The Engineer’s Kitchen: Grilled Marinara Chicken Sandwiches
Simplicity in Design
As we get ready to head off for the 4th of July holiday, one would think that this would be the best time to continue with a menu that contains hamburgers and hot dogs. Since it is probably safe to assume that most everyone will be having one or both of those on their grills this weekend, I thought it would be nice to engineer up something that would defer from the same old traditions, yet can be enjoyed in just the same fashion. So this week I am taking a break from the series of burgers that I have created over the past few blogs and changed up the primary protein to chicken.
On today’s menu we enjoyed a sandwich that is part chicken parmesan and part Philly cheese steak. It features chicken that was started on the grill and then finished in a quick to make, homemade marinara style sauce with melted provolone cheese and served up with sautéed peppers on a sweet French style roll. The best thing about this sandwich is the simplicity of it. Even though there are a minimal number of components, each one brings its own unique combination of flavor and texture that really seems to work well together. Cooking, as in engineering, having a large number of pieces or components does not always make for a better end product. Sometimes, less is better , and this is a good example. This recipe also allows for a wide range of variations that can be made to suit just about anyone’s taste. I served our sandwiches with a simple spring and spinach salad as this sandwich tends to be a little on the heavy side with the sauce and the cheese.
Choosing The Right Materials
Marinara Grilled Chicken Sandwiches:
2 chicken breasts (skinless/boneless)
4 sweet French sandwich rolls
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
28oz diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning (use more or less based on your preferences)
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Engineering The Build
To start off, get the thermal temperature up on the grill. I have the luxury of having the side burner available on our grill, and I took full advantage of that for most of the cooking today. While the grill is heating, you can get the peppers ready by slicing them lengthwise in 1/8 inch strips, or a thick julienne. In a medium skillet, sauté the peppers until tender but still have a little crunch to them. Remove them from the skillet when done and transfer to a plate.
Once the grill is up to temperature, you can get the chicken on. What you are looking for is to get the chicken grilled until they are close to 90% done. While the chicken is cooking, you can get the sauce put together. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and Italian seasonings in a blender. While blending, slowly add the olive oil and continue blending until smooth and has the consistency of a thick pasta sauce. Salt and Pepper to taste. This is the point where you can add as much spin to this recipe as you like, and yes, I used a dried spice blend instead of many fresh herbs. I did say this was a simple and quick alternative though.
Cook the sauce in a medium sized deep skillet on medium heat until it has come to a constant simmer and has thickened slightly. Remove chicken from grill and place in sauce to finish cooking. Place the rolls on the grill at this point to lightly toast if you wish. Sinc there is a sauce served on this sandwich, toasting the bread will keep it from getting soggy. At this point, you can also add the peppers into the skillet as well to heat slightly, but don’t allow them to overcook and lose their texture. When the chicken is done, Turn off heat and place slices of cheese on top and allow to melt slightly.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and slice as needed to fit the rolls. This also makes it easier to eat, rather than having one large piece of chicken in the middle of the sandwich. Place the chicken atop the peppers within the roll and top with extra sauce to serve.
As with all the cooking blogs, I encourage comments or sugestions you may have concerning this weeks menu.
All of us here at Glew Engineering hope that everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July and that all of your BBQ’s turn out fantastic.