I’m a follower of the dark side of the chicken. 1 My kids, however, prefer chicken breast. Most of the time I buy chicken legs – that’s the advantage to making the shopping list – but I try to get them then plain white meat every now and again.
My problem with chicken breast is summed up in one word: Plain. White meat is just…there, without a whole lot of flavor. When I make chicken breasts, my entire goal is boosting the taste. I start with the grill – grilling browns the breast, leaving crispy grill marks that add crunch. I also use flavor filled marinades or brines, to pump up the flavor. In this recipe, I combine the two into a southwestern style citrus marinade, with enough salt in it so it does double duty as a brine. The marinade coats the outside, and the salt penetrates deep into the chicken to flavor it all the way through.
The other key is: don’t overcook the chicken breast! White meat is very lean, and dries out quickly. Chicken breast is juicy between 150°F and 160°F; unfortunately, the USDA recommend temperature for chicken is 160°F – right at the top edge of the range. The best way to check for doneness is an instant read thermometer – get the chicken off the grill the moment it reaches 160°F.2
I look forward to this chicken breast – I’m not just serving to my kids to keep them happy. Want a kicked up chicken with extra flavor? Give this recipe a try.
Recipe: Grilled Boneless Chicken Breasts with Citrus Marinade
1 tablespoon fine sea salt (or 2 teaspoons table salt)
1/4 cup olive oil
Marinate the chicken breasts: Whisk the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade, then pour the rest into a gallon zip-top bag. Add the chicken breasts to the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal the bag. Refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours, flipping the bag every now and again to make sure the chicken is evenly marinated. (Or, marinate in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the chicken in one layer.)
Set the grill up for direct medium heat: Set your grill up for direct medium heat, 350°F. I preheat my gas grill on high for 10 minutes, then brush the grates clean and turn the burners down to medium. In my kettle grill, I light a chimney starter 3/4 full of coals; when the coals are lit and covered with gray ash, I pour them in a loose single layer on half of the charcoal grate. Then I put on my grill grate and brush it clean.
Grill the chicken breasts: Put the chicken on the grill grate directly over the heat. (Keep the lid closed as much as possible). Grill the chicken until it has good grill marks on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then flip the chicken. Grill until it has good grill marks on the other side, about 3 more minutes. Flip the chicken and rotate each piece 90 degrees (for a crosshatch of grill marks), then grill until you have another good set of grill marks. Flip the chicken one last time - it is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F, about 3 more minutes.
Rest and serve: Put the chicken breasts on a serving platter and drizzle with the reserved marinade. Let them rest for 5 minutes, then serve.
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Show me again the power of the dark side of the chicken, and I’ll let nothing stand in our way. Ahem. Sorry. I’ll stop.↩
You’ll notice in the pictures that I overshot a little bit – 165°F – which is OK, but still a little more well done than I would like.↩
Visit Thermoworks for my preferred instant read thermometers: my all time favorite Thermapen, the best value ThermoPop, and the high-heat resistant ChefAlarm probe thermometer. (Buy one through these links and your purchase will support DadCooksDinner!)