Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Char-Grilled Game Hens with Mustard-Molasses Marinade

Game hens, Cornish hens, rock Cornish hens—whatever you call them—these tender, young birds bring juicy, sweet meat to your table every time (provided they’re not overcooked). Oven roasting typically takes about 50 minutes, but I gave these hens just over an hour, since I grilled them over indirect heat.

The marinade here starts out bold but mellows after a few hours in the fridge, penetrating the flesh with the slightly sweet and tangy flavor of molasses and hot mustard. I used Chinese-style hot mustard, but Dijon would work well too. Set aside a little of the marinade to brush on the chicken just before taking it off the grill. Very few ingredients, very big flavor.

To prepare the hens: Remove any giblets, then rinse the birds thoroughly and pat dry. Using kitchen shears, remove the tail and any excess skin and fat. Lay each hen breast-side down on a work surface. Cut along each side of the backbone and remove it. Cut through the center of the breast cartilage/bone to divide the hen in half.

Rinse and pat dry

Cut along the backbone of the trimmed hen

Remove backbone

Cut through the breast to halve
Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tbsp hot Chinese-style mustard
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 game hens, split lengthwise in half, backbone removed (as noted above)
  • olive oil, for oiling the grill grate
  1. Combine the molasses and mustard in a small bowl, reserving about 2 tablespoons in a separate bowl. Loosen the skin on the hens and rub most of the marinade underneath. Rub the remaining all over the outside of the skin. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a large plate or pan and refrigerate 4-6 hours.

Marinated Hens
  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat with space for indirect grilling.
  2. Rub the grill grate lightly with oil. Place the hens breast-side down over direct heat until the skin begins to char, 2-3 minutes. Turn and grill 2-3 minutes on the cut side. Note: Don’t be alarmed by the blackened skin! Just like honey, a molasses-based marinade will char quickly because of the sugar. That’s ok—the meat underneath remains tender.
  3. Move the hens off direct heat and continue grilling, turning 3-4 times, until almost cooked through, about 1 hour.
  4. With the hens breast-side up, brush each with the reserved marinade. Continue grilling until cooked through, about 5 minutes longer.

Beginning to Grill over Direct Heat

After Turning

Move Off Heat

Basted Hens

--> Transfer to a board or platter and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Char-Grilled Game Hens with Mustard-Molasses Marinade

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Chipotle Chicken and Black Bean Soup

The chipotle chile pepper gained fame many years across the U.S., thanks to certain fast-food concoctions, but this deeply flavored, smoked chile—usually jalapeno—deserves a little better recognition, in my opinion. This simple soup features southwestern/Tex-Mex ingredients with the flavor of chipotle in adobo sauce taking center stage.

Usually, store-bought chipotle chiles come canned in adobo sauce—a Mexican staple made from dried chiles, vinegar, garlic, herbs, and spices. It’s rich and smoky with a touch of heat. Together, the chipotle and adobo sauce form the base of this simple, easy chicken and black bean soup. I think you’ll like the flavor.

Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 3 chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 2-1/2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp adobo sauce
  • shredded cheese and sour cream, for serving
  1. Heat a soup pot over medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, chipotle chile peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring a few times, until beginning to soften, 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the oregano and cumin and season with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute.
  3. Add the broth, chicken, beans, and adobo sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the vegetables have softened and the soup is hot throughout, about 10 minutes. Re-season with salt and pepper, as needed.
Onion Mixture Beginning to Cook

Oregano Mixture Added

Broth Mixture Added
Divide the soup among 4 bowls and pass cheese and sour cream at the table for topping.

Chipotle Chicken and Black Bean Soup

Monday, September 4, 2017

Chicken Piccata with Sliced Lemon

I started to call this recipe “Easy Chicken Piccata,” but then I thought all chicken piccata recipes (if they’re authentic) are easy. This is one of the simplest yet most flavorful poultry dishes you can take to the table—and it’s pretty. “Piccata” means cooking chicken in a lemony sauce with butter, capers, parsley, and usually either a little chicken broth or white wine. I went with the latter here.

That “lemony” part is especially important—it provides the bright, citrusy pop to complement the savory garlic and herbs and briny capers. In addition to the fresh juice, I threw in some lemon slices for extra flavor and good ol’ fashioned eye appeal.

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 6- to 7-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 very thin lemon slices
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

  1. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off excess.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until just cooked through and beginning to brown, 6-7 minutes per side, depending on thickness. (Add a little more oil if the pan becomes too dry.) Transfer to a plate. Do not wipe out the pan.

Chicken Piccata with Sliced Lemon

After Turning
  1. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan and sauté 1 minute. Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a simmer, scraping up brown bits. Cook 1 minute.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter, capers, and lemon slices, stirring until the butter melts. Season with salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan, turning to coat in the sauce.

Shallot and Garlic

Lemon Juice and Wine Added

Butter Mixture Added
Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon slices and sauce spooned on top.

Chicken Piccata with Sliced Lemon