There is this middle-eastern restaurant near me that makes a fabulous chicken shwarma dish with whole grilled chicken breasts. The chicken is always super juicy and has such a great flavor with a hint of lemon and garlic. I halfheartedly tried to copy it once or twice, but didn’t have much success. A few weeks ago I stumbled across a yogurt based lemon and garlic marinade that sounded promising. I omitted the yogurt to make it paleo friendly, and changed some of the seasonings around to suit my tastes a bit more. The result was something pretty fabulous (if I do say so myself). It was actually pretty close to the restaurant chicken, but even better!
I let my chicken sit in the marinade for 24 hours. You could possibly do less, but the salt in the marinade brines the chicken, making it super moist and helping draw the flavors into the chicken. If you are going to try for a shorter time, I’d give it at least several hours. If you have the time, do yourself a favor and let it sit all night. There is nothing remotely subtle about the resulting flavors here. The lemon takes center stage and the resulting flavor is bright and bold and the fresh ground black pepper gives it a little kick. Perfect for summertime! A teaspoon of salt sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t come out overly salty and the salt brines the chicken to perfection.
1.5 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (feel free to use bone-in pieces or other parts as you desire)
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest (about 1 medium lemon)
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
4-6 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
Sprig of Fresh Rosemary
Few Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
Add dry marinade ingredients to a gallon size zip lock bag (or lidded Tupperware container) and then add the wet ones. Squish them around to mix up a bit and add chicken. Seal bag and squish bag (or shake container) to thoroughly cover chicken. Chuck it in the refrigerator and forget about it for 24 hours — Unless you are the overly attentive type, then you can go shake, flip, or squish your chicken a couple of times while waiting. I just let mine sit and it came out fine.
Pre-heat grill on high for about 10 minutes (or until hot). Reduce heat to medium. Using tongs, place chicken on grill (using a fork will poke holes in the meat and let some of the juices out, making drier chicken). Let sit 5 minutes. Flip chicken breasts with tongs and cook an additional 5 minutes. Smaller thinner breasts should be done at this point. The larger breasts stayed on the grill and cooked for an additional 3 minutes per side. Check chicken with a meat thermometer or slice into the thickest part of the breast and see if its done.
I served it with steamed broccoli and sweet potato hash browns. I’ll be posting the sweet potato recipe next.