Grilled lemon chicken and the accompanying salad is one of Brett and my all-time favorite summer meals, and in fact, I almost cannot imagine serving the chicken without the salad or vice-versa (although I did this last week as we had a lot of vegetables to use up and I roasted those instead).
This chicken recipe comes from a childhood neighbor. Babe, as he was called, was famous for his grilled chicken wings, and my sister was able to get his “secret” recipe from his daughter only after Babe passed away. These days I usually substitute boneless, skinless thighs for the chicken wings because wings, while tasty, can be fatty (which we don’t like) and admittedly messy, and because, once again, we prefer the flavor of thigh meat. There is no reason though why an entire cut-up chicken, or just chicken legs or breasts could not be marinated and cooked, if desired. The lemon juice in the marinade sort of “pre-cooks” the meat a little, and the chicken becomes extremely tender when it’s grilled.
The Mediterranean-style quinoa salad recipe also comes from my sister, and we think it complements the lemon chicken perfectly. Quinoa is very easy to prepare (if you have a rice cooker, it’s even easier). I add the raisins and dried cranberries to the quinoa while it’s still slightly warm as it helps to soften them, and then add the rest of the ingredients when everything has cooled to room temperature.
GRILLED LEMON CHICKEN (“BABE’S WINGS”)
2 pounds chicken wings (drumettes preferred) or boneless, skinless chicken thighs
juice from 6-8 lemons
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP dry basil
2 tsp crushed garlic
salt & pepper to taste
Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken and refridgerate for at least 8 hours, turning the meat frequently (I usually use a big Ziploc bag). Prepare barbecue grill (medium coals) and grill chicken until done, about 5 minutes total on each side, longer if you’re using larger cuts. It can be served hot or cold, and is delicious either way.
4 cups cooked quinoa, room temperature
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
Add raisins, cranberries, red onion, chopped parsley and chopped mint to quinoa and mix to combine. Toss with olive oil and vinegar; add salt & pepper to taste. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving to let flavors blend. If possible, add the raisins and cranberries when the quinoa is still warm to “plump” them.