For years I thought that I didn’t know how to cook and was doomed to be a hopeless case who “couldn’t even boil water”. My real problem was thinking that a rookie should be able to cook chicken breasts. It wasn’t me, it was the chicken. And it was dry. And tasteless. Through some sort of divine intervention I discovered that I could cook if I used the forgiving chicken thigh/drumstick. This kept me content for 2 years of juicy, delicious meals (Seriously, these much-cheaper cuts are amazing and you should try them).
I’ve learned a lot about cooking over the last two years, and I recently became interested in taking the chicken breast on again. I knew that if I could figure out this elusive cut that it would be great for lunches and quick dinners. I did it, and I can’t believe how easy it was. I also can’t believe that this isn’t really spelled out anywhere, so I’m excited to share my method with you today!
The keys to success? BRINING and POUNDING (otherwise known as tenderizing). Stick with me, this is very easy.
Step 1: Pound/Tenderize the chicken.
You’ll do this for 2 reasons. 1) to even out the thickness of the chicken so it cooks consistently. 2) to weaken the muscle fibers that makes the chicken so tough.
You don’t need a fancy meat mallet to do this. Stick 2-3 chicken breasts in a gallon size freezer bag (remove all the air!!) and grab a skillet. Use the bottom of the skillet to pound the chicken. You are shooting for thin/even chicken. Don’t over do it (about 30 seconds – 1 minute).
Step 2: Brine the chicken!
At this point, you can fire up the grill. Brining doesn’t take long. 20-30 minutes depending on how much of a hurry you are in. All you need is 1/4 cup of Kosher Salt and 4 cups of water (for 2-3 chicken breasts). You can also get creative with the brine and use crushed garlic, peppercorns, etc. This is definitely not required.
Fast forward 20-30 minutes to a warmed up grill (350-400 degrees during cooking).
1) Rinse/pat dry the chicken with paper towels
2) Baste both sides with olive oil
3) Season with salt/pepper
4) Throw them on the grill. I have found you only need about 3-4 minutes per side.
5) Take them off the grill between 150-160 degrees. They will keep cooking to reach the recommended 165 temp so let them sit for about 5 minutes.
The result? Quick juicy chicken that has delicious flavor! Enjoy!
Do you have some tips for cooking chicken breasts? Please share with us!