This is a recipe borrowed and adapted from my brother Patrick, not the official chef in the family (that would be my brother, Bill) but a fine cook in his own right. To be clear, he didn’t actually give me the recipe because he probably doesn’t have one but this is close. I have always loved his barbecue chicken and finally learned his secret a couple summers ago when he made it at my niece’s house. I knew I had to make it after watching Ella eat about five pieces when I thought she’d eat zero. Now it’s such a huge hit with my own little family that I must make a large batch or there will be no leftovers. And, if I’m honest, straight out of the fridge, ice cold, bbq chicken is how I like it best. In fact, as I’m writing this I keep watching the clock for lunchtime so I can scarf a piece down.
Before the barbecue police come after me (I know you’re out there!), I will say that I’m fully aware this is not truly “barbecue chicken”. So, if you’re a purist, just calm down, get back on your high horse, and ride on out. If you simply want to learn how to make super flavorful, juicy chicken that cooks evenly and doesn’t dry out sitting on the grill, however, read on.
The thing I love best about this method is that you actually bake the seasoned chicken first in white wine (or a mixture of wine and chicken stock) and garlic. This accomplishes two important things for me. First, it adds tons of flavor and juiciness without having to plan extra time for brining. Second, I don’t have to worry if the chicken is done enough or overdone on the grill because the oven does the job. As confident as I may be as a cook, I still stress over getting chicken done right on the grill and this method totally takes that anxiety out of play. Having the oven going on a summer afternoon may not be ideal but it’s well worth it to me for this recipe.
Cold or hot, barbecue chicken is the perfect thing to throw in a cooler or hot pack for a picnic or summer potluck. This recipe should feed 8 -10 people but it’s easily doubled for a larger crowd. I mainly use thighs with a few drumsticks thrown in for Ella but breasts and wings would work too. As for the sauce, use your favorite! My girls love the classic store-bought barbecue but I’ve also had great results with Chipotle Apricot Grilling Sauce.
(Serves 8 – 10 people)
5 -6 pounds chicken (about 18 pieces thighs and legs)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
2 bay leaves
4 -6 large cloves garlic, sliced in half or thirds
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
Preheat oven to 350 F
Place chicken pieces in a large, deep sided baking pan and trim off excess fat. I find sharp kitchen shears to be the best tool for this job but a sharp knife will also work.
Note: I used a 12inch x 14inch roasting pan but you could use a couple pans if you don’t have one that big. For example, two 9inch x13inch pyrex pans would be fine. Just make sure the sides of the pan are higher than the chicken pieces.
In a small bowl, mix salt, paprika, and pepper together with your fingertips. Sprinkle evenly over chicken, flipping to get each side and leaving them skin side up to bake.
Peel garlic cloves by pressing down on the flat side of a chef’s knife with your palm to loosen the skin, then slice the ends off. Slice cloves lengthwise in half or thirds depending on size so all the pieces are roughly the same size. Place garlic and bay leaves among the chicken.
Add wine/chicken stock. It should come up the sides of the chicken pieces about three-quarters of the way.
Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.
Remove from heat and allow to rest while you preheat the grill on high heat for about 10 minutes.
Just before grilling, transfer chicken to drain on a paper towel lined pan so you won’t have too much steam on your grill and brush each piece lightly with cooking oil.
Pour sauce into a small bowl. Turn your grill down to medium/low and grill the chicken skin side down for about 5 minutes, or until it comes up easily without sticking. Turn chicken to skin side up, brush with sauce, grill another couple minutes, then repeat so both sides have been sauced and grilled to caramelize the sauce. Total grill time should be no more than 10 – 15 minutes.
Place hot chicken in heat-proof serving pan and cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve. Allow it to rest for 10 – 15 minutes while you get the rest of your meal ready to go. Coleslaw with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing would be a perfect side!
My siblings and I circa 1972 and 2016. I’m noticing we’re lined up the same in both photos although Suzanne and I are in the front. Funny. Anyway, from left to right it goes Billy, Sue, Cindy, Molly (me), Mike, and Pat’s the cool one on the end. I am one lucky little sis.
“Excuse me for having a little bit of fun!” Pat McCallum