Not My Mom’s Cooking: Bring on the Limes

We are a family of grillers. All of my siblings cook frequently on the grill. In fact, during the summer, I’ll bet we mostly cook on a grill. What’s more, most of our children do the same. Whenever Court and his family are over for dinner, he takes over the grill and cooks the food. Yay!

It makes me happy that we are all grillers because we take after my dad. He manned the grill in the summer in Columbus when grilling wasn’t even a thing. And not a gas grill mind you. He lit coals and waited for them to begin turning to ash. He stood by the grill and watched his meat carefully so that it wouldn’t burn until it was ready to eat. He wasn’t empty-handed, of course. He had a beer or a martini in his hand as he cooked. Why not?

I have a gas grill, as does most everyone these days. They are quick and easy to use. I can light it up even in the cold weather, and frequently do. But I have to tell you that one of my favorite things to do is haul out my charcoal grill from the side of the house, light the coals, and wait for them to be ready with an ice cold martini in my hand. The perfect ending is a juicy ribeye steak.

My siblings might be able to correct me on this, but I don’t think Dad always cooked chicken on the grill. Steaks, yes. Burgers and hot dogs, definitely. Pork chops, undoubtedly.

But the reason I say this about chicken is because I remember when Dad started grilling chicken, and it was because of my cousin John, who came to visit from the small town of Valley, Nebraska, just outside Omaha. While John is my maternal cousin, he and Dad were good buddies. My mom was the youngest of 13 kids and John’s mom was the eldest, so the age difference between John and Dad wasn’t great.

John prepared chicken in the simplest way possible – salt, pepper, butter, maybe a bit of lemon juice, and a beer to douse the flames. Oh, and perhaps a bit would spill onto the meat. Oops. To this day, my brother will say that his favorite olfactory memory of Dad is the smell of beer on hot coals. It’s the only thing I ever use to keep a grill under control.

I’m telling this story because though Mom and Dad eventually began to cook chicken on the grill, I don’t think they ever did anything besides the lemon chicken and maybe chicken with barbecue sauce. I don’t think they went beyond those boundaries.

I, on the other hand, cook chicken on the grill many different ways. Chicken is still fairly inexpensive. It’s versatile. And it tastes good. Most people use chicken breasts, but for me, it’s chicken thighs every single time.

This is a recipe I came across recently because I discovered a multitude of limes in my refrigerator and wanted to use them up. I have a habit of buying limes just about any time I go to the grocery store because I can’t remember whether or not I have any in the refrigerator. So they add up because a person can only drink so many gin and tonics. I think my fear of running out of limes is left over from a couple of years ago when there was a lime crisis in Mexico (probably not the most serious crisis they face each day) that resulted in a shortage of limes, at least in Arizona. It is surprising how this impacted my life. I’m not sure what that says about me, but it probably isn’t good.


Chili Lime Chicken
Adapted from

2-2.5 lbs. skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
½ c. fresh lime juice
3 t. fresh lime zest
¼ c. olive oil
4 T. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 T. honey
2 t. salt
1 large pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste.

Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients together in a big bowl, making the marinade. Add chicken to the marinade, making sure to stir and coat the chicken evenly. Marinate for 2 hours.

uncooked chicken

Prepare your grill, brushing a little bit of oil on the surface. Add a bit of the garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno from the marinade on top of the chicken and grill until they are golden brown and charred on both sides. Watch carefully, as the honey will burn easily.

Chili Lime Chicken

Nanas Notes: I think chicken is kind of difficult to cook on the grill because the fat in the skin causes flames. I cooked the thighs for 10 minutes on one side with the lid open, keeping a close eye on them. I then cooked the thighs for 10 minutes on the other side. I turned off one of the burners and cooked the chicken on indirect heat with the lid closed for 30 -35 minutes, until finished. With this particular recipe, it really is necessary to oil the grill grate prior to cooking. The honey in the marinade results in sticky chicken. If you don’t oil the grill, your crispy skin will stick to the grill and you will lose out on some good eats.

3 thoughts on “Not My Mom’s Cooking: Bring on the Limes

  1. Grilling chicken stressed Mom out because it has to be cooked through properly. I always finish mine on indirect heat as well.
    This recipe sounds yummy and I was wondering what to do with a thigh-leg I want to grill this week. I’ll give this recipe a try.

  2. Wow, this sounds good. Hint, hint!

    I’ve started buying whole legs instead of just the thigh, and I really like that. I keep mine simple, just salt and pepper, and I cook over direct heat 20 minutes per side. They come out very crispy and yummy.

    • Most of the time when I cook chicken on the grill, I do the same thing as you, but I squeeze lemon onto the chicken as it’s cooking. I should buy whole legs. Don’t know why I don’t.

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