I love grilled food. Anything really…pizza, meats, fruit, veggies…you name it I will grill it.
This weekend I was cooking for a church retreat at Cal-Wood. Columbine Unity Youth Group. What an absolutely charming group of teenagers. No less than 8 of these great kids asked me if I needed any help in the kitchen. They were so eager to lend a hand. While these teenagers were visiting Cal-Wood half of the group stayed on site to help our forestry manager Angie with some physically taxing outside volunteer work while the other half went to one of our neighbor camps Colorado Mountain Ranch to help with the ongoing clean up from the devastating 4 Mile Canyon Fire. This was the most destructive forest fire in Colorado history. Colorado Mountain Ranch lost many cabins and much of their land was burned during the fire. The clean up will go on for years.
The volunteer work done by the kids of Columbine Unity Youth Group was not easy and when they came back to camp they were tired and hungry!
Since the weather was as warm as a summer day I decided to dust off the grill and make some bbq chicken.
I wanted to make sure the menu was both filling and healthy. I was making my famous baked mac and cheese and wanted to lighten up the rest of the meal.
I used boneless skinless chicken breasts for the bbq and grilled up a bunch of fresh veggies.
For the chicken I made sure to paillard the chicken breasts and marinate them in balsamic vinegar, garlic, sea salt, cracked pepper and canola oil. This deeply flavors the bland chicken breast and helps to caramelize the chicken for more flavor during grilling. I made my own bbq sauce that simmered most of the afternoon on the stove.
I cut my zucchini lengthwise down the center, toss in some sweet red bell peppers cut down the center in halves and de-seeded and large red onion slices. I used the same marinade as the chicken and let the veggies marinate for most of the afternoon. I tossed them on the grill first and then chilled the grilled veggies before cutting.
I blanched broccoli spears separately on the stove and let them chill for at least 1 hour
For the chicken I grilled it until I had good grill marks on the meat and finished it in the oven. Often when you cook chicken breasts on the grill they dry out before they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. When I finish the chicken in the oven it helps keep the moisture in and lets the meat cook slowly without drying.
When the teenagers of Columbine Youth Group tucked into this meal there is very little left over. Nearly everything was devoured from the green salad, veggies, mac and cheese and chicken.
Grilling Tender Chicken Breasts
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar (I use Costco Balsamic)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Paillard your chicken breasts to flatten them out and make sure the meat is evenly flattened. This will ensure that the chicken will cook quickly and not dry out. If you pound the chicken thin you may not even need to use the oven to finish it.
Marinated the chicken in balsamic, canola, sea salt, pepper and minced garlic for at least 1 hour.
While your chicken is marinating prep your veggies for the grill.
Grilled Balsamic Marinated Veggies
4 zucchini cut lengthwise into 2 pieces
4 sweet red bell peppers cut in half and de-seeded
2 sweet red onions cut into third horizontally with the skin removed.
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (again I used Costco Balsamic)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme (I used my lovely French Thyme from Savory Spice Shop)
Marinate veggies for 15 minutes and cook on the grill until slightly charred. I usually take the zucchini off a little under done as they finish cooking after removing from the grill. I like my veggies to have a slight crunch and not be soggy.
Reserve the marinade and pour back over the veggies. Never do this with meat marinade but you can with clean veggies.
To add another element to the salad I blanched 1 head of broccoli in salty boiling water until al dente. Chill and add to grilled veggie before adding marinade.
Chill veggie for 1/2 an hour to 45 minutes. Cut and serve.
Pre-heat the grill and when it is hot place the chicken on the grill. It will only take about 4-5 minutes for each side of chicken to be cooked. The balsamic vinegar will help create nice grill marks and caramelization on the chicken adding great flavor. This step can be omitted if you are using bbq sauce but I feel it makes the chicken much more flavorful.
Coat with BBQ sauce and put back on the grill for 3-4 minutes.
Let chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.