I am a collector of recipes. I find them everywhere, from the most obvious sources (cook books, magazines and websites) to the least (backs of herb packaging, insides of couscous boxes).
But it never occurred to me to search inside the pages of literature until I found the one recipe that changed my life. (And really, the lives of all chickens I’ve met since then.) I even grow rosemary, me with the black thumb, specifically for this dish.
Herein lies the best, most fantastic, wonderfully smelling, deliciously tempting chicken marinade a cook could ever encounter. Adapted from Diana Abu-Jaber’s delightful memoir, The Language of Baklava, this, her “distract the neighbors grilled chicken” recipe is the foundation for all things chicken in my household, be it chicken salad sandwiches, chopped chicken salads, Sunday night chicken, or even that slightly disastrous frozen-with-the-marinade-in-the-bag chicken I attempted a few years back during my freeze-everything stage.
As you begin to use this recipe, you’ll discover that it has almost mystical properties. One day you may taste the acidity of the lemon; the next batch may smell so strongly of rosemary that you’ll swear you’re in Tuscany. It’s also a very forgiving recipe: prepared for today but left for tomorrow night’s grilling, you’ll discover that it tastes almost richer than you remember. Try it on bone-in breasts; double or even triple if you plan to roast an entire chicken.
Rosemary Garlic Grilled Chicken
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, one large lemon
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch salt & freshly ground pepper
2 chicken breasts. skin on, bone in
1. Combine everything except the chicken in a large bowl, stir well to combine.
2. Add the chicken, coating the meat on all sides. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, or overnight.
3. Grill or prepare according to your favorite method.
Adapted from “The Language of Baklava” by Diana Abu-Jaber.