The complete name of this recipe is Grilled Chicken Marinated in Cumin, Lemon, and Garlic, and it’s an Alfred Portale recipe from his cookbook The 12 Seasons Cookbook, published in 2000. The combination of cumin, lemon, and garlic isn’t that unique – sort of a Middle Eastern combo – but to it does scream “summer barbeque” to me!
So, who is Alfred Portale? He’s an American chef, author, and restauranteur, known as the pioneer of the New American Cuisine movement.
I’ve owned this cookbook for a while, and I really like the way he divided the chapters into 12 months, not 4 seasons. For each month there is a “seasonal” description, like January – A Fresh Start, and July – Birthdays and Barbecues, and October – Sweater Weather!
If you need more information on this chef, his bio is here. For me, his biggest claim to fame early in his career, is becoming the chef and co-owner of the Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City, also receiving the James Beard Awards for Best Chef, in 1993, Outstanding Chef in 2006, and Outstanding restaurant in 2002.
He must be well respected; famous chefs including Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Alice Waters have given their wholehearted approval of Chef Portale’s cookbook. There are also two other cookbooks by Portale – Simple Pleasures, and Gothem Bar and Grill Cookbook.
Instead of quartered chickens, I used chicken breasts. My husband will not eat any dark meat, and I didn’t want to test out this recipe and “waste” 3 beautiful chickens. I cooked the breasts to temperature (155 degrees F) but I do think that even using thighs would have been an improvement. Heck, they’re always an improvement!
Grilled Chicken Marinated in Cumin, Lemon, and Garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons cracked white or black peppercorn
2 teaspoons coarsely ground cumin
1 teaspoon coarsely cracked coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
12 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed to a paste and sprinkled with coarse salt
2 3-pound free-range chickens, quartered
Coarse salt to taste
In a sauté pan, combine the peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds and cinnamon. Toast the spices by shaking the pan gently over medium heat for about one minute, until fragrant. Take care not to burst them. Transfer to a food processor or spice grinder and pulse to blend. (I used my spice toaster to toast the spices.)
In a stainless-steel mixing bowl combine onion, lemon juice, canola oil, parsley, lemon zest and garlic.
Season the chicken with the ground spices, then add the chicken pieces to the bowl with the marinade. Mix well. Put the chicken in a dish, cover and refrigerate for at least eight hours.
Halfway through the marinating time, I turned the breasts over and used the remaining spice mixture left over on the chicken.
Build a charcoal fire on a grill and let the coals burn until covered with white ash. Spread them out in the grill. Lightly oil the grill grate.
Lift the chicken from the dish and scrape off the excess marinade. Season the chicken with salt, and grill it, turning it several times for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the thigh juices run clear when pricked with a small sharp knife. (I checked the temperature with a thermometer.)
Sadly, this bit of tedious marinating did not really end that well. I could taste the garlic and coriander, and the lemon was an aftertaste. None of the other flavors really came through..
I’m quite disappointed in these results. The smells of the spice mixture and the marinade got me very excited! I might throw all of the marinade ingredients in a blender next time and get better results.