Lemon Garlic Chicken

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell

Marinating chicken in a bottle of Italian dressing must be among the most popular kitchen convenience ideas ever to come out of the Kraft test kitchen. Seal everything up in a plastic bag, pop it in the fridge for a few hours, throw the chicken on the grill. Couldn’t be easier for sure, but if you ever make your own salad dressings, then the bottled stuff, even as a marinade, can taste a little cloying and empty.

Instead, swap the bottle for a knock-out, change-up to your summer grilled chicken routine with a Mediterranean-style marinade of fresh lemon juice, lots of fresh garlic, a little oil, a few herbs, and salt and pepper.

Lemon Garlic Chicken suits every part of the bird so cook what you like–whole chicken halves, leg/thigh combos, breasts, even wings. The keys to this great summer main dish or party platter are a strong punchy marinade that’s well absorbed in the chicken and a solid method to get the meat cooked right.

Grilling chicken has it’s hazards – blackening and burning when the skin gets too much heat and drying out the meat or not quite cooking it to a safe doneness, especially at the leg-thigh joint.  Plus, chicken has the challenge of containing two distinct parts–the dark leg/thing meat that needs to reach about 175°F, while the white breast meat that only needs to hit 160°F. If any of these experiences have resonated with you in the past, you’ll love our hybrid indoor/outdoor method.

First, oven-roast the chicken for 30 to 40 minutes and then finish it on the grill right before you serve it. This way the bulk of the cooking is safely done with consistent, controllable oven heat and the chicken picks up the best part of the grill – a crisp smoky skin. Plus, if you baste the chicken generously with the pan juices as it finishes on the grill for ten or so minutes, the lemony, garlicky smoky haze that takes over the backyard is really quite impressive, even a few doors down.

Our recipe calls for our favorite dark meat, but substitute your preference. Make extra because it’s usually better the next day.

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