Monday was the first day of spring, and this is giving me hope that I will see the sun at some point in the near future. The first glimmer of sunshine sends me straight to the grill, and since we got a peek of it one day last week, figured it was high time to make some Limoncello chicken. This is not your ordinary lemon chicken – we’ve got the ultimate lemon infused marinade, but that’s not where we end things. After grilling we very generously drizzle the chicken with a creamy vinaigrette that has both Limoncello and the juice of grilled lemon halves. Heaven on a barbecue.
The first order of business is marinating the chicken. Olive oil, Limoncello (of course), and lots of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. There are a ton of herbs in there as well.
Time for the grill!!
Remember in the intro when I chatted about grilled lemons in the dressing? Well, here they are.. Legend has it that grilling makes lemons more mellow, so I took a big bite of one….um…not true. However, grilling gives the lemons a definite grilled taste which adds a lot of personality to the dressing.
See how easy that was?
The secret to this entire recipe is the vinaigrette. You will definitely taste lemon in the chicken without it, but holy cow, it makes a huge difference. It’s got just the right balance of smokey, sweet, and tart flavors, and any leftover is great on salads, grilled seafood, or just about anything else you can think of. Here’s a little trick: You can place your hot grilled chicken directly onto a platter of spinach, then add the dressing. The spinach wilts just a little bit, and you end of with your main protein and a nice side dish all on one platter. All you need is some crusty bread for soaking up all of those juices or some rice and you are good to go!!
Happy Springtime everyone!! Thanks so much for joining us today. xoxoxo
- Your choice of chicken: boneless, skinless thighs or breasts work just fine. (This recipe easily accommodate an amount of chicken equal to one whole chicken, or about 4 pounds of pieces)
- 2 lemons
- BRINE (Optional)
- ¼ cup salt to every quart of cold water
- 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup Limoncello
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 generous teaspoons for your favorite dried herb mix
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ½ cup Limoncello
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Zest from 2 lemons
- Juice from 2 grilled lemons
- Agave nectar to taste (to add sweetness)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- The day before serving, brine the chicken for one hour in the brine mixture noted above. Drain and set aside when time is up. (NOTE: THIS STEP IS OPTIONAL)
- For the Marinade: Combine olive oil, Limoncello, lemon juice, salt, dried herbs, and garlic. Place chicken in a zip lock bag and pour in marinade. Lay flat in a glass dish, and turn every once in awhile to make sure marinade gets a chance to infuse into all of the chicken. You can do this up to 24 hours in advance of grilling.
- To make the Vinaigrette: Remove zest from the lemons, cut in half and set aside. Combine zest with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Limoncello and Dijon Mustard. Set aside.
- When ready to smoke: Smoke for 15 minutes and remove from smoker. (THIS STEP IS OPTIONAL-just proceed straight to grilling if you don’t have a smoker or don't want to smoke the chicken).
- When ready to grill: Heat grill to medium-high. Place reserved lemon halves on the grill and grill until softened and grill marks appear. Remove chicken from marinade and grill until internal temperature reaches 165 for breasts, and 180 for thighs.
- Squeeze juice from grilled lemons into vinaigrette and mix well. Check for seasonings and add salt,pepper and agave iif needed.
- When chicken is cooked and comes off the grill, drizzle generously with Vinaigrette before chowing down.
- JUST FOR FUN: I love to place the hot chicken on a bed of spinach, then drizzle on the vinaigrette. The spinach wilts a little, and you have a delicious side dish and main course all on one platter. All you need is some crusty bread or rice and you are in business!!