Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grilling chicken fast!

Grilled chicken is truly one of life’s best summertime pleasures. If only it didn’t take so long! Well, I’ve got a couple of barbecuing tips for you to make sure your chicken grilling fits into your busy family style. The key is preparation…now there’s a big surprise! Seriously though, if you do the prep, you can easily have a thirty minute meal here.

You probably already know two of the rules about chicken prep for grilling, but I’ll repeat them here just in case:

* Marinate in oils, lemon juice, vinegar, etc ahead of time
* Only add sauces containing sugar, like barbecue sauce, molasses, honey, etc for the last few minutes

Some people like to parboil or microwave the chicken for a few minutes to make it cook faster. Yes, this is an alternative, but I really don’t like the texture of the meat when it’s done this way. I like the way the grill seals in the juices. I have used my microwave to shorten the time, but it’s not my ideal solution.

So, here’s a trick to make that marinade soak in better, the chicken cook faster, and the barbecue sauce have more surface to cling to. Take a boneless, skinless chicken breast, and stand it up on its long end. Cut downward through the whole length of it, stopping just 1/2 inch short of the bottom. Now you can open the piece out to lie flat. This is called “butterflying” the chicken breast. Place it between sheets of waxed paper and beat it even flatter…and thinner.

Now when you marinade the chicken (in a ziploc bag for easy clean-up!), more of the surface is available to soak. When you place it on the grill, 5 to 10 minutes per side will be plenty, depending upon how thin you made it. Now you’ll have to be careful not to overcook it and dry it out rather than undercook it and make everyone sick! When you add your sauce at the end, there’s now a much bigger area for it to stick to! Win-win-win…all around :-)

Here’s a great marinade that we really like. We don’t end up adding any sauce, just making sure that all the fresh herbs make their way onto the chicken pieces.

Herb & Lemon Marinade

1/4 - 1/2 c olive oil
Lemon, grated peel and juiced
Salt and pepper
4-8 fresh basil leaves
2 fresh tarragon leaves (or 1 T dried)
1 T dried sage leaves (fresh are hard to come by in my area)

Butterfly your chicken early in the day, or even the night before. Mix all the marinade ingredients and place them in a ziploc bag with the chicken pieces. When it’s time to grill, make sure your grill is good and hot. Sear the chicken on both sides and then lower the flames slightly and finish cooking. Discard all remaining marinade…do not serve it as a dressing! Raw chicken…ick!

We like to have this butterflied chicken on a bed of salad greens along with fresh tomato and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Add rolls, and you’re all set!

No comments: