honey, cumin & lime grilled chicken for the gudetroit picnic

In my last post I alluded to a picnic with some fellow Detroit gourmands, some of whom I introduced to you in this post.  We’re a growing group, and we decided to have a potluck picnic on Belle Isle as an excuse to eat, drink and get to know each other a little better. Molly and Todd scoped out the perfect spot under some willow trees, on the banks of the Detroit river with a view of the city.

Knowing this group, I had high expectations, but wow… I have to say I was pretty blown away by how much everyone put into it.  Dave (aka Captain McBoozy), James and Evan ruled the drinks department- Dave made a Rhubarb Rum Punch and some Prescription Juleps, Evan brought a chartreuse-and-pineapple juice concoction,  and James (our resident coffee-roaster and token Romanian-American) made a fabulous cocktail with cold-brewed coffee, vodka, passionfruit syrup and Romanian mountain mint.

The food was no less spectacular… I displayed an incredible amount of willpower and paced myself perfectly so that I was able to nibble and sip on and off all day while never feeling uncomfortably full or overly tipsy.  This was no small feat, since it was pretty much a spread to end all spreads. My contributions were a big bowl of chlodnik and a mess of honey, cumin & lime-marinated grilled chicken (grilling courtesy of Todd, thanks dude!).  The rest of the food I almost hesitate to list for fear of inadvertently leaving someone out, but there were homemade sausages, pizza on the grill (organic dough courtesy of Strawberry Moon in Ferndale), Vietnamese fresh rolls, an Israeli couscous salad with shrimp (don’t tell the rabbi!), bruschetta, gazpacho, Korean beef tartare lettuce wraps, grilled steak with arugula, a huge bowl of guac, and an assortment of gourmet ice cream courtesy of Jeni’s Ice Creams in Columbus.  Jarred also brought an assortment of wines provided by Western Market– score!

We whiled away the afternoon until it slipped into evening, and somehow managed to dispatch almost all of the food.  We were even making ham sandwiches towards the end of the day, with leftover marble rye, mustard, and some J&M German bacon (not really “bacon”; more like the best ham you’ve ever had).  As the sun set over the city, we packed up our belongings and mused about how perfect the day had been, and wondered aloud how soon we could do another picnic.

Back to the chicken- this isn’t the first time I’ve made this chicken, but I usually make it with wings for a better meat-to-marinade ratio.  The drumsticks weren’t bad, but I think I’ll revert to using wings from now on.   It was hard to “name” this recipe because all of the marinade ingredients are bold and prominent- the sweet-tart punch of honey and lime, the toasty warmth of the cumin and cayenne, and the savory hit of garlic all contribute to a sauce that sings with flavor.  The elements are inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine, but I’ve never had anything like it in a restaurant or come across any similar recipes in any cookbooks or blogs, so for now I’ll claim it as my own.  We couldn’t do this at the picnic, but if you’re near a stove, the leftover marinade (boiled and reduced) makes a killer dipping sauce.

To see the full set of photos from the picnic, check out my flickr set.

Honey, Cumin & Lime Grilled Chicken
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4-5 lbs chicken wings (or drumsticks), preferably free-range or organic
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 large limes should yield this, unless they are particularly dry)
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs ground cumin (seeds toasted & freshly ground if possible)
½ tsp cayenne or 1 tsp Harissa paste (or more if you like it spicy)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 packed Tbs minced garlic (a couple cloves depending on size)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbs olive oil

Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, stirring to dissolve the honey.  Taste to see that the sweet/sour flavors are balanced.  It should taste pretty pucker-inducing, but the heat will tame some of the acidity.  Taste for spiciness as well, adding cayenne as you see fit.

Wash and pat the chicken dry.  Place in a sturdy Ziploc-type bag with the marinade and seal, expelling as much air as possible.  Marinate for at least an hour, longer if possible.

Grill the chicken over medium heat, turning frequently and basting often with the marinade (this should take about 15-20 minutes for wings; slightly longer for drumsticks.  If unsure, use a meat thermometer and cook to 160°).  If you like, boil down any remaining marinade on the stove until slightly thickened and use as a dipping sauce.

18 responses to “honey, cumin & lime grilled chicken for the gudetroit picnic

  1. so sad i missed this! everything looks amazing (duh)! and i’ll have to try your chicken!!

  2. it was a grand old time. thanks again to jeni’s for the ice cream samples, western market for the wine, and all the amazing GUDetroit folks for making such good chow.

  3. Sounds yummy and super easy. I will definitely be trying this recipe

  4. That day was TOPS. Thanks also to Strawberry Moon for pizza dough, it made my life so much easier. And truly, Evan and Todd found the site, but I will take credit for totally failing to look for one, even though I live a mile away.

    I think I hear the call of those willows. when shall we meet again?

  5. Oh to have had that day off of work. And a time machine.

  6. Shoot, forgot to give BIG UPS to Western Market and Strawberry Moon! I will rectify that (gotta love online publishing and the ability to go back and edit after the fact!) 🙂

  7. I wish I was there! Looks yummy and you can’t beat Belle Isle. Viva Detroit.

  8. This picnic looks fabulous, and I think your friends drinks with the chalkboard diagrams are just too cute. 🙂

  9. Man, you guys eat well up there!

    Glad you enjoyed the ice cream….

    Ohio Loves You.

  10. What a great mix of flavors on this. I love the spicy sweet thing!

  11. everything looks great!

  12. Sounds delicious! I’m gonna try this recipe next week.

  13. mankenlik ajansları

    We whiled away the afternoon until it slipped into evening, and somehow managed to dispatch almost all of the food

  14. Hi. It made me hungry just reading the recipe. Going to try this over the weekend

  15. I honestly don’t know how (or don’t remember what I was looking for) that fell me into your blog – but here I found myself reading post after post about your wonderful gatherings and creations. I confess – I am NOT a foodie, I don’t ‘like’ to cook, but I can. Born & bred on farm country in southern MI I somehow found my way to Alaska. My pallet is still very farm-girl driven and partial to homegrown foods.

    Although I know this post is about your dish, I have to say that I’m wildly attracted to the Israeli Couscous salad. I also confess, I don’t even know what couscous IS! But that photo of that salad, looks like something I would love, something I *might* actually make. Could I impose on you to talk a little more about it? Maybe ask its creator about it?

    • Thanks Rosie! My dad’s family had a farm in Coldwater, whereabouts were you from?

      I don’t know about the salad in the photo, but I make one with roasted or grilled vegetables (zucchini, red peppers, onions, whatever you like) and a simple lemon and olive oil dressing. I like to use mint or parsley if I have them. The best way I can think to describe couscous is that it’s like tiny, tiny pasta. It originates from North Africa. It usually comes in really small “grains” but the Israeli variety is a little larger. You just pour hot water over it to cook it. I’m sure Wikipedia does a little better job of explaining it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couscous 🙂

  16. Thank you so much for your speedy response. I’ll have to see if I can even find Israeli couscous in the stores here in Fairbanks, AK. Would it be with other pasta? Or would I look in the ethnic section. I can’t believe I’ve never had it! So once the couscous is cooked I just mix in the veggies and the dressing and that’s it? I’m definitely going to have to try this!

    I’m from a little farming community between Grand Rapids and Lansing; about 75mi almost straight north of Coldwater. =) Small world!

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