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Give lean, protein-packed chicken breasts a taste of Provence

By Melissa d'Arabian, Associated Press
Associated Press
The rose wine in the marinade for Chicken Breasts Provencal imparts a slightly sweet flavor.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts are a convenient go-to for so many cooks. The mild flavor makes them incredibly versatile, so it's easy to slip this cut of chicken into almost any recipe or flavor profile. Chicken breasts are one of the leanest cuts of meat available, with a quarter pound boasting 34 grams of protein and only 4 grams of fat.

The challenge with such low fat is, of course, keeping the meat tender and juicy. Even a minute or two extra of cook time can take dinner from succulent to stringy. Grilling breasts brings extra risk, since cooking temperatures are high, narrowing the timing window, so it's even more important to get it just right.

The biggest trick is getting the inside meat to cook before the outside meat gets tough. For the best results, use smaller chicken cutlets. Organic or free-range chicken breasts solve this problem completely, or if you have larger conventional cutlets, trim them in half or thirds before cooking. Next, avoid cooking the meat when it's super cold by allowing it to sit at room temperature for a half-hour before grilling. And heat the grill only to medium-high, or if using charcoal, avoid putting breasts on the hottest part of the grill. Chicken breast meat is usually done a minute or two before I suspect it will be. I always rely on an inexpensive meat thermometer so I'm sure to remove the chicken right at 160 degrees. I let it rest for five minutes to keep the meat at maximum juiciness.

This recipe for Chicken Breasts Provencal is inspired by ingredients typical of the region of Provence in the south of France but easily found in a well-stocked American supermarket. Rose wine is the secret behind the simple marinade, which imparts a lightly sweet flavor. Olives — try to grab a handful of interesting ones at the salad bar — and roasted red peppers from a jar add Mediterranean color. A tiny bit of balsamic syrup brings a bit of welcomed acidity. Your family will enjoy this dish because of its flavors, while you'll know how healthy it actually is.