Wes Hampton’s Zesty Grilled Chicken

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2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs if you prefer)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Zest and juice of two large lemons

2 1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp black pepper (or more to taste)

4 cloves freshly grated/minced garlic


Whisk together olive oil, zest and juice, garlic, and seasoning until salt is dissolved. Pour 1/3 cup of marinade into a separate container and refrigerate. Add the rest of the marinade into a gallon baggie. Trim chicken of all fat and place into the baggie with the marinade. Get as much air out of the baggie as possible and let marinate for 4-6 hours. I sometimes let mine marinate overnight.

30 minutes before grilling, remove chicken and the 1/3 cup of marinade from refrigerator and let set our until ready to cook. Preheat your grill. I get my outdoor grill to about 500 degrees before I start grilling. Cook until the internal temperature is 145 degrees F, flipping 2/3 of the way through. (If chicken is browning too quickly, move to the sides of the grill away from the direct heat and close the lid. This will continue to cook the chicken without adding too much char to the outside.) Once chicken internal temp is 145 degrees (insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part), remove from grill into a baking dish and pour 1/3 cup of reserved marinade over the chicken. Cover with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

This is one of my most requested dishes in the Hampton home. Everyone loves it! It’s so easy and is packed with flavor. It’s ideal for spring and summer or really any time of year. I know, I know… the “official done” temperature for chicken is 165 degrees F, but if you cook it until it reaches this temp, it will be completely dry and tough by the time it rests. If you allow the chicken to cook to 145 degrees and you cover it to let it rest for 15 minutes, it will be PERFECTLY done and completely safe. This carryover heat will continue to cook the chicken and increase the internal temp another 8-10 degrees. Any potential bacteria is killed instantly at 165 degrees, but it’s also killed at 145-155 degrees (and even cooler temps) after only a short amount of time. The resting chicken will most likely reach around 150-155 degrees. It will be perfectly juicy and safe to eat.

Submitted by: Wes Hampton

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