Napping with Labor Day Lemon Chicken

It is just as important to celebrate the end of summer, as it is the beginning. In my family we choose to celebrate these occasions with good food, great people and lots of time outdoors. On Memorial Day it is our tradition to throw some swordfish steaks on the grill and enjoy a delicious seafood meal. In many ways this is the kick-off of grilling season, as we proceed to cook most things over an open flame all summer long.

When it comes to our celebration style, Labor Day is no different. We roll out the cold salads, put a few bottles of beer on ice, rev up the grill and it is time for grilled chicken.

I love it when readers write to me with questions and comments. In fact, some people even send me some amazing recipes. When I received this lemon chicken recipe from my "virtual" friend Ashley in Chicago I knew I had to give it a try. I loved the ingredients at first glance and especially appreciated the part where she recommended marinating the chicken in a Ziploc bag. I know it isn't elegant (as evidenced by the picture below), but I firmly believe that marinating meats and poultry in Ziploc is always the most effective. By placing the meat in a bag it can be surrounded by liquid, as opposed to sitting in a pan with marinade poured over it.

Since I was nearly certain that Ashley's recipe would be a hit I put it to the test last weekend at our pre-Labor Day cookout. To ensure maximum flavor I used fresh organically raised chickens from our farmers market, and rosemary sprigs plucked fresh from our herb pots. Before I placed the chicken in the Ziploc bag I pierced the breasts several times with a fork, this allowed it to absorb a lot of the delicious marinade. I prepped the chicken and marinade while my daughter napped, and left the Ziploc in the fridge for about 5 hours before we were ready to grill. This amount of marinating time might have been extensive, but it was worth it because the flavor was amazing. However, if you don't have that amount of time on hand, I am sure 1-2 hours in the fridge would work just as well.

As we expected, the chicken was juicy, moist and bursting with a sweet lemony-herb flavor. Preparing it had been a cinch and eating it was just as easy. In fact, I had to write down the recipe for several of our guests. After we devoured all of the chicken, we agreed that the taste of this marinade rivaled that of our previous favorite, Brooks BBQ Sauce. There is room for both in our pantry, and I'm sure Ashley's recipe will stay on my go-to marinade list for quite a long time. I hope that this recipe serves you well for your upcoming Labor Day cookout, I know that this is what I'll be making next Monday afternoon.

Ashley's Perfect Grilled Lemon Chicken
a recipe from a great reader, Ashley S.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 lemons, halved and juiced (save juice and rind)

6 cloves of garlic (smashed with flat side of knife)

6 whole sprigs of rosemary

1 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon red pepper (crushed or cayenne works)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Pierce breasts several times with fork tines. Drop chicken into a Ziploc bag.

2. In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt and spices. Pour on top of chicken and squish chicken around in the Ziploc to make sure chicken is fully coated.

3. Add lemon halves, garlic cloves and rosemary springs to the bag. Squeeze air out and seal. Squish chicken around in all ingredients again to make sure everything is evenly distributed. Marinade in the fridge for at least one hour.
4. Heat grill and cook chicken over a medium flame for 7-8 minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through.

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Props: The great thing about a marinade is that you can always double or triple the recipe if you have more mouths to feed. I bet this would also be delicious with shrimp or fish.
Naptime Stopwatch:
The best part about grilling is that it is so easy. Mixing the marinade takes 5 minutes during naptime and then it merely sits in the fridge and does all the work on it's own. There is nothing more Naptime Chef-friendly than that.

Naptime Notes:
My daughter isn't too keen on the taste of grilled food yet, but she enjoyed this. The rest of the family polished off their pieces, then asked for the recipe.


  1. I love lemon chicken! What a lovely summer meal!

  2. This does sound great for Labor Day! Have a nice holiday!

  3. This is my kind of chicken - I cannot wait to make this! And I agree with you on the power of Ziplock. You may not see it on the Food Network, but us home cooks know what's going on. :)

  4. Finger licking good stuff. You know, I made a 'brick chicken' which i married to a '40 Garlic Chicken' last week...almost the same flavours! I can just imagine how good this must hv been!

  5. Delicious - this looks real good, I am so into lemon at the moment. :-)