Herbed Grilled Chicken Breasts

I had my doubts when this recipe claimed “This could be the easiest—and juiciest—chicken you grill all summer.” By explanation, pounding boneless chicken breasts into paillards minimizes cooking time so the chicken doesn’t stay on the grill very long, and thus doesn’t have time to dry out.  So I had to see for myself… and by jove, they were quite moist and tender!

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When making paillards, keep the seasonings simple: salt, pepper or hot chile flakes, garlic, herbs, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and most important, olive oil, which adds flavor and moistness and keeps the chicken from sticking to the grill.

And you know me, I have to up the spice quotient in most recipes, so even though the ingredient list doesn’t specify the amount of crushed red pepper flakes, I sprinkled on a “healthy” dose! And the leftovers were fabulous for sandwiches and salads.

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each), trimmed and rinsed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Crushed red chile flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, flat-leaf parsley, or other fresh herb
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 4 lemon wedges for serving
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling

Directions

  1. Lightly wet a chicken breast with cold water and set it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound it into a broad, flat sheet about 1/4-inch thick (called a paillard), using a meat pounder, the side of a heavy cleaver, or a skillet. Pound the other breasts into paillards the same way and arrange them on a baking sheet.
  2. Generously season each paillard on both sides with salt and pepper and a pinch or two of chile flakes. Sprinkle both sides with the garlic and rosemary. Drizzle both sides with the lemon juice and olive oil and pat into the meat with your fingertips. Refrigerate the paillards for 20 minutes while you prepare the grill.
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  3. Heat a gas grill to high or prepare a hot charcoal fire. Brush and oil the grill grate.
  4. Arrange the paillards on the grill grate and grill until cooked and firm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes per side. (Use a long, wide spatula to move and turn the paillards.) Transfer the paillards to a platter or plates. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately with lemon wedges for squeezing. (We did not do this last step.)

by Steven Raichlen from Fine Cooking

My twist: Instead of minced fresh garlic, I spread on some roasted garlic/olive oil paste. It’s something I make and keep handy in the frig all the time. I also included fresh tarragon with the minced rosemary and parsley mix.

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