A Grill and a Skillet

Who says a roast chicken dinner has to be difficult or too hot to prepare in the summer? The easy solution is to roast it on the grill. Not only will your chicken taste fabulous, it will keep the heat out of the kitchen and reduce washing up. There are a number of ways to grill a whole chicken – on a rotisserie or directly on the grates will do. I like to use a cast iron skillet, which collects the pan juices while the chicken roasts, and makes for easy transferring from grill to table. Other vegetables and aromatics may also be added to the skillet to braise in the pan juices for one dish cooking.

Roasted Lemon Cilantro Chicken

This simple recipe was inspired by bouquets of fragrant cilantro at the farmers market. For those who are faint of heart when it comes to cilantro, try substituting fresh thyme and parsley for equally delicious results.

Serves 4


  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro sprigs

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 (3 to 4 pound) chicken

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To Prepare:

  1. Combine the garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and lemon zest in a mortar with pestle or bowl of a food processor. Smash or grind to a paste. Stir or pulse in 2 tablespoons olive oil. With you fingers, gently loosen the skin from the breast meat. Rub the chicken between the skin and breast meat and inside the cavity with the paste.
  2. Rub the outside of the skin with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Place the chicken in a shallow bowl or baking dish, breast-side up and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.
  3. Prepare the grill for indirect medium heat (about 400°F). Place the chicken, breast-side up, in a large cast iron skillet over indirect medium heat. Close the lid of the grill and roast the chicken until cooked through, about 1 to 1 ¼ hours, basting occasionally with the pan juices. Remove from grill and transfer to a cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and let rest 15 minutes.
  4. Carve the chicken into pieces and serve with the pan juices.

*Look for whole chickens sold by Marin Sun Farms and fresh cilantro from Marin Roots Farm available at the San Rafael Farmers Markets.