I am bad or mediocre at so many things that when I stumble upon something I’m kinda good at, I make sure I really celebrate and publicize the victory. And it just so happens that I make awesome grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts (from here on out referred to as “BSCB” – because every trade secret deserves an acronym somewhere in the instructions/description, right?).
Now, before I go on to regale you with my culinary prowess, I thought you might be interested in what motivated me to spend time perfecting my methods. [Humor me, OK?]
I will not reveal names, but I have had more than my share of hockey-puck-like grilled BSCBs. Sample scenario: you’re at a friend’s or neighbor’s or family member’s home for [enter occasion here]. Despite the appeal of the appetizer tableau, you restrain yourself from over-indulging in homemade guacamole and handcrafted pepper poppers and even that warm chili cheese dip you love so much. You don’t want to completely fill up and only be able to take a nibble or two of the main course. After all, your friend/neighbor/family member grills fantastic steaks – you’ve had first-hand tasting experience! – and you’re really looking forward to noshing on his/her grilled version of BSCB.
So you see the Master Barbequer emptying the grill grates onto a serving platter. Your mouth is watering at the prospect of some grilled goodness. Senses are heightened. You casually walk over to the serving table, trying not to look too eager.
And then the Master Barbequer sets the serving plate down on the food table (the party is much to large and lively to do anything but a buffet-style meal). You breathe in the scent of … what IS that smell? Suddenly, your appetite, which you’ve been egging on for what seems like HOURS, practically stands up and throws a tantrum. There’s just something about that smell… about the texture of the meat and how it doesn’t seem to have ANY flexibility whatsoever… that makes you want to turn and run to the leftover appetizers. But a glance over the shoulder reveals that only store-bought dip and chip crumbs remain. Your appetite is now officially sobbing.
OK, you’re thinking, this cannot be as bad as it looks. Nothing ever is, right (except maybe… episiotomies, car repairs, and police actions, off the top of my head)? So you wait your turn (you’ve suddenly found no need to rush the table and be first) with your picnic-wear in hand, thinking that maybe you had one too many cocktails, and you’re really not seeing what you THINK you’re seeing.
And then it’s your turn. You deftly heft the serving fork – Uncle Louie ahead of you has the tongs – and go to stab a BSCB. Except. You cannot make the tines of the large fork dig into the meat far enough to actually lift it to your plate. It’s like a petrified cow chip. You’re wrestling with it, trying not to make a scene or a mess, but you cannot spear it. Fortunately, Uncle Louie comes to your rescue, and after a brief head shake that tells you that you’ll always be a 10-year-old in his eyes, he pinches the BSCB-rock in the tongs and tosses it at you. Luckily, you catch it with your plate – but it’s so hard it cracks the Styrofoam.
Well, we all know where this is headed, and it’s so not pretty that it’s just not worth writing about.
Now, if you are ready to learn how to avoid such a waste of BSCB – which, really, shouldn’t you have a little respect for that chicken who was raised in cramped conditions and fed scientific super-pellets so you could have a meal? – well then, read on, and your BSCB-grilling experience will never again be sub-par.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (completely thawed if frozen)
One packet of Good Seasons Salad Dressing, any flavor (I use the Zesty Italian)
prepared in a bowl (NOT a cruet)
A synthetic basting brush, like this one
- Heat your grill on high heat until very warm. Then turn the heat back to approximately 350 degrees F (close the grill, of course) and set the timer for 5 minutes.
- After the timer goes off, spray the grill lightly with a vegetable-oil-type spray, like this one.
- Place the BSCB on the grill. NOTE: you do NOT need to butterfly these, or marinate them – although you CAN, but it isn’t necessary at all.
- Using the bowl of Good Seasons Salad Dressing that you’ve prepared, use your handy basting brush to liberally coat the tops of the BSCBs. Close grill, and set the timer for 6 minutes. [Grill is still set at 350, and will be for the duration of the cooking process.]
- When the timer goes off, open the grill, flip the BSCBs onto their un-basted side, and baste liberally. You don’t want to get drips of the dressing on the grill (it will flame a little), but you do want to really coat the BSCBs.
- Close the grill, and set the timer for 6 minutes.
Here’s where the patience comes in: DO NOT check the chicken breasts before the 6 minutes is up.
For chicken breasts like this, you will likely be done after completing the steps above (total of 12 minutes of grilling time).
For chicken breasts like this, you will need to repeat this process (steps 3 and 4) at least once (total of 24 minutes cooking time), and possibly twice (this is very unlikely).
When you plate your finished grilled BSCBs, delicious chicken juices will collect on the serving platter. Your BSCBs will be moist, and tender, and downright delectable. I promise.
For variations of this, you can use ranch dressing (though I don’t like it’s consistency as much), or any other kind of oil-based dressing. We’ve had fantastic luck with Kraft’s Asian Sesame Dressing, too.
And that’s it. That’s all there is to it. All you need to do now is brace yourself for sincere, unbridled appreciation.
You can thank me later.Ed. Note: Be sure to discard any leftover Italian dressing when you are finished with this process. I grilled about 13 chicken breasts on Sunday night, and I used almost an entire packet (prepared, of course) in the basting process.