Chicken is one of those meats that can be fixed a hundred different ways: shredded, cubed, fried, mixed in a casserole, on a kabob… the options are endless. During the summer, however, grilled chicken with a side of potato salad on the back porch is an American staple.
Wings, legs and thighs are all a darker meat, and tend to keep more of their natural moisture. Chicken breast, on the other hand, can quickly wind up tasting as dry as the Sahara desert if not cooked properly. Incorporating these simple and easy steps below will ensure that dry grilled chicken breast is a thing of the past.
Behind every moist and tender chicken breast is a good marinade, with at least 3 key ingredients: quality seasonings, oil, and salt. To maximize flavor & tenderness, allow the meat to marinate for at least 20 minutes or up to 4 hours prior to grilling. A simple marinade will have enough oil to completely coat the chicken, and 1 TBSP each of salt and seasoning (per pound). This can be done in a Ziplock bag or by hand in a medium bowl. Optional bonus tip: adding a little lemon zest to the marinade gives an excitingly fresh taste (not lemon juice, as its acid begins cooking the outside of the chicken, resulting in a tough, rubbery exterior).
Chicken pounded down to ¾ inch thickness should require no more than 3-4 minutes of grilling time per side at very high heat. The chicken will easily release from the grill without sticking when it’s ready. Another option to ensure even cooking is to make use of a grill basket. It allows for efficient turning and also keeps the grill much cleaner. Transporting to the table is a breeze.
If the chicken is sliced immediately upon removal from the grill, the juices will be released prematurely, resulting in the dreaded Sahara texture. This problem is easily avoidable. The final and most crucial step to retaining all of the chicken’s moisture is allowing 5 minutes of rest time after grilling. It may be hard to wait, but the outcome is definitely worth it. Now, with a reliable grilled chicken breast recipe in your repertoire of skills, it’s time to perfect your potato salad.
About the Author: Susanna Holec, a grilled chicken enthusiast raised under her dad’s grilling skills, is the head of the digital marketing team at Lambert’s Meat Market, a company that provides quality cuts at affordable prices.