OK so maybe I’m not enough of an authority to say “EVER,” but as far as I’m concerned there’s no marinade out there that’s a) easier; or b) packs more flavor per minute invested. It’s not earth-shattering or especially new, it’s just delicious. If you’ve got five minutes to throw it all together and twenty minutes to let it sit before cooking, that’s all you need to infuse your chicken* with herbal fabulosity. Use the marinating time to prepare a salad, or clean some dishes, or check your email…You can fill twenty minutes, can’t you?
The idea first came to me this summer, when the herbs at the farmer’s market were so abundant that I just couldn’t walk away without six or seven varieties. Spending hours cooking never appeals to me in warmer months, so one night I just threw this together. S and I were both so knocked out by the fresh, light flavor that I wound up making it practically every week. I wouldn’t necessarily use six herbs every time—the standards were flat-leaf parsley, basil, and mint. Now that the weather’s turned it’s been a while since we’ve had it, but I picked up some parsley, rosemary, and oregano the other day and figured I’d give them a try. The chicken tastes heartier now, but that suits the cooler months and it’s every bit as tasty.
* I’m betting this would be absolutely wonderful on a simple fillet of fish (tho I’d marinate it for more like ten minutes). S hates fish (arrrrgh), so I’ve never had the chance to try it.
Simple Herb Marinade
Makes enough for 6-8 chicken breasts
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
A good handful each of assorted herbs (really, it works with just about any mix)
3 or 4 T. lemon juice (I use that ReaLemon stuff for things like this—I’m too lazy sometimes to squeeze the fresh ones)
½ t. peperoncino picante paste (an Asian chili paste would work too, I bet)
Freshly ground black pepper
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
(I use kosher chicken, so I don’t add salt. If your chix’s not kosher or brined, do add some)
Put the garlic in a mini-food processor (we got one as a wedding gift, and although I scoffed at it initially, I totally love it now. You could use a blender if you don’t have one, or chop by hand). Whir the cloves around for a couple seconds, just to break it down a bit.
Add remaining ingredients except the chicken, and whir until they’re good and blended.
The marinade will be thick, and sort of yellowy-green. It will probably look like there isn’t enough to coat all the chicken, but there is.
Put the chicken in a glass bowl and pour the marinade on top. Mix it around until all pieces are coated. Don’t worry if they’re not luxuriating in a pool of marinade—the flavors will penetrate.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge while you do something else for about twenty minutes. If you think of it, toss the pieces around once or twice while it’s steeping. If you forget, don’t sweat it.
After the chicken’s had a chance to sit, turn on the broiler (or the George Foreman grill). Arrange the breasts on the broiler pan and cook for 5-8 minutes per side, or until it’s gently browned. In my oven it’s really easy to overcook these suckers, so keep a close eye!
Serve with a salad and rice—when I’m truly lazy, nothing beats Near Eastpilaf. Make twice as much chicken as you can eat in one meal, since it’s so good in salads or sandwiches, or cut up and thrown into a pasta primavera, or…