The Block Island Times

Savory partners for a favorite grilled chicken

By Becky and Mike Ballard | Aug 01, 2012

Too hot to cook? That’s where the outdoor grill can come to your rescue. Take the heat and smoke out of the house and serve up this tasty, easy grilled chicken everyone will enjoy. This version is the standard in our house. Guests say, “Mike, how do you make this chicken taste so good?”

Like most favorite cooking methods, this recipe has just evolved. We can’t even remember what we started doing to chicken years ago, but we’ve learned a few things along the way. First, leaving the bone in and the skin on adds plenty of flavor (you can decide whether you want to eat the skin later); second, marinating in a little lemon juice makes a difference; third, quick cooking at high heat keeps the juices in; and fourth, chicken thighs are the juiciest and have the best flavor.

The addition of these four sauces take grilled chicken to the peak of satisfaction. Our favorite is the Peach Chutney. It’s something that can be made ahead, and doesn’t even need to be heated up to serve. The blend of sweet and sour delivers surprisingly savory results, and the combination of the hot chicken with the cold chutney — m-m-m, perfect!

The Tomato Peach Salsa is a fresh, no-cook, leaner option. Because of the warm winter, the peach season in Georgia has already peaked, but there are still plenty of these delicious fruits in the markets. The combination of sweet, ripe tomatoes with tart peaches is a refreshing twist.

This hot, Creamy Pomodoro sauce would be fine any time of the year. Even with the creaminess, it’s on the lean side with the option of low-fat chicken broth and cream. The alcohol in the vodka will evaporate in the cooking process leaving only an exotic taste.

We never pass up an artichoke. This sauce with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes is very good with chicken, but also gives cooks an option for an emergency dinner — all the ingredients can be kept ready on the pantry shelf.


Mike’s Grilled Chicken

4 boneless chicken breast (halves), with skin

8 boneless chicken thighs, with skin

Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 whole, juicy lemon, halved

Unroll thigh pieces so they lay flat. Rub both sides of chicken breast and thigh pieces generously with olive oil; sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Arrange in a roasting pan with skin side up. Squeeze juice of one lemon over chicken pieces, and marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Preheat grill to 500 degrees (high heat). Grill chicken, skin side down, until browned — about 5 to 8 minutes. Turn and finish cooking, 5 to 10 minutes more. Slice into thickest part of a thigh and breast to assure doneness. (You will find that thighs will be done before the breasts.)

Serve with any of the accompaniments below.

Serves eight.


Peach Chutney

6 cups chopped peaches

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons peeled, minced fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and stew over medium heat uncovered for about an hour until it starts to become syrupy. Let cool. Spoon into a refrigerator container with a lid and chill well. Serve chilled with grilled chicken.

Makes about 6 cups.


Pantry Shelf Artichoke and Sun-dried Tomato Sauce

1 cup chicken broth

3 cloves garlic, crushed in garlic press

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

½ teaspoon thyme

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and halved

1⁄3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon over grilled chicken pieces.

Makes about 3 cups.


Tomato Peach Salsa

1 cup peeled, chopped peaches

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

¼ cup chopped red onion

3 tablespoons chopped, fresh mint leaves

3 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and chill. To serve, spoon over grilled chicken pieces.

Makes about 2 ½ cups salsa.


Pomodoro Sauce for Chicken

4 tablespoons butter

½ cup vodka

1 cup chicken broth (low fat is fine)

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup chopped tomatoes (unpeeled)

¼ cup heavy cream (low fat is fine)

1/3 cup chopped green onions for garnish

In a skillet, heat butter until melted. Add vodka and cook until liquid is nearly evaporated. Add broth, lemon juice, tomatoes and cream. Blend well and simmer five minutes. Spoon over hot grilled chicken pieces. Garnish with chopped scallions.

Makes about 3 cups sauce.



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