Garlic-Sage Grilled Chicken
Confession: I like chicken thighs. There, I said it. I know, I know, I’m a dietitian and therefore should be preprogrammed to prefer chicken breast, right? Wrong! This girl likes the dark meat – it’s more flavorful, juicier, and is really hard to overcook so it tastes yummy almost every time!
My 4-year-old calls the dark meat “soft meat” and always asks for it over the breast meat. He and I think alike – okay, well, when it comes to chicken anyway!
With the warmer temps (finally!), I’ve been doing a lot more grilling and find chicken to be super quick and easy to make for dinner. So, it’s been happening at least once a week around here. I also just planted my herbs (yay!) so I have a good variety to use when cooking. I’ve had to hold myself back a little bit to let the herbs get more established before really digging into them. The sage was already a good-size plant when I bought it, and I couldn’t resist the idea of pairing it with garlic and lemon so I gave in and did some snipping.
I wanted the garlic to hit me in the face when I took a bit so I used 1 clove per chicken thigh. It worked, although it was a mellow punch due to the lemon juice in the marinade and the effect of grilling. By using both lemon peel and lemon juice, the lemon flavor comes through but isn’t overly tart – just the way I like it! And the sage, well, I don’t need to say much except that it tasted so fresh and complimented the garlic and lemon so well. Of course, if you prefer a different herb or have something different on hand, most anything will work well here – rosemary, thyme, even cilantro would all be beautiful.
As for using chicken thighs over breast meat, it’s totally a personal preference. Either cut will work great (drumsticks too, for that matter), just use fewer chicken breast halves (about 6) since they are larger, and I would tend to use boneless breast halves when grilling. Cook chicken thighs (or drumsticks) to 180°F and chicken breast halves to 170°F.
This recipe is a hit with my family, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Garlic-Sage Grilled Chicken How-To Photos:
These simple ingredients will do wonders to your weeknight chicken!
When you take the peel off the lemon, don’t press too hard. You don’t want to pick up any of the bitter white pith.
Mix the marinade ingredients together.
The marinade is fairly thick but clings to the chicken well, giving it good flavor.
The chicken will take 16 to 20 minutes over medium heat. Avoid turning it too soon or the chicken is more likely to stick.
Garlic-Sage Grilled Chicken
Yield: 4 to 8 servings (depending if you eat 1 or 2 chicken thighs)
Nutrition Info (per chicken thigh): 151 cals, 20 g pro, 1 g carb, 7 g fat, 96 mg cholesterol, 1 g sat fat, 0 g fiber, 318 mg sodium
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse-ground mustard
8 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (use a bit more if you use coarse salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds total), skin removed
1. Using a very fine shredder*, finely shred the lemon peel, taking care not to press too firmly so you don’t remove any of the bitter white pith. You should get about 2 teaspoons peel. Cut the lemon in half and juice the lemon. You should get about 3 tablespoons. In a small bowl combine the lemon peel, lemon juice, sage, olive oil, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper.
2. Place chicken thighs in a large zip top bag. Add the lemon mixture. Seal bag; gently turn the bag until all the chicken is coated in marinade. Chill for 4 to 8 hours, turning bag occasionally.
3. Remove chicken from the bag and place on a preheated grill rack directly over medium heat (or coals). Cover and grill for 16 to 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (an instant-read thermometer inserted into chicken should register 180°F), turning once halfway through grilling.
*TIP: I prefer to use a Microplane® shredder to get very finely shredded peel from any citrus fruit.