That Chicken

February 10th, 2014 · 36 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Grilling


My sister called me the other morning. We were both in our cars — bluetoothing and dropping off our various charges — and figuring out a possible cousin sleepover when she said, with some urgency, “Oh! Did you get my message?”

“No, what message.”

“I left you a voice-mail with a lot of questions, but I really want to tell you about the chicken.”

“What chicken?”

“My friend Trish had a bunch of moms over for lunch recently, and she served the most delicious chicken.”

Now this was unusual. I get a lot of post-game calls about recipes, but not many of them are about poultry.

“Tell me about it,” I told her, negotiating a huge snow bank so I could park the car in front of my coffee shop.

“Well, it was served on a large platter, kind of like one that you would have, and it was room-temperature, but she served it with tiny potatoes and green beans on top of lettuce, a ton of fresh vegetables, and a vinaigrette on the side.”

Deconstructed lunch! I thought to myself.

“Someone said, ‘Oh it’s a deconstructed lunch!’ She also had some salmon, but the chicken was the star. It was so healthy and flavorful, not bland like most chicken in salad is, and it was all ready to go when we got there because she made it ahead of time.”

Maybe it was just that the night before I had a ginormous bowl of Pappardelle with Pork Ragu, and the night before that, a hearty Moroccan beef stew…or maybe it was just that we were steeling ourselves for another snowstorm that would come with more buttery, stewy richness, but when she was describing this to me I was longing for a sign of spring, even if it was in dinner-form. And man, did something light surrounded by fresh vegetables sound like the ideal antidote to this relentless winter.

“How’d she make it?”

“She marinated some breasts overnight in mayo, a little olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, and a little agave. Some fresh herbs I think. Then she grilled it.”

“On a real charcoal grill outside or in a grill pan on the stove?”

“Outside.”

Wow! Who was this Trish woman? We’re not winter grillers, especially these days, when our Weber looks like this:

But I still had to make it. The next day was a school-day, which is another way of saying a snow day, and it was clear that no work was going to get done no matter how many Sam & Cat episodes I bribed the girls with. But that chicken would get done so help me! Before I was even out of my pajamas, there were four pounded breasts steeping in a some version of Trish’s marinade. And later that night I broke out my cast iron stovetop grill. No charcoal, no charcoal chimney, no char anywhere to be found. And I obviously served it hot instead of chilled or at room temperature like Trish did. And I went with the winter vegetables I had in my fridge. But the whole process managed to thaw a few dreams of spring nonetheless.

And the chicken! I understand why it merited a next-day call from my sister. (The true mark of a successful dish in my book.) Tender, flavorful, and the leftovers were even better the next day.

Trish’s Marinated Chicken
2 tablespoons mayo
1/4 cup olive oil
squeeze of agave (or honey)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt & pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
squeeze of lemon
fresh rosemary, thyme or torn basil leaves
Four medium size chicken breasts, pounded thin

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients and, along with chicken, add to a ziploc. Marinade eight hours or overnight, flipping in the fridge at some point if you can. When you are ready to cook, heat a stovetop grill to medium-high, and brush with a tiny bit of olive oil. Grill chicken pieces about four minutes a side (let excess marinade drip off before you place on grill) or until chicken is firm but not rock hard. Serve with Kale-Brussel hash below.

Kale-Brussels Hash

Add a small piece of smoky bacon to a skillet set over medium heat. Once fat has rendered, add a little olive oil and cook a few tablespoons of onions or shallots (chopped) until soft. Add salt and pepper, maybe a few red pepper flakes if you are so inclined, then a few healthy handfuls of shredded kale and shaved brussels sprouts. Cook until just barely wilted (and still bright green) and add to a serving bowl. Drizzle with a little cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar) to taste. You can chop the bacon into small pieces if you feel like it, or just eat the chunk yourself before the kids fight over it.

 I have one of those cast iron reversible grill pans that stretches across two burners. The flip side is a griddle, but I never use it.

Related: I Want to Marry Marinating.

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36 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sue H // Feb 10, 2014 at 9:46 am

    We’re not mayo people – use Miracle Whip. Can that be substituted?

  • 2 ellen // Feb 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

    How/where do you get Duke’s mayo in our area? I’m a southern transplant living in New Jersey and I’m always looking for it. I will admit that it’s funny to see a picture of Dukes next to that much snow.

  • 3 Marissa // Feb 10, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I have a cast iron skillet that is so perfectly seasoned that you can fry an egg without adding any oil to the pan, but for some reason the same care and cleaning methods don’t work with the grill/griddle pan. I can never get all the burned bits off! It’s currently being used most often as a pizza stone, because I’m done spending hours chiseling off charred bits of whatever dinner stuck to it most recently.

  • 4 Anna // Feb 10, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Holy God. I’m in the same boat…I NEED Spring. This is happening tomorrow. Also, I have that pan and am in love with it. I love all things Lodge.

  • 5 Katie Workman // Feb 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Yes ma’am, I will make this.

  • 6 Tenely // Feb 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Coincidently, after nights of chili, pork stew, chiken pot pie and a lot of snow shoveling – we had charcoal grilled chicken teriyaki sandwiches and Asian slaw last night, creating our own glimmer of spring.

  • 7 Carlinne @Cook with 2 Chicks // Feb 10, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I love the marinade. Not at all the usual type of marinade I use. I have a reversible grill pan, too. But I only use the flat side, for pancakes and other breakfast. We have an easier time grilling in the winter with a gas grill. If we clear the snow, that is.

  • 8 Katie Bacon // Feb 10, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Jenny, this sounds great and perfect type of recipe for us. Will definitely try it. Wanted to let you know that we have the same cast iron grill pan, and the reverse side is perfect for quesadillas or pancakes.

