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Chicken is probably one of the most popular foods to grill, yet I’ve found out that for most of us, it seems to be the most troublesome to cook.
The biggest problem is with bone-in chicken and flare-ups caused by the skin melting and then dropping on the flame, which in turn causes the chicken to burn faster on the outside. But because it contains bones, it takes longer to cook than your standard burgers and steaks. And, no one wants to eat chicken that is anything less than well done. Most of us end up with chicken burnt on the outside and raw close to the bone.
Low and slow
Take heart, chicken grillers! I made some barbecue chicken quarters last week on the grill that were perfectly done, slightly crispy on the outside and cooked all the way to the bone. The meat just fell off the bone. My secret? Low and slow.
To cook chicken halves or quarters to perfection, first remove most of the fat or skin. This will allow your seasoning to permeate the meat, not just season the skin. Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and any other of your favorite seasonings. When barbecuing chicken quarters, I usually pull out the usual suspects: garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, black pepper and Hungarian paprika-the hot variety! Mix them up well and spread an ample amount on both sides of the quarters. If possible, refrigerate the seasoned chicken at least 2-3 hours before grilling.
Next, oil the grates on your grill so the chicken won’t stick. If using a gas grill, turn on all the burners and set them at medium, about 350 degrees (be sure that the heat never goes above 350 degrees). Place the chicken quarters on the grill, close the lid and grill for 15 minutes. Then, turn the quarters over and grill the other side for 15 minutes.
Perfect barbecue chicken
And now for my secret to perfect barbecue chicken: Place each chicken quarter on a sheet of aluminum foil and apply your favorite barbecue sauce to both sides. Fold foil over the chicken and place each packet on the grill. Close the lid and grill for 15 minutes. Then, turn the packets over and grill the other side for 15 minutes.
The result: Your chicken will literally fall off the bone. No more burnt chicken legs that are raw in the middle! The meat should be moist and tender. Add additional sauce if desired. If using smaller cuts of meat, like legs or thighs, just adjust your time accordingly. But make sure the heat never goes above 350 degrees.
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
I still use many of the bottled sauces now available, but on occasion, I like to make my own.
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. chili powder to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper
In a bowl, whisk together the mustard, ketchup, cider vinegar, liquid smoke, brown sugar, chili powder, fresh garlic, cayenne and black pepper; mix well to combine, then season sauce with salt, if needed.
Grilled Barbecue Chicken Quarters
2 large chicken quarters
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika (the hot variety)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, black pepper and Hungarian paprika; blend well. Remove most of the skin from chicken quarters and rub both sides with seasoning. Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours.
Rub grates on grill with oil, and then heat grill to 350 degrees. Place seasoned chicken quarters on grill, close the lid, and grill for 15 minutes. Turn quarters over and grill other side for 15 minutes.
Place each chicken quarter on a sheet of aluminum and apply barbecue sauce to both sides. Wrap foil around quarters and place on grill for 15 minutes. Turn packets over and grill other side for 15 minutes. Remove chicken from foil and add additional sauce, if desired. Makes 2 servings.
Oven Baked Barbecue Chicken Thighs
Barbecue chicken tastes just as good baked as barbecued. You can also bake this on your grill, just be sure to keep the heat at 350 degrees and keep the lid closed.
2 lbs fresh chicken thighs
Fresh ground black pepper
Oil, as needed
2 Tbsps. fresh minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Homemade barbecue sauce (see recipe above)
Grease a large casserole dish and then place the onions and green pepper on the bottom of the baking dish.
Season the chicken thighs with seasoning salt and fresh ground black pepper. Place the thighs in a pre-oiled skillet and brown on both sides. Then, place the thighs on top of the onions and peppers in the casserole dish. Pour the barbecue sauce over the browned chicken thighs and turn the chicken to coat well.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through and tender. Makes about 4-6 servings.
Slow Cooked Mushrooms
These are great for parties or large get-togethers. Any leftovers can be refrigerated up to a week.
4 pounds small button mushrooms
1/2 cup butter
1 bottle dry red wine
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. chicken soup base (or 2 bouillon cubes)
1 Tbsp. beef soup base (or 2 bouillon cubes)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dill seeds
1 tsp. garlic powder
Add all above ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then, reduce to medium-low heat to maintain a slow boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 hours, or until the liquid has been reduced to 1 cup. Makes about 10-12 servings.