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We’ve all experienced it: You order the grilled chicken at your favorite restaurant and instead of a juicy, succulent, slightly smoked chicken breast, out comes a dry, bland, tough culinary abomination. It’s one of those menu items I avoid at all costs (even though it’s often the healthiest option) just because I’m afraid of what the final product might taste like.
How do you avoid dry, tasteless grilled chicken? As cooks, we have a number of options: 1) Use bone-in chicken breasts and thighs because the bones help keep the poultry moist; 2) carefully monitor the internal temperature of the chicken so it does not overcook; and 3) brine the chicken in a salt-water solution before cooking to bring flavor and moisture to the meat.
Chicken needs to reach an internal temperature of 165˚F to be safe to eat. Because meat and poultry continue cooking after they’re removed from a heat source (called carryover cooking), I like to remove my chicken from the grill or oven when it reaches about 160˚F. I then cover it with tin foil and let it rest for 5 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165˚F or above. This ensures that your chicken is not only safe to eat, but it’s also moist and flavorful.
The following recipe for Honey-Teriyaki Chicken combines all three of these flavor-inducing, moisture-saving methods, as well as a delicious teriyaki-based glaze that you brush on the chicken during the last minutes of cooking. I promise, you’ll never want to grill chicken any other way after you’ve made it. I served this with asparagus and a corn and jalapeno sauté with lots of fresh herbs for a great weeknight summer meal.
Grilled Honey-Teriyaki Chicken
This recipe is adapted from Tyler Florence. It’s easy to do on the grill or in the oven. Baste the chicken toward the end of cooking so the glaze doesn’t burn. Click here for a print copy of this recipe.
1 whole organic chicken, cut into 10 pieces
2 c. water
1 c. light brown sugar
½ head garlic, unpeeled
4 slices fresh ginger root, gently bashed to open up
2 Tbs. Kosher salt
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 c. teriyaki sauce
¼ c. honey
1 large (1-inch) piece fresh ginger root, sliced and bashed to open up
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil, plus ½ cup
Freshly ground black pepper
Scallion threads, for garnish
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Make brine. Combine the water, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, salt and thyme in a large resealable bag and swirl to dissolve the sugar. Add chicken pieces and allow to brine for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Make teriyaki glaze. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine teriyaki sauce, honey, ginger, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and simmer until rich and slightly reduced.
Cook chicken. Preheat grill to low-medium heat. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry. Discard the brine. Add the chicken to a large mixing bowl, drizzle with the 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil and season with freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat and cook on a low-medium grill for 17 to 20 minutes per side until cooked through. Baste with teriyaki glaze for the last 5 to 7 minutes of cooking. Serve garnish with scallion threads (finely sliced scallions cut on the bias soaked in ice cold water), and toasted sesame seeds.
*To make chicken in the oven, preheat oven to 350˚F. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, brown chicken skin-side down. Flip chicken and then move skillet to oven. Bake chicken for 10 minutes and then begin basting with teriyaki glaze every 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes more, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F.
Summer Corn Sauté with Jalapeno and Tons of Herbs
This recipe is adapted from one by Ian Knauer that appeared in the August 2010 issue of Bon Appetit. I simply added a jalapeno for a little kick. Click here for a print copy of this recipe.
¼ c. (½ stick) butter
1 large shallot, chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
6 c. fresh corn kernels (cut from about 9 large ears)
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as basil, cilantro, chives, and parsley)
¼ c. chopped fresh dill
¼ c. chopped fresh tarragon
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cumin seeds. Sauté until shallot is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add jalapeno, corn kernels, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in all herbs. Season to taste with salt. Transfer corn to bowl and serve.