Recipe: Brined, Grilled Chicken with Fresh Blackberry Sauce
Chicken breasts are a great way to ease into the grilling season and often are on sale at area groceries. They are quick and easy to prepare — a great item to launch into the grilling season — but without the fat marbling and skin, they dry out quickly. I solve that problem by giving them a quick brine. Be forewarned: over-brining will render them rubbery and, frankly, quite nasty; I'd rather eat dried out chicken than a salty rubber bird!
Yield: 4 chicken breast halves
Making/Chilling Brine Time: 45 minutes
Brine Time: 30 minutes
Active Time (includes making sauce and grilling breasts): 25 minutes
- 1/4 cup of kosher salt
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sauce
- 4 chicken skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves, tenderloins removed
- 3 cups (10-12 ounces) fresh blackberries, divided
- 3 tablespoons red wine
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons sour cream, optional garnish
- Fresh mint sprigs, optional garnish
1. If chicken breasts are not of uniform thickness, place breasts on top of waxed paper and place additional waxed paper over chicken breasts. With a meat mallet or hammer, gently pound chicken to 3/4-inch uniform thickness.
2. To make the brine, in a large shallow dish, completely dissolve salt and sugar in 1 cup hot water. When totally dissolved, add 7 cups ice-cold water. Add chicken breasts to cold brine, and brine 40 minutes.
3. To make sauce, in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed sauté pan heat half of berries, sugar and wine over medium heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 10-15 minutes or until berries have broken down and the mixture is thickened and syrupy; stir occasionally breaking down berries with the back of a spoon. Turn off heat and add remaining blackberries and pepper to sauce. (This yields 1 cup and can be made up to 24 hours in advance.)
4. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from brine and wipe excess moisture from chicken with paper towels. Grill chicken breasts,on a well-oiled grill rack, 5-8 minutes on each side, depending on heat of flame. Spoon blackberry sauce over each breast, garnish with sour cream and mint sprig, if using, and serve.
This recipe was written by Peggy Lampman and originally posted on AnnArbor.com on April 15, 2011.