Kitchen Lab: Spice World

Forget all those dessert-y things I’ve told you about, because holy foo, today we’re making real food. WITH FIRE.

This is where you get to fire up your grill or broiler and create life-sustaining foodstuffs! You are a mighty hunter and provider! Fire and meat! *thumps chest*

Okay, it’s chicken breast from the grocery store. But have I mentioned how much I hate going to the grocery store?

row of spice jars: ginger, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg

I feel so tidy.

Anyway, spices! They make boring food interesting. Many of them are relatively inexpensive. And even if they don’t look inexpensive when you’re staring at the wall o’ bottles at the store, they kinda are, because once you buy some, they last forever… at least in my house. I am not really that adventurous, and I need instructions on mixing unfamiliar things.

unmixed spices in a small glass bowl

What’s wrong with you? You mix them up! Sheesh!

So here are your instructions: obtain and mix the following powders in this proportion:
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg

I only had cumin seeds, so I took my muddler and tried to smoosh them up. With questionable success, but it’s only me eating this stuff. The things I do for you guys! I am a guinea pig!

You’ll want to get some chicken cutlets (about a pound or pound and a half, super easy when the store does all that annoying de-boning and skinning for you) and smoosh them flat so they’re all about the same thickness. I rubbed ’em with a little olive oil; the recipe I found was one of those choose-your-own-adventure types with umpteen possible “variations” so I figured I could kinda wing it. Then I sprinkled the spice mix on and rubbed that in, too.

raw chicken breast with spices on tinfoil

Then I washed the hell out of my hands.

Once your grill or broiler is all hot and ready, you can put the chicken on/in your flame-container of choice. The chicken should only be a few inches from the flame, and cook very quickly (3 or 4 minutes on each side). I would also advocate for the use of tinfoil in a broiler so your “easy” meal doesn’t turn into an hours-long soak-and-scrubfest after dinner.

So I put these guys in the broiler because I’m not all fancified with some deck grill, and almost immediately my kitchen smelled like all the best parts of Christmas. Holy foo, I want to compress this into an air freshener. Luckily, this does not make the chicken taste like an air freshener.

The recipe also suggested garnishing these suckers with “minced fresh parsley or cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges.” Uh huh. Feel free.

cooked chicken breast with spices

Or you can just throw it on a plate and eat it. Like you do with food.

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Beth Voigt

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and public transit and is still on her first smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around.


  1. June 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I love spices, I am trying to learn more and how to use them. One thing I discovered that is amazing? Somali coffee. Coffee with cardamom, cinnamon and loads of ginger.

  2. June 26, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    “cardamom, cinnamon and loads of ginger”? I instantly need to try this.

  3. June 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Beth, you are hilarious.

  4. June 26, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Commence the mad MAL search for Somali coffee!

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