A simple marinade for chicken makes a delicious dinner in a busy household. It's so easy it feels like cheating.
I have a 1-year-old, a 4-year-old, a husband, a job, a garden, a yard, and a house that we're always semi-renovating, among other things. In short, I have no time. Yet we still need to eat, quite regularly, in fact. And I want what we eat to be both delicious and good for us. So I am a big fan of this simple chicken – it's so easy and so good. And the grilling makes for easier clean up, too.
I like to use boneless, skinless thighs. Thighs are juicier than breasts, cook more quickly and are the perfect size, no cutting required. They're also a lot cheaper than breasts.
As always, try to find meat from a farmer near you that uses humane and organic practices. Just a note that many small farmers can't afford to get organic certification even though they do farm using organic methods. So not having certification is not necessarily a reason to rule a good local source out. The beauty of buying locally is that you can go and visit to see for yourself and/or ask around to get a better sense of what a farm is like. (Or, if you live around here, you can also just go to Fleishers Meats in Kingston, N.Y.!)
It does not take much time to prepare this chicken but you do need to start in the morning by throwing together a quick marinade. I like to use olive oil, fresh rosemary, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a little bit of salad dressing which I think of as "flavor in a bottle." (I can practically hear the little gasps of shock and horror from the purists!)
Although I am now beyond redemption in the eyes of true foodies, I will note for the rest of you that I do use a good quality, organic dressing with only unobjectionable ingredients that comes in a glass bottle. And, while I'm confessing all my shameful secrets, I should add that I sometimes use bottled organic lemon juice if I don't have any fresh lemons in the house.
It only takes a few minutes to throw all of this stuff together, promise. Then let the chicken soak up those good flavors all day in the fridge.
When dinner time rolls around, throw the chicken onto a pre-heated grill and cook them over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning them once.
I really hate to throw away a good marinade. So sometimes, I dump it into a frying pan and let it cook down for a few minutes (sometimes I add a little white wine) until I have a nice pan sauce to ladle over the grilled chicken and the quinoa. But that is totally optional, of course.
I like to serve this with quinoa cooked in vegetable broth (so much tastier that way) and either baked sweet potatoes or a salad but it goes well with lots of things if those ideas don't appeal to you.
Simple Grilled Chicken
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs from a farm near you (if you have a lot of big meat eaters to feed, you may want to increase to 1-1/2 lbs)
For the marinade:
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of two lemons (orange, grapefruit, or tangerine would work well, too)
1/4 cup Italian or Caesar salad dressing (use a good one!)
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary, rinsed, dried, stems removed and needles chopped
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare the marinade by whisking all the ingredients together.
2. Place the chicken thighs in the marinade, turning to coat all sides. I usually stick the meat with a fork a bunch of times to let more flavor soak in. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to a day.
3. Light the grill and let it heat up to high then clean with a wire brush. Lower the heat to medium and place the chicken thighs on the grate. Cover and cook for 5 minutes then turn and cook for 5 more minutes or until tested done. Remove from the meat from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.