I absolutely LOVE chicken thighs. Hands down, if you want tender and moist, it’s the cut to choose. Having said that, there are definitely times where chicken breasts are perfect, but for grilling…boneless, skinless thighs over any other cut for easy, perfectly done chicken that is never dry.
I had a real hankering for something different in my grilled chicken this time. Not that I don’t change things up, but given that it was summer and hot (yes, we had a HOT day by the water!), I wanted something with Asian flavors, and my tastebuds were craving lemongrass. It was funny because, when I asked my husband what kind of flavors he wanted in the chicken this time, he said “Oh, your steak spice or lemon pepper is good.” Oh, no…the ShipboardChef does not go down with a mere sprinkle of dry rub on a grilled meal! I mean…I’m a CHEF, for heaven’s sake!
So, since I’m also doing Keto, personally, I wanted something that was way over-the-top flavorful (it does NOT need to taste like you are depriving yourself), but could be made without added sugars. I have recently discovered Swerve sugar replacements (and no, they are not sponsoring or paying me for this…) and started playing with their “brown” product. The way I wrote this recipe, you can make it Keto or not, as you like.
What else is great is that I’m always looking for how something can be adapted to other dietary restrictions, since I frequently have to deal with that on a boat. So, you can make this Gluten Free by subbing Tamari for the soy sauce. Can’t handle soy? No problem…liquid aminos work too. If you don’t have fresh lemongrass or ginger, there are some excellent prepared pastes available that you can just use out of the tube. I prefer those because they are refrigerated and have a shorter shelf life than the jarred varieties. In other words, the tubs are likely to be fresher than the jarred types.
Another thing I like about this recipe: it’s something I could take camping! Make the marinade, stick the chicken in and just freeze it in the marinade. When you are packing your ice chest for your trip, just pop the chicken in the cooler and let it defrost on its own. When you’re ready to grill, it’s defrosted and ta-da! An elegant, tasty but easy grilled chicken over the camp grill or even on a stick!
Summer should be about easy food, and it doesn’t get much easier than this. The chicken can be served as-is for an entree, or you could incorporate it into an Asian rice or noodle bowl. Want to get creative? Make Asian tacos using cabbage, shredded carrots and green onions with a squeeze of lime and maybe a drizzle of your favorite sweet chili sauce or Asian hot sauce. The point is, you have so many options with this chicken, it’ll become a go-to for you, I’m sure.
Happy summer, and happy grilling!
Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Thighs
- 2 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup shallots, minced
- 3 Tbsp lemongrass, either minced from inside (white) part of the stalk or prepared lemongrass paste
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 3 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar for keto option, use same amount of brown sugar substitute such as Swerve
- 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste or to taste
- 1/2 Tbsp Sambal Oelek (red chili-garlic paste)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger, or commercially prepared ginger paste
- 1 Tbsp Asian sweet chili sauce (optional)
- chopped cilantro and/or lime wedges for garnish
- In a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients except chicken.
- Place chicken in marinade and stir to coat. Marinate chicken in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, up to 48 hours. Chicken can also be frozen in the marinade and defrosted when ready to use.
- Before grilling, remove chicken from fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes.
- When ready to grill, grease and preheat a gas grill to medium heat, 375-450°F. If using charcoal, build a medium sized fire and allow charcoal to develop hot coals. Brush or spray grill with oil before putting chicken on the grill.
- Remove chicken from marinade and allow the excess marinade to drip off. Place chicken smooth side down and grill chicken for 5-7 minutes before flipping. Continue to grill another 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.) Let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve with chopped cilantro sprinkled on the chicken and lime wedges on the side, if desired.