Could you simply buy a bottle of Italian dressing and marinate your chicken in that? Why of course, that’s a quick and easy way out. But I think it’s more fun (yes, I did say fun) to create your own concoction with fresh, organic ingredients—many of which you probably already have in your pantry. And oh, the difference in flavor!
If like us, you grow your own organic herbs and then dry them at the end of the season, you’ll be ahead of the game. Select enough to measure about one tablespoon after you’ve crushed them, which I find easiest to do with a small mortar and pestle.
When it comes to the choice of vinegar, you can substitute with chardonnay, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or even rice vinegar! You just need a vinegar that is not as harsh as ordinary white vinegar. We own a vast library of different olive oils and vinegars so to switch things up a bit, I selected a Prosecco champagne vinegar and a basil flavored extra virgin olive oil, both products of Italy—how appropriate!
Preparing your charcoal or gas grill for indirect heat: If using a gas grill, turn all burners to high and close the lid. When the temperature inside the grill reaches 400°, lift lid and turn off one of the burners. The area over the turned-off burner is the indirect heat area. If using a charcoal grill, light 50 to 60 briquettes and let burn until covered with ash, about 20 to 30 minutes. Mound them to one side. The area over the section cleared of coals is the indirect heat area.
If the breasts are large, you should cut them in half yielding more normal serving sizes, more surface area for tasty rubs and sauce, and a much easier time getting to the right internal temperature, which is 165°. The bone-in, skin on pieces provide more flavor and keep the meat juicier than boneless, skinless breasts; although you could also use those in a pinch. Just make sure to keep an eye on them as they will cook faster and can dry out quickly.
Using a heavy duty meat cleaver makes quick work of halving the breasts.
And to round out the meal in quick order without fussing in a hot kitchen? Why not serve a store-bought cole slaw and heat up a can of baked beans of the grill’s side burner. Sometimes SUPER EASY is the way to go…
Italian Marinade for Grilled Chicken
- 4 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 1 Tbsp mixed Italian dried herbs (like basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary and thyme)
- 1 tsp dried red chili flakes (optional)
- 4 large, bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
- Mix all ingredients except the chicken in a small jar with lid and shake until well combined.
- Place the chicken in a ziploc bag, add the marinade, seal the bag and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes up to overnight. For best results, marinate at least 3 hours. (For maximum flavor, we marinated for 24 hours.)
- Place chicken skin side down on indirect-heat area; close lid on gas grill. Cook 15 minutes. Turn chicken over, close lid on gas grill, and cook another 10 minutes.
- Move chicken over direct heat and cook, turning once, until skin is well browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully; dripping fat or any added oils or butters catch fire easily (a small spray bottle filled with water is handy for taming flames.)
- After about 30 minutes, test one piece for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer. Internal temperature should read 165° and it should be ever-so-lightly pink (it will finish cooking while it rests.) If very pink, move all chicken back to indirect heat, cover grill, and cook for another 5 minutes. Let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.