Sunday, May 23, 2010

In the mood for quick-grilling chicken

I love how quick and easy it is to grill boneless, skinless chicken breasts.   Marinades and basting sauces can take care of any problems that you might have had in the past with bland or dried out grilled chicken.  These three recipes take a little prep work but it can all be done hours in advance.  Then the actual grilling time is very short...perfect for summer evenings. 

Grilled Peanut Chicken Kabobs
This recipe is adapted from a book that I found, about 20 years ago, in Crate and Barrel.  It was part of a display for  the summer grilling season and it has been my grilling bible ever since.  It is called Grill Book, New Foods and Flavors for the Grill.

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 cilantro sprigs, minced
1-2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces

Combine first nine ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend well to emulsify, adding a few drops of water if the mixture is too thick.  Mix the marinade and the chicken pieces and stir well to coat evenly.  Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.  Thread chicken onto metal skewers and grill over a medium hot heat for 8-10 minutes.  It is best to let the chicken brown well on one side before you try and turn the skewers.  The marinade forms a nice crust that makes it easier to release them from the grill.  Then you can turn them several more times to grill all sides easily.  Serves 4-5

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Thyme Gremolata
(Serves 8)

This is a combination of two recipes.  Does that make it my own?  Not sure... so let me give credit.  The marinade is Ina Garten's and the Thyme Gremolata is from a recipe in Gourmet magazine in June of 1995.  Everyone loves this chicken.  For children, I sometimes remove the lemon slices, after they have had a chance to sit for a bit to add flavor, and slice the chicken up to serve.  But don't skip any of the toppings...they are what make this recipe special.

8-10 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

For gremolata:
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

paper-thin lemon slices

Prepare the chicken breasts by trimming away all visible fat and pounding them to an even thickness so that they will grill evenly.  In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  Marinate the chicken for 4-6 hours.  Prepare gremolata by chopping the thyme leaves, garlic and lemon zest together until you have a very finely minced mixture.  Set aside.  Have the paper thin lemon slices ready as well.  

Before grilling the chicken, I recommend removing it from the marinade and using a paper towel to remove excess marinade.  This will help minimize any flare ups on the grill.  Grill the chicken over medium high heat until golden brown on both sides.  Place hot chicken breasts on a serving platter and immediately place 2-3 lemon slices on each breast.  Sprinkle generously with the gremolata and cover the whole platter with aluminum foil and let rest for about 5 minutes to let the flavors melt into the chicken. Serve warm.  

Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Dressing
 This chicken gets a double dose of flavor from the yogurt marinade and the lemon dressing.  It is based on a Cooks Country recipe for Grilled Chicken Kabobs that was published in June, 2006.  That is  a wonderful kabob recipe (with red onion and red bell peppers) but sometimes I want something quicker and simpler so this is how I do it.  

For the marinade:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to an even thickness

For the dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Whisk together all marinade ingredients.  Add chicken and marinate 4-6 hours.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.  

Grill chicken over high heat until nicely browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side depending on their size.  Transfer to serving platter and brush with the lemon basil dressing.  Sometimes I serve these whole but often, I slice the chicken and drizzle with the dressing as seen below.  


  1. This looks fantastic. I've heard the yogurt really keeps chicken moist. I'm on a Greek Yogurt kick, so we'll try this soon!!

  2. Margaret and Anna!

    Yipee- new recipes! Thank you so much for sharing! Sadly no outdoor space in NY therefore now grill... want to try the Kabobs on my grill pan though! Will let you know how it goes!



  3. Lee shared your blog with his "team" at Old Salem, and Tom forwarded it to me. I have read all your posts, and I love your commentary, recipies and photos! Thank you very much for doing this. I will be an avid fan.
    Jocelyn Connors

  4. love the quick-grilling chicken. thanks for teaching us this many years ago. paired best with an ipa. try bell's two-hearted ale. oh, by the way I got some ideas on how to make this BIG

  5. Heaven!
    Even with a couple shortcuts (ground ginger, not fresh - 5 hour marinate time) this thrilled my entire family!! It was simply delicious and so easy to make.
    Looking forward to trying a dessert recipe next.

  6. Glad you enjoyed it. One thing to remember...dried ginger and fresh ginger are very different in taste and texture. Dried ginger is mainly used for baking. If you do decide to substitute, only use about 1/4 teaspoon of dried ginger per 1 teaspoon fresh.

  7. Oh my gosh, this look delicious! And so beautiful! Your photographs are gorgeous.
    I've recently launched my own blog, I'd love for you to check it out and let me know what you think :)
    Thanks, and Happy Cooking!!!

  8. My son made the peanut chicken kebabs last night -- they were delicious , we heated up the peanut marinade in a small saucepan to get rid of possible contamination with the raw chicken and used it as a sauce for the chicken, really good