Roasted Lemon Cilantro Chicken

Roasted Lemon Cilantro Chicken

Cilantro Lemon Chicken

The grill is on. Every day. And at least once a week this involves a whole chicken for a family dinner. In the winter we do it in the oven, and in the summer we do it on the grill. Both methods are similar, while grilling adds a smokier flavor to the chicken meat, especially when using a charcoal grill. Cilantro is also a family favorite, and the marinade for the chicken is chock-a-block full of it. For those who are faint of heart when it comes to cilantro, you can substitute rosemary or thyme with great results (be sure to omit the saffron from the paste). 

Roasted Lemon Cilantro Chicken
Serves 4-5

2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro sprigs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 whole 3-4 pound chicken
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make the paste:
Combine garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, lemon zest and saffron in a mortar with pestle or bowl of a food processor.  Smash or grind to a paste.  Stir or pulse in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Rub chicken between skin and breast meat and inside cavity with the paste. Rub the outside of the skin with one tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place on tray or platter, breast-side up and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.

Prepare Chicken:
Prepare grill for indirect medium heat or preheat oven to 450 F. (225 C.)
 Place chicken, breast-side up on the grill with a pan below to catch it’s juices. (If roasting in the oven, place chicken in a roasting pan). Close the lid of the grill and roast for 20 minutes. Carefully turn chicken over with tongs. Roast, covered, another 20 minutes. Turn chicken over once more, breast-side up. Continue roasting, covered, 20 minutes. Check to see if chicken is done by carefully cutting skin between breast and thigh. If meat is pink, continue roasting additional 10 – 15 minutes. Chicken is cooked when meat is no longer pink, and clear juices run from the thigh when pierced with a knife. Remove from heat, cover loosely with foil and let rest 15 minutes before carving.

Healthy BBQ’s for Labor Day

Healthy BBQ’s for Labor Day

OK, so it’s not Julie and Julia,  but I am still very excited to share with you a video I made, courtesy of BlogHer’s The Juice with Jory Des Jardins.  In honor of the approaching Labor Day Weekend, Jory asked me to share some healthy tips for grilling.  Healthy grilling?  You bet!

Grilling is a subject I am passionate about.  Grilling makes almost anything taste great, it gets you cooking outdoors, and it’s very social and interactive.  During the summer, it’s the cooking method of choice, keeping the heat out of the kitchen, and putting the bounty of summer on the grill.  That’s right – those fruits and vegetables ripe in the garden and piled high in the markets at this time of the year?  They taste great on the grill, and they are healthy to eat.

Grilled vegetables can be tossed in salads, salsas or side dishes. Grilled Ratatouille takes the traditional summer veggie stew and elevates it with a charred smoky flavor for a delightful grilled salad. Or grill just one component of the salad or dish to add a crisp and smoky bite.  Fattoush Salad includes grilled pita bread, which adds a distinctive toasted flavor and crunchy texture.

If you want to wow your guests, yet still keep it easy, make Grilled Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Sandwiches with Goat Cheese and Tomato Coulis. The eggplant is the star of the show and adds a creamy, charred flavor to the “sandwiches.”

As for grilling fruit, many types of fruit grill well.  Remember that grilling fruit is not about cooking but flavoring.  The heat of the grill caramelizes the natural sugars of the fruit, enhancing their flavor, leaving you wondering how anything can taste so sweet, so delicious and be so healthy, as with Grilled Nectarines and Apricots with Honey and Thyme.

And what about meat?  Grilling doesn’t just mean burgers, dogs and heavily sauced meat cuts (as much as we love them!)  Go with leaner pork and chicken.  Instead of sweet, sticky sauces, try a dry rub on Barbecued Pork Spareribs or smoke roasting a salted, whole chicken for savory, spicy, succulent results. Fish is another healthy winner on the grill.  Keep it light and simple with a Lemon-Dijon marinade for Grilled Halibut and Salmon Skewers.

The bottom line? Grilling is delicious and inspiring.  It’s communal and primitive, perfect for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors.  You can keep it down, dirty and simple, with paper plates and beer, or all dressed up with a decorated picnic table, cut flowers and posh cocktails.  The important thing is to have fun, invite friends and enjoy fresh, seasonal food when you fire up that BBQ this Labor Day!