When I moved to Castle Rock, Colorado 18 months ago I willingly chose to move 30 minutes south of Greenwood Village, the already southern suburb of Denver I had lived in for 20+ years. It’s not like I chose Castle Rock, it’s more that the house I wanted was here and I’ve always loved the area so the choice was made. I do have those days when I scratch my head at the commute I’ve created if invited downtown; it’s easily a 45-50 minute trip one way and that’s if the traffic is perfect. Which it never is. So, I say no to a lot of opportunities that I might have been up for in the past; starting an event at 5:30pm guarantees me a rush hour drive of more than an hour one way…just not my cup of tea.
As a result, I’m more interested in finding restaurants that are closer to home and that is a challenge; downtown is where it’s usually at. If I’m lucky enough to find a place I enjoy within a 30 minute radius of my new location I’m a happy camper. With some irony; I recently met a friend for Happy Hour at a place near my old home that I had never been to. Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza is obviously known for their pizza so we did order a small one margherita one to share and it really was good but it was their Limoncello Chicken Wings that left the biggest impression. I love all things lemon and I especially love Limoncello and these did not disappoint. I knew as soon as I tasted them that I would be working in the kitchen to re-create the dish…but with a bit of a switch.
I would have had no problem asking the owner, Mark Dym, for his recipe, hoping against hope that he would comply. He was not available during our visit but I was told to just give him a call and that he would probably be willing to share. Then I did a Google search…no need, seems I’ve been beaten to the punch multiple times. Search results listed a couple of local sites with the recipe and I got started right away. I knew that the Food Network’s #SummerSoiree series was going to be featuring barbecue this week so I wanted to get this done in time to share.
My big revision? I wanted dinner, not appetizer so I’ve made Limoncello and Herb Barbecue Chicken Thighs. And well, I guess there is no coal firing for this batch but a turn on the barbecue grill was enough to get that smoky, charred result and let me just tell you, these disappeared. The combination of lemon, Limoncello and fresh herbs was as perfect as it sounds and the marinating served up tender juicy morsels. I did cut the thighs in half; I’ve been sort of folding them back into a thigh shape so the meat is actually doubled but thought they would cook faster if I didn’t do that which allowed me to raise the heat for that nice sear and a quicker cooking time. Marco’s serves the appetizer with a side of Vidalia Onions and Focaccia, I did the same for dinner with a fresh garden salad on the side; my tomatoes are disappearing as fast as they show up on the vine!
This is easy which is always a plus but more importantly; they are so good. I think better than the wings but then I’ve loved chicken thighs since I was a girl…I’m completely hooked!
- 3 whole lemons, quartered
- 1/2 cup limoncello
- 1/4 ounce fresh thyme
- 3 ounces fresh rosemary
- 1/4 ounce fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
- 4 lbs boneless chicken thighs,, halved
- Blend all of the ingredients but chicken in a food processor.
- Combine the marinade and chicken thighs and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Remove from marinade. Grill thighs on medium high heat until browned and cooked through; 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your thigh pieces.
These do require that they marinate from 4 to 24 hours in the lemon, herb and Limoncello sauce so be sure to plan accordingly.
You know me…summer’s not over until it’s over…damn it. And I’ve got the Food Network on my side! We’re going barbecue this week so come on…join us and get your grill on!
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FN Dish: Chefs’ Top BBQ Dishes to Make Before Summer’s End