Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken with Salmoriglio Sauce is a twist on the authentic Chicken Salmoriglio which is a quintessential Southern Italian dish. In the authentic version, chicken is broiled or grilled to a crispy finish with simple seasonings. When ready to serve, Salmoriglio sauce is then spooned upon the chicken for serving with fresh squeezed lemon. My recipe is an adaptation between the Milk Street recipe and Cucina Siciliana recipes.
If you follow Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, he has a fabulous recipe for Chicken Salmoriglio. When I made the recipe, it was delicious but I found that the sauce was not enough to marinate and top the chicken. Also the steps in the recipe felt a little complicated. In my adaption, I make enough sauce to both marinate and to top the chicken upon serving alongside a squeeze of the grilled lemons. I found this to be a bright, flavorful and bold chicken recipe and beautiful to serve as well. And the best part? There is plenty of extra Salmoriglio Sauce to enjoy on your chicken!
What is Salmoriglio?
This beautifully flavorful Salmoriglio (sal-more-EEL-ee-yo) sauce hails primarily from Sicily and Calabria. It’s intensely lemon, oregano and garlic flavor profile is the perfect finish for grilled chicken or fish like swordfish. The sauce has both dried and fresh oregano, lemon zest, fresh garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, honey (not traditional), salt and pepper. This sauce works very well with grilled vegetables, and potatoes like my Roasted Potato Salad with Salmoriglio. The sauce works best with very fresh ingredients, including the dry oregano. And ideally served at room temperature.
How to prepare Chicken for the grill
When Salmoriglio sauce ingredients are whisked together, set the sauce aside and let’s prepare the chicken. In the Milk Street recipe, they recommend cutting slits or slices into the chicken so the marinade is able to reach the inside of the chicken pieces. I agree, this is a really good technique to get the flavor from the inside out. I tested this recipe with boneless skinless thighs, bone in skin on, and skinless with bone in and it was delicious in all three types of chicken thighs. You can also use drumsticks, and leg portions. Chicken breast will work as well but I recommend whole bone in, skin on chicken breast. The recipe calls for 1 lemon to be cut in half and grilled cut side down along with the chicken. The lemon halves should be removed when nice grill marks appear and lemon has softened.
How to Assemble Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken + Salmoriglio Sauce
For the remaining Salmoriglio , add fresh chopped oregano leaves. Gently mix. Now arrange Arugula on a large platter, arrange grilled chicken on top. Squeeze grilled lemon onto the chicken and then spoon Salmoriglio onto the chicken pieces. Add more fresh oregano leaves and serve.
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Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken + Salmoriglio Sauce
- grill pan or outdoor grill
- 3 1/2 lbs chicken thighs boneless, bone in, skin on or off
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 2 lemons juice of one lemon reserve second lemon for grill
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 3 tsp oregano dried
- 2-3 tsp salt kosher (see note)
- 1 tsp pepper course ground
- 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp oregano fresh, leaves only, chopped plus more for garnish
- 1 5oz Arugula, container for serving
- Place juice of one lemon, lemon zest, olive oil, dried oregano, honey, garlic, salt, pepper in a small bowl and whisk until fully combined. Set aside.
Prepare chicken to marinate
- Trim chicken if necessary.
- Carefully cut slices into the chicken pieces. This will allow for the marinade to penetrate into the chicken.
- Place chicken in large, zip top bag. Give the sauce a good whisk and place half of the marinade in the bag with the chicken.
- Zip the top closed and gently shake the chicken so the marinade covers chicken fully.
- Marinate for 2-3 hours.
- Preheat grill on medium heat.
- Once the chicken has marinaded, remove chicken pieces from bag.
- Discard any marinade that remains.
- Place chicken on preheated grill. Also two lemon halves that were reserved. Cut side down.
- Lemon halves should be grilled about 10 minutes until they have grill marks and have softened.
- Grill chicken about 5 minutes on each side and continue to turn every 5 minutes until fully cooked and internal temperature is 165º. (cooking times vary- bone in takes longer, boneless cooks faster)
- Remove from grill.
How to serve Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken with Salmoriglio Sauce
- To the reserved sauce, add chopped fresh Oregano and mix well.
- On a platter, arrange Arugula and place grilled chicken pieces on top.
- Squeeze grilled lemon halves onto the chicken.
- Spoon Salmoriglio onto the chicken.
- Garnish with more fresh oregano and serve.
Nutritional information is calculated online and should be used as a guide.
All content and photographs ©Claudia’s Table and claudiastable.com