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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the Week: Championship Barbecue Chicken

Aug 9, 2013

This recipe was first developed by my old friend and fellow Butt Shredder, Ann Marie “Amo” Jackson and further refined by another Butt Shredder, Vince Gogolek. It has won us some trophies over the years. The sauces are based on recipes by Paul Kirk, the one and only Baron of Barbecue. The key with this recipe is to cook at a low heat and baste often to keep the skin moist and tender. You’ll have lots of barbecue sauce left over. It keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Makes 6–8 servings

For the chicken:

2 medium-sized chickens (4 to 5 lb | 1.8 to 2.2 kg), quartered and backbones removed

1 recipe Asian Poultry Brine (See recipe below)

For the barbecue sauce:

2 cups | 500 mL ketchup

1 cup | 250 mL white vinegar

1 cup | 250 mL dark brown sugar, tightly packed

1/2 cup | 125 mL pineapple juice

2 Tbsp | 25 mL soy sauce

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

1 tsp | 5 mL cayenne pepper or ground dried chipotles

For the chicken baste:

3/4 cup | 175 mL pineapple juice

2 Tbsp | 30 mL lime juice

1/4 cup | 50 mL butter, melted

2 Tbsp | 25 mL soy sauce

2 Tbsp | 25 mL clover honey

1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped fresh parsley

1 garlic clove, smashed or pushed through a garlic press

1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

Marinate the chicken with the brine in a nonreactive pot in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours, or even overnight.

            Make the barbecue sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer it for 15–20 minutes, stirring it occasionally. Cool it.

            Make the baste by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan. Heat it just enough to melt the butter. Keep it warm. It’s best freshly made, but it can be kept in a covered nonreactive container for up to a week in the refrigerator.

            Take the chicken pieces out of the brine and pat them dry. At this point, you can sprinkle them with a little barbecue rub, but it’s not necessary.

            Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Line the drip pan of your smoker with a double layer of foil and fill it with apple juice.

            Place the chicken pieces in the smoker. Cover it and cook the chicken for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, painting the chicken with the baste every 15 minutes, until the internal temperature at the thigh joint reaches 160°F | 71°C. Give the chicken a coat of the barbecue sauce and cook it another 5 minutes. Transfer it to a serving platter, tent it loosely with foil, and let it rest for 5–10 minutes. Serve it with some barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.

[Alternate method for a gas grill: use low indirect cooking and some wood chips wrapped in foil placed above a burner to emulate a smoker.]

Asian Poultry Brine

Makes enough for 2 cut-up chickens or a dozen thighs

The high salt content makes this more of a brine than a marinade, and my barbecue team has used it very successfully in competition. It gives the poultry a nice saltiness and a rich, complex Asian flavor. I marinate duck overnight in this; for milder-tasting chicken, a couple of hours is all you need. Pat the excess moisture from the meat after you’ve taken it out of the marinade and then use a barbecue rub doctored with Asian flavors, like powdered ginger and five-spice powder. Don’t be tied to the recipe above; barbecue or grill as you like, and finish the meat with your favorite barbecue sauce.

11/2 cups | 375 mL water

1 cup | 250 mL soy sauce

1/2 cup | 125 mL sherry or vermouth

1/2 cup | 125 mL apple or pineapple juice

1/4 cup | 50 mL brown sugar

1/4 cup | 50 mL coarse salt

2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed

1 shallot, minced

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp | 25 mL grated fresh ginger

1 tsp | 5 mL sesame oil

pinch ground cloves

pinch five-spice powder

Combine all the ingredients well, stirring thoroughly to dissolve the salt and sugar.