Here’s our favorite way to make barbecued chicken pieces – brined to keep the meat moist. Use this as a base recipe and vary the flavors in the brine to suit your taste. We also recommend a dry rub and finishing sauce for flavor. One final step also helps to retain moisture in the meat: grilling the chicken with the skin on. If you prefer skinless chicken, the brine will help it hold on to moisture during grilling. Or you could grill the chicken with the skin on and then remove the skin before serving. If that’s your preference, slather a finishing sauce onto the skinless chicken at the table rather than during grilling, because most of its flavor will be discarded with the skin.
Prep: 5 minutes (plus 5 minutes for sauce)
Brine: 2 to 3 hours
Grill: 30 to 40 minutes.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Long-handled tongs
– Long-handled basting brush.
CUTTING A CHICKEN INTO PARTS
1. To save money, buy a whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds) and cut it into parts yourself. Put the chicken breast-side up, pull one of the legs away from the body, and cut through the skin and meat where the leg attaches to the body. Bend the leg away from the body until the ball of the thighbone pops out of the socket. Cut between the ball and socket to remove the leg from the body. Repeat with the other leg.
2. For each leg, cut the drumstick from the thigh by cutting down firmly through the joint.
3. Pull a wing away from the body and cut near the joint at the base of the wing to remove it from the body. Repeat with the other wing.
4. Pry the back away from the breast with your hands and cut the back from the breast. Save the backbone for stock, if you like.
5. Cut the breast lengthwise in half down the middle through the breastbone. If you like, cut each breast crosswise in half to make smaller pieces.
Indirect heat, medium (350°F)
3- or 4-burner grill–middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill–1 side off
Clean, oiled grate
Indirect heat, medium ash
Split charcoal bed (about 2 dozen coals per side)
20 replacement coals
Heavy-duty drip pan set between banks of
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 6 SERVINGS)
3½ to 4 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, thighs, and drumsticks
½ cup sugar
½ cup kosher salt
1 cup hot (but not boiling) water
3 cups cold water
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Oil for coating grill grate
1¼ cups Sweet, Hot, and Sour BBQ Sauce.
1. Trim any excess fat from the chicken parts.
2. Put the sugar, salt, and hot water into a 2-gallon zipper-lock bag. Shake to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the cold water and the chicken parts. Press the air out of the bag, seal, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
3. Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with the pepper. Let the chicken rest at room temperature before grilling, about 30 minutes.
4. Heat the grill as directed.
5. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the chicken over the unheated part of the grill, cover, and cook, turning once or twice, until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear (about 170°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part without touching bone), 30 to 40 minutes total. Breasts cook faster, so check them first. During the last 10 to 15 minutes of grilling, move the chicken over the heated part of the grill to brown all over. Brush with the barbecue sauce during the last 5 minutes. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 350°F.
6. Remove the chicken to a serving platter.