Labor Day Recipe: Easy Grilled Boneless Chicken Breasts with Herb-Garlic-Lemon Vinaigrette

Easy Grilled Chicken with Vinaigrette (Wendy Goodfriend)

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts have the reputation of being one of the most boring things you can cook, and are typically relegated to can’t-think-of-anything-better weeknight meals. But I still love them, and I don’t think they have to be that way. Yes, it’s true that when I make chicken (which is often since it’s my go-to meat) I tend to braise bone-in thighs or roast a whole salt-rubbed bird. But you seriously can’t beat the simple, humble boneless, skinless chicken breast for ease and get-that-meal-on-the-table-because-the-toddler-is-screaming quickness.

    If you follow a few simple steps, you can be rewarded with juicy, flavorful chicken breasts that take center stage on your plate:
  1. Pound your chicken breasts so that they are of uniform thickness. This will help ensure that they cook through at the same rate.
  2. Brine them! You don’t need to do it for long, 30 minutes is great, but tossing your breasts in a salty brine will seal in the juiciness and add flavor throughout the meat.
  3. Grill them! This adds a lot of flavor, whether you use charcoal or a gas grill. Just be careful not to overcook them.
  4. Let them rest for about 10 minutes for the juices to re-distribute, also helping to ensure that the breasts remain juicy.
  5. Finally, serve them with a simple sauce. A vinaigrette, which I’ve included below, is a healthy and simple way to add flavor. You can also top them with purchased pesto of any sort (basil, sundried tomato, arugula, etc); a zingy homemade chimichurri; or your favorite salsa, such as spicy chipotle or tomatillo.

Easy Grilled Chicken with Vinaigrette

Makes 4–6 servings

    Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, each about 8 oz
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • About 4 ice cubes
    Vinaigrette
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme, marjoram and/or basil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
    Instructions:
  1. Place a chicken breast in a large zippered plastic bag. Pound the breast with a meat pounder until it is a uniform thickness, about 3/4 inch thick. Repeat with all of the breasts.
  2. Place a chicken breast in a large zippered plastic bag. Pound the breast with a meat pounder until it is a uniform thickness, about 3/4 inch thick.
    Place a chicken breast in a large zippered plastic bag. Pound the breast with a meat pounder until it is a uniform thickness, about 3/4 inch thick.
  3. In a bowl, stir together 1 cup hot water with the salt and sugar, until dissolved. Add 3 cups very cold water and stir until combined. If the water is still lukewarm, add 4-6 ice cubes. Add the chicken breasts, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. In a bowl, stir together 1 cup hot water with the salt and sugar, until dissolved. Add 3 cups very cold water and stir until combined.
    In a bowl, stir together 1 cup hot water with the salt and sugar, until dissolved. Add 3 cups very cold water and stir until combined. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Brine the chicken breasts.
    Brine the chicken breasts. (Wendy Goodfriend)
  5. Meanwhile, in a small jar with a lid, add all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Shake to combine. Set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small jar with a lid, add all of the vinaigrette ingredients.
    Meanwhile, in a small jar with a lid, add all of the vinaigrette ingredients. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Shake to combine. Set aside.
    Shake to combine. Set aside. (Wendy Goodfriend)
  7. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for medium-high indirect heat. Clean the grill grate. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Brush with olive oil.
  8. Grill over the fire until nicely seared on both sides, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes on each side.
  9. Grill over the fire until nicely seared on both sides, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes on each side.
    Grill over the fire until nicely seared on both sides, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes on each side. (Wendy Goodfriend)
  10. Transfer to the cooler side of the grill, cover, and cook until a meat thermometer reads 150-160F. Transfer to a platter, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  11. Spoon the vinaigrette over the chicken breasts and serve.
  12. Spoon the vinaigrette on top of the rested chicken breasts and serve.
    Spoon the vinaigrette over the chicken breasts and serve.

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