I read recently that Tom Colicchio, the famed Chef of Craft and Gramercy Tavern, as well as Top Chef Fame, believes that butter and fresh thyme enhance ANY protein. I couldn’t agree more, but I’m trying to stay away from using butter except for splurges, so I wanted to impart that same richness into my potentially dry boneless chicken breasts in a healthier way, by adding bright flavors and a bit of healthy fat.
The tangy yogurt and lemon impart great flavor but also further break down and tenderize the chicken and help to create a wonderful caramelization on the meat when it is cooked. The bright herbs are a nice counterpoint to all the garlic and the onions add a nice subtle flavor in the background. The herbs that I used here impart a decidedly Mediterranean flavor profile, but you can use whatever you have on hand and like best. We enjoyed this scrumptious chicken with some fresh-made Romesco Sauce, roasted cauliflower and cherry tomatoes with parmesan, and a radicchio and romaine salad (check out my blog or past Blogcritics articles for those recipes too!). A gorgeous, simple and healthful dinner, perfect for even the novice cook, but impressive enough for guests. Enjoy!
Greek-Style Marinated Chicken Breasts
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain yogurt (greek-style is best)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 3 lemons
½ onion, chopped into large pieces (red or sweet variety is fine)
Fresh thyme leaves
Fresh chopped rosemary
Fresh chopped mint leaves
Fresh chopped parsley
First, take your boneless breasts and lay them between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound them out to about 1 /12 times their original size using a mallet or small saucepan. This will break down the protein strands in the chicken, tenderizing it, and also makes for a thinner piece of meat, which will cook more evenly and not dry out as quickly. Now, you’re going to be left with huge chicken breast, so cut each one into 2 or three pieces. Place chicken pieces into a large Ziploc bag. Now, in a medium bowl, blend the yogurt, lemon juice and olive oil until smooth with a whisk. Add in the herbs, salt & pepper, garlic, onions, and lemon juice/zest, and stir until well mixed. Pour the mixture into the bag with the chicken, seal well and shake to mix thoroughly. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Remove bag from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for about 20 minutes while you prepare your grill, broiler or grill pan. Remove the chicken from the bag and lightly pat it dry, discarding any remaining marinade in the bag. Cook the chicken over high heat until outside is slightly blistered and inside is cooked through. Serve immediately and enjoy!