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Grilled Lemon Chicken Breasts
The Washington Post Wine Club Grilled Lemon Chicken Breasts

Grilled Lemon Chicken Breasts

The tart brightness of lemon mates beautifully with the charred flavor of grilled chicken. Marinating the chicken keeps it juicy. Direct grilling crisps the skin, while cooking the chicken in indirect heat keeps the skin from burning and the meat from drying out.
Wine Pairing
Wine Pairing
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus the juice from 3 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (4 to 4 1/2 pounds total)
Whisk together the salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, lemon zest and juice and the oil in a liquid measuring cup. Pour into a gallon-size zip-top bag; add the chicken breasts and seal, pressing as much air out as possible. Massage to coat. Refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.

Prepare the grill for indirect heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium (375 to 400 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal; when the coals are ready, distribute them on one side of the cooking area. For a medium fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 6 or 7 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.

Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade; discard the marinade. Arrange the breasts skin side down on the grill over direct heat; cook, uncovered, until the skin begins to crisp and blacken, about 5 minutes. Use long-handled tongs to move the chicken to the indirect-heat side of the grill, turning the pieces so they are skin side up. Close the lid and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the interior temperature of the meat (taken away from the bone) registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Use the tongs to move the chicken back to the direct-heat side of the grill, turning the pieces skin side down. Cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes to crisp the skin. (The added time over the heat will not affect the internal temperature because the chicken won't be there for long.)

Transfer the chicken to a platter; let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin. Tested by Andrew Sikkenga.

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