I don’t know how to grill.
There. I’ve said it. I got that off my chest.
I’ve been cooking since I can remember, but I never once learned how to grill. Charcoal, propane—it’s all a foreign language to me. I don’t understand wood chips, I’m terrified of fire, and I don’t know the first thing about gaseous substances, much less propane.
That being said, I’m not one to shy away from new cooking techniques. So, I decided to put my big girl pants on and try to grill some chicken breasts. You’ve got to take the bull by the horns, eh?
My thinking was this: Nothing can stop me! I am a home-cooking extraordinaire! A silly grill can’t stop my momentum in the kitchen!
Reality, on the other hand, was this:
Yep. That’s a box of matches GONE. I had used an ENTIRE BOX OF MATCHES trying to light a grill.
That was the first sign that I was wayyyy out of my league.
After finally starting a baby flame atop some dark black charcoals, I had no idea what to do next. Do I close the grill? Do I keep it open? What if the wind blows my tiny flame out again?
I let the flames grow a bit before closing the grill, but I kept the vent open a tad so the fire wouldn’t lose its precious food source: oxygen. I would occasionally waltz by and open the top to check on the coals. So far, so good.
Once the coals had burned down and started to glow orange, I added my chicken breasts that were dripping with a marinade. I had concocted said marinade based off a recipe that my aunt made while we were on vacation.
After about 4-5 minutes, I flipped the chicken. They kind of stuck to the grill grate, which was a little upsetting, but after some pushing and stabbing with my grill tongs, I got the chicken to budge. They looked gorgeous on the other side! Not picture-perfect grill marks, but a nice, light char on the edges and a tan color in the middle (outside) of the breast. Yummmmm.
I let them cook for another 3-4 minutes, checked to make sure the juices ran clear, then took them off. I had no idea what to do with the grill now. Do I just let it burn out? Do I smother it? Pour water on it?
I decided to let the grill burn out on its own. Sorry if that was incredibly dangerous to do, but that was the option I went with. Oops.
The chicken breasts were so fantastically tender and moist on the inside. I attribute that more to my overnight marinade, not my grilling skills, by the way. I particularly loved biting it the crunchy, scorched edges…it gives you that wonderful grilled taste!
Try out this overnight marinade the next time you fire up the grill. It ensures that your chicken won’t end up dry and tasteless.
Key West Grilled Chicken
- 1 lemon
- 3 limes, plus more for serving
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 4 medium-sized chicken breasts.
- In a large Ziploc bag or bowl, toss chicken with cilantro, juice of 1 lemon, and juice of 2 limes. Slice remaining lime and set on top of the chicken or inside the Ziploc bag.
- If using a bowl, cover bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 8 hours.
- Prepare the grill: If using a propane grill, turn grill on to medium heat. If using propane, collect charcoal into a pyramid in the center of the grill and light. Let charcoal burn down until golden.
- Add chicken to the grill and arrange more toward the outside of the heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes on one side and then flip. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until juices run clear when pierced.
Hopefully your grilling experience goes better than mine!