Southwestern Barbecued Chicken
In selecting the chicken, remember that bone-in chicken with the skin on stands a better chance of becoming the succulent, juicy, crisp and brown entree you had in mind when you decided to barbecue chicken in the first place. Just this once, curb your habit of grabbing those boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
Trim any excess skin off chicken pieces. Marinate bone-in and skin-on pieces 8 hours or overnight. Skinless, boneless pieces (if you insist upon them) should be marinated no more than 1 hour. This marinade does its job during the marinade process; drain the chicken pieces and, with paper towels, blot marinade from surface of chicken before putting on the grill.
How you cook the chicken is at least as important as what marinade or sauce you use. Barbecuing is a slow process. Too hot a grill will result in dried out chicken. If you have a covered grill, get one of those inexpensive oven thermometers and set it inside the grill. If your fancy-schmancy grill already has a thermostat, so much the better. The ideal cooking temperature for barbecue is between 350 and 400°F (that's medium-hot coals in grilling parlance).
Also, put on your shopping list some of those hickory, mesquite or apple wood chips and some heavy-duty aluminum foil.
The challenge in barbecuing chicken is that, if you put it on the grill right over the coals, the oils and sauce from the chicken drip onto the coals and ignite. The resulting flames char the chicken on the outside before the meat is done on the inside. So we're not going to do that. Before we get to the process, however, let's mix up the sauce.
Southwestern Barbecue Sauce
Pour mixture into blender container. Process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Remove about 1 cup sauce to use during the barbecue process. Serve remaining sauce with chicken (it may be refrigerated up to a month). Makes about 5 cups.
The Barbecue ProcessThese instructions assume that you have some kind of hooded grill. (If you had planned on doing all this on your patio hibachi, I recommend that you just drop by KFC.)
Cooking time totals about 1 hour. So, remember to start thinking about getting the fire ready about an hour-and-a-half before you want to eat.
Recipe editor Patricia Mitchell
Online Since 1997
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