For Taylor's grad party, we'll be making oodles of barbecued chicken with sauce and keeping it warm in the electric roaster. The best recipe for barbecued chicken I've ever found comes from Fine Cooking magazine. It features a spice rub before cooking, a Memphis-style barbecue sauce to slather on towards the end and serve on the side, and a foolproof method for cooking chicken on the grill without burning it. Check out that website for full directions. This chicken, along with Grandma Jane's Special Potato Salad and a couple of Zach's Famous Cheesecakes and some fresh greens from the garden will make this a fabulous graduation meal.
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs. onion salt
1 Tbs. seasoned salt, such as Lawry's
1 Tbs. garlic salt
2 Tbs. paprika
1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
1-1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1 Tbs. dried sage
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1/4 tsp. cayenne
Combine all the ingredients and blend well. Store in an airtight container.
To prepare the chicken -- Rinse and pat dry the chicken pieces. Sprinkle on the rub generously.
To prepare the fire -- (If you are using a gas grill, see the directions here). Using a chimney starter, light 40 to 50 pieces of good-quality lump charcoal. When the coals are glowing, transfer them from the chimney to one side of the grill. (If you don't have a chimney starter, stack the charcoal around some crumpled newspaper in a pyramid in the grill and light the newspaper. The coals will be hot in 20 to 30 min.)
If you have some pieces of apple or oak hardwood, feel free to add a couple to the stack of coals. Put a small foil or metal pan full of water next to the coals. Position the grilling grate so that one of the holes is over the coals so you can add coals and wood chips as needed.
When the coals are about 90% white, position the pieces of chicken, skin side up, on the grill anywhere except directly over the coals. Cover the grill with the lid, making sure that the air vent is opposite the fire. Cook the chicken for about 30 min., maintaining a temperature of 230° to 250°F by adjusting the vents. (Opening the vents lets in more oxygen and raises the temperature.) Add more charcoal if the temperature drops below 230°F. You'll likely need to add 15 to 20 pieces about 30 min. after putting the chicken on.
After a half hour or so, baste the chicken with some of the apple juice. Continue to cook the chicken until it's cooked through -- this will take about 3 hours -- basting it and checking the temperature of the grill every 45 min. or so. As the chicken cooks, you can move the pieces around the grill if those closest to the fire seem in danger of overcooking. But keep the chicken skin side up for the duration.
Check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer after 2-1/2 hours. Cooked chicken should read 165°F in the meatiest part of the thigh or breast. You'll also know the chicken is done when its juices run clear after being sliced into with a knife.
When the chicken is cooked, pour some of the barbecue sauce into a separate container (to avoid contaminating the whole batch) and brush it onto the chicken. Cook it an additional few minutes so that the sauce adheres to the chicken in a sticky glaze; watch the chicken carefully at this point and pull it off the grill if the sauce starts to burn.
Remove the chicken from the grill and serve with some of the barbecue sauce on the side, if you like.Memphis-style barbecue sauce
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. finely ground black pepper
1 Tbs. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional)
2 cups tomato ketchup
1/2 cup prepared mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
2 Tbs. canola oil
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the oil. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. (You may want to have a lid handy to protect yourself and your kitchen from any sputtering.) Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. With a whisk, blend in the oil until incorporated.