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This Finger-Lickin’ Finger Lakes Chicken Has a Juicy Secret Ingredient

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As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we’re making the effort to revisit some good as gold recipes. Today, we're featuring chicken so delicious that you'll be lickin' your fingers clean.


What's cookin', good lookin'?
What's cookin', good lookin'? Photo by Ty Mecham

Speedy, affordable chicken dinners are pretty much everyone’s weeknight standby, but that wasn’t always the case. Until the early 1900s, broiler chickens were considered great (and rare) delicacies. But the advent of industrialized farming and transportation brought chickens into American kitchens and stomachs.

One of the earliest recipes to take advantage of the abundance of birds came from a Cornell animal science professor who wanted more people to eat poultry. He marinated chicken in vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, poultry seasoning, lots of salt, and an egg, resulting in a crispy, tangy bird.

Another delicious way to eat chicken

Food52 community member wwsmom first tried the professor’s chicken decades ago at a summer picnic near Lake Owasco.

“To this day, it remains omnipresent at all manner of public gatherings in the Finger Lakes region," she says. "From country fairs to Boy Scout fundraisers, VFW dinners, 4-H club outings and beyond."

The secret to keeping the chicken tender and juicy is a long soak in an aioli-based marinade. When aargersi first tested the recipe, she was pleasantly surprised by its flavor:

I thought that it might be very vinegary or herby, but it’s not, those are just subtle notes in what is very good grilled chicken. I used the extra aioli to marinate a pork tenderloin which I also grilled. All variations were tender and delicious.

The longer the chicken marinades, the better it tastes. So set aside time to let it mix and mingle. While you’re waiting, run out and grab a bottle of Finger Lakes riesling. wsmom highly recommends the pairing.

Finger-Lickin' Finger Lakes Chicken

Finger-Lickin' Finger Lakes Chicken

wssmom wssmom
Serves 4

For the fresh herb aioli

  • 1 large organic egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minched
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 pinch sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup Champagne vinegar (yes, 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minched fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano

For the Finger Lakes chicken

  • 2 whole organic chicken breasts, split so you have four nice-sized pieces
  • 1 pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 1 serving fresh herb aioli marinade (above)
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What's your favorite summertime chicken recipe? Share recipes in the comments below!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Backyard BBQ, Hello, Summer