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Grilled Meyer Lemon Chicken with Chimichurri Sauce

Nathan Congleton

Chef notes

This chicken gets its incredible flavor from the preserved lemon and herb rub. At my restaurant, Chica, we cook them on a rotisserie, but they are delicious when they are grilled or even roasted in a high heat oven. They are best when made the night before and stored in the refrigerator, but making them a couple of hours ahead will work too.


Preserved Meyer lemons
  • 10 Meyer lemons
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Chimichurri (makes about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • tablespoons chopped anchovies, soaked in water for 15 minutes and dried
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped arugula
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 3-4 pound whole chicken, patted dry
  • cup preserved Meyer lemons (recipe below or store-bought), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup thyme, packed and stems removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the preserved Meyer lemons:


Wash lemons in warm water and dry well.


Juice one half of each lemon and quarter the other half.


In a bowl combine quartered lemons, salt, spices and mix together well.


Stuff into sterile jars, pack tightly to fit as many lemons as possible and cover with juice.


Wipe jar, screw lid tightly. Ready to use in a few days, can be stored up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

For the chimichurri:

In a food processor pulse capers, garlic and anchovies until finely chopped. Add the herbs, arugula and red pepper and pulse. Move the chimichurri mixture to a bowl and add the extra virgin olive oil and salt. Mix together. Set aside.

For the chicken:


To butterfly the chicken, remove the backbone and sternum and press flat.


Combine the preserved Meyer lemons, garlic and thyme in the bowl of a mortar pestle and grind together to make a thick paste.


Rub the paste generously under the chicken skin and all over the entire bird.


Season both sides of chicken with a generous amount of salt and fresh black pepper.


Place the chicken in a sealed plastic bag with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and refrigerate overnight.


Oil the grill grate and bring to a high heat. Grill the chicken, turning once, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. (Or preheat the oven to 400°F and roast on a sheet pan for 40 minutes, until the juices run clear).


Let the chicken rest for a few minutes then serve with the chimichurri sauce on top or on the side.