Moroccan-Spiced Grilled Chicken

Our local health foods store gets their Bell & Evans chicken delivery every Friday afternoon, so it’s become my ritual to shop there for the whole chickens and boneless thighs they put into the freezer marked down by $2-$3, depending on size.  Every week, a whole chicken and a package or two of boneless thighs, which I prefer over boneless breasts for kabobs or whole grilled pieces.

It surprises me how often they have a surplus of whole chickens on sale in the summer, given how easy it is to either butterfly it or break it down into 8 pieces for grilling.

Tonight we’re having the whole chicken 4.5 lb which I’ve just broken down – two thighs, two drumsticks, and four pices of breast, two with the wing attached, two from the rest of the breast.  Actually, after discarding the wing tips and gizzards (no I don’t save them for stock), this bird weighs about 4 lbs.  Plenty for dinner and then leftovers to either shred over a salad for a cool dinner, or turn into a unique chicken salad.

The spice paste is something I adapted from a recipe on Epicurious, and have used in colder weather as a coating for roasting the chicken with vegetables.  But I discovered a few weeks ago how well it works for grilling.  Important with any marinade is to make sure you rub some of it onto the actual flesh, pulling back the skin a bit to do so.

And when it’s all rubbed and ready for the grill later tonight, it looks like this:


Spice Paste Ingredients – combine in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste:

3T olive oil; 3T fresh lemon juice; 2T sweet Hungarian paprika; 1T ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend available in supermarkets, or you can make your own blend*); 1T fresh mint leaves chopped; 1T kosher salt; 2t grated lemon peel (or, in a pich, dried lemon or orange peel); 1t black pepper, 1 plump garlic clove.

Rub all over the chicken, under the skin, and refrigerate at least one hour or as long as overnight.  Grill over indirect heat, about 375-400, for about 30 minutes.  Serve with a fatoush or Greek salad and basmati pilaf to complete the meal.

*ras el hanout blend: 1 t ground cumin; 1 t ground ginger; 1 t kosher salt; 3/4 t black pepper; 1/2 t cinnamon; 1/2 t coriander; 1/2 t cayenne; 1/2 t allspice



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