Food & Drink Magazine

Herb Grilled Chicken Salad and the Perfect Steak Rub

By Mariealicerayner @MarieRynr

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I know I am always saying this, but it's true.  I get sent the nicest things to try out.  I am a very lucky woman.  The Toddster's a lucky man as well because he gets to enjoy the fruits of my labors!
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I was recently sent the Tefal OptiGrill and I have really enjoyed putting it through it's paces over this past week.  Designed for indoor use the Tefal OptiGrill promises superb grilling results from rare to well-done with just the push of a button, with an automatic sensor which notes the thickness of the food and a color coded cooking level indicator.
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Key features include:
  • Six cooking programs – Burgers, poultry, bacon, sausages, red meat and fish 
  • Two special modes – Defrost and manual 
  • Unique color changing LED screen on the handle for checking cooking progress
  • Non-stick coated cooking surfaces
  • 7 degree plate inclination for easy fat release 
  • Extra large plates and juice tray 
  • Dishwasher safe 
  • Brushed silver Heavy duty handle    
The Tefal OptiGrill takes all the stress of cooking the perfect piece of meat every time. Whilst it may have taken Tefal seven years to perfect the OptiGrill the waiting has not been in vain. The clear colour-changing LED display informs you every step of the way. From pre-heating, start of cooking (searing phase) through to rare, medium and well done, depending on what you are cooking.
After switching on you simply select the cooking program for your relevant meat, for example, steak would come under red meat. Press OK and you will see the LED display turn to flashing purple to indicate that it is warming up. It takes approximately 5 minutes to warm up and once ready the alarm tone will sound, along with the LED display turning to a steady purple.
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It's very easy to set up, just take it out of the box, clean the plates prior to using for the first time, slip in the drip tray and plug it in!  I decided to cook steaks for my first use of it.
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Once you have added your steak the LED display turns from purple to blue and the searing stage begins. The Optigrill is at it’s highest temperature at this point to sear the meat and lock in the flavor and juices. With no oil necessary it makes enjoying your favorite meat that little bit more healthy. The alarm tone will sound once again to indicate that searing has finished and it is now cooking the steak to rare. Once the LED display has turned yellow the alarm will sound again to indicate your rare steak is now ready to be removed from the grill. For a medium steak leave the steak on the grill until the LED display has turned orange and the alarm sounds once again. For a well-done steak leave again until the LED display has turned red and the alarm sounds once more.
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We like our steaks on the rare side and that can be really difficult to achieve sometimes, but using this grill, we ended up with steaks that were perfectly done just to the way we wanted them!  And it didn't take any time at all hardly.  We were well pleased!
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I had created a delicious rub to put onto the steaks prior to cooking them.  My friend Lura often sends me a meat rub that she gets at a Ranch in Wyoming.  It's so good and we really like it.  I ran out of it now though and so I tried my best to recreate it.  I have to say I came pretty close.  It was delicious!
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 *Perfect Steak Rub*
Makes about 1 cup Printable Recipe  

My friend Lura always sends me this fabulous meat rub that she gets on a ranch out in Wyoming.   It's delicious.  I can't get it over here and so I have come up with a similar one that I can make on my own for those times when I don't have any of the American one left.  It's fabulous!    

100g of soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)28g of sweet paprika (1/4 cup)4 TBS coarse salt3 TBS coarse pepper2 tsp onion powder2 tsp garlic powder2 tsp celery seed, crushed lightly2 tsp coriander seed, crushed lightly1 tsp cayenne pepper1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes  

Mix all of the ingredients together well.  Store in an airtight container.   Rub as desired over your steaks or meat and allow the meat to stand for about an hour prior to grilling.  Note:  I use a mortar and pestle to crush the seeds.  

