Grilled Garlic-Lime Chicken

As far as quick summer dinners go, hamburgers and hot dogs are great, but grilled chicken is my personal favorite. It’s also a must for me at cookouts. We went to a cookout recently, the skewers of marinaded chicken, veggies, and pineapple reminded me that I need more grilled chicken in my summer. I don’t have the patience to thread cubes of chicken and veggies onto skewers most nights, so I prefer to grill whole chicken breasts with fruits and veggies large enough that they don’t fall through the grill grate. I love to use a marinade or spice blend on the chicken before I grill it. This garlic lime marinade comes together quickly and marinates fast – the chicken only needs an hour to take on the succulent flavors. I prepare the marinade first, then start heating the grill and preparing the sides, so everything’s ready to cook at the same time.

I was inspired to create this recipe from a childhood memory of a lime-garlic marinade my mom often bought. It was thick and sticky, flecked with peppers and tingling with lime. She’d often make it after a day of grocery shopping, pairing the grilled chicken with vegetables we bought from a roadside produce stand run by Mennonites in the town over. Peppers and onions were ubiquitous, usually stacked on skewers between fat rings of zucchini. If Mom had extra time, she’d serve it with a rice pilaf that was my first introduction to orzo. I looked forward to those dinners all winter – there’s nothing quite like garden-fresh vegetables in summer. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good place to buy freshly-picked veggies (the grocery store ones are sadly not the same), so I settled for spears of grilled pineapple. I find that even the hard, green, unripe pineapples of the grocery story take well to grilling because it caramelizes the sugars and brings out the sweetness. If you like them even sweeter, sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on the spears before they hit the grill.

Grilled Pineapple inspired by Ina Garten.

Grilled Garlic Lime Chicken with Grilled Pineapple

Ingredients

  • Marinade:
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (use 6 if the cloves are small)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 lbs.)
  • 1 pineapple
  • Olive oil for pineapple

Instructions

  1. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl or large bag.
  2. Trim the chicken of any excess connective tissue and fat.
  3. Pound the chicken with a meat tenderizer until it's uniform in thickness. This helps it cook more evenly on the grill. I pounded mine to 1/2-inch thickness.
  4. Add the chicken to the marinade. Let sit for one hour and up to four. If the chicken marinates for too long, the lime juice will start breaking down the chicken, so marinading while the grill preheats is a better option than leaving the chicken in the marinade overnight.
  5. Cut the pineapple into long, thin wedges. If you don't know how to cut a pineapple, I've included more detailed instructions in the Notes. Drizzle the pineapple wedges with olive oil.
  6. Preheat your grill. I use charcoal, so I fill a chimney starter with charcoal briquettes and light it. After the charcoal on the top of the chimney starter is ashed over, pour it carefully into the center of the grill and add the grill grate. Open the grill's vents, and put the lid on the grill. Allow the grate to heat for a few minutes.
  7. When the grill grate is hot, add the pineapple on indirect heat (away from the charcoal where the grill is cooler) and the chicken on direct heat (directly over the coals). Grill chicken for about five minutes on each side. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
  8. When the chicken is finished, move the pineapple on to direct heat and grill until lightly charred.

Notes

Directions for how to cut apart a whole pineapple: Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple. Stand the pineapple on its base and cut it in half from top to bottom. Cut each half again, going the same direction, so you have four long wedges. There's a fibrous core running through the center of the pineapple. If you look closely, you can see it along the yellow fruit. It's slightly paler in color than the fruit and has thicker fibers. Stand each quarter vertically, and run the knife down, cutting off the pointy edge of the pineapple where the fibrous core is. Lay the pineapple quarters skin side down. Carefully slide the knife between the pineapple flesh and its skin to remove the skin. Cut down the quarters to create long, thin wedges of pineapple. There are also great videos about how to cut a pineapple on YouTube.

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Grilled Garlic Lime Chicken

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