Boneless chicken breast was on sale last week so I bought some. It is versatile, if bland. During the summer I like to grill up several at a time. A couple become part of that night’s dinner and the rest get bagged & tagged for later use.
Over the years I’ve come up with a way of grilling them on my gas grill that works fairly consistently. So I thought I’d share it with you. Step one is brine the chicken to help produce a moist end product. Step two is temperature control on the grill. Step 3 is patience.
Tonight we enjoyed grilled chicken with yellow rice. Some of the leftovers will become chicken salad sandwiches, maybe grilled with cheddar cheese. The rest I’ll chop up and stow in the freezer for easy use some night when I’m too lazy to go to the store.
Grilled Boneless Chicken Breast
Servings: however many chicken breasts you bought
Prep time: 1 hour, divided, plus time for the brine to cool
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 4 cups of water
- 4 cups of ice cubes
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- boneless chicken breasts (I had 7 at around 8 oz. each)
- salt & black pepper for seasoning
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- First make a brine by heating 4 cups of water in an 8 cup glass measure in the microwave for 5 minutes. Add the salt & sugar and stir until the salt/sugar have dissolved. Add the 4 cups of ice to cool the brine quickly. Once the water is back to room temperature stash it in the fridge until it drops do 40-45°F. I actually did this step last night and left the brine in the fridge overnight with a note so no one mistook it for cold drinking water.
- 30-60 minutes before you want to start grilling place your chicken breasts in a large container or zip top bag and add the brine. Put the brining chicken back into the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour.
- 15 minutes before you are ready to remove the chicken from the fridge heat your grill. Mine is a 4 burner gas grill. I turn all 4 burners on full whack and walk away. After 10 minutes I come back and give it a good scraping.
- When you are ready to cook remove the chicken from the fridge, drain the brine and pat each chicken breast dry. Lay them out on a tray or baking sheet and season the top side with salt & pepper.
- Turn 3 of the 4 burners to low. I cook over these burners, allowing the 4th burner to help keep the heat up in the grill.
- Pour the vegetable oil into a wide bowl and bring it, along with 3 or 4 sheets of paper towel, the chicken and your longest tongs to the grill. Wad the paper towels up, soak them in vegetable oil and grease up the grill grates. I make several passes, rotating the towels and using up the oil. Don’t worry if the oiled grate catches fire, it will burn itself out fairly quickly.
- Place the chicken breasts seasoned side down on the grill. Season the second side of the breasts with some more salt & pepper. Close the lid and walk away for 5 minutes. Don’t poke, prod or try to move the chicken.
- After 5 minutes the chicken should be easily picked up from the grill. If it sticks close the lid and wait another minute. Once you turn all of the chicken over close the lid and walk away for another 5 minutes.
- Check the internal temp. of the chicken with an instant read thermometer. If you hit 160°F (or higher) then move the chicken to a clean plate. For every 5 degrees less than 160 cook, cover down for another minute.
- Cover the chicken with foil and let them sit for at least 5 minutes, 10 minutes is even better. This helps keep the juices in the chicken though some will leak out.
Most of this recipe was the result of trial and error. The brine idea came from Alton Brown, I think, and the way I grease up the grill is from America’s Test Kitchen. You can probably find videos of both online somewhere.