So the other day, we had my grandparents join house for a lunch. Whenever they come to our home, they already have their tiny little list as to what they want to taste. You see, they are ardent readers of my this sweet li'l blog. And my grandma especially loves to try new things. She herself is quite an accomplished home-cook. Long story short, I planned to make for them grilled chicken wraps. That way, they get to taste new flavours, and also have that familiar comfort in the form of the wrap/roti and salad.
And thats how this simplistic lemon garlic chicken came into being. I know I know, its not a new recipe and there are a lot of versions of this chicken out there, and here's my take on it. This is by far one of the easiest chicken recipes ever. And one of the quickest. And one of the healthiest.
The cooking process renders the most flavourful, moist and tender chicken. The minimalistic marination gives the chicken a bold and abundant taste. You can ofcourse tweak the recipe as you please. Add in the herbs of your choice, or seasonings. But try this version first, pretty please!
The other things I made for the lunch that day were this Blushing Mojito and the Pineapple Upside- Down Cake for dessert. Check them out, I'm sure you'll love them as much as they did! Onto the chicken then!
Time taken: 30 mins + marination time
4 Chicken legs with skin
7-8 garlic cloves
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
freshly cracked black pepper (1/2 tsp)
1 tsp paprika (I mixed cayenne and paprika for the heat)
drizzle of olive oil
salt to taste
Pinch of love
I am used to marinating the chicken the previous night so that the chicken has a chance to absorb all those flavours. Even if time is short, you should marinate the chicken for atleast 15 mins before cooking to maximise the taste factor. First things first, wash and clean your chicken. Pat it dry and place into a bowl.
Peel off the garlic cloves.
Take a big knife and place it over the clove.
Now with the heel of your palm, smash that pod of bold flavour. This just encourages the juices of the garlic to run into the chicken during marination. In very technical language, this process is known as *smashin' the sucker*
Smashed n ready!
Add those smashed cloves to the chicken.
Next slice in half a lemon thinly and add to the bowl of chicken
Squeeze in the lemon juice. Also wave my reflection in the lemon squeezer a quick hello!
Crack in the black pepper
Next, you guessed it right, paprika and red chili powder. Personally the mix of them both works better for me. A little bit of spice keeps things hot (pun intended)
Sprinkle in the salt- about 1 tsp
Drizzle in some olive oil- around 2-3 tbsp
With clean hands, get in there and rub all of this onto the chicken. If you want, you can pierce the chicken with fork to allow the flavours to percolate to the bone. I didn't do that and now I'm wondering why. Massage it all so that the chicken is well coated. Cover and place it in the fridge overnight.
Next day, when you're ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge about 30 mins before cooking it. Cold chicken on a hot pan/ grill or oven will shock it and make it shrivel and the meat will toughen. We don't want that. So bring the chicken close to room temperature.
Now you can very well do this outside on a grill, that would be awesome! I, and don't pity me for this, but I don't have a grill and I didn't want to cook this in the oven. So I used my trusted grill pan and placed it on medium high heat. On that grill, drizzle a little bit of olive oil and add those garlic cloves from the chicken to the pan to infuse that garlicky flavour.
After a minute when your kitchen smells like heaven, remove those slightly golden garlic cloves and place in the chicken legs. Make sure you place a couple of those lemon slices as well to the skillet and allow them to caramelize along with the chicken.
Cook one side for about 5-6 minutes and then turn it over. Now you can very well do that 10 and 2 position to get those fabulous criss cross pattern, I tried it too but didn't succeed in getting a clear pattern. I'm no expert! Clearly! But just take a look at this beautiful crispy skin! Let it cook again for another 5-7 minutes. To check if the chicken is done, make an incision with a sharp knife at the fattest portion of the leg. If the juices run clear and the meat looks white from inside, the chicken is done. It took me a total of 15 mins to cook my chicken legs.
When you've cooked all the chicken, place those garlic cloves back inside the pan and adjust the heat to the lowest. Saute the garlic in those glorious chicken juices and let them caramelise till they turn a darker golden. Remove the garlic cloves and we are ready to plate up!
Arrange the chicken as you please on the serving platter. Place those caramelised lemons and garlic cloves on the chicken. Garnish with some small diced red bell peppers and some scallions. Absolutely stunning, isn't it?! The crispy skin, the moist juicy chicken- I mean look at those juices on the plate. If thats not enough proof!
That sauteed garlic has now turned slightly sweet and has none of that pungent garlicky flavour.
I'm salivating as I write this. A side of some vegetables and a potato mash or some salad and wraps, the options are endless!
You can even shred this chicken and use it in your salads or sandwiches. Perfection, I tell you, sheer perfection!