Finger-Lickin' Finger Lakes Chicken

June 19, 2011
Photo by Ty Mecham
Author Notes

Cornell chicken, marinated in vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, poultry seasoning, lots of salt and an egg ( ) was invented more than 60 years ago by a professor of animal science with the intent of getting people to eat more chicken instead of using them just to lay eggs. To this day, it remains is omnipresent at all manner of public gatherings in the Finger Lakes region, from country fairs to Boy Scout fund-raisers, VFW dinners, 4-H club outings and beyond. I had my first taste of Professor Baker's crispy, tangy barbecued chicken along with some Finger Lakes riesling on a picnic at Lake Owasco a gazillion years ago; here's my updated version of the original. I used split chicken breasts to even out the cooking time, but you could use a whole chicken, quartered, or even a couple of Cornish game hens, split. —wssmom

Test Kitchen Notes

Wssmom’s chicken really is finger-lickin’ good. I had never marinated in an aioli base before but I certainly will again and again—the 8-hour bath in aioli and vinegar renders a juicy tender chicken that stands up to grilling without any dryness. I thought that is might be very vinegary and/or herby, but it’s not, those are just subtle notes in what is very good grilled chicken. We tried both breasts and thighs, and also tried it both warm and cold. AND – I used the extra aioli to marinate a pork tenderloin which I also grilled. All variations were tender and delicious. This is a go-to recipe for the rest of the summer and beyond. —aargersi

  • Prep time 8 hours
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • 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)
In This Recipe
  1. For the fresh herb aioli
  2. In a large bowl, preferably one that won't spin around, whisk together the egg yolk, lemon juice, and garlic. Add the grapeseed oil in few drops at a time (having a friend do this helps), whisking until it emulsifies. Continue to dribble in the oil, whisking away, until it's completely incorporated.
  3. Put half the aioli in another bowl, saving the remainder for another use. To form a marinade, whisk in the vinegar to the aioli, add the herbs and add a tad more salt than you think necessary, about 1 teaspoon in my case.
  1. For the Finger Lakes chicken
  2. Liberally sprinkle the chicken breasts with freshly ground pepper, put them in a ziplock bag with the marinade, smush them so they are covered, and let marinate for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight.
  3. Grill, bone side down and covered, over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, then turn and crank up the grill to high to finish, so that the skin gets nice and crispy.
  4. Chill and bring along to your picnic—serve with some lovely, dry riesling.

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