It’s time to brush away the leaves and wipe the pollen from the grill. There’s not a piece of cooking equipment that rivals a grill for generating the searing heat that crisps and caramelizes the exterior of food while at the same time infusing it with a bit of smokiness.
And it’s perfect for adding a little soul to boneless chicken breasts, famous for being bland. You’ll get more help from a healthy marinade. An added benefit of a marinade is that the heat of the grill will caramelize the liquid left on the surface of the breast, giving you that photogenic golden appearance.
But remember. no food is more susceptible to drying out than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. To combat this problem, use a meat mallet and a marinade.
Unless you buy thin-sliced chicken breasts, typically one end of the breast is significantly thicker than the other. The thinner end is susceptible to cooking first and drying out before the thicker end is cooked through. To avoid this problem, use a meat mallet to pound the chicken breast to where it’s roughly the same thickness throughout before you throw it on the grill. The breast will cook more uniformly, and you can work out your frustrations at the same time. Don’t have a meat mallet? The bottom of a heavy saucepan accomplishes the same result.
This recipe for a lemon-and-herb marinated chicken breast is redolent with fresh herbs. It’s a perfect way to remember the brightness of spring, usher in the heat of the summer, and renew acquaintances with grill that perhaps you haven’t used in a while.
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GRILLED LEMON AND HERB CHICKEN BREASTS
4 3.5 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped fine
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 plastic gallon bag
On top of a cutting board, place a chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. Begin pounding the chicken breast at its thickest end, working your way to the middle. The goal is to have the chicken breast close to the same thickness from top to bottom. Repeat the process with each breast.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk together for your marinade.
Place the marinade mixture and the chicken breasts in a plastic gallon bag and place in the refrigerator. Marinate chicken for at least two hours and no more than four hours. (Don’t over-marinate the chicken in an acidic marinade, otherwise it will denature, with the fibers of the meat breaking down to the point where the chicken becomes stringy and mushy.)
Pre-heat the grill. Remove chicken breasts from the bag, shaking off excess marinade. Using a paper towel or grill brush, brush a little olive oil on the grill grates to keep the chicken from sticking. Place the chicken breasts on the grill and cook for approximately four minutes per side. If you have a meat thermometer, remove the breasts when they reach 163 degrees. They will continue to cook once removed from the grill, reaching the desired temperature of 165 degrees. Allow the breasts to rest on a plate or serving dish for five minutes before serving.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER SERVING: 420 calories; 31 grams of fat; 372 milligrams sodium; 3 carbohydrates; 31 grams of protein.