Friday, April 30, 2010

Food Science Friday and Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Alright, second installment of Food Science Friday. This week's article:

'Inverse Method to Estimate Kinetic Degradation Parameters of Grape Anthocyanins in Wheat Flour Under Simultaneously Changing Temperature and Moisture' by Lai et al., Journal of Food Science 2009, Vol. 74. No. 5 (this one just had an abstract up for free, so couldn't link to the full article unfortunately)

I know what you're thinking... what the hell does that title even mean. And if you're not thinking that, I'll be the first to admit this is probably one of the toughest journal articles I've ever read. It had a lot of charts, lots of mathematical formulas... and lots of physics related jargon. And I don't know if I've expressed how much I hate the subject of physics... but I do... with a passion.

So why read this article then? Well...the article is basically discussing a new way to measure or analyze degradation of anthocyanins. And now I know you're thinking... what the hell are anthocyanins?

Well, anthocyanins are water-soluble compounds that give certain fruits and vegetables their noticeable pigments... the reason grapes are purple, blueberries are blue, tomatoes are red... get it?

Anthocyanins actually play a major role in many of today's processed snacks. It allows extrusion-cooked (basically cooking prepared foods in a short amount of time, find out more here) snacks (cereal, pet food, puffed snacks, etc.) to attain a natural pigment and also provides health-promoting antioxidants.

Anthocyanins are particularly important in the wine industry because the value of most wine increases based on the color and flavor of the grape.

What I take from the study, even though I didn't really go in depth with it here, is that the degradation of anthocyanins also degrades the quality of a product. So they measured degradation using different methods so develop a formula for how fast or slow the anthocyanins degrade. Yeah, does that make sense? Maybe not, but I'd love to hear any feedback. This article was a bit of a bore for me really, like I said... a LOT of math and graphs. Most of which didn't make any sense. If you'd like to read the article I can e-mail you a PDF of it, or if you just have any general input on the subject, feel free to comment! I'll definitely try to have something more interesting next week!

Adapted from Now Eat This! - "Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad"

small French baguette, cut into 1 inch slices
3 garlic cloves, 1 whole and 2 pressed
salt and pepper, to taste
3 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, pounded thin
olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
10 oz. chopped Romaine lettuce

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

To make your croutons, rub the whole garlic clove on all sides of the sliced baguette. Cut the slices into desired sized cubes and place on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the cubes well in the olive oil. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until toasted. Let cool.

Preheat a charcoal grill under high heat. Rub chicken with about 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken for about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on how thin/thick they are. Let cool on plate.

In a large salad bowl, combine the pressed garlic, lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and half of the Parmesan cheese. Mix until smooth and add in lettuce and croutons. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss until everything is well coated.

Pile salad onto plates. Slice chicken thighs and serve on top of salad. Top with remaining cheese and dig in!

Andy couldn't get enough of this. This was super healthy and super delicious. I've never made Caesar salad without using anchovy in the dressing prep, so I was a little skeptical about this tasting correctly, but it was definitely spot on! One of the best caesar salads I've ever had!

Don't forget to place your bid on your favorite horse for the Derby! Derby is one of the best events to have a party for... basically because you're only glued to a TV for less than 2 minutes and the rest of the time you can mingle and socialize! Whatever you do this weekend, be safe and enjoy it! Enjoy!

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