Just like I’m a sucker for a fabulous roast chicken, I’m also enchanted by delectable grilled chicken. There’s something so irresistible about flavorful crispy char that gives way to velvety, slightly smoky meat. It screams summer.
Over Memorial Day weekend, we were one of the happy families who managed to score fresh chickens from the Iacono’s chicken farm in East Hampton. They raise, kill and prepare the birds right there at their home/farm stand, and especially on holiday weekends, you need to reserve early because once the birds are spoken for, ain’t no mo’. And once you’ve had chicken that was walking around the day before yesterday, anything that’s wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam disk by the meat department pales in comparison. Okay, it tastes like crap. Which is not to say that we don’t eat butcher shop poultry during the months we don’t have a fresh chicken farm down the road, but we simply don’t enjoy it nearly as much.
So back to the Memorial Day chickens. We had Mrs. Iacono cut up the birds into parts, and I had a hankering for something sweet and spicy to complement the grilling. A quick search turned up a yummy-sounding recipe for wings whose ingredients hit all the right notes: sweet apricot preserves, tangy Worcestershire, savory soy sauce, spicy cayenne pepper, and pungent garlic and ginger. (While the original recipe calls for using smoked wood chips on a gas grill, we didn’t have chips handy and loved the result anyway. But I’m sure applewood or hickory would only enhance the yum factor.) I figured the marinade/glaze would be just as delish on other chicken parts as it seemed to be on wings.
Let’s just say that the whole gang was enthralled by what they proclaimed “perfect” grilled chicken. It was indeed sweet, spicy, tangy and pungent with a little bit of that scrumptious grilled char. It tasted like summer, and it was joyful to look around the table at my holiday-weekend-relaxed boys licking their fingers to kick off the unofficial start of the season. Happy grilling!
What are some of your favorite grilling recipes?
Spicy Apricot Grilled Chicken
Adapted from a recipe by Chris Lilly
- 1/2 cup hickory, apple or apricot wood chips (optional)
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 pounds chicken parts
- In a large bowl, combine the apricot preserves with the chopped garlic, chopped ginger, Worcestershire sauce, light brown sugar, soy sauce, mustard, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, sweet paprika, cayenne and ground ginger.
- Reserve half the mixture in a small bowl. Put the chicken in a heavy-duty plastic bag and add the other half of the mixture. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, and coat the chicken thoroughly with the sauce. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, or up to overnight.
- Light a gas grill. (If using wood chips: Wrap the chips in heavy-duty foil and pierce the foil packet with a skewer. Add the packet to the grill. Cover and let the wood chips begin to smoke, 5 minutes.)
- Grill the chicken, skin side down on medium heat for about 5 minutes until you see char marks. Then turn off half the grill burners and turn the other half up to high. Flip the pieces onto the side that’s off. Close the grill and roast the chicken, basting with sauce every 10 minutes, until it’s cooked through.