I was going to grill some chicken breasts last night, and slap some homemade BBQ sauce on during the last minute of grilling in a weak effort to get the kids to eat the chicken. Grilling "naked" (not marinated) chicken breasts seemed way to ho-hum, so I pulled out Steve Raichlen's "How To Grill" for some inspiration.
Inspiration came on page 236, with a luscious-looking grilled chicken breast an instructions on brining the breasts to make them moist during their quick visit to the hot grill. Great news: they only have to sit in the brine for 2 hours; longer is not better, according the Steve. Bottom line: these were some of the best chicken breasts we've had, and everyone gave the dinner a thumbs-up. Here are the easy instructions, courtesy of Steve R.:
Grilled Brined Chicken Breasts
2 large whole boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (or 4 halves)
1/4 cup coarse salt
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
20 whole black peppercorns
1 red chile pepper, thinly sliced (I didn't have this on hand)
2 bay leaves
1 cup hot water, plus 3 cups cold water
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of your knife
If using whole breasts, cut each in half. Trim any sinews or excess fat off the breasts and discard. Rinse the breasts under cold running water, then drain and pat dry with paper towels and arrange in a deep 9x13 nonreactive baking dish. (I lightly pounded the fatter part of the breast so they would be an even thickness.)
Make the brine by placing the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, chile pepper and bay leaves in a large nonreactive bowl and add hot water. Whisk until salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the cold water and let cool to room temperature. Pour the brine over the breasts and stir in lemon slices, onion and garlic. cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Then, I rinsed the breasts off and grilled them on a lightly oiled grill racks over medium high heat for about 4 minutes per side, brushing with barbecue sauce during the last minute or two of grilling.
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