It can be a bit of a challenge to come up with a flavorful cocktail in short order. A bartender is trained to do it, but at home we tend to move a bit slower. If you want a cool beverage, now and with no fuss, where can you turn?
This idea uses ingredients readily at hand: some mint, some cucumber, vodka and club soda.
The original recipe calls for a 12-ounce glass, but I like a smaller 8-ounce one. That means, necessarily, that when you top off with club soda, there’s less room for the soda and less dilution of the vodka-cucumber-mint component. I don’t like my drinks watered down, literally, so I’m happy with this more intense version.
The technique here calls for muddling the mint in the glass. I will admit that I am not a good muddler. I muddle through, but I just never seem to grind the mint all the way down. My solution here is to quarter the mint leaves to get a head start, then put 2 teaspoons of superfine sugar in the bottom of the glass. Yes, the drink is sweeter. But, also yes, the grit of that sugar enables you to chew up the mint.
Lastly, if your cucumber is filled with seeds, then of course scoop those out before finely chopping.
Cucumber Mint Splash
Yield: 1 drink
- Sugar for rimming
- 4 fresh mint leaves
- One 2-inch-thick slice of peeled cucumber, finely chopped
- Shaved ice for filling the glass
- 1 1/2 ounces vodka
- Club soda
Pour sugar into a saucer. Moisten the rim of an 8-ounce glass and dip in the sugar to coat the rim. Muddle the mint leaves in the glass. Add the cucumber.
Fill the glass with ice. Add the vodka and top off the glass with club soda.
Stir and serve.
Source: The Seven Stars Cookbook
“Will it taste like chicken? Brian asked.
“It is chicken. Taste it,” I suggested.
“You know,” he began.
“Taste it now,” I insisted.
“Oh,” he said after swallowing. “Can I have more?”
“Over there,” I pointed.
“Would you?” he attempted to beg.
“Over there,” I pointed with a knife.
The man understood.
And he actually loved the chicken. Yes, the underlying flavor is chicken but this one is oh so different. The lime juice gives tartness, the rum spice, and the mint a breath of sweetness. Cook this chicken until the skin really begins to crisp. That caramelized flavor will blend with the others to give you heat, spice, and delight.
I’ve had many clients this summer choose this menu item, so Brian and I have had it once or twice a week all summer long. We both still love it. You will crave it, too.
Serve this chicken with the Mango and Mustard Salsa from yesterday’s blog to have an outstanding flavor combination.
Yield: 6 servings
- ¾ cup fresh lime juice
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons light rum
- Sugar, to taste
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon coarse or kosher salt
- 6 chicken breast halves, or legs and thighs or a combination with skin and bones (about 5 pounds)
- 3 large limes, quartered lengthwise
- Fresh mint sprigs
Whisk together the lime juice, ½ cup of the rum, mint syrup, oil, chopped mint, and salt in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Place the chicken in a resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken and seal the bag. Turn the bag over several times to distribute the marinade. Chill for up to 4 hours, turning twice.
Place the lime quarters in a shallow bowl. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons rum over, tossing to coat. Let stand at room temperature.
Prepare a medium-hot grill or preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill or broil until cooked through, about 15 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.
Grill the limes until soft and slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Garnish the platter with the mint sprigs. Squeeze the grilled limes over the chicken and serve.
Source: Cheryl and Bill Jamison, as appeared in “Best American Recipes 2005-2006