Every summer, my family goes to San Diego. It’s a thing for people from Phoenix. When it’s eleventy billion degrees outside with no end in sight, pretty much nothing sounds better than 70 degrees with an ocean breeze. Being food people, a significant part of our vacation planning centers around where we’re going to eat. My mom, a fabulous cook, and stepdad, a fabulous eater and researcher extraordinaire, always come up with a great list of the newest, hottest, best places we need to check out. They’re always considerate and ask me if there’s anywhere I want to try. I never have anything to say on this one; I know I’m in great hands. My restaurant requirements have been the same for a few years now–I always want to go to Oscar’s for their incredible smoked fish breakfast burritos (never a problem since it’s walking distance from our hotel) and to Isabel’s Cantina, a Latino-Asian fusion place, for something a little lighter and healthier during an otherwise indulgent trip.
I always get the same thing at Isabel’s, a giant bowl of soup called the Buddha bowl. It’s made from garlic, ginger, lemongrass, vegetables, coconut milk, noodles, and whatever protein I’m feeling at the time. I can never finish the whole bowl, but I make sure to get every last drop of broth from the bowl. I really should branch out and order something else, especially with dishes like this chicken diablo on the menu. Then again, when I can make something this easy, versatile, tender, and flavorful at home, I may just stick to keeping this one in my kitchen and letting Isabel bring me bowl after Buddha bowl.
from Isabel Cruz, Isabel’s Cantina
1/3 c. Dijon or spicy brown mustard
1/3 c. lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
1/3 c. olive oil
1 1/2 TBSP red chile flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
3 1/2 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (I used breasts)
1. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and red chile flakes. Salt and pepper chicken on both sides and place in a glass baking dish. Pour the mustard marinade over the chicken and turn to coat. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
2. If you have a grill with an area for indirect heat, or can arrange coals so they’re only on one side of the grill, preheat grill to high. Arrange chicken over indirect heat, cover the grill, and cook 10-15 minutes per side, until chicken is crisp with dark grill marks. Alternately, preheat the oven to 425° F and an oven-safe cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat on the stove. Cook in the grill pan 8-10 minutes, breast side down, until chicken is crisp with dark grill marks. Flip chicken over and finish in the oven, uncovered, 10-12 minutes more Regardless of cooking method, check for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. It should read 165° F. Transfer chicken to a platter to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: 4-6 servings