Wednesday, September 08, 2004


This is the best grilled chicken I know. I don’t particularly love just chowing down on a big hunk of chicken breast—it’s bland and I don’t like its texture, or “mouthfeel,” as the food critics call it. But this marinade makes it moist and flavorful, and the preparation and cooking is so easy it’s barely worth talking about. Plus, although I don’t recall eating any chicken when K and I spent a week in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco on spring break of our senior year of college, the recipe title reminds me of all our adventures. (The sherry! The pasta! The biker parade!) So thanks to Pacific Grilling, the source of this recipe that everyone should add to their repertoires because it is seriously that good.

I made this last Wednesday night, on the eve of my departure for Minnesota. It was not really the time to get all ambitious, but for some reason I had decided that instead of having the chicken with a green salad and maybe some garlic bread, as per usual, I would make a second dish to accompany it. Hence, Vegetable and Bread Salad was attempted. I couldn’t actually grill the vegetables because my George Foreman was busy grilling the chicken, but I broiled them and they turned out fine. The salad was easy and went pretty well with the chicken (though it was certainly a vinegar-heavy meal), so it was a good change of pace. It’s nothing special, though. Not like this chicken. By the way, Pacific Grilling says you can also use this marinade with vegetables or pork, but I don’t intend on trying that anytime soon. Why mess with perfection?

Note that the chicken needs to marinate for at least 8 hours, so start this ahead of time. I usually make the marinade the night before and let the chicken soak in it for 24 hours. Yum.

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1½ teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt

12 chicken thighs, or 8 thighs and legs, or 4 breasts (I’ve always used just boneless, skinless breasts) (POSTSCRIPT, JULY 2011: I started using thighs instead and they are excellent.)

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a lid (or you can use a Ziplock bag). Place the chicken in the marinade, squooshing it around so it's fully immersed, snap on the lid, put the bowl in the refrigerator, and marinate for 8-24 hours, stirring things around a bit from time to time to make sure the chicken is evenly marinated.

2. Heat up the grill (I just use a George Foreman, but you can, of course, use the real thing). Pull the chicken out of the marinade and pat each piece dry with a paper towel. Grill it. Eat it.

Serves: 4
Time: 20 minutes (plus 8-24 hours of marination)

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