Even though grilling outdoors is not the fun summer activity in Florida that it can be in other parts of the country with more mild temperatures, it’s still a good way to mix up your cooking routine.
This is especially true during the current pandemic, as my husband and I continue to stay close to home and cook most of our own food, except for the occasional takeout. We have cooked many a steak on the grill the past few months, but recently I decided it was time to try something different.
It was time for chicken, specifically chicken thighs, which hold up much better to the flames than chicken breasts. The white meat tends to dry out quicker, and is more easy to overcook. Thighs retain their moisture and, because they are generally thinner, cook quicker.
An important part of grilling meats is the marinade. For chicken in particular, it’s a good idea to give the meat time to sit in a delicious marinade at least an hour before it hits the grill. This one couldn’t be easier. Inspired by a recipe in the New York Times that relies on mayonnaise as the marinade base, it has all the crucial flavor components: fat from the mayonnaise, acid from lime juice and some zing from fresh grated ginger.
You could also skewer the thighs for easier flipping and serving. And any extra chicken would be a versatile addition to salads and rice bowls.
To go with the chargrilled chicken, I made a cooling carrot salad. I always have carrots in my fridge, and this a fun way to use up a couple of large ones. Paired with sweet pineapple and chewy golden raisins (you could leave these out, or use regular raisins), it provides a sweet, crunchy contrast to the warm chicken.
If you really want to take things to the next level, instead of canned pineapple, cut some fresh pineapple into thick spears and grill it after you grill the chicken. Cook until it has some nice grill marks and is a little softer. Cut into small pieces, then use in the carrot salad as directed.
Ginger Lime Chicken With Carrot Salad
For the chicken:
1 ½ to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and black pepper
⅓ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lime zest (from about 2 limes), plus lime wedges, for serving
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece of peeled ginger)
For the carrot salad:
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, drained (about 1 cup)
½ cup golden or brown raisins
¼ cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest, (optional)
6 medium carrots, peeled and grated (about 4 cups), or 1 (10-ounce) bag of carrot matchsticks
Make the chicken: Pat the chicken dry and season all over with 1 ½ teaspoons salt. In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, lime zest and ginger; season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the mayonnaise mixture and stir to coat. (The chicken can sit in the marinade for up to 8 hours in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before cooking.)
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To grill: Heat a grill to medium-high. Grill the chicken over direct heat until cooked through and juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side, turning as necessary to avoid burning.
To cook in a skillet: Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Cook the chicken until juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side for thighs.
Serve chicken with lime wedges, for squeezing on top.
Make the salad: In a large bowl, add pineapple, raisins, mayonnaise, honey and orange zest (if using). Mix until combined.
Add carrots to dressing and fold together all the ingredients using a rubber spatula or tongs.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then serve chilled.
Source: Adapted from the New York Times