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Becky's Food Tales - Longer Days Require Quick Cooking

By Becky Hoff

Fri, Apr 11th, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

The days are growing longer, and I am having no trouble at all filling up those extra daylight hours. Yard work, spring cleaning, part time jobs, taking walks, meetings, appointments, clubs and more! Gone are the endless and empty days of winter, and good riddance I say! Still, it has become clear that I need more quick and easy meal ideas. A meal of grilled cheese and tomato soup is great, but only the first few times you serve it. After that, you need to dig out the cookbooks, fire up the search engine and consider your options.

The crock pot is always your friend when it comes to quick meals. A few minutes prep time in the morning and you will reap the reward of a tender roast, a stewed chicken or a satisfying batch of chili for dinner. Yet these all sound like cold weather meals, and it is SPRING! Let’s leave the crock pot in the cupboard and clean off the outdoor grill, shall we?

Boneless skinless chicken breasts are a great choice for grilling. They’re lean, tasty and convenient! But, they do have a tendency to dry out when grilled, and they can stick to the grill if you’re not careful. A quick brine, and oiling the grill grates will take care of these problems for us. I suggest grilling up several chicken breasts at one time and using the leftover chicken to fix quick salads, pasta dishes and sandwiches throughout the week.

Basic Quick Brine

for Chicken Breasts

(This makes enough for four decent sized boneless skinless chicken breasts.)

2 quarts water

¼ cup kosher salt (use half that amount if using standard table salt)

¼ cup sugar

Mix brine ingredients, taking care to dissolve salt and sugar.

If you would like to have your chicken cook evenly, it is best to pound your chicken breasts to a uniform thickness before putting them in the brine solution. Pound them to about 3/4 inch in thickness. When I do this, I stick them in a plastic bag and give them a good whack with a heavy bottomed skillet. If you are having a bad day, this is exceptionally satisfying.

Add your chicken breasts to the brine and soak them for 30 minutes. You can use this time to fix some side dishes, such as a salad or sautéed vegetables. Oil that grill, and be sure to have it good and hot when the brine time is up. Remove the chicken from the brine, give it a quick rinse, and pat dry. Grill chicken over direct and medium-high heat until done. This will take about 2-3 minutes per side.

You can add any dry spice you like to the chicken before grilling.

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