Nick Diller readies his Citrus chicken for the grill on Valentine's Day.

NICK DILLER: Valentine’s Day grilling chicken cookout

I brought the chicken into the kitchen to add to fresh beets and baked sweet potatoes as well as a delicious salad.

Great Barrington — What a beautiful Valentine’s Day it turned out to be. The nearly 50-degree temperatures got my grilling juices flowing. I just had to grill something. I just had chicken thighs marinating in the refrigerator using citrus and garlic with spices. My mouth was watering just thinking about it.

I thought the red kettle would be appropriate since it was Valentine’s Day and I couldn’t wait to get started.

I set the grill up for indirect cooking; that is, drip pan in the middle under the chicken with mounds of lit charcoal on either side, then oiled the cooking grate before putting the chicken on. I decided to use some maplewood chunks to enhance the flavor. This cook, with a 350-degree temperature, would take about an hour. The finished internal temperature near the bone would be about 175 degrees.

With such a beautiful late afternoon and my knowledge of how this cook was going to go, I headed to the brewery down stairs to refill my glass with my latest brewery creation: a German-style Kolsch, a medium-light ale from the Cologne area. It was introduced to me by neighbor Andrew Blechman. It was just the right drink for a citrus-marinated chicken dinner.

Sure enough, after 65 minutes, my trusty instant-read Thermo-works indicated “done.”

I brought the chicken into the kitchen to add to fresh beets and baked sweet potatoes as well as a delicious salad. I then went for a third Kolsch and poured her another glass of Sauvignon Blanc and we were ready for a wonderful simple but flavorful dinner.

I have included the recipe for the Citrus Chicken, which I hope you will enjoy.

It was a marvelous day and, on Feb. 14, you don’t many of those.


Grilled Citrus Chicken

Grate 1 teaspoon zest from orange, 2 teaspoons zest from lemon, and 2 teaspoons zest from lime. Place all citrus zest in bowl. Halve orange, lemon and lime and set aside. Add 3 tablespoons oil, water, two-thirds of garlic, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to citrus zest and whisk to combine. Transfer brinerade to 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Add chicken, press out air, seal bag and turn to distribute brinerade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about five minutes.

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken skinned-side down on cooler side of grill with thicker ends facing coals (edges of chicken should be no more than 4 inches from center of primary burner if using gas). Cover with disposable pan (if using gas, close lid) and cook until bottom of chicken just begins to develop light grill marks and is no longer pink, about six to nine minutes.

Flip chicken and rotate so that the thinner ends face the coals. Cover as before and continue to cook until chicken registers 140 degrees, six to nine minutes longer.

Remove disposable pan and transfer chicken and citrus halves, cut-side down, to hotter side of grill. Cook chicken uncovered (covered if using gas) until dark grill marks appear, two to four minutes. Flip chicken and cook, uncovered (covered if using gas), until marked on second side and chicken registers 160 degrees, two to four minutes longer. Cook citrus halves until lightly charred, about four minutes.

Transfer chicken to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for five minutes. Squeeze 3 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lime juice into bowl. Whisk in mayonnaise, Dijon, remaining one-third of garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 1/4 cup oil until emulsified. Stir in mint and season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice each breast on bias 1/4 inch thick. Serve drizzled with citrus sauce.