Garlic and Herb-Marinated Chicken Thighs

The key to successfully grilling meat has a lot to do with its preparation. According to a nationwide study conducted by the folks at Weber, about 78 percent of grillers use dry seasonings, rubs and marinades when they grill. And when they grill ribs and chicken, marinades are the most popular method.

I can relate to that. Whenever we have fowl such as chicken or pheasant on the grill, I like to marinade the meat overnight in a mixture of honey, teriyaki and orange, seasoned with a bit of onion, garlic and rosemary. Not only does the marinade enhance the meat’s flavor, it also makes it more tender.

While I often like to make my own marinade and think they are the best way to go, there are a lot of store-bought varieties available that work just fine. Some of my favorites have been made by McCormick, but I’m looking forward to trying a couple of new ones from Weber.

The Just Add Juice marinade mixes gets a thumbs up from “Queen of the Grill” Elizabeth Karmel, author of “Taming the Flames” and executive chef at New York’s Hill Country Barbecue Market and Hill Country Chicken.

Karmel says Weber’s “Just Add Juice is a great point of culinary departure. The Just Add Juice marinade is great as a simple lemon-pepper chicken, but I experiment with it, as well. For example, I love to start with the Caribbean jerk variety, add orange juice, a little dark rum, scotch bonnet peppers and scallions for a quick flavor trip to the islands.”

Here’s a grilled chicken recipe using another of the six new marinades, Garlic & Herb, which I’ve found quite appealing.

Garlic & Herb-Marinated Chicken Thighs
1 package Weber Just Add Juice Garlic and Herb Marinade Mix
½ cup lemon juice, about 2 large lemons
1 cup white wine
8 chicken thighs, about 2¼ pounds
2 lemons, cut in circular slices
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh thyme or basil for garnish
In a large, nonreactive bowl or glass 9-by-13-inch casserole dish, mix marinade mix, lemon juice and white wine. Add chicken thighs, cover and marinate in zip-top plastic bag for 2 to 4 hours, turning occasionally.
Remove chicken from refrigerator and blot dry. Carefully lift skin from the top of the thigh and place 1 to 2 lemon slices under skin, depending on size. Smooth skin down. Brush all over with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Place chicken, bone-side down, in center of cooking grate. You do not need to turn the chicken pieces. Grill until breast meat near bone registers 180 degrees, about 45 minutes depending on the size of the thighs. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, cook until no longer pink and the juices run clear.
Remove from grill using tongs and a spatula, if needed, to preserve the skin on the top of the thighs.
Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme or basil.
Yield: Serves 4 to 8.