Wow... this is hands-down one of the best recipes I have ever made! I love the grilled chicken tenderloins from Cracker Barrel because they are so simply dressed, but are so moist and delicious. I had actually been hankering for a trip down to Cracker Barrel but since it's in the heart of the outlets in Lancaster there was no way we were venturing down there two weeks before Christmas! Thankfully, through my new obsession Pinterest, I came across a recipe proclaiming itself to be just like Cracker Barrel's tenderloins, but even better. It was so easy and so delicious. Like I said, it was the best dinner I ever made. This afternoon I prepared one serving fresh, but I also prepared a second serving to freeze. I've been doing a lot of research and reading up on once a month cooking in which you prepare are your meats for cooking one day a month and then pull them out of the freezer when you are ready for them. One underlying principle that keeps coming up is freezing your meat with the marinade already mixed in. Apparently this not only eliminates a few steps allowing a meal to be even easier to prepare, but as the meat thaws it better absorbs the marinade for maximum moisture and flavor. So, the second serving is in the freezer and awaiting its turn! I'll let you know how that goes after we give it a try.
When the time comes to cook up the chicken it will look like there is way too much marinade. But the magic in this recipe is when everything caramelizes. In the pictures it will look like the chicken is burnt, but it's not! The marinade turns a wonderful, thick mess of gooey deliciousness. Be sure to scrape out every bit before serving!
The recipe I used to make this called for 4 chicken breasts cut into tender strips or 2 lbs total meat. That's way too much for us so, like I said, I prepared enough marinade for 2 pounds, but used 1/2 for tonight's meal (which was 7 chicken strips, less than a pound) and used the other 1/2 for the freezer portion.
Grilled Chicken Tenderloins
2 lbs Chicken tenderloins (or boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips)
1 cup zesty Italian dressing
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp honey
1. In a measuring cup, pour out 1 cup of the Italian dressing. Add 2 tsp lime juice and 1 tsp honey. Stir together.
2. In a plastic bag, add your chicken. Use 1/2 cup of the marinade for each pound of chicken. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. But, the longer the better :)
3. Pour ingredients into a skillet and cook over medium heat (4-5) for about 40 minutes. It will look like a lot of liquid, but as it cooks it thickens and caramelizes.
4. Before serving, take each piece of chicken and really swirl it into the caramelized marinade. This is where all the flavor is!