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  • Writer's pictureSarah Hiers

Ben Ford's Devil's Chicken or The Road Back to Healthy

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Ben Ford's Devil's Chicken
Ben Ford's Devil's Chicken

The holiday season is over and as I look back it seems I not only took time off from blogging, I also took time off from my usually healthy eating. Since this post was originally published in 2017, it seems to be an annual event for me.

For over three years my husband and I have faithfully followed a gluten free, soy free, sugar free diet. The first year we stuck to our plan exclusively. Year two we realized it was OK, in fact, psychologically necessary, to cheat on occasion. We established the 80/20 rule. Healthy for 80% and the remaining 20%. My husband could sneak in a burger and not feel guilty about the brioche bun and I could be guilt free about my order of blackened fish tacos on, gasp, a flour tortilla.

This holiday again, more and more "bad" food snuck into my diet. It wasn't so much about the holiday. It was about the time I was committing to other projects. While last year I was spending more and more time volunteering at a farm that was promoting Buy Local, Eat Fresh, Live Well, I was buying local fast food, eating processed and feeling ill. This year it was cookie baking with friends and taking care of my Mother In Law.

It is a new year and time to get back to my routine. Good bye gluten. Good bye sugar and the rest of the evils. Usually I am talking about how to modify or change a recipe to fit in with my diet. While its fun for me to take these great recipes I find and convert them into my version of "healthier", its also great to find a recipe that is ready from the starting block. That recipe today is Ben Ford's Devil's Chicken from Food and Wine Magazine. My only change to this recipe was the chicken. We had bone-in chicken thighs on hand and not bone-less breast. Also, I didn't have a brick handy so we skipped that part of the cooking process.

So, if I'm not going to be talking about conversion and substitutions, then what? How about knowing where your food comes from and is it fresh, organic and local? In this dish we used ingredients mostly from a local poultry farm that also grows its own herbs. Some of the herbs came from my own back yard and I'm pretty proud of that. The garlic, lemon, Dijon, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper were purchased at the local market.


8 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped thyme

3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped basil

2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

Three 1 1/2-pound skin-on, boneless whole chicken breasts (as I mentioned, we used bone-in thighs. A personal preference)


In a food processor, combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, oregano, lemon zest and juice, black pepper and salt; pulse until a paste forms. With the machine on, add the oil, then add the mustard and crushed red pepper and pulse to mix. Scrape the marinade into a large bowl. (I prefer using a zip lock bag for more even coverage of the marinade) Add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

What a bright, fresh marinade!

Set up a grill for indirect cooking and heat to 425°. Cover 3 bricks with foil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, scraping off the excess. Oil the grill grate. Set the chicken breasts skin side down on the grill and press them down with the bricks. Cover and cook at 425° until browned on the bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bricks and turn the chicken. Cover with the bricks, press down and cover the grill. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breasts registers 160°, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a board to rest for 5 minutes. Serve.

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