North African Adobo Spiced Chicken
I started a ‘kit cleanse’ a few days ago to try to lose some of my hideous bloat and hopefully increase my lackluster energy levels. It seemed simple enough, with most of what I needed already pre-measured and labeled in the kit. This cleanse includes a mother-load of giant horse pills (which I am certain have no reason other than as a placebo-cum-laxative), a suspiciously delicious and sweet green syrup, daily diet and exercise requirements, and ‘an online coach, available by chat 24 hours a day!’
So far I have managed to choke down my breakfast of whey protein shakes, I barely grumbled at last night’s dinner of brown rice with steamed vegetables, and I made it through the mid afternoon hunger pangs by making a list of every type of cheese I would eat as soon as this was completed. Last night, however, I almost gave up when I saw that dinner was supposed to be a plain baked chicken breast with a generous side of depression-esque steamed vegetables.
I refuse to eat plain baked chicken. I have little enough affection for chicken as it is, and the thought of making chicken even duller than it needs to be brought out my inner foodie ire. Something had to give, and the chicken got the brunt of a rage fueled by several days of starvation and nutritional supplements. I knew that fats, oils (and FLAVOR!) were against the rules, salt was limited, and sugars were an absolute no-go. That’s okay though, because a North African spice rub with enough salt to make the chicken sing and earthy, scintillating spices would bring me back on track and boost my morale for the rest of the week. You know, until I get to return to my posts about which wines to pair with bacon and how to eat cheese at every meal.
North African Adobo Spiced Chicken
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Adobo spice rub
- 2 tsp coriander seed
- 1.5 tsp allspice berries
- 1 tsp black peppercorn
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 2 tbsp dry mustard powder
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika*
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 3 tsp brown sugar **
- 1.5 tsp ground ginger
- 1.5 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1.5 tsp hot red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp cayenne
* If you don’t have smoked paprika, you can substitute with an extra tablespoon of sweet paprika.
** I had to omit the sugar because of the bloody cleanse, but it really does add a very subtle and gentle sweetness which is pleasant with the rich spices and heat.
Put the coriander, allspice berries, peppercorn and cumin seed into a dry skillet set over medium heat. Toast the spices until they are fragrant and some are just starting to darken in color, which takes about a minute.
Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, finely grind the toasted spices.
Stir the freshly ground, toasted spices into all of the remaining dried and ground spices, salt and sugar.
This amount of spice rub is roughly twice as much as you’ll need for 4 chicken breasts. Store the rest in a jar with a tightly sealed lid and it’s perfect for last minute weeknight chicken, rubbed on fresh tuna steaks or even pork tenderloin.
Rub 1-2 teaspoonfuls of spice mix into each chicken breast and set them aside for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Bake the chicken for 20 – 23 minutes, or until the breasts are cooked through and juices run clear. I like to tent all of my meat, including chicken, for 5-10 minutes to allow the juices to circulate back through.
For the stinkin’ cleanse, as I am now referring to it (quite literally, considering how much cabbage I have to eat), this dish was served with steamed carrots, broccoli and the ubiquitous cabbage. I refused to steam the cabbage because that would feel like losing a war, so the greens were both roasted with no oil other than a quick sheen of non-stick spray. They were exactly as tasty as you would expect, so thank god for the chicken.
The rub is slightly spicy but with a nice smoky balance and intriguing depth from the allspice and cumin. For a dinner that was supposed to be numbingly dull, this had enough kick and flair that I almost forgot how healthy it was! Well, until it was time to chase down the chicken with another set of horse-pills. Lord love a cheap cleanse.