Grilled chicken is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, a BBQ with family and friends, or, your family gathering for Memorial Day. My go-to recipe for grilled chicken has bright, assertive, traditional, Greek flavors and my simple method of cooking produces juicy, tender chicken every time. The secrets to any successful grilling are: a good marinade, meat that is pounded to an even thickness, and, a good rub of oil on the preheated grate so the meat (or fish) does not stick.
This flavorful marinade can also be used for grilled chicken kebabs or grilled pork tenderloin. It is important to remember to reserve a little of the marinade to brush on the cooked chicken when it is finished cooking–this makes all the difference. Leftover grilled chicken is delicious sliced and added to cooked pasta or to a salad.
“Smashed” oven-roasted potatoes are easy and fun to make. I like the small new potatoes, (red or yellow) because they hold their shape and they crisp well in the oven. To round off this al fresco meal, I have paired the chicken and potatoes with a traditional Greek salad, grilled herbed flat bread, tzatziki, and, slices of sautéed zucchini.
Happy Memorial Day everybody!
Greek-Style Grilled Chicken
- 1 TBSP. lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 3 med. garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
- 1 tsp. dried spearmint
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ lbs. chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
- — salt & freshly ground pepper
- Prepare the marinade: zest the lemon over a medium bowl, making sure you do not grate any of the pith. Add the juice of the lemons. Mince the garlic (or grate it with a microplane) and add it to the bowl. Next, add the olive oil, oregano, spearmint, salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients. Reserve one-third of your marinade to brush over the cooked chicken before serving.
- Even out the thickness: place the chicken (a few pieces at a time) in a re-sealable plastic bag and flatten by pounding the thicker parts of the breast until they match the thinnest part of it (about a ¾” thickness). If the chicken breasts are too thick, butterfly them by cutting them lengthwise. Place the chicken into the bowl and mix well to coat the chicken with the marinade. (Alternatively, you can mix everything in a large, zip-lock-style bag; tossing regularly). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
- Grill the chicken: clean the grate of the grill well and heat over medium-high heat (400°–450° F). Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a tray. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Rub some vegetable oil on the grate of the grill. Place the chicken on the hot grill over direct heat, cover, and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, turning once. The chicken should be cooked through and have nice grill marks. You can use an instant-read thermometer to check–it should read 160° F (The temperature will continue to rise to 165° F while the chicken rests.) Brush some of the reserved marinade on the hot chicken and remove to a serving plate. Cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 5-6 minutes.
“Smashed” Roasted Potatoes with Herbs
- 8-10 sm. red potatoes
- 3 TBSP. olive oil
- — salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2-3 TBSP. fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano) minced
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook them until they are fork-tender but not completely cooked.
- Preheat the oven to 450° F.
- Line a medium pan with parchment paper or foil. Place the tender potatoes on the baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between each potato.
- With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90° and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with olive oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with plenty of salt, freshly ground black pepper and the minced herbs.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.
- Serve hot with a sprinkle of some extra coarse sea salt and another drizzle of your best olive oil.