When it comes to cooking chicken on the barbecue, low and slow is the way to go. Here in Ireland, we tend to only have a decent spell of what any reasonable person might call summer every four years or so. When a period of sunshine arrives, we tend to go a bit crazy. Sallow fleshed white men don ‘summer’ shorts (and little else), repair to the garden and swill vast quantities of cheap lager. They then do the only bit of ‘cooking’ they are capable of handling – the botulism fest known as the ‘barbecue’.
Supermarket sausages, ‘4 for €1’ burgers and mixed meat kebabs are blackened on the outside while the giddy germs are warmed into action in their centres. Flare-ups from dripping fat add excitement to proceedings. Chicken, that barbecue staple, is a regular offender in the beer fuelled cull of the working population.
I like to do a bit of outdoor cooking myself. I like to barbecue a bit of chicken. The tastiest chicken on the barbecue is the thigh meat, best done with skin on and bone in. This presents both opportunity and threat. The opportunity is to produce really succulent chicken, packed with flavour. The threat is to the wellbeing of you and your guests. So, if you want a foolproof recipe for chicken on the barbecue, go with my Thai Thigh Chicken.
Ingredients for Thai Thigh Chicken
- 12 Chicken thighs
- 1 Tablespoon of dark brown sugar
- 3 stalks of lemongrass
- 3 chilis (more if you like it hotter)
- Juice and rind of two limes
- 3 single clove garlic bulbs or a bulb of good quality garlic
- 8 cm (2.5″) piece of ginger
- 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
Take all the dry ingredients bar the chicken and chop them up. They will be going into the blender so even slicing is not necessary.
The chilis make for a nice enough photograph. That’s why I’m showing them here.
If you are using waxed limes (Nearly everybody is using waxed limes whether you know it or not), wash the in hot water and give the skin a good rub with a hard cloth. This will leave the zesty skin clear of wax.
With the dry bits peeled and chopped, pop them in the blender.
Blend them to a paste and add the wet ingredients Blend them to a sludge. Slice each of the thighs through the skin and almost to the bone.
Cutting remark: We cut through the skin and flesh for two reasons. Firstly, it lets the flavours infuse the meat. Secondly, it allows the acids in the lime juice to start the cooking process.
Add the chicken to a big bowl and pour over the marinade. Stir it very well. Cover and leave it in the refrigerator for three to four hours.
Take it out of the fridge about half an hour before cooking. This is to allow the chicken come back to room temperature. This is important!
Heat the barbecue to hot. Add the chicken and then turn the heat down to very low. Cover and cook for as long as it takes to cook the chicken right through. You can test this by one of a number of methods:
Use a meat probe – As you will need to probe every piece of chicken, this has its disadvantages.
Use a member of your family – This has the disadvantage of possibly seeing off some of your kith and kin. Not recommended.
Use a skewer – Poke this into the centre of each piece of chicken. If the juices run clear, you are probably safe. If not, you’re not.
Use your judgement – This is how I do it. It works for me. Then, I have been at it for a long time, every four years or so during our Irish summers.
Something to pour over: Remember that the marinade has the potentially dangerous chicken germs lurking. Be sure to cook the marinade fully.
Let the chicken rest for about five minutes. Serve it with a nice mixed summer salad.
It’s rare enough we get the opportunity to cook and eat outdoors. Be sure the chicken is not so rare and everybody will be happy. Go on try my Thai Thighs. They are really delicious.