I will tell you a secret, I like grilled chicken. I like eating grilled chicken, I like making grilled chicken (ooh don’t get me started on sexy, well made grill marks) – I love making chicken. My husband tells me that I am a chicken whisperer, for I make a damn fine whole bird (it’s the French training, International Culinary Center). Many chefs will say that they think this is boring, but I find it to be anything but. For me, it is very satisfying when I come home after a long day of cooking and there is grilled chicken waiting for me in the refrigerator. It is a delicious canvas that I can use to dress up as I like; in a quesadilla for my kids, tacos, with hot sauce (my current fave is called “ghost of ancho” by Born to Hula) or toss in a grain and veggie salad. The possibilities are endless.
As we are progressing past the candy holidays of Valentine’s and soon Easter, my focus shifts back to more healthful eating and away from the temptations of the candy basket (I’m talking to you, Swedish Fish!). If I am needing this renewed dietary focus, I am sure that you are too. I think that far too often people do not know cooking basics, so I would like to teach you this time around to cook some grilled chicken. I know that Michael Pollan wouldn’t like me just eating chicken breasts, but sometimes I have to do it and I know that you do too.
I find that my method works time and time again. Here’s a recipe for grilled chicken my way. A couple of words of advice, starting with – don’t overcook it, that results in dry chicken. Invest in a thermometer. I like the Thermoworks Mk4 Thermapen . After cooking, let it rest (meaning just let it sit there on a plate, out of the pan) for at LEAST 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. All of these things will help you find chicken just as delicious as I do. Master the technique first, then play around with it.
Grilled Chicken Breast My Way
I love all types of chicken. I have found a good way to make grilled chicken breasts that are moist and delicious. It’s hard to get them that way, but my method works. A cast iron grill pan is handy to have here, I really like the Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan, I have had mine for at least 15 years. .
If not, just use a normal stainless steel skillet so you can get a good sear, not nonstick. Nonstick pans do not allow you to get a good sear on the chicken.
Boneless Skinless Organic, Free Range Chicken Breasts, as many as you need to prep for your week. It’s practical to cook at least two but probably not more than 6-8.
Sea salt and pepper
Olive oil about 1/4-1/2 cup
Lemon Zest if desired
Fresh Thyme if desired
Place chicken breasts in a large bowl. Add olive oil to thinly coat, pepper to taste, lemon zest and thyme if using. Make sure breasts are covered with oil, turning to coat.
- Let sit 5-30 minutes in refrigerator, depending on how much time you have. 2-5 minutes is fine. Add salt to taste when ready you can always season later, do not be too aggressive with the salt.
- Heat oven to 400F, have a sheet pan ready with foil on the side. Place a cast iron grill pan on high heat until very hot. Alternatively heat up a sauté pan until hot. Test by flicking a drop of water on the pan- if it sizzles and evaporates the pan is ready.
Start skin side down. Breasts running North to South.
- With tongs, place chicken breasts on hot grill pan or sauté pan, skin side down. Let some oil drip off of the chicken. Do not overcrowd. A normal pan can handle 2-3 breasts. Let cook, WITHOUT MOVING THE CHICKEN, 2-3 minutes. There should be grill marks/sear marks (which are brown) on the chicken.
Checking for grill marks.
- Turn to other side. Let cook another 3-4 minutes. If cooking chicken in batches remove chicken from pan and place on foiled sheet pan. Repeat process with remaining breasts. With all of the chicken on the sheet pan, place in 400F oven for 10-12 minutes.
See! Cross hatched grill marks! Boom!
- After 8 minutes, check your chicken with your thermometer if you have one. If you do not have a thermometer, cook for the full 12 minutes. If your thermometer reads 160 degrees F, remove the chicken from the oven. When you remove the chicken from the oven at 160 F, the chicken’s temperature will rise, even if it’s not in the oven. That is the residual heat working it’s way through the chicken.
- Remove from oven. Let sit and rest about 5-10 minutes. If refrigerating, let cool first and then place in airtight container. Stays nicely in the refrigerator for about a week.
Download the recipe here.