Grilled Charmoula Chicken Breasts

My son graduated from college in May 2006, and that same month there appeared a recipe in Gourmet for Grilled Charmoula Quail.  At the time I was planning the menu for his graduation party, catering a summer buffet for 50 guests in early June.  I had everything organized and under control – tent and serveware rentals, shopping list, invitations, decorations, and menu.  The only element beyond my control was the weather which, unfortunately, turned out to be cool and drizzly, so that half our guests (the older family members) huddled in my living room, while the rest of us enjoyed ourselves outdoors in the tent, warmed by the buzz of plentiful wine..

The flavors of the charmoula rub were just the ticket for our grilled chicken, one of several dishes in our buffet, and so I multiplied the ingredients by a factor of ten, thankful that I buy my spices in bulk, and slathered it onto 24 pounds of boneless chicken thighs.

Tonight there will be but one entree and only four of us, and with boneless chicken breasts on sale at Whole Foods, I opted for these instead of the thighs, and ratcheted down the quantity to normal proportions for just three pounds – six chicken breast halves:



(ready for gilling)

In a food processor, combine the following and process to a paste, scraping down the sides as needed:

1 large handful each of fresh flat-leaf parsley and fresh cilantro (okay to include the tender stems)

1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon and sea salt or kosher salt

1/4 tsp each ground cloves, black pepper, and cayenne

2 tsp Hungarian paprika

1 plump garlic clove

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice


Lightly pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap to even out the thickness.  Rub the spice paste all over and refrigerate until ready to grill – at least an hour, as long as all day.  Grill on high heat – this takes only about 8-10 minutes. Let rest covered with foil a couple of minutes before serving to ensure juiciness.


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