After using fresh pineapple to make a whole freezer full of popsicles, I had some leftover pineapple. While it was good enough to eat straight, I wanted to try something.
Pineapple has proteolytic enzymes, so it makes a really good addition to marinades. These enzymes break down chains of proteins in the meat, making smaller protein chains — and thus making the meat more tender. My family doesn’t usually eat meat, and I’m honestly not that fond of meat dishes that are sweet or sticky (barbecue sauce is for baked fries, not meat~~), but I was interested to see how pineapple was with chicken. I used about 1/8 of a whole pineapple per breast. The pineapple could probably be pureed if you would rather have a saucier look, but I wanted cooked chunks of pineapple.
Pineapple chicken dishes are usually Asian or Pacific-based, simply because pineapple is such a tropical/Pacific-island fruit. With that in mind, I checked around the web for simple yet flavorful marinades, and soy sauce was used as the base in most of them. I measured about 1/2 tsp per breast.
Since my family likes spice, I added some sriracha sauce to taste — however, red pepper paste or pureed pepper would also work. Sriracha has vinegar, which is also useful in marinades. However, some brands also use xanthan gum, which is a bacterial product (so be careful if anything bacterial grosses you out).
I used chopsticks to thoroughly mix the marinade and coat the chicken pieces; afterward, I poked holes in the chicken on both sides. If the marinade isn’t wet enough to coat the chicken, add some vinegar (white vinegar works well, but rice vinegar would also work). However, be careful when mixing vinegar and soy sauce — it can get very salty very fast.
I prepared this the night before and placed it in the refrigerator to marinate. However, I think this would work after an hour or two if the chicken was cut into chunks. Once ready, I removed the chicken and pineapple from the marinade and grilled it.
Putting rings of raw onion underneath the chicken not only added flavor, but also protected the meat from being burned or sticking to the metal. I grilled these breasts with tin foil covering the pan at about 250-300 degrees F until cooked through.
My family likes to use aluminum pans on the grill nowadays — we used to cook either straight on the grill or with a sheet of tin foil, but we’ve found that it’s so much cleaner to just have a pan (besides, we have wood-plastic composite decking, and getting grease stains out of that is nigh impossible). The problem with pans is that excess fat doesn’t drip off — we’ve solved this issue by choosing lean meats like chicken breast. By containing all the liquids, this allows for the meat to remain moist, which is important for white meats. What’s also nice is that the pans can be soaked in soapy water and the stuck on foods come off pretty easily — which means that the pans can be reused.
The only way to explain this is that the meat itself was creamy. It was juicy throughout, but had something of a layer of pineappley-chicken all over. The pineapple cooked thoroughly, with some of the smaller pieces incorporating into the almost-sticky oniony chicken sauce — if the pineapple were pureed, it would definitely be a thicker sauce. This is far more a base inspiration for how to prepare a simple marinade than anything else, but there are quite a few flavors that can be added to make this even better — perhaps ginger, coconut, anise, or cranberry? The chicken can be sliced and added to a salad with mango or papaya, or served alongside rice and a coconut-based vegetable curry. The chicken could also be cut up and skewered with bell peppers and onions as American-style kebabs for an easy outdoor party entree.