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La Belle Cuisine
Foolproof Grilled Chicken
Gourmet June 2003
(Recipe by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
Active time:1 hr
Start to finish: 10 hr (includes brining)
"For the very best results, we brine the chicken before it goes on the
sear it over the flames; finish cooking it on the other side of
then toss it in a robust vinaigrette when it's done.
4 quarts cold water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 1/2 to 6 pounds chicken parts with skin and bones
1/4 cup fresh lime juice plus 4 limes, halved
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
(See Cooks' Notes for Mediterranean vinaigrette)
a 22 1/2-inch charcoal kettle grill and
a charcoal chimney; or a gas grill
mint and cilantro
Brine chicken and make vinaigrette:
Bring water, sugar,
and 1/2 cup
salt to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot, then reduce heat and simmer,
uncovered, 15 minutes. Cool brine completely, then add chicken and
soak, covered and chilled, 6 hours. Remove chicken and pat dry.
Whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, mint, cilantro, red pepper
flakes, and remaining teaspoon salt in a large bowl, then add oil in a
stream, whisking until combined.
To cook chicken using a charcoal grill:
Open vents on bottom of grill and on lid. Light a large chimney starter of
charcoal (80 to 100 briquettes). Leaving about one quarter of grill free of
charcoal, bank lit charcoal across rest of grill so that coals are about three
times higher on the opposite side.
When charcoal turns grayish white (after 15 to 20 minutes), check fire
temperature and grill chicken parts according to instructions [in 'Light
My Fire' below]. Transfer chicken as cooked to bowl with vinaigrette
and turn to coat, then transfer to a serving platter and keep warm,
loosely covered with foil.
When chicken is almost done, grill lime halves, cut sides down, un-
covered, over coals until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes, then
transfer to platter with chicken. Serve limes with chicken and serve
remaining vinaigrette on the side.
To cook chicken using a gas grill:
Preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then adjust heat to moderately
For drumsticks, thighs, and wings (cooking time is longer than cooking times for
Sear chicken in 2 batches on lightly oiled grill rack, covered with lid,
turning over once, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Turn off 1
burner (middle burner if there are 3) and arrange all seared chicken on
rack above shut-off burner.
Cook seared chicken, covered with lid, moving chicken around grill (to avoid
flare-ups) and turning over occasionally, until cooked through, 12
to 20 minutes. Transfer chicken as cooked to bowl with vinaigrette and
turn to coat, then transfer to a serving platter and keep warm, loosely
covered with foil.
For breast halves:
Sear chicken (in 2 batches if necessary to avoid crowding), starting with skin
sides down, on grill, covered with lid, turning over once, until well browned, 8
to 10 minutes total. Turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there
are 3) and arrange all breasts on rack over shut-off burner.
Cook seared chicken, covered with lid, turning over once, until cooked through,
18 to 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to bowl with vinaigrette and turn to coat,
then transfer to platter to keep warm, loosely covered
When chicken is
almost done, grill lime halves, cut sides down, un-
covered, over lit burner until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes, then
transfer to platter with chicken. Serve limes with chicken and serve remaining
vinaigrette on the side.
To make a Mediterranean vinaigrette for chicken, whisk together 1/4 cup fresh
lemon juice, 1 minced large garlic clove, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1
teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, then add 1/3
cup olive oil in a slow stream, whisking.
Chicken can be brined 1 day ahead. Remove from brine, pat dry, and
If you aren't able to grill, brined chicken can be roasted, starting with skin
sides up, in 2 lightly oiled shallow baking pans in upper and lower thirds of a
500-degreeF oven, switching position of pans and turning chicken over halfway
through roasting, until skin is crisp and chicken is cooked through, 30 to 40
minutes total. Lime slices can be grilled in a well-seasoned ridged grill pan on
top of the stove.
Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
Originally Published June 2003
When it comes to poultry, we like bones. Boneless breasts may be quick and
convenient, but the bone-in variety has more flavor. It does, however, present a
problem: The thickness and density make it hard to cook all the way through
without burning on the outside. To achieve a crisp, nicely seared skin while
keeping the flesh tender, evenly cooked, and juicy throughout, the best approach
is to put the chicken breasts directly over
the flames of a medium fire for about four minutes on each side, then
move them to the cooler part of the fire, cover them with that disposable
aluminum pie plate (or a baking pan if you’re cooking a large number),
and continue to cook for about 18 to 20 minutes more.
Bone-in thighs and drumsticks are even better. As with those pork rib
chops, their fat content makes them more flavorful and also less likely to dry
out over the heat of the flames. Cook them the same way as breasts,
but for slightly less time: about two minutes per side over the hot part of
the fire, then about 10 to 12 minutes per side over the cooler part for
thighs, and 12 to 14 minutes per side for drumsticks.
For sheer snack value, we have to include chicken wings. As befits their casual
nature, they are incredibly easy: Simply grill them directly over a medium-hot
fire for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning every once in a while.
has wonderful tips and suggestions
for building charcoal fires
as well as helpful instructions for grilling steak and chops.
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