Lemon-Calabrian Chile Chicken Thighs With Black Olive Pesto

Serves 5 to 6


  • 3 pounds boneless skinless Smart Chicken thighs

  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

  • 4 to 5 sliced lemons, depending on size

  • 2 bunches Italian parsley, chopped

  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped

  • ½ cup chopped garlic

  • ½ cup crushed Calabrian chilies* (or substitute ¼ cup red chili flakes)

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 3 to 4 whole lemons, for serving

*Available in specialty stores or online.


24 to 48 hours before cooking: in a large mixing bowl, combine olive oil, vegetable oil, sliced lemons, parsley, rosemary, oregano, garlic, chilies, and salt. Pour half of the marinade into a large dish and add the chicken thighs. Pour the remaining marinade over the thighs. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for at least 24 hours and up to 48.

When ready to grill the chicken, preheat grill to medium heat (about 375°F). Transfer thighs to the grill, and grill on each side until golden brown. Continue grilling, flipping occasionally, until the thighs register 165°F in their thickest portion.

Transfer the grilled chicken thighs to a serving platter. Juice the lemons over the chicken. Drizzle with Olive Pesto (recipe follows).

Ingredients (for the Olive Pesto)

  • 1 cup chopped black olives

  • ? cup toasted pine nuts

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Chili flakes, to taste

  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil


In the bowl of a food processor, combine olives, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, Parmesan, and chili flakes. With the food processor running, add the oil in a steady stream to make a pesto. Check for consistency and flavor. If it’s too thick, add a bit more olive oil; if too thin, add a bit more Parmesan cheese. Note: Olives can be salty (depending on producer), so you may only need to add a little salt.

Recipe created by Dave Jones, Chef, Log Haven, Salt Lake City, Utah