Flip Flops, Friends, and Food…

Grilled Chicken, Peach, and Cheddar Sandwiches

I think we can all agree it has been a weird Spring. One day I’m walking around in shorts and a t-shirt and the next I’ve got my jacket on struggling to get back into shoes (once I start to wear flip flops, only the Winter can get me to cede). But days like yesterday make it all worth it. As I was eating lunch in the newly finished Washington Square park, I started to think about what the upcoming months would bring in way of food and eating. Sure I thought about the newly seasonal fruits and vegetables, and the outdoor dining at restaurants but what really got me excited was the type of eating only the summer months can bring out. The blistering sun beaming down on you and your friends, congregating around a grill with a cold drink and a myriad of stories. There is no set time for the meal, rather you eat when everything is done. It seems like everyone has their part, whether it is manning the grill, or preparing the sides, or making sure everyone’s drink is full, summer meals have a camaraderie that can’t be beat. And as the sun sets and the night air cools down just enough, a relaxation falls upon you, and you enjoy the evening quietly preparing yourself for the next amazing Summer Meal…

It probably goes back to my days at Doten Ave (my house in Saratoga Springs) but one of my favorite summer grill foods is the chicken sandwich. Try ordering it at a restaurant and your most likely going to be disappointed (at least I always am). The chicken sandwich on its own, can be both packed with flavor or left alone in simple fashion, but it is the process that I have always loved. This is probably why the restaurant varieties never get me going. I want to make it! I want to be the one grilling and slicing, and with a bunch of friends if possible. So last night I decided to grill my first summer chicken sandwich. I went out on my huge patio, got the charcoal going, and started to grill! Okay, you guys know by now, I dont have a huge patio, and therefore certainly don’t have a grill but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t determined to make this sandwich.

Grill pans work pretty well but often create a ton of smoke. Normally this isn’t a huge problem but the smoke detector in a NYC apartment can be your worst enemy. For this reason, I like to par-cook my chicken breasts in a pan and then finish them on the grill pan. This technique has always worked well, and considering the grill pan isn’t creating any outdoor grill flavor, I never feel like I’m losing anything. In fact I always end up with a moist, well cooked piece of chicken, perfect for a sandwich. Being that this was going to be my first summer chicken sandwich, I wanted to make it special. Thinking about the ingredients I love from the summer I decided to layer slices of ripe tomatoes with slices of not so ripe peaches. The peaches weren’t so ripe because, well they aren’t all the way in season yet but this was ideal. The peaches still added their sweet flavor but added a bite to the sandwich (textural contrast!). The chicken breasts were finished with melted sharp cheddar (perfect compliment to the peach) and lastly the sandwiches were constructed with butter leaf lettuce and fresh avocado mayo all on a crusty frech baguette. What a combination! If your looking for something to spark your Summer enthusiasm give this one a shot and let me know how it goes! Also if you have any favorite summer recipes share them by leaving a comment. Here’s to a great Summer, not there yet but soon enough! Have a great Memorial Day.

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