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Jun 27, 2017
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WINE WITH…Grilled Chicken with Minty Cucumber – Avocado Salsa

This is a perfect summer dish. First of all, it’s delicious, but it also is relatively inexpensive and simple to make, and by scaling the ingredients up or down a bit it can feed a crowd or a single person.

We used fresh thyme from our garden for the chicken, but rosemary, marjoram and/or sage would also work. Serve it with potato salad or a simple vegetable.

Grilled Chicken With Minty Cucumber-Avocado Salsa

Almost everything can be prepared ahead by seasoning and marinating the chicken several hours or up to a day before grilling them. For the salsa, all the ingredients except the avocado can be assembled a couple of hours before serving.

2-4 servings

For the Chicken:

4 bone-in/ skin-on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2-3 garlic cloves, coarsely minced
zest and juice from ½ lemon
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

Trim excess fat from the chicken thighs if necessary. Combine the thyme, garlic and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Place one fourth of this mixture under the skin of each of the chicken breasts. Arrange the breasts skin side down in dish or shallow bowl just large enough to hold them, and squeeze the lemon juice over everything. Drizzle it all with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn the breasts over so they are skin side down and season them generously with salt and pepper. Spoon a little of the oil over them, then cover the dish tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to grill the chicken.

For the Salsa:

2 cups diced, peeled cucumbers (preferably Kirby or Japanese)
3 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
½ fresh lime
salt and pepper
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into large dice

Combine all ingredients (if you are making the salsa ahead of time, add the avocado and a little more salt and pepper about 30 minutes before serving).

* * *

A bit of a paradox when it comes to selecting a wine, this dish can work equally well with a hearty white or a light-bodied red. The grilled chicken definitely favors the latter, while the salsa prefers the former. So what to do? Don’t worry. On a warm summer evening, either will be fine. If going for red, though, don’t serve it too warm. A little chill (say 30 minutes in the fridge) will help it, especially if you are eating outdoors.

Connect  on Twitter:   @M_L_Thomas  and  @Wine_With_
More recipes and wine pairings:    Wine With...  


Approx. Price


Joseph Drouhin, Morgon (France) “Hospices de Belleville”


(Imported by Dreyfus Ashby & Co.)


A soft, gentle Beaujolais, lacking the muscle sometimes found in red wines from Morgon, but making up for that with finesse and grace. The perfect weight to complement this dish, it definitely benefited from a slight chill.

Rodney Strong, Russian River Valley Sonoma County (California) Pinot Noir



This wine surprised us. Previous vintages have been sweeter and heavier, but this one was much more gentle. It paired beautifully with the crisp, charred chicken, but at the same time did not overpower the fresh-tasting salsa.

Tablas Creek, Adelaida District Paso Robles (California) “Esprit Blanc de Tablas” 2014


The best white match we found (and the most expensive wine we tried, regardless of color), this Rhône-styled blend combines Roussanne. Grenache and Picpoul to yield a drink that is hearty but at the same time fresh and vibrant. It paired equally well with the chicken and the salsa.

Tenuta La Badiola, Maremma Toscana (Italy) “6 42˚ Il Canapone” 2013

(Imported by Wines U)


A blend of six separate grape varieties grown in Maremma at the 42nd parallel (thus the odd name), this medium-bodied wine offers an intriguing mix of flavors that meshed especially well with the grilled chicken. A characteristic Tuscan dustiness in the finish made it especially compelling

Terras Gauda, Rías Baixas (Spain) “O Rosal”


(Imported by Baron Franncois Ltd.)


A blend of 70% Albarino, 20% Caiño and 10% Loureira, with a bouquet reminiscent of summer stone fruits and a slightly honeyed character on the palate, this wine worked wonderfully with the salsa. Though it didn’t pair quite as well with the chicken, the combination of its different flavors made for a very pleasing m