I grill all the time. Living in South Louisiana, the winters are usually mild, so I can grill year round. I recently asked my husband for an outdoor sink (to make it easier to cook outside, I already have a mini fridge out there. I was going for a simple outdoor camping-type set up). He, going overboard as usual, built me a complete outdoor kitchen. I'm talking pergola overhead with ceiling fans and lights, cabinets with granite counter tops, and a sink. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I love my outdoor kitchen! I just find it funny. I'm almost afraid to ask for a sink in my laundry room, he might remodel the whole house!
Now that I have this great outdoor space, I am a grilling fool! I grill almost every night. I have been searching for new recipes and ideas because there's only so many burgers and dogs a person can eat. Here is what I made the other night.
ITALIAN MARINATED CHICKEN BREASTS
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I cut them into tenders, but you can leave whole)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 TBS red wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
6 TBS olive oil (or canola oil)
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
There is no better way to make salad dressings or marinades than using a jar with a tight-fitting lid. It's so easy! Plus, if you have extra, you can just keep it in the jar in the fridge. Just clean out that jelly jar after you've finished off the jelly and keep it in a cabinet.
Place all of the marinade ingredients into the jar. Make sure the lid is on tight, then shake it until well blended. Place the chicken breasts in a zip top freezer bag (they are a little thicker than storage bags) and pour the marinade in. Close the bag and squeeze it until the marinade is evenly distributed. You can place this in the fridge for several hours. If you don't have that much time, just leave it out on the counter at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. This does two things, it infuses the meat with flavor and it lets the meat come to room temperature before it goes on the grill. That is super important when grilling! Even if you marinate something overnight in the fridge, you must let it sit and come to room temperature. If the meat is too cold when it goes on the grill, it will seize up and be tough. Those extra 30 minutes will make a huge difference!
Once the meat is at room temp, place it on a clean, hot grill. Another tip is clean your grill regularly. Meat will stick to a dirty grill. You can cut a lemon in half, hold it with some tongs, and clean the grates when they are hot.
Grilling time depends on the size of your chicken breasts. Obviously, larger breasts will take more time and tenders will cook pretty quickly. The USDA says to cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Take it off at 160 as it will continue to cook as it rests. If you don't have a thermometer, just cook it until it's no longer pink and the juices run clear. I have found that on medium heat an average size chicken breast takes about 6 minutes on each side.
Once the chicken comes off the grill, let it rest! That goes for any meat. If you cut into it right away, all the juices will run out onto your plate and your chicken will be dry. Let it sit a few minutes and the juices will redistribute throughout the meat and every bite will be tender and juicy and delicious.
Any leftover chicken goes great mixed with pasta and grilled veggies. Make a little extra chicken and grill the veggies so you'll have an easy supper the next night. All you'll have to do is boil some pasta!
An easy side dish for any grilled supper is potato packets.
1 russet potato per person (or 2 reds), diced
1 pat of butter per person
green onions, sliced
1 square of heavy-duty foil per person
In a large microwave-safe bowl, place diced potatoes. Add a few tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave for 5 minutes. (If you have a microwave steamer, that works great for this) This partially cooks the potatoes to cut down on grilling time.
Evenly distribute potatoes between each foil packet. Drizzle with a little oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with greens onions. Place a pat of butter on top of each.
Fold each packet, leaving room inside, but closing tightly.
Place on indirect heat on the grill. I put them on the top rack of my gas grill. Let them grill about 10-15 minutes on indirect heat.
These are fun. Everyone gets their own packet full of potatoes. Open them carefully (there will be steam!).
You can add anything you like to these, diced bell pepper or jalepeno, bacon bits, ham. We added bacon salt. Yes, you heard right, bacon salt. My son loves bacon! He had a gift card from Think Geek and when he saw this, he had to have it. We sprinkled some on the potatoes and it was awesome! If you want some, go to BaconSalt.com.
So, there you have it. Two easy, delicious additions to your grilling routine. Hope you enjoy!