[Photo and Recipe updated August 2022] We never used to grill chicken. It was… eh. Never quite satisfying. We were always throwing it back on the grill (“does this look cooked to you?”) because we were paranoid about getting sick, or complaining that it was too dry, or overwhelming it with some ketchup-y four alarm KC BBQ sauce that, instead of tasting good, just ended up burning and tasting like ash. Then, last summer, we discovered two tricks that turned some things around for us, chicken-wise:
1. Pounding the cutlets flat, which makes them very easy (and quick) to cook evenly, and
2. Marinating in yogurt, which seems – by some trick of physics – to result in unfailing juiciness.
Though we don’t exactly advertise it to the kids, we pretty much add yogurt to all of our chicken marinades now – we do a curry-ish one, a ginger-garam-masala-and-lime one, and the one you see here, which we’re calling lemon pepper chicken. Try it with some good potato salad, grilled asparagus, and some cold rose. Or with corn on the cob and tomato-feta salad, and grilled bread. You can’t really go wrong. The marinade takes all of ten minutes to prepare, promise. — Andy
Yogurt-Marinated Lemon-Pepper Grilled Chicken
Here is my 2022 update, 12 years after first writing this post (look at Abby’s little 6-year-old fingers!): If you use chicken thighs instead of breasts, you can skip the whole pounding process, and still end up with juicy, flavorful grilled chicken.
1 cup plain yogurt
2 minced cloves of garlic
Juice from two lemons
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
A very healthy dose of black pepper (I probably did 10-15 grinds)
2 pounds chicken breasts (pounded) or thighs (no need to pound)
In a bowl or a blender whisk or whirl yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper until emulsified. Reserve about 1/2 cup, then, pour the remaining into a zip-top bag, drop in the chicken, mush around until coated, and seal. Chill for a minimum of 3 hours. When grill is ready (and oiled), cook chicken pieces about 3-4 minutes a side until flesh is firm but not rock hard. Serve, drizzled with reserved sauce.
Recipe and photo updated August, 2022.