Kale and Mint Grilled Chicken

Hidden veggie: Kale

Picture this. Three fragrant herbs, two greens, lots of garlic and a touch of oregano and cumin. If that doesn't tickle your taste buds, well...maybe you have a thick tongue ;)

This is my all-time favorite way to make a marinade and it's always a HIT! That's not an exaggeration, by the way. It all started with when I had an herb garden back when we were living in the beautiful pacific coast, in northern california. Perfect weather for herbs so I had a herb garden and a vegetable garden put in. No, I am not much of a DIY when it comes to gardening, so yes we did pay a good local landscaping company to install the beds, irrigation, set up the timer etc. for us. So there you go, we had fresh basil, parsley, and mint, cilantro - aah, just the memory of it makes me smile ;)

This recipe is also special due to another reason. This was the first time my son had actually held raw chicken in his hands. You should know, I don't usually ask him for help.. I wait and see if he wants to partake in the kitchen activity, and unless there's a movie or his friends around, most certainly he wants to jump right in and help me cook. Words can't express how special those moments are. Yes, it takes me longer to finish up, but I walk away with the satisfied accomplishment that I made him a tad bit smarter and more capable of being on his own someday.

I also brought in raw papaya into the mix as you could really use it two ways: add it to the marinade OR grill it as a side to go with the chicken IF it's on the riper side (which it was in this case). Raw papaya in the marinade is an excellent meat tenderizer, popularly used in Indian mutton(goat) or beef dishes where the meat is generally tougher than their pinkish counterparts, except perhaps pork.

List of ingredients in the marinade for 3 lbs of chicken thighs:

  1. 8-10 cloves of garlic
  2. 1 tsp italian or mexican oregano
  3. 2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  4. 1/2 tbsp whole cumin
  5. kosher salt
  6. 1 tsp turmeric
  7. 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  8. 1/4 cup fresh mint
  9. 1/3 cup fresh parsley
  10. 1/3 cup fresh basil (prefer italian basil)
  11. 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  12. 2 tsp lemon juice, a pinch of lemon zest
  13. If you like more heat, then 2-3 green chillies or jalapeno peppers
  14. greens: 1 cup of fresh straight leaf or lacinto kale
  15. greens: 1/2 cup rainbow chard (optional, or can switch with spinach)

Now here's the part that distinguishes great grilled chicken thighs that also retain the greens and don't burn all of it: Make sure you cut slits in the chicken thighs and try and squeeze the seasoning into the cracks.

I gotta get him smaller gloves, poor thing kept adjusting them as they slipped all the time! Need to look if they even make vinyl gloves in kids sizes..

If possible, marinate them at least 2-3 hours, if not overnight. Throw'em on the grill, medium-high heat, about 10-12 minutes each side. Flip only once!

I guarantee, the garlic and the herbs totally mask the kale away, but hey, that's a welcome outcome, isn't it?

I guarantee, the garlic and the herbs totally mask the kale away, but hey, that's a welcome outcome, isn't it?