I know some readers of this column grill year-round. Some live in temperate climates, where winter means putting on a light jacket to throw some burgers on, and some are just die-hard grilling machines, who would chisel the ice off your charcoal briquettes to light a fire outdoors.
I fall into neither camp, though I am enough of a grilling buff that as soon as the weather seems remotely cooperative, I grab those tongs and send my husband, Gary, out to fill up the propane tank (and yes, I know that for you hard-core grillers, the fact that I'm not using charcoal or hardwood makes me a pretender at best. But there's a jolly, ample expanse between culinary perfection and everyday dinners, and I like to wander about freely in that open space).
If the weather isn't cooperating, or if you are a city dweller, those nice grill pans, or even a panini press, can be called into service.
Anyway, other than a nice soak in a lemony marinade, this chicken and pepper dish requires only a handful of ingredients, little skill and a small commitment of time by the fire. The result is colorful and gorgeous and flavorful and very healthful to boot. Serve with rice or any grains you are into at the moment. It's a nice way to get both you and your grill reacquainted.
Grilled Provencal Chicken and Peppers
Start to finish: 7 hours (6 hours of marinating time)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
Â½ cup fresh lemon juice
Â½ cup olive oil
Â¼ cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Â¼ cup chopped black olives, like kalamata
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce, or to taste
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh thyme sprigs to serve
1. Trim the chicken breasts and use a large sharp knife to cut them into three pieces, about 2 inches wide each. If the chicken breasts are very thick, cut each of the pieces in half horizontally, so you have two thinner, small cutlets from each piece. Cut the bell peppers into 2-inch pieces, and discard the stem and seeds.
2. In a large container or zipper-top bag, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, shallots, thyme, black olives, sriracha, salt and pepper.
3. Add the chicken and peppers to the marinade, making sure the marinade coats all of the ingredients. Cover and marinate for 6 to 12 hours in the refrigerator.
4. Bring the chicken and peppers to room temperature while you heat the grill to medium high. Remove the chicken and peppers from the marinade, and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken and the peppers for 4 or 5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned and cooked through.
5. Serve the chicken and peppers hot or at room temperature, with the thyme sprigs tucked in.
Nutritional information per serving: 381 calories; 204 calories from fat; 23 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 110 mg cholesterol; 220 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 35 g protein.