When I think of grilled chicken breasts, I immediately imagine the dining room of my dorm. I’ve heard enough horror stories from other schools to know we had it pretty good, in terms of food quality and variety: a decent salad bar, pasta with rotating sauce choices , more types of cereal than I could eat in a week (I did my best). And under a heat lamp, in the corner of the flat station where you could order a burger or wrap, lived a mountain of deli-grilled chicken breasts.
I avoided the pile of chicken for a long time – months, what felt like a freshman year forever – in favor of things that seemed more interesting or exciting to eat for lunch and dinner. But by the time spring term rolled around and I was dying to have my own kitchen, the bunch called me, largely because I could use these boneless chicken breasts to make a meal that was entirely mine. We can look simplesaid the chicken, his grill brand dark and perfectly even from the industrial grill in the dining room. But we can be anything you want.
Whole books have been written on the subject of dining room food catering, and the ubiquitous grilled chicken breast still plays an important role; same [redacted] years after graduating, I’m still turning to this simple, versatile protein to add something extra to what I’m already doing. On its own, grilled chicken breast can be a simple main dish, especially when topped with a drizzle of salsa verde or romesco. Whole, it shines on a brioche or between slices of bread. Sliced, it is ideal on a salad bowl or a bowl of cereal, in tacos or a burrito, or stuffed in a pita. Chances are, anything on the menu can only be improved by adding a grilled chicken breast, especially one that’s flavorful enough to counter the stereotype of the cut as a bland side dish. Having a bold backup recipe in your back pocket is important insurance against decision paralysis of what’s for dinner.
This recipe is a twist on my mom’s chicken marinade, which I love for more reasons than the fact that I’ve been eating it for decades. First, the blend itself is a punchy combination of shallot, garlic, sherry vinegar and citrus juices, both lemon and lime. It’s potent enough to flavor meat deeply rather than just live on its outermost layer, so you really taste those flavors in every bite. And it’s made entirely of things I already have in my pantry, so no special shopping trips required.
Second, this chicken cooks really well: the pinch of sugar in the marinade encourages the arctic char (I like a well-charred chicken breast in spots, to get my money’s worth for lighting the grill or heating up the grill pan) , and salt and refrigerator time to keep the meat juicy and tender. You also don’t need a ton of advance warning to reap all of these benefits. Only 30 minutes of marinating is enough to really make an impact on your chicken – and because of the citrus juices, you don’t want to let it sit longer than four hours anyway. If you cut some of the marinade separately before adding the meat, you even have a built-in sauce to pour in at the end.
Once the grill is running, you only need five to seven minutes on each side for the meat to be cooked through. Keep an eye on the internal temperature (we’re aiming for 160°F before you rest) to make sure you’re not finishing. with dry, overcooked meat.
Assembling bowls of veggies and rice in my college dining hall — topped with a grilled chicken breast pulled from the pile of heat lamps — was my little way of tapping into the cooking freedom I had lost while living. in a dormitory. But even now that I have all the freedom in the world to do whatever I want for dinner (bragging), the appeal of grilled chicken is still strong. I usually make a few breasts at a time, so I have extras to stash in the freezer for days when whipping a marinade together is too much to handle; it’s not a mountain of chicken, but it’s enough for me and wherever dinner takes me.
Juiciest Grilled Chicken Breast with Citrus MarinadeKendra Vaculine
Originally appeared on Epicurious