Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen
As invented by the Bonanza Steakhouse chain, Chicken Monterey consisted of a boneless chicken breast in the restaurant’s “exclusive Monterey marinade,” flame-broiled and then topped with bacon strips and melted Monterey Jack cheese. America’s Test Kitchen’s challenge was to create a version that would work for home grillers. Their first attempts were bland and dry. They then started butterflying boneless, skinless chicken breasts to provide more surface area for tasty char developed a simple mixture of honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper for the marinade that could also double as a basting sauce on the grill. While the chicken cooked on the hotter side of the grill, they let red onion slices—basted with the reserved fat from cooking the bacon—soften on the cooler side of the grill. The combination of the grilled chicken topped with the smoky onions and a mixture of cooked diced bacon and spicy shredded pepper Jack cheese was a winner.
Skewer the onion slices with a toothpick to keep them from falling apart on the grill. You won’t need an entire red onion for this recipe; you can use the remainder to make Pico de Gallo (recipe follows).
- ½ cup Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup honey
- Salt and pepper
- 4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
- 4 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 6 ounces pepper Jack cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
- 4 (½-inch-thick) slices red onion
- Lime wedges
- Whisk mustard, honey, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a bowl. Reserve ¼ cup honey-mustard mixture for basting the chicken. Transfer remaining honey-mustard mixture to 1-gallon zipper lock bag.
- Working with 1 breast at a time, starting on the thick side, cut chicken in half horizontally, stopping ½ inch from the edge so halves remain attached. Open up breast-like book, creating a single flat piece. Place chicken in the bag with the honey-mustard mixture, toss to coat, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, cook bacon in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate. Reserve bacon fat. Once cool, toss the bacon with pepper Jack.
- For a charcoal grill: Open the bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour two-thirds evenly over half of the grill, then pour the remaining coals over the other half of the grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave the primary burner on high and turn other burners to medium.
- Clean and oil cooking grate. Push toothpick horizontally through each onion slice to keep rings intact while grilling. Brush onion slices lightly with reserved bacon fat and place on the cooler side of the grill. Place chicken on hotter side of grill, cover, and cook until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Flip onion slices and chicken. Brush chicken with reserved honey-mustard mixture, cover, and cook until lightly charred on the second side, about 5 minutes.
- Remove onion slices from the grill and move chicken to the cooler side of the grill. Quickly remove toothpicks and separate onion rings. Divide onion rings evenly among chicken breasts. Divide bacon–pepper Jack mixture evenly over onion rings. Cover and cook until pepper Jack is melted and chicken registers 160 degrees, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.
Pico de Gallo
Makes about 1½ cups
To make this sauce spicier, include the jalapeño ribs and seeds.
- 3 tomatoes, cored and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
Toss tomatoes with salt in a bowl. Transfer to a colander and let drain for 30 minutes. Combine drained tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and garlic in the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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