With only 5 ingredients plus the poultry pieces, pretty much anyone can tackle this super flavorful grilled chicken. We just oohed and ahhed while savoring every juicy bite. Once you taste it, I’m betting you’ll add it to your regular rotation.
Extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, garlic and herbs comprise salmoriglio, a sauce/marinade from southern Italy (specifically, Calabria and Sicily). This version is made with grated zest; some of the mixture is used for marinating bone-in chicken parts, then the juice from grilled lemon halves is added to finish the sauce just before serving.
Grilling the lemons before juicing them mellows their sharpness and acidity, adding a subtle sweetness to the sauce. We used a mixture of bone-in chicken breasts and thighs (can also include drumsticks or leg quarters). Keep in mind that the white meat is done at 160°F and the dark meat at 175°F, so the breasts may finish ahead of the dark meat. Our white meat actually took longer because one of the pieces was quite thick, so it’s good to have an instant read thermometer on hand.
If using white meat, cut the breasts halves in half again to make the pieces more uniform in size with the dark meat. Don’t use a fork to move the chicken pieces on the grill. A fork creates holes that allow juices to escape, resulting in drier meat. Use tongs instead—oh, and don’t forget protective gloves especially when squeezing those charred lemon juices into the salmoriglio sauce, they are HOT!
As sides, we served ours with a wedge salad and Patates a la Sal (Wrinkly Potatoes). They are cooked in very salty water—like the sea. By the time they are cooked through, the salt water evaporates and the potato skins become wrinkled with a white dusting of salt. They are especially tasty with a roasted garlic aioli.
Grilled Chicken Salmoriglio
- 2 lemons
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, trimmed
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Grate 2 teaspoon zest from the lemons, then halve the lemons crosswise and set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir together the zest, oil, garlic, oregano, 1¼ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Transfer ¼ cup of the mixture to a large bowl, add the chicken and turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature while preparing the grill.
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking.
- Place the chicken skin side up on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Using tongs, reposition the chicken so that the pieces furthest from the fire are now closest; keep the chicken skin-side up. Re-cover and continue to cook until the thickest part of the breast, if using, reaches 160°F or the thickest part of the thighs and drumsticks, if using, reach 175°F, another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Using tongs, flip the chicken skin-side down onto the hot side of the grill. Cook until the skin is lightly browned and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes, moving the chicken as needed to avoid flare-ups. Transfer the chicken skin side up to a platter and let rest for about 5 minutes.
- While the chicken rests, cut each lemon in half and grill the lemon halves cut side down on the hot side of the grate until grill-marked, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Squeeze 2½ tablespoons juice from 1 or 2 of the grilled lemon halves, then stir the juice along with the parsley into the reserved garlic-lemon oil to make the salmoriglio.
- Transfer the chicken skin side up to a platter and let rest for about 5 minutes.
- Serve the sauce and the remaining grilled lemon halves with the chicken.
Recipe by Laura Russell from Milk Street