Don’t get in a rush when barbecuing chicken

Barbecued chicken is one of the many favorites Californians enjoy year-round, but is one of the meat choices that is tricky to have turn out perfectly.

When brushed with barbecue sauce too early in the process, barbecued chicken will burn easily. The element of sugar (or honey) in the sauce and fatty skin makes keeping flames at bay difficult. The ideal result is chicken that is done (no pink), but juicy, with a slightly flamed exterior, but not incinerated.

Top grill chefs concur that the secret to nicely barbecued on-the-bone chicken is not rushing the process.

First, this means simply season the chicken first and put it on the grill on a low heat setting for an extended cooking time. Second, resist the urge to apply the barbecue sauce until the last few minutes of cooking.

With a maintained temperature of between 230 and 250 degrees, there should not be any need to stand over the barbecue with a spray bottle of water in hand. At this rate, the chicken should take close to two hours or slightly more to cook. Some may think this is not a hot enough fire to cook the chicken, but just allow it the time and be pleasantly surprised. (Not recommended for boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

When the chicken tests done, then begin basting it with the chosen sauce. The sauce should appear to be “glazed” on the chicken in about five minutes. Some like to turn the flame up a bit at this point so a few licks of flames can sizzle the edges for a perfect end result. At this time, one should constantly monitor the process and be prepared to douse flames as needed.

Two very different recipes are noted below.

Weber barbecued chicken rub and sauce

*Recipe suitable for four whole chicken legs (cut into thighs and drumsticks)

Dry rub:

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon granulated garlic

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup finely chopped yellow onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup ketchup

½ cup lemon-lime soda (not diet)

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup packed golden brown sugar

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard


1. Dry rub: In a small bowl mix the rub ingredients. Sprinkle the rub evenly all over the chicken pieces.

2. Sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the oil, onion, and garlic until golden, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often.

Rachel Ray’s Honey-Mustard and Red Onion Barbecued Chicken

(For boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

Serves four


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar (a couple of handfuls)

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup prepared honey mustard, such as Honey Cup brand

1/2 teaspoon allspice (eyeball it)

1/2 teaspoon curry powder (eyeball it)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Vegetable oil, for drizzling

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Pre-heat grill pan or grill over medium-high heat.

Pour two tablespoons vegetable oil into a small saucepan over medium heat. Add red onions and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add vinegar and reduce by half, about 1 to 2 minutes, or longer, if necessary. Add brown sugar and cook one minute to incorporate. Whisk in broth and honey mustard, allspice and curry. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to lowest setting.

Coat chicken with a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Place chicken on hot grill and cook 4 to 5 minutes, then turn. Baste chicken liberally with sauce and cook another 4 to 5 minutes. Turn once again and baste. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more to cook through. Transfer chicken to a platter and serve.

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