perfect for a weeknight meal. But this dish will forever hold a special place in my heart because of the following story.
When I was very young and growing up, I had a very very dear friend named Dana. Dana and I were inseparable, truly joined at the hip. Dana was, and still is one of the quirkiest people i've ever known. She is extremely funny, but the kind of funny that is so without trying to be. One of the best kinds of "funnies" in my opinion. Dana and I were together a lot, and it was not uncommon for her to come to dinner with my family and vice-versa. One day, we went to this very popular restaurant establishment called "Islas Canarias (Canary Islands) for dinner. The waiter comes around and introduces himself, brings the menus and says he'll be back to take the order shortly. So we're all looking at the menu and when the waiter comes around everyone starts placing their order. Finally the gentleman gets to Dana and asks, "and what can I get for you, young lady?" Without batting an eyelash, she blurts out "I'd like the "pajaro planchado please". Needless to say, this started a wave of hysterical laughter in the restaurant that only got louder and louder. I almost choked on my drink, my brothers were cracking up and the poor waiter (whom was an older, serious fellow) had to hold back tears of laughter. Dana was dying of embarrassment which made it all the funnier and the more we tried to stop laughing the harder it was. It was so funny- the kind of funny where your stomach hurts, you can't breathe, and you're wiping tears from your eyes. For those who don't speak Spanish, she had just referred to the grilled chicken breast as an "ironed bird" instead of "chicken on the grill"-and although it doesn't translate well into English, was one of the funniest things I'd ever heard. It was one of those "you had to be there moments" but suffice it to say that every time I have this dish it is "parajo planchado" and not "pollo a la plancha".
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. salt
1 small onion, cut into thin rounds
2 tsp. olive oil
The trick to making this dish really flavorful and juicy is to butterfly the breast, and then pound it out so that it's nice and thin. You also don't want to cook the chicken any longer than you have to, otherwise it can be as dry as the sole of your shoe. Since the chicken is very thin, it wont take long at all. About 2-3 minutes on each side. Begin by seasoning the chicken breasts on both sides and setting aside. In a large non-stick skillet or grill pan, add the olive oil and turn up to high heat. When the pan get really really hot, add the chicken breasts and let them cook until they get nice and slightly golden. Flip them over, squeeze a generous amount of lime juice over the chicken and finish cooking on the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Next add the onions to the pan, season them with a little salt, and saute them for a few minutes, until they're nice and translucent and have sweetened. Place a bed of onions on your serving plate and then place the chicken on top of the onions. Serve with white rice and black beans, or a large green salad for a healthier option.