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Kitchen MacGyver: Tips for Lightening a Chicken Dinner

Enjoy a less-dense dinner that's still chock full of flavor!

Enjoy a less-dense dinner that’s still chock full of flavor!

After wolfing a gigantic burger topped with bacon and guacamole on the fourth of July, today I want food that’s lighter but full of flavor. Obviously, chicken is a leaner source of protein in most cases—particularly if you stick to roasted, grilled or poached preparations and you eat skinless white meat—but it’s tempting to coat dry, skinless white meat in sugary barbecue sauce, fat-filled mayonnaise or melty, high fat, calorie and sodium cheese.

Today I’m giving you two recipes to demonstrate how easy making little tweaks to existing recipes can be to suit your tastes or preparation preferences on that day. These recipes borrow spa-inspired ideas of using vitamin and antioxidant-packed citrus fruits and herbs to flavor food, but also includes a little white wine for more pronounced flavor. The first recipe is a bit heavier than the second and cooked indoors, making it ideal for autumn or any time where the idea of utilizing the oven doesn’t send you sprinting for the pool. The second recipe is a lighter, more summery version that’s best cooked on the grill. Notice the swaps in the second recipe: Skinless white meat, twice as much lemon juice and zest is used for added acidity and brightness, less oil and dairy butter is replaced with soy “butter,” and far less sodium-filled chicken broth is used.

Check ’em both out and enjoy a less-dense dinner that’s still chock full of flavor!

Roast Lemon-Herb Chicken with Wine Sauce


  • 1 large whole chicken, giblets removed, skin rinsed and dried
  • 5 sprigs rosemary, 2 sprigs chopped
  • 5 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs chopped
  • 5 sprigs oregano, 2 sprigs chopped
  • 1 small bunch sage, half bunch chopped
  • 5 lemons, quartered, plus 4 lemons, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup good white wine
  • salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Sprinkle all sides of the bird with salt and pepper.

Massage ¼ cup of olive oil into all exposed skin.

Stuff cavity with quartered lemons, three sprigs of each herb and half of the bunch of sage and place on roasting rack.

Add chicken broth to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast chicken in oven for 20 minutes.

Remove bird from oven and baste with broth in the bottom of the pan.

Return chicken to the oven and baste bird every 7-10 minutes.

Chicken is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the breast reads 150-154 degrees.

Remove chicken from oven and place an aluminum foil tent over the bird. Allow bird to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat.

Add shallot and cook until softened. Add wine and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to pan, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add chopped herbs, stir in butter and simmer for an additional two to three minutes.

Place sliced lemons on a cookie sheet (the slices can touch but should not overlap) and roast in oven for 7-10 minutes.

Lemons are ready when edges are slightly browned.

Fan the lemon slices along the side of a large platter and arrange carved chicken on platter with the wine sauce on the side. Serves 6.

Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken with Wine Sauce


  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 12-16 skinless chicken tenders
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 5 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • 5 sprigs thyme, chopped
  • 5 sprigs oregano, chopped
  • 1 small bunch sage, chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 lemons, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance soy “butter”
  • 1 cup good white wine


Put canola oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl with half of the chopped herbs and the lemon zest.

With a pastry or silicon brush, coat chicken with a light layer of herb oil.

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.

Grill chicken for about two minutes per side for tenders and five to six minutes per side (depending on thickness) for breasts, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Remove from grill and let chicken rest on a plate under an aluminum foil tent.

Place lemon slices on grill and cook until lightly charred, about 30 seconds per side.

In a medium saucepan placed on the hot grill, heat soy butter and add shallots, cooking until softened.

Add wine, chicken broth, the rest of the herbs and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Simmer until reduced slightly, about three to five minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.

To serve, place grilled chicken on top of lemon slices and drizzle with wine sauce. Serve with grilled country bread and a salad.