Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fennel & citrus grilled chicken - Memorial Day inspiration!

I know it's easy to default to easy-peasy boneless, skinless chicken on the grill (no shame in that - it has it's time & place) but if we are talking true, crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside, finger-lickin' good BBQ chicken, you definitely need to go for the bone-in, skin-on bird.

True, it takes a little more tending, but the efforts are well worth it.  I always use indirect heat (see recipe) when cooking this kind of chicken - there are less flare-ups and the potential for blackened, burnt skin is minimized.

This marinade is really delicious, too - the fennel is amazing.  It calls for a mortar & pestle for grinding up the whole fennel seeds.  If you don't have one here's your excuse to invest (I prefer porcelain or granite to wood). They are a great addition to any well-stocked kitchen & easy to find online.  Grinding up whole spices yourself is so much more flavorful than store-bought and kind of fun (you can pound & grind some aggression out).  You can also whip up an amazing pesto or even guacamole in one of these guys.

So, grab a cold one, head outside and settle into your place tendin' the's a great place to chat during your Memorial Day cookout.

Serves 4-6

2 t. whole fennel seed
1 T. chopped garlic
1 t. kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
zest of 1 lemon
1 t. orange zest
2 T. chopped fresh oregano
3 T. olive oil
4 whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick attached) - about 2 1/2 pounds

Using a mortar & pestle, pound fennel seeds until coarsely broken.  Add chopped garlic, salt, pepper, lemon & orange zest, oregano and olive oil to mortar bowl.  Grind ingredients around the sides and bottom of the mortar with the pestle creating a thick, slightly chunky paste.

Rub chicken legs with the fennel & herb marinade.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight.

Preheat your grill to high for at least 10 minutes.  Let it get good & hot!

Remove chicken from refrigerator and place on a sheet pan.  Season lightly with a little more kosher salt.

Rub hot grill grates with an oil soaked paper towel & tongs.  Place chicken legs on grill over high heat.  Sear skin about 3 minutes per side - we are looking for some nice grill marks on both sides.  Put out any flare ups with a spray bottle of water.

Turn off the heat under half of the grill (or move coals to one side) and place chicken on the unheated side.  Leave the other half of the grill's heat on high.  Close lid and cook chicken about 20 minutes over indirect heat, turning frequently.  

Remove chicken when an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees and juices run clear.  Let chicken rest 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

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