Sunday, July 22, 2018

Marinated Chicken on the Grill with Zesty Drizzling Oil

I always say I am not the world's biggest chicken fan but my family remains unconvinced. They say that for someone who claims not to like it, I sure make it a lot (a bit of an overstatement, if you ask me). The truth is, it's not that I really dislike chicken, it's that so much chicken out there is underwhelming, mediocre, and sometimes, awful. While I generally see chicken as a vehicle for other flavors, I will grant that when it's perfectly cooked perfectly, it doesn't need all that much enhancement. My rules for chicken are simple - bone in and skin on. With those two starting points, you're already ahead of the game. 

Marinated Chicken on the Grill with Zesty Drizzling Oil, Photo: NK 

The zesty marinade and drizzling oil that I will share with you today is perfect for chicken on the bone. The basic marinade paired with a bright and tangy dressing for serving come together to make a chicken dish that manages to be super juicy and flavorful, without taking away from understated greatness of well-cooked chicken. I like to use a mix of drums and thighs but you can select any combination of chicken pieces, including breast. 

After the marinade is prepared, I throw the chicken in a large gallon Ziploc and pour it in so it can sit in the fridge 4 hours or so. Jiggle the bag here and there to distribute the flavor. You can now make the drizzling oil ahead. Once grilled (or cooked), plate the chicken and drizzle it over each piece, reserving some for any guests that would like a little extra.

Zesty Grilled Chicken Marinade
Serves 4 

1/3 Cup Olive Oil 
Small Sweet Pepper
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt 
1 small Hot Red Chile (or Jalapeno), roughly chopped 
1 large Lemon, (zested and zest set aside) cut in half, another large Lemon, cut in half for grilling 
1 tablespoon White Wine or White Vinegar
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice (squeezed from one of the Lemon Halves)
Handful of chopped Parsley 

Combine all ingredients and pour over chicken in a plastic bag or sealed container. Marinate in the fridge for 4 hours, turning occasionally. Bring to room temperature, scrape away the marinade from the chicken pieces and grill. Grill the second lemon cut sides down on the grill alongside the chicken (towards the end of the cook time) for a pretty, utilitarian garnish. To serve, plate the chicken and drizzle with the infused oil over it (recipe follows below). Scatter torn parsley around the platter and finish with the lemon halves. 

Infused Drizzling Oil
Enough for 4 Servings 

1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons finely minced mini Sweet Peppers (two or more colors if possible) 
Finely minced Hot Chile to taste (1/2 teaspoon is a good start) 
3 Garlic Cloves, 2 whole and crushed, 1 clove minced finely and set aside
2 teaspoons Lemon Zest 
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon White Wine or White Vinegar
Handful Curly Parsley, torn 
Salt to taste

Warm the Olive Oil over a low flame with 2 whole cloves crushed garlic until the garlic starts to become slightly golden and fragrant, but not burnt. Remove the whole cloves and discard. Add the hot chile, sweet peppers, lemon zest and 1 clove minced fresh garlic. Warm for another minute or two and turn off the flam. Add the lemon juice and white wine vinegar. Cool the drizzling oil and then and add salt to taste. Reserve until chicken is cooked and drizzle over each piece.  Enjoy!