Cooking with Colm O'Gorman: Sweet and sticky barbecue chicken

The lovely char on chicken skin that has been rubbed with spice and brushed with sauce during the cook is just delicious 
I use a good smoked paprika in this recipe, which does add a beautiful smoke tone to the dish, even if it is cooked in the ovenI think we are having a pretty decent summer, at least by Irish standards. The past few weeks, bar the occasional downpour, have been pretty good. I have found myself cooking outdoors a lot, and I am loving it. There is not much that beats cooking outside over charcoal on a summers evening and serving up food to be shared on platters with loved ones and friends. It is a joy to be able to have a few friends or family over for dinner outdoors after all the time we have been forced to be apart from each other. I have really missed people over the past eighteen months. Food is such a social thing for me. Cooking with friends and family, sharing food, sitting and eating together, is one of my favourite things to do.
We were in Cork last week, visiting my sister and her kids in Cobh. Barbara is a fantastic cook, so whenever we get together, cooking and eating great food is very much part of the fun. We cooked outdoors every evening we were with her, and then sat around an outdoor fire talking and catching up as the sun set and darkness fell. It was glorious.
I made this barbecue chicken one evening, and served it with cornbread muffins, a big salad, and some corn on the cob which we steamed and then charred on the barbecue before tossing in butter.
This barbecue chicken recipe is wonderful. If you prefer, you can cook it in the oven, but cooking it over charcoal really adds flavour. I use a good smoked paprika in this recipe, which does add a beautiful smoke tone to the dish, even if it is cooked in the oven.
You can use chicken portions if you would find that easier, but I like to take a whole chicken and portion it down myself. That way I can cut the portions to fairly equal sizes, which avoids a scramble for the biggest pieces when the platter lands in the middle of the table. You should always use chicken on the bone for barbecuing and keep the skin on as it will help keep the meat moist. Added to which, the lovely char on chicken skin that has been rubbed with spice and brushed with sauce during the cook is just delicious.
Sweet and sticky barbecue chicken
This barbecue chicken recipe with a spicy, garlicky rub and smoked tomato and apple cider sauce can be cooked in the oven, but cooking it over charcoal really adds to the flavour
Servings
6
Preparation Time
🕘 10 mins
Cooking Time
🕘 60 mins
Total Time
🕘 1 hours 10 mins
Course
🍴 Main
Ingredients
1 large whole chicken or 2kg of chicken portions
For the spice rub:
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
For the barbecue sauce:
125ml apple cider vinegar
175ml tomato ketchup
2 tbsp tomato purée
75g muscovado sugar
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp mustard powder
2 garlic cloves, grated
60ml water
Method
  1. To portion a whole chicken, place it breast side down on a chopping board and using a poultry shears or large sharp knife, cut down both sides of the backbone and remove it. Remove any excess fat, turn it over and then cut away each leg and thigh as whole individual portions. Cut down and right through the centre through the breast to divide it, then cut each breast portion in two. This will give you six decent sized portions if you use a large bird weighing about 2kg.
  2. Thoroughly combine all the ingredients for the spice rub in a bowl. Rub the mix all over the chicken, working it into every nook and cranny. You can let the chicken sit in this spice rub for up to 12 hours in the fridge before cooking but do give it an hour at least if you can.
  3. Make the barbecue sauce by combing all the ingredients in a pan and whisking them together. Cook over a high heat to melt the sugar and then reduce to a simmer. Let it bubble away for 15 to 20 minutes until it has reduced down a little and has a nice consistency, then set it aside.
  4. Heat up your barbecue. I use a barbecue with a lid which has a built-in thermometer. When the coals are white and glowing, pop on the chicken and close the lid. You want the barbecue to be at a temperature of about 175c for this, so that the chicken roasts at the same time as it grills and is properly cooked all the way through.
  5. Grill for about ten minutes before turning it over and brushing the chicken with some of the barbecue sauce. Close the lid again and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Now turn it over again, brush the other side with more sauce and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken portions. Some of the portions will cook quicker than others and parts of the grill will be hotter than others, so use your thermometer to check each portion and move it to a cooler part of the grill when it gets close to 70c.
  6. Your chicken will be perfectly cooked when it is at 74c. It should take around 30 to 40 minutes to cook on a barbecue. You can also cook this in an oven at 180c, roasting it for 40 minutes before checking the temperature and if it is almost ready, flash it under the grill to give it a little char.
  7. Serve on a big platter in the middle of the table with your favourite sides and a pot of your barbecue sauce. This is sharing, finger-licking food, so dig in and enjoy.
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