May 12, 2011

Chicken Breasts with Hoisin Grilling Sauce

I've been doing a fair bit of grilling lately, so when I got the current issue of Cook's Illustrated (May/June 2011), I gave it a close look for ideas.  That issue featured a set of recipes for grilling sauces, including a Hoisin Grilling Sauce that looked pretty good.   I ended up not using that specific recipe, though I did use it as a starting point.

Some people like to sauce the chicken breasts before starting to cook them, but in my experience this ends up just wasting most of the sauce, plus it greatly increases the chance of ending up with a burned mess.  I prefer to season the chicken breasts, grill one side, flip the breasts, apply the sauce, flip again, apply the sauce on the second side, and cook them a bit longer before serving.  By doing it this way, you lose less of the sauce and it is a lot less likely to burn.

I served up these chicken breasts with a batch of Asian Vegetable Stir-Fry with Noodles and Crab Rangoon.  The various Asian flavors complemented each other nicely, and together these dishes made for a tasty and memorable meal.

Chicken Breasts with Hoisin Grilling Sauce

yield = 6 servings

1/2             cup hoisin sauce
3                tablespoons rice vinegar
3                tablespoons pineapple juice
1                tablespoon soy sauce
1                tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1                teaspoon minced garlic
1/2             teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1                pinch Chinese five-spice powder
1/3             cup water
1/3             cup granulated sugar
6                boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed
                        of excess fat
                  kosher salt (to taste)

Combine hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and five-spice powder in a small bowl.  Stir to mix, then set aside.

Add water to a small saucepan, then pour the sugar into the middle of the pan.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then uncover and continue to boil until the mixture makes a thick, straw-colored syrup (about 5 minutes).  Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until the syrup turns a rich, golden color.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the hoisin sauce mixture.  Return to medium heat and stir until the sugar mixture has dissolved into the sauce and the sauce has thickened.

While preparing the grill, dry the chicken breasts with paper towels and season them on both sides with kosher salt.   When the grill is ready, toss the chicken breasts on the grill.  Grill for 4 minutes, flip the breasts and baste the cooked side with the grilling sauce.   Cook another 4 minutes, flip the breasts again, and baste the second side with the remainder of the sauce.  Cook about 1 minute, then remove the breasts to a serving platter.  Tent with foil for 2-3 minutes, then serve.

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