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Next I tried some chicken breasts.  Back home I used to marinate my chicken breasts for a couple of hours in Italian Salad Dressing before grilling them.  I didn't have any of this the other day and so I created an herb rub/marinade for them.
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I love grilled chicken salads.   Todd's not so fussed, but he eats them any ways.  I usually add some crusty bread or a baked potato in addition to the salad for him.  
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Chicken breasts are one of those meats that it is really easy to over cook, and there is nothing more unpalatable or blah than an overcooked, dried out chicken breast.  There is no saving it really.
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Once again the Tefal OptiGrill performed to perfection, delivering exactly what it promised.   Moist, perfectly grilled chicken that we both enjoyed very much.
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*Herb Marinated Chicken Breasts*Serves 6Printable Recipe  
A delicious marinade that ensures tender chicken breasts every time.  I often use this recipe to create grilled chicken for Salads.  

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed2 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley2 TBS chopped fresh basil leaves2 TBS chopped fresh thyme leaves1 TBS chopped fresh rosemarythe finely grated zest of one lemonthe juice of half a lemon1 tsp salt1/4 tsp black pepper110 ml of olive oil (1/2 cup)2 1/2 pounds of bonless, skinless chicken breasts  Combine all the herbs, garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper and oil in a large zip lock bag.   Add the chicken breasts and turn them in it to coat, massaging lightly.  Place into the refrigerator and chill from half an hour to an hour and a half.  Obviously the longer you marinate them, the more flavours they will absorb. After marinating remove the chicken from the fridge.   Remove from the bag and dispose of the marinade.   Heat the grill or broiler and cook the chicken breasts for 6 to 7 minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside, and the juices run clear.    

For the dressing on the salad I made a lovely creamy spiced dressing, which goes very well on chicken salads, or a hearty cobb salad, etc.
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*Creamy Spiced Salad Dressing* 
Makes about 2 cups
Printable Recipe
This is a delicious dressing that I often use for salads that I am using meats or chicken in. It's spicy and delicious.
220g of good quality mayonnaise (1 cup)
80ml of milk (1/3 cup)
80mof buttermilk (1/3 cup)
1 tsp dried coriander leaves
1 TBS fresh lime juice
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp salt 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Place all ingredients in a very large jar and shake together until well combined. Chill for several hours to allow the flavours to meld before using. Shake again prior to using.
The OptiGrill it is not just for cooking steaks and chicken.   There are many other foods you can grill in it  and enjoy. This morning I enjoyed a lovely bacon roll, cooked using the OptiGrill, which for the UK versions of the grill includes a bacon cooking program.
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We like our bacon crispy, and so I simply left it on the OptiGrill until the well-done alarm sounded.
Over the years, we have  had several different cooking grills, some more successful than others but one common problem faced with one in particular, was cleaning.  To be honest it's been a real pain, and the only way you can get it cleaned effectively is to leave it switched on whilst you are wiping it with a wet sponge. (A dangerous proposition at best!)
One of the best features of the OptiGrill, in my opinion,  is that (with it coming from Tefal)  it has the fantastic non-stick coating we have all come to know and love.  This makes for very little cooked on debris, and any that you might get is very easy to just wipe off with some paper kitchen towelling.  For a deeper clean, you leave plates to cool for at least an hour after cooking, press the button to the left hand side of the plates, remove and either place in the dishwasher or the washing up bowl.   Win/win!  (Yes, I am rather lazy I am afraid and I love that I can just pop the grill plates off and put them into the dishwasher along with the plastic grease catcher.)  The rest of the grill can simply be wiped off with a damp cloth.
RRP £129.99 which is slightly more than you would pay for some other brands, however they do not contain the technology and sheer easy of use as the Tefal OptiGrill.  In my opinion this grill is more than worth any extra money paid.  In fact, I think we're going to be getting an awful lot of use from this fabulous machind.
For stockist information please see  

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Although I was sent this grill for free to try out and use, any and all opinions are my own.  I would never recommend to you, my cherished readers anything that I would not use and love myself.   I give the Tefal OptiGrill a hearty TWO THUMBS UP!  Many thanks to Tefal for sending it to me.

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