Barbecued Chicken

Barbecued chicken is a summer favorite for friends, family or just the two of us and makes frequent appearances throughout the barbecue season, from the moment the dust cover comes off the Weber grill. This is our traditional Labor Day barbecue.

room temperature volume ounces/pounds grams/kilograms
2 3- to -pound chickens 6 to 7 pounds 2 kilograms, 722 grams to 3 kilograms, 175 grams
lemon juice, freshly squeezed (2 lemons) about ¼ liquid cup
salt 1 tablespoon 0.25 ounce 20 grams
cayenne pepper 2 teaspoons
black pepper, freshly ground a few grindings
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled 0.75 ounce 20 grams
My Best Barbecue Sauce 2 cups 19.5 ounces 560 grams
OPTIONAL: mesquite chips, for the grill a handful


Rinse the chickens under cold running water and dry with paper towels. Cut into serving pieces: I like to cut the chicken at all the joints, cutting the breast and back section into halves. If desired, the chicken can be cut into quarters, or the leg and thigh and the wing sections can be left intact.

A day ahead or at least 2 hours ahead, marinate the chicken.

Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice, salt, cayenne and black pepper, tossing to coat them well. Add the garlic cloves, cover tightly and refrigerate until 1 hour before grilling.

Use indirect heat to grill: Place the coals on both sides of the grill away from the center, and light them.

At least 1 hour before grilling, place the mesquite in a small bowl with water to cover.

When the coals are ready, sprinkle them with the soaked mesquite. Lightly oil the grill rack and place the chicken on it, skin side up, so that most of it is not directly over the coals; the dark meat pieces should be closer to the coals than the white meat. Grill, covered, for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side down and continue grilling, covered, for 5 minutes. Brush with the barbecue sauce and continue grilling, covered, for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side up. Brush with sauce, cover, close the vents and leave on the grill for 5 minutes. (If you are using an electric grill, turn it off.) Serve with extra sauce.

NOTE: If you are using larger chickens or grilling on a cool or windy day the chicken can take as long as 45 minutes to cook. Wait until the chicken is almost done (when pierced with a knife the juices run clear) before applying the barbecue sauce to prevent burning.

Real hardwood charcoal is now available in many supermarkets throughout the country or mail order from Nature’s Own (800-289-2427). It burns hotter and results in more flavor. Gas grills simply do not provide the flavor produced even by ordinary charcoal.