At the grocery store, you can find Lemon Pepper Spice Blend in the herbs and spices section (usually in the baking aisle). On the surface, it seems like a simple solution: toss some chicken thighs with a tablespoon of the spice blend and you are good to go. Except, what the heck is in that spice blend?
In the McCormick's version you'll find, "Salt, Black Pepper, Citric Acid, Onion, Sugar, Garlic, Calcium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, And Calcium Silicate (Added To Make Free Flowing), Celery Seed, Lemon Oil, And Fd&C Yellow 5 Lake." As some of my favorite television characters say, "Oh Hell No!" I don't know about you, but I don't need to be ingesting food coloring derived from coal and known to have adverse reactions with the nervous system. And fun fact about calcium stearate: it's the main component in soap scum. Probably harmless, but I don't need to eat it. Reading this label reminds that if I can't pronounce it and/or don't know what it is I probably don't want to eat it.
Back to the drawing board because like you, I've been busy this summer, and I want to make healthy, grilled dinners that don't take a lot of time. As it happens, making lemon pepper chicken from scratch using actual lemons and actual black peppercorns doesn't take a whole lot of time, and it produces better flavor that's healthier for you. Win! Win! Win!
Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ lemon, juiced
¾ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs
Combine first five ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken. Whisk vigorously to emulsify. Add chicken. Marinate for 2-4 hours.
Preheat grill to medium. Add chicken to grill. Grill 4-5 minutes per side. Internal temperature should be 160-165 F.
While chicken is grilling, place marinade in a saucepan and bring to a rapid boil. Turn down and simmer until chicken is done.
Serve chicken with the sauce on the side. This is lovely served with brown rice or potatoes that you can drizzle the sauce over. It also is delicious with Brian's Bodacious Broccoli, as shown in the photo above.