It seems like my schedule is all over the place these days. To help me try and stay on track with my plan to eat healthier, I grill up four to six chicken breast every weekend and keep them in the fridge for the week ahead. That way, whenever I need a healthy protein snack after a workout or if I’m in a pinch for a quick meal, there they are. For all of you newly resolute low-carb, no-carb, Paleo-rific, caveman types out there, these are great to have on hand!
There are a lot of chefs out there that pooh-pooh the boneless, skinless chicken breasts in favor of the breasts with bone-in and with skin… and I would agree, to an extent, when discussing all-around flavor. However, for the sake of time and convenience, nothing beats them (after all, it only takes 7 to 10 minutes to grill a boneless, skinless breast). Brining the breasts before grilling helps to make sure that they stay tender and juicy. The brine in this recipe is optional if you are serving the chicken hot off the grill or you are confident in your chicken grilling timing. However, if you are not or if you are going to make them ahead and refrigerate, I would suggest brining.
As much as grilled chicken is always delicious, I sometimes need ways to dress it up. I am not usually a huge basil pesto fan, but there is something about the artichoke hearts and the lemon that really make it much lighter and brighter in flavor (plus, you’re getting some bonus fiber from the artichokes). COOK’S NOTE: This recipe makes twice as much than you possibly need. Freeze half in an air-tight container and use for pasta or another dish such as grilled salmon or pork.
The meal in the picture – grilled chicken with the artichoke pesto served with grilled zucchini took less than 30 minutes all-in (not counting brining time)… genius! Make it tonight! 🙂
Grilled Chicken with Lemony Artichoke Pesto
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups water
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 lemon, quartered
For the pesto:
one 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Method: Direct heat grilling
If you are not going to brine the chicken, skip ahead to the next step. Otherwise, heat 1 cup of water and salt in a small saucepan; stirring until the salt is dissolved. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add the remaining 3 cups of water. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the bowl and add the lemon quarters as well. Cool to room temperature. Once at room temperature, add the chicken breasts, cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
For the pesto: in a food processor, add the artichoke heats, basil, walnuts, and garlic. Remove the zest of the lemon with a vegetable peeler and add that to the food processor as well. Pulse until everything is very finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Transfer pesto to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan and the juice from half of the lemon. Taste and add more lemon juice, if desired, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Set up grill for direct heat cooking over high heat. Brush and oil the grates before cooking. Remove chicken breasts from the brine and rise under cold water to remove the from the surface of the meat. Pat the chicken dry, brush with a little olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper (and salt if you did not brine the meat). Grill chicken for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until no longer pink; the internal temperature should register 165ºF. Remove chicken from grill and rest for 5 minutes, tented with aluminum foil, before serving with a dollop of pesto.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!