This wonderfully, easy seven ingredient recipe comes straight from the grill to you with a delicious burst of fresh citrus flavor and the tang of Carolina barbecue sauce. You can substitute any sauce you desire. I, however, prefer the vinegar-based Carolina sauces, which go well with the honey and addition of citrus juices and zest.
Honey, whether it be orange or plain, adds to the overall sweetness of the final sauce when added during the last stages of cooking. You don't want to add the honey early because the sugar will caramelize and burn on the grill when you add the chicken to the grill.
Make sure to watch your cooking times. If you use a chicken breast that is thick on one side and thin on the other end, then you will have to adjust your times accordingly so as to not overcook or undercook the meat.
Scott C. Anderson is associate food service director and chef with Shepherd University dining services in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Chef Ambassador to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
BBQ Citrus chicken breasts
8 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups orange Juice
1 1/2 cups Carolina-style barbecue sauce of your own choosing
1 tablespoon minced orange zest
1/2 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup orange blossom honey (or favorite variety)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large dish, place chicken breasts into orange juice. Refrigerate for at least an hour to marinate.
In a large metal bowl, combine barbecue sauce, orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice and honey. Separate into two 1-cup portions and set aside.
Remove chicken from the marinade. Discard marinade. Season with salt and pepper, then place on a preheated grill. Grill on each side, turning to mark the chicken.
When flipping the chicken for the last time, brush with the reserved barbecue sauce mixture and continue cooking until the chicken is no longer pink and registers 160 degrees. Toss any remaining sauce used to brush chicken.
Pull off grill and allow chicken to sit, tented under foil, for at least 5 minutes to reabsorb internal juices and check for an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Serve with reserved sauce that was not used to brush on chicken.