If you’re currently following my blog (btw if you’re not following, you’re more than welcome to sign up for email updates below 😉 ), you know that three of my first eight blog posts have been about chicken: Baked “Fried” Chicken Wings, Roast Chicken with Lemon & Garlic, and Arroz con Pollo. In spite of this, I have a confession to make: I’m not too fond of chicken. Generally speaking, I find it quite bland unless heavily seasoned or hidden in a ton of other delicious things. I’ll eat it, but prefer almost anything over chicken. Chuck and my daughter, on the other hand, love chicken and so I make it for them. A lot.
My least favorite method for preparing chicken has always been grilling which is unfortunate since it’s probably the fastest and healthiest of all methods. Boneless, skinless breasts are ideal for grilling but I could never get it right. The thinnest part would always be done before the thicker part. So, I would either end up with partially over cooked chicken or give up halfway thru grilling, splash in some water, throw a lid over everything, and let the chicken finish via steaming. Steaming results in a perfectly juicy breast, but all the seasoning essentially “sweats” off and I’m stuck with bleh, yucky, bland chicken all over again.
I’ve considered cutting them into smaller tenders but unless you’re making a specific dish where tenders are called for like, breaded chicken tenders, I don’t find them visually appealing. I’ve also considered splitting the thick part in half prior to grilling, but I don’t have the best knife skills and am not too fond of handling raw chicken for extended periods. So that option was also out.
I’ve thought about this final option since my mid-20’s (so for more than a while), but never actually tried it until yesterday. We already owned this mallet which was one of many random wedding registry items my husband picked out and we’ve never used. (If I could figure out how to use the side-way eye roll emoticon in WordPress, I’d insert here.) Anyways, I placed the breast in between saran wrap and with the flat end of the mallet, carefully flattened it out. Then, I seasoned as usual and grilled. Because the breast was now a uniform thickness, it came out perfectly. I’m seriously kicking myself for waiting as long as I have to try it this way.
Don’t be deterred by the extra step! Flattening the chicken only took a couple of minutes which was more than offset by the reduced grill time. Try it.
I think this (new-to-me) technique would be perfect with any sort of seasoning or marinade, but in case you’re wondering – this is what I did:
- chicken breasts
- garlic powder
- dried basil
- dried oregano
- black pepper (or red pepper, if you like the heat and are not serving to a toddler)
- non-stick spray or vegetable oil
- Pat breast dry with paper towel and place between saran wrap
- Carefully flatten out to desired thickness with a mallet*
- Season one side of each breast to your preference.
- Spray or lightly oil your grill pan**
- On med-high heat, put seasoned side of the breast down and season the non-seasoned side
- Grill for 5-6min on each side or until internal temperature hits 160º-165º
- Let the chicken rest a bit before serving
*I stopped flattening out at about 1/2″ thick because that’s what looked the most esthetically pleasing for me. I think if this were for a sandwich, I’d thin them out a bit more so that I can pile even more delicious things on top. 🙂 Do what you prefer or whatever makes the most sense for what you’re making.
**If you don’t own a grill pan, I imagine a regular pan would work just as well. Use what you have.