Sunday, April 17, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

What comes to mind when you think of big, organized (or semi-organized) cookouts? 

I think of "roadside chicken" which is a tangy grilled chicken.  It's what is often served at BBQ fundraisers for churches and youth organizations.

Back in the 1970's (right after the dinosaurs had died off), CSX hosted a big company cookout every year for the employees and families and they served this style of chicken.  We'd drive over to Burnett Park and you could smell the chicken grilling and see the puffs of white smoke as soon as you got out of the car.  Even as a 10 year old kid, I remember liking that chicken because it was different than the typical sweet BBQ sauce chicken that I was used to.

I was reminiscing about those cookouts this morning and decided I was going to cook it for dinner, complete with roadside chicken, grits, beans, and hush puppies.
bbq chicken dinner, barbecue chicken dinner
Yes, I actually used serving trays to replicate the "cookout" feel.

Roadside Chicken 
Adapted from The Virtual Weber Bullet

4 ea chicken leg quarters
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

3/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp celery salt

Mix the marinade and reserve 1/3rd cup for basting.

Marinate the leg quarters with the 2/3rds cup of marinade in a Glad™ gallon zip top bag for 4-6 hours.

Preheat your grill to 350f.  Set up the grill for direct heat with a "raised grid".

The raised grid is a compromise between direct and indirect heat.  It gets the food to cook 2-3 inches higher than it normally would.  This lessens the direct heat from below so the bottom your meat is less likely to burn.  At the same time, it exposes the top of your chicken to the higher convection temps (heat rises) getting a nice browning of the skin.  Here are some ways you can make a "raised grid".
  1. Make your own raised grid with a few cheap parts from the hardware store.
  2. Use the top rack that is integrated into the lid of most gas grills, instead of the main grate.
  3. Use a grill grate raised up by two fire bricks
  4. If you have an adjustable charcoal bed, lower it.  
  5. Use an inverted spider rig.
  6. Skip using a raised grid but CLOSELY manage your vents to control flare ups and flip the chicken every 5-7 minutes until done.
Grill the chicken leg quarters skin side down for 5 minutes.

Flip and sprinkle with parsley.  Use more than you THINK you'll need because the basting will wash 1/3rd of it off.

Baste with the reserved mixture every 10-15 minutes.  The regular basting is important because it builds layers of flavors onto the chicken.  Cook until the thigh registers an internal temp of 180f.  This took 55 minutes tonight.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes and then serve.

bbq chicken dinner, barbecue chicken dinner

The skin was crispy and the chicken delivered a tangy taste.  Just what I was looking for in my nostalgic pursuit of cookout chicken.