Grilled Chicken

It shames me to say it but I’ve only just finally realized the full potential of my charcoal grill. Senor and I grill pretty regularly in the warmer months. Everything from whole chickens to steaks to corn on the cob. Usually we’re pretty good at multitasking. We’ll make a beer-can chicken and surround the grill with corn on the cob so everything for our meal cooks in one place. Smart, right? Sort of. Not as smart as say, grilling a week’s worth of something all at once and then storing it for super fast lunches, dinners and snacks.

I was reading a magazine and there was a letter from a reader that said her big time-saver for weekday meals was to grill whole family packs of whatever they were having for dinner. So simple, yet so genius. Instead of grilling one chicken, do three. Instead of four chicken breasts, do 16. Instead of two pieces of fish, do the whole bag of frozen filets. And since it doesn’t take any longer for eight chicken breasts to cook than it does for two, you’re not really doing any extra work. Huh. Chicken is the most popular meat in America and it’s shocking how truly terrible chicken can taste. Dry, flavorless, sawdust. The good news is, making really tasty chicken isn’t actually that difficult.

So on Monday we marinated eight boneless chicken breasts and two bone-in breasts. The bone-in were for dinner that night, the other eight for lunch salads, sandwiches and possibly pasta dishes later in the week. An additional upside is that the boneless chicken breasts we bought at Whole Foods offer a bulk discount if you buy at least three pounds of meat. That’s helpful.

The key to grilling chicken is to know how to do it right. Marinate the meat. Pound boneless breasts flat so they cook quickly and evenly and each bite has yummy marinade/charcoal flavors. Use intense heat to sear the outside and keep them juicy. The quicker you cook the chicken, the more moisture it will retain.

We paired the bone-in breasts with some teeny tiny little Yukon gold potatoes, roasted with salt and olive oil in the toaster oven and some sliced up heirloom tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt. Delish.

Grilled Chicken

8 boneless chicken breasts

2 bone-in chicken breasts (optional)

1 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Mrs. Dash’s garlic blend

garlic powder

sea salt

coarse ground black pepper

crushed red pepper

Start by pounding your boneless chicken breasts with a meat tenderizer. Use the flat side and pound them so they’re an even thickness. You don’t want them to be too thin, just even throughout.

Make a marinade. This is really easy to do and you can use any combination of flavors you’d like. For a traditional flavor, put some garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and Mrs. Dash’s Garlic Blend into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. You don’t have to measure, just dump some of each into the bag. Once you have it mixed up you may want to add more of something. Squeeze a lemon or lime into the bag with the seasoning. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken. Fill the bag with water until the chicken is just covered. Stick in the fridge and wait until you’re ready to grill to take it back out. You want it to marinate for at least two hours.

Get your charcoal ready. We used natural log/chunk charcoal and a chimney starter. This gives  really intense heat which is perfect for charring and searing meats. The larger pieces stay hot for much longer than regular charcoal. Make sure to use enough charcoal to cover the entire grilling surface with heat.

Once the charcoal is ready, remove the chicken from the bags and place directly onto the grill. You want to cook them quickly and over high heat. If you’re grilling bone-in breasts, place those in the center and hottest part of the grill. They’ll need to cook longer than the boneless breasts. Leave the lid open, flipping them once they have nice brown grill lines. The boneless breasts will only need to cook for about four minutes on each side. Make a small cut in the middle of one to check that the meat isn’t pink. Remove the breasts from the grill and place in a covered pan.

If you have bone-in breasts going, close the lid but leave the vents open. This keeps the charcoal from burning out. The bone-in breasts should be done after about 20 minutes but a digital thermometer will tell you when they’ve reached 180 degrees.

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