Cayenne Grilled Chicken

This is a really easy way to add a new dimension to grilled chicken.  Combining a little heat from cayenne pepper sauce with a distinct tanginess from cider vinegar left to marinade overnight, this chicken will come off the grill with a wonderful crispy skin and flavorful, moist meat inside.  You will need to set aside some time for grilling (about an hour to 75 minutes), so do make sure you plan ahead.

Gather Up:

  • About 6 to 7 pounds of bone-in, skin-on free-range chicken.  We’ve got one whole fryer cut up (about 4-1/4 lbs) plus two additional breast halves (the one on top is almost big enough to be a turkey breast!)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce (the HFCS-free stuff)
  • 2 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot or other cayenne pepper sauce
  • 2 tsp garlic powder

In a 2-1/2 cup mixing bowl, combine everything but the chicken and whisk well to combine.  Pour about 1-1/4 cup of the mixture into the bottom of a gallon (or even 1-1/2 gallon) freezer bag, then add in all of the chicken pieces.  Close the bag (with air in it) and turn to coat everything well.  Then open a corner of the bag and get as much air out as possible before sealing it up.  Place on a rimmed pan (in case a bone punctures the bag) and place in the refrigerator to marinade at least 4 hours (overnight is preferred).  About every 2 hours, turn the bag over so that things on both sides spend some time soaking.  If you leave it over night on one side, though, it will still be OK – so you don’t need to set the alarm to get up every two hours to turn it.  The remaining mixture should be covered with a tight lid and also placed in the refrigerator for later.

About 30 minutes before cooking, remove everything from the refrigerator and remove the chicken from the bag.  Arrange in the rimmed pan and cover loosely with foil or plastic wrap, then allow it to warm closer to room temperature while you get the grill heated up.  Heat the grill to medium indirect heat (around 350 degrees) – this is a perfect recipe to introduce some extra flavor using hardwood smoking chips or something similar.  When the grill is warm, arrange the chicken with the larger, thicker pieces (see that turkey-sized breast up front?) at the hotter areas of the grill.  Set the timer for about 30 minutes.

After the first 30 minutes, turn all of the meat over and baste it liberally with some of the reserved sauce.  Cover and continue grilling for about another 15 minutes.  Baste again, and check some of the smaller pieces with a quick-read thermometer (they should be getting close).  Check the bigger pieces as well, but they will likely take a bit longer.  Or,  you can plan ahead and start the bigger pieces a little earlier so that everything is done at the same time.  Try not to have the lid open very long, however, because you lose heat quickly with the lid off when cooking indirect.  Continue basting and checking every 10 minutes thereafter until each piece is done (unless you have a piece or two that are VERY close, in which you can probably let them go another five minutes and then quickly pull them off).  As pieces are done, transfer to a baking dish and place into an oven pre-heated to about 200 degrees to keep them warm until serving.

When the last of it is off the grill, it’s time to serve them up.  For the smaller pieces like drumsticks and wings (if the kids haven’t already raided the oven and taken off with them), serve them up as they are.  Thighs can be served that way too – either with the skin on or off depending on your preference (on a free-range bird, I like the crispy skin).  For the large breasts, work a fillet knife along the underside to separate from the bone, then slice across into 1/4″ thick slices with the skin in tact.  You can then serve and let each person choose to remove the skin or not.

One thought on “Cayenne Grilled Chicken

  1. I love chicken and Cayenne, but I can’t recall combining the two except after it was cooked. Will have to try out.

    “A boy doesn’t have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn’t like pie when he sees there isn’t enough to go around.” ~E.W. Howe

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