While packed with protein, niacin, selenium and vitamin B6, boneless, skinless chicken breast—the leanest part of the bird—can be notoriously dry and bland. Imparting flavor and juiciness can be accomplished easily with these three steps:
1. Butterfly breasts. Place breast on a cutting board reserved for poultry (or put a piece of wax or parchment paper down on a cutting board) and carefully insert a sharp knife at the top of the breast with an equal amount of meat at the top and bottom of the incision point. Move blade carefully along breast, clockwise, until you reach the bottom—cut one side of the breast only. Lay butterflied breast into a large ziplock bag and do the same with the remaining breasts.
2. Marinate. Allow butterflied breasts to marinate for four hours to overnight in a liquid-heavy marinade to ensure chicken is as juicy as possible before cooking; pour marinade into ziplock bags with uncooked chicken, seal bags, place in a dish and refrigerate. Make extra marinade for basting chicken while cooking.
3. Baste. After flipping chicken breasts for the first time, brush with extra marinade to add more flavor and ensure the chicken doesn’t dry out while cooking. Cook for a few minutes on the second side, flip over and baste again on the other side before removing from pan, oven or grill.
Recipe: Sweet and Tangy Asian Grilled Chicken Breasts
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup Tamari soy sauce
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon whiskey or sherry (optional)
Follow the instructions above for butterflying the chicken breasts—particularly if the breasts are large. Place butterflied breasts in two large ziplock bags. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a large bowl and pour three-quarters of the marinade evenly into the two bags; refrigerate remaining marinade to baste breasts while cooking. Seal ziplock bags, place into a large dish and refrigerate overnight.
Heat grill (or coals) and, when hot, cook butterflied breasts flat on grate for three to four minutes. Flip breasts and baste; cook for another three to four minutes on second side. Flip again and baste other side; cook for one to two minutes before removing from grill. Let rest on plate for 8-10 minutes wrapped with aluminum foil before serving.