Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are boring. So, so boring! But they’re quick, easy, inexpensive and versatile, so I’m guessing if you’re like me, they’re probably part of your regular dinner rotation. But they don’t have to be boring – a quick marinade makes a huge difference in flavor.
Marinades are an easy way to liven up the flavor of meat, seafood and vegetables. At its most basic, a marinade is a mix of oil and acid used before cooking to ennhance the flavor of food. Because they don’t penetrate meat beyond the first few millimeters, marinades are best used on smaller cuts of meat like chicken pieces, pork chops and fish filets.
The four components to any marinade are:
Oil – olive, canola, peanut, sesame, pumpkin…
Acid – citrus juice, vinegar, wine, yogurt…
Aromatics – herbs, garlic, spices…
Salt/Sugar/Heat – soy sauce, maple syrup, honey, Sriracha…
The ratio of these components is a matter of personal taste, but 3:1 oil to vinegar is a good rule of thumb. Keep in mind, too much acid or too much time exposed to acidic marinade will cause your food to become mushy. Once you get the idea of how to make a marinade, you can take the flavor of your food in a dozen different directions.
*Before adding raw meat or fish to your marinade, set some aside to drizzle on top.
*Discard any marinade that has been in contact with raw meat or fish.
*Prick the surface of meat with a fork or knife to help the marinade penetrate more deeply.
*To prevent spills and make sure the marinade covers as much of the food as possible, place food in a ziplock bag and lay bag inside of a large, shallow baking dish.
*Always keep food refrigerated while marinating to prevent spoilage.
*The more acid that’s in a marinade = the shorter the marinating time.
*Gently blot food with a paper towel to remove excess marinade from food before cooking.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together first 5 ingredients.
- Trim any excess fat off chicken breasts.
- Place marinade and chicken in a large ziplock bag. Squeeze out excess air and carefully seal the bag.
- Place ziplock bag in a large, shallow baking dish and refrigerate for up to 4 hours, turning at least once so the marinade coats all of the chicken.
- Remove chicken from the marinade and discard the extra marinade.
- Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
- Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat, about 350-450 degrees.
- Grill chicken with the lid closed, flipping once, until chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 8-12 minutes.