Now that our weather has finally warmed a bit, my thoughts begin to turn to my favorite summer meals. I recall sweet evenings around a campfire enjoying foods that we may not make for most of the rest of the year. These meals help define summer for me, and for my family. The pace is slower, the mood more casual. The overall feeling is the same as when you were 8 years old with a long summer day stretched in front of you and nothing to do but ride your bike or lay back on the grass and imagine that the clouds above you were dragons or sailboats or ice cream sundaes. That is the mood I hope to create by sharing a few of my favorite summer dishes with you.
While hamburgers and hot dogs are a perennial favorite for these summer dinners, in an effort to switch things up a bit, we have incorporated grilled chicken as a regular contender as well. While my son prefers his chicken “un-marinated”, the rest of us find that a bit dry and prefer a little more flavor in our chicken. Over the past five years or so, we have experimented with a wide variety of commercial marinades with limited success. Some of them have too much flavor or the wrong type of flavor, most are quite pricey, often upwards of $3.00-$4.00 a bottle full of simple ingredients, and, as I tend to operate much more on the spur of the moment in the summer, it seems I never have a bottle on hand when I suddenly decide on chicken for dinner.
For all of these reasons, I have been experimenting with creating my own marinade that will have just the right amount of flavor, not too little, not overpowering, and can be made with inexpensive ingredients that I tend to have on hand. What follows is my creation; not rocket science, but quite satisfying to me and my family. As an added bonus, the leftover chicken also makes delicious chicken sandwiches for lunch the following day.
Simple Summer Chicken Marinade
- 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO for short, per Rachel Ray!)
- 1/6 cup lemon or lime juice, whichever you prefer (you may want to experiment with this a bit to get the taste you prefer; if going for a Mexican flavor, you may want to go with lime; otherwise, perhaps lemon, at least to start with)
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- a few shakes of garlic salt or 1-2 cloves of garlic minced (when camping we tend to bring the garlic salt to make things a bit easier and quicker; at home, we use the cloves)
- spices you prefer—most nights we go with 1 tsp of oregano and 1 tsp of basil; if going Mexican, add cumin and oregano; parsley is also a good choice.
- a few grindings of black pepper
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl in the order given. When well mixed, pour over chicken pieces. The amount is sufficient for 4-5 chicken breasts. To eliminate unnecessary cleanup, I often use a bag of frozen chicken breasts and, when thawed and rinsed, pour marinade over the chicken in the original bag, then refrigerate for 3-4 hours. You have no bowls to wash except the small one in which the ingredients were mixed. After chicken is marinated, grill as usual. Delicious! And created entirely out of items I always try to keep in my kitchen!
In my next post, I will share two of my favorite summer side dishes to serve with this grilled chicken. Stay tuned…And if you have any marinades you have created, please pass them along. We are always interested in trying something new!
For more camping recipes, check out Woodall’s main site for more camping information.