  • 9 sunflower // Feb 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    This sounds delicious! This is probably a silly question, but how do you shred brussel sprouts?

  • 10 MFree // Feb 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Funny, I have the same pan but living in CA I have never used the grill side, only the griddle (for pancakes) Chicken looks perfect, can’t wait to try!

  • 11 Monica // Feb 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    This is definitely going on my menu this week! I’m actually really excited about the hash too; nice combo.

  • 12 CM // Feb 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    I will try this but with Greek yogurt as a substitute for the mayo. Looks yummy!

  • 13 Molly // Feb 10, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I’ve been big into broiling thin cut chicken breasts lately. Will try this marinade next time fo sho! (ahem. for sure.)

  • 14 Jenny // Feb 11, 2014 at 10:26 am

    @sunflower – not a stupid question. I shave brussels sprouts the easy way: I buy them that way. (Trader Joes and Whole Foods both sell them pre-shredded.) You can also just use a sharp knife and slice them as thinly as possible. I do not advise using a mandoline here. I’ve never actually attempted it, but it strikes me as a bad idea.

  • 15 A Life From Scratch // Feb 11, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    This looks lovely – I want it on my GRILL now. I’ve never wanted spring more….

  • 16 sunflower // Feb 11, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    @Jenny – Thanks so much for responding! I’m in Europe, and the convenience stores aren’t quite as convenient here, so I’ll practice my knife skills :) Chicken marinading for this for dinner tomorrow night as we speak. And Quinoa and Egg for dinner tonight. Thanks for the kitchen inspiration!

  • 17 Diana @CulinaryBiblio // Feb 11, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I’m going to make this Thursday – when there’s supposed to be another snow storm. I’m calling it the Denial Dish.

  • 18 Christina // Feb 11, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I have the same question as Marissa. How do you clean your cast iron grill? Mine has proven a nightmare to clean.

  • 19 Nancy @ Roving Lemon's Big Adventure // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Chalk me up as another person who has that pan and *never* uses the grill side – the flat side for pancakes and other stuff, yes. It’s the end of summer here, but unless I get around to replacing the gas bottle on my grill, this will be happening indoors. But it will be happening!

  • 20 Christina @but i'm hungry // Feb 13, 2014 at 8:13 am

    I’m so intrigued… your post has made me crave chicken breast… and I can honestly say that happens very rarely. Looks and sounds delicious. My grill pan fell on my foot the other day as I was trying to get out a skillet; it was a sign! (A painful one, at that!) Thanks for sharing.

  • 21 Chloe // Feb 13, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Just made this last night and it was amazing.
    All I did was throw a frozen breast with the marinade in the fridge the night before, used thyme and it was ready to go and defrosted by dinner. Super fast and easy!

  • 22 Elysha // Feb 14, 2014 at 9:25 am

    This looks so good. My husband is allergic to mustard and I’ve been looking for a good substitute. Is there one? Or do you think I should just leave it out?

  • 23 Maureen // Feb 15, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Love this recipe, thanks much. Like the others above, I always use the flat side of the griddle for pancakes and multiple grilled cheeses. Rarely use the grill side because of outside gas grill which is now also covered in snow.

  • 24 Julie // Feb 17, 2014 at 12:38 am

    It was great! I used the chicken in a panini. My two year old loved it too.

  • 25 Perry @ restaurants in ketchum idaho // Feb 17, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Now I have the idea of what to prepare for dinner on my wife’s birthday. I’m sure that she will love this.

  • 26 Helen // Feb 18, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I’m always looking for new ways to do chicken and this looks and sounds gorgeous- thanks for the recipe!

  • 27 Drew Hurst // Feb 21, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    My husband ate one bite and said “this is one of the best things you have ever made”. Although a little hurt because it was one of the easier things I have made – I agreed! It was so moist and delish! I served it with some roasted cauliflower and it worked well.

  • 28 Michelle // Feb 23, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    It was warm enough to melt the snow off the deck in boston this weekend and felt inspired to fire up the grill…so glad we did. Made this kale-brussel hash with chicken in one of your yogurt marinades. Delicious meal. Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration!

  • 29 Mary // Feb 25, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    made the hash last night and loved it! thank you for posting it.

  • 30 Emily T // Feb 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    When do you pound the chicken? Before or after marinating?

  • 31 Daisy // Feb 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I love you! just had to say. And I can’t wait to try this recipe! HOWEVER, for the love of whatever you hold dear, do some research on agave ‘nectar’. Make your own judgment, but seriously…

  • 32 Bearsmama // Mar 2, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Hi Jenny,

    Love your blog and book. Totally random question here, but that green cast iron-looking pot on your stove top in this pic–who makes it??? I am looking for a new cast iron pot and not only do I like the the look of this one, I swear I’ve seen it before and can’t remember where?????? Any help would be much appreciated!!!

  • 33 Rachel // Mar 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    We made this the other night and it was so delicious!!! It’s definitely my new favorite way to prepare chicken! We loved the kale and Brussels sprouts, too!

  • 34 Gretchen Wright // Mar 22, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I stood out in the winter temps on the first day of spring to grill this chicken and it was completely WORTH IT! We served it for my father-in-law’s birthday dinner and it was worthy of the celebration! Excited to hear of your new cookbook…it’s on my list!

  • 35 Jo // May 25, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I am making this for the first time this summer tonight! It has been the hit of the neighborhood for late spring. Btw, re shaved Brussels sprouts – after cutting my finger using a knife, I use the slicing blade on my Cuisinart. It gets the job done quickly and efficiently!!

  • 36 Vanessa // Aug 11, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for ages, and finally made it tonight with a side of brown rice. I also added a “glug” of hard cider that I was drinking to the Brussel sprouts. Great recipe, my guy really liked the marinade!

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