It may seem a little late for a recipe centered around grilling, but summer came so late around here that we’ve been able to keep our grill working well into September. It’s a good thing we took advantage of that long stretch of dry weather, too, for right now it is raining and I am wearing a scarf. Over my sweater. And crying.
But let’s not talk about that. Let’s instead talk about something that I think everybody needs in their arsenal of quick meals: a fast weeknight dish. It’s not the most exciting of topics, I know, but maybe pretend you are making this quick meal before you take off to meet some friends for drinks and then go to your favorite bar to see the Hold Steady. Only that bar has closed down now, and the Hold Steady no longer plays in little bars anyhow, so you might have to see them play some big club with far too many beer-sodden patrons who think they should jump up and down in front of you like the (now departed) keyboardist in the Hold Steady used to do, only when the keyboardist did it it was charming, and when this dude in front of you does it it just blocks your view and makes you a little tired of being violently leaped on every two seconds.
I seem to have veered off course a bit.
So, chicken! I know that boneless, skinless chicken breasts have a bad reputation, and I completely understand why. It’s very easy to make something as simple as a chicken breast taste terrible, what with that portion of the chicken being so utterly plain, devoid of fat, and easy to overcook. The other side of that equation is, it is also fairly easy to make a chicken breast shine, what with its versatility and unrivalled ability to absorb flavor. With this simple balsamic glaze that requires very little action other than a periodic swipe across the chicken, you can produce a quick chicken dish that is flavorful, fast, and totally satisfying.
The greatest asset of the entire dish, however, lies not in the chicken, but in the grilled limes.
Just a couple of minutes on a hot grill will coax untold amounts of juice out of each lime, and with just a bit of the bright, caramelized fruit squeezed over each serving of chicken, you instantly add a layer of flavor to each bite that will make you wonder how you ever managed to produce such a fantastic meal in such a short amount of time.
Balsamic-Glazed Chicken and Zucchini with Grilled Limes
Hey, lady, why on earth are you giving us a recipe for grilled chicken when it’s no longer grilling season? Because if you have a grill pan sitting in your kitchen, that grill pan will work just as well as an outside grill. Good grill pans are available for as little as $19 on Amazon, and I’ve yet to enter a discount kitchen store that hasn’t had at least half a dozen grill pans sitting around looking all well-priced and ready to be taken home.
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
2 limes, sliced in half
In a medium bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, chopped garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add zucchini slices to glaze, toss to combine, and set aside. The zucchini slices will only have to sit in the glaze for a minute or two.
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Place chicken breasts on grill. Remove zucchini slices to a plate, and set aside. Using a heatproof brush, brush a generous amount of the balsamic blaze on the exposed side of each chicken breast. Cook the first side of the chicken breast for 4-5 minutes (until chicken has dark, visible grill marks), then flip chicken and brush glaze on the cooked side of the chicken. After 4-5 more minutes, brush chicken with glaze again, flip again, then brush once more. Cook chicken until done, occasionally brushing with more glaze. Chicken will be done when it reaches an internal temperature of about 160 degrees Fahrenheit. When poked with a knife, the emitting juices should be clear, not tinged pink or yellow.
While the chicken finishes cooking, add the limes to the grill, cut side down. Add the zucchini slices to the grill, and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, until zucchini is soft but not mushy, and has visible grill marks on each side.
If you are using a grill pan instead of an outdoor grill and do not have enough room to cook chicken, zucchini, and limes all at once, cook the chicken first (for a total of about 7-10 minutes on each side, depending on how large the chicken breasts are), set aide, and then cook zucchini and limes.
Serve each chicken breast sliced, accompanied by zucchini and half of a grilled lime. I like to serve the chicken and zucchini on a bed of greens, often with slices of fresh tomato. When ready to eat, squeeze the juice of the grilled lime over the chicken and vegetables.
Serves 4-6 people.