Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Candid Cook: Perfect Grilled Chicken

Ben and I make a great team, if I do say so myself. There are several meals we make that just wouldn't be the same if we weren't both working on it.  Grilled chicken is one of those things. With my prowess in the kitchen and his skill at the grill (notice that cool rhyme there?) we have perfectly grilled chicken 98% of the time. Not too dry, not overcooked, perfectly seasoned... yum! And the flavor is just right. You can eat it alone, on a salad, on a quesadilla, shredded in an enchilada, in chicken salad - you name it. But I'm not telling you this to rub it in. I'm going to tell you how to do it. I can tell your excited, but try to contain yourself.

Before I get started on the marinade, there's a step that you cannot skip. It's a big part of the secret to getting evenly cooked grilled chicken. This is my favorite part, actually, because I get to beat something with a heavy mallet. Well, beat it gently. You aren't trying to turn your chicken to mush, after all.  Here's what you do:

First, trim your chicken. I like all the tendon-y stuff off mine and the fat trimmed. This is what is left when I'm done.

Next, loosely cover the chicken breast with a piece of plastic wrap and grab your meat mallet.

Firmly (but gently) pound the chicken breast with the smooth side of the mallet. I start at the thickest side and work my way down to the thinner tip. I don't usually flatten the tip at all, but try to make the rest of the chicken breast the same thickness as the end.

Like so. See how nice and uniform that is? It accomplishes a couple of things. Most importantly, it makes it possible for the chicken to cook evenly so the middle will be done before the edges dry out. Secondly... well, take a look at the next picture.

See how the thick part of the chicken breast breaks up a little? That's good! While you want your chicken intact enough that it won't fall apart on the grill, those little cracks you have created will help soak up the marinade you are about to make.

On to the marinade recipe... You'll need some ingredients.

Perfect Grilled Chicken

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 Tbsp apple juice
6 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic (4 cloves?)
1 tsp Nature's Seasons (or salt/pepper to taste)

Place the chicken in a gallon-size ziplock bag and add the marinade ingredients.

Squeeze the beg gently to mix well and lay it flat so the marinade will coat the chicken evenly.  See all those cracks at the bottom I was talking about? There are bits of garlic all over the place, too - yum!

After 2-4 hours, you can grill these babies. Warm up and clean your grill. Ben also likes to spray the grate with non-stick cooking spray so the chicken won't stick. According to the Grill Master, you have to cook it on a lower heat and flip frequently so the chicken won't get too black on the edges. He also cuts a slit down the middle once the outside is nicely done so he can see inside and check to make sure the insides are not pink.

Once you remove the chicken from the grill, let it rest for 5 minutes or so before serving. It just makes it better. I don't know why, though I'm sure there's science behind it somewhere.

Enjoy for dinner, leftovers, and a midnight snack!

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