Whole30 Chicken Marinade

Whole30 bbq chicken marinade-pint.jpg

"Bob's Chicken" served with Crunchy Asian Slaw and Sweet Potato Wedges garnished with lime zest and cilantro


I don't have too many "family" recipes, you know the ones that you save, hand written on cards, usually starting with butter, sugar, crisco . . .  well, maybe that's a good thing 😆  This is one of those special family recipes from my brother, it is so good and now altered slightly to comply with my paleo menu planning!  While stationed in Guam during his military time my brother acquired this recipe from some "locals" there, and they knew how to cook chicken! 

This is such a simple marinade recipe for barbecuing chicken, and now when I look at the ingredients I think - what's the big deal about this recipe and why am I excited to share it? It's just a couple of ingredients?  Perhaps there's something we shall call "taste bud memory", you know, like muscle memory?  And when I eat this chicken I am transported back to the first time having it, thinking it was the best thing I'd ever tasted.  It was so innovative and new!  I can't date it exactly but I'm going to guess early to mid 70's, and chicken marinade? Who had ever heard of that? Well, maybe you had but for me, growing up in a small town with only a couple of restaurants, and home cooked meals that were highlighted with meat loaf and baked potatoes, this chicken "marinade" was a whole new concept!  And barbecuing it also?  Even barbecue seemed a step outside of the normal dinner routine, and if you did pull out the grill, it would have meant having barbecue sauce on it of course! So yeah, this chicken marinade was a really big deal!  When I taste this chicken, that "taste bud memory" takes me back to thinking this is the best thing I've ever had!  Kinda like "best thing since sliced bread"!  😁

There's more to the story, but let me get to the recipe for those of you who are ready to start cooking dinner!  I've made one change from the original recipe by substituting coconut aminos for soy sauce, it's just as good, and now Whole30 and paleo compliant!  

8-12 pieces of chicken thighs, or your favorite pieces (this cooks up best with the skin on, helping to retain moisture while cooking)
2 cups water
1 cup coconut aminos
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine the water, coconut aminos, garlic, onion, and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Remove approximately 2/3 cup of the marinade and place in a separate bowl for basting.  Add the chicken and allow it to marinade for a minimum of one hour, but as long as you like!  During the barbecue process continue to baste frequently from the reserved marinade, or dip the chicken in the basting marinade which is what they did in Guam. Simple right? And good! 

And now, back to the story in Guam many years ago . . . 

I was going to the bottom of the Island from time to time for a day of swimming and collecting shells.  Each time I was there I would see local island folks who were cooking on outdoor fire grills.  It was usually chicken on the grills, and to me it always looked under cooked, never dark like I was used to seeing on a barbecue.  I watched as they cooked over low heat and forked each piece off and dipped it back into the marinade quite often.  Sometime later I was given the marinade ingredients.

I hope you make your own "taste bud memory" with this recipe.  In this age of cooking, marinating your barbecue chicken isn't the latest and greatest creative idea, but some things just get better through the years!  Enjoy!