Grilled Red Chile Buttermilk Chicken — The Weekender

By: Marisa McClellan
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My mother hates barbecue sauce. She won’t touch it on ribs, chicken or burgers, and can’t bear even the faintest whiff of barbecue potato chips. Her dislike is actually a point of contention in my parents’ marriage, since my father adores the stuff and once even went so far as to invest in a friend’s sauce company.

Ever the peacemaker, I’ve spent my adulthood searching out ways to create tasty grilled chicken that makes my entire family happy (in recent years, I’ve also had to work my husband’s distaste for dark meat into the chicken equation). It has to be entirely unrelated to a traditional ‘cue sauce while still being flavorful enough to turn my dad’s head away from his beloved Mr. Brown’s.

To that end, I’ve made batches of yogurt-marinated chicken breasts, a mountain of teriyaki chicken legs and even whole birds bathed in olive oil, lemon juice and rosemary and cooked under a clean cast-iron skillet.

Always on the lookout for ways to keep our summer cookouts interesting, when I spotted Bobby Flay’s recipe for Red Chile Buttermilk Chicken, I had a feeling it would be another variation that could potentially please the hearts and minds of my many persnickety family members. He has you whisk a number of spices into four cups of buttermilk, pour it over a bunch of chicken pieces and then let it sit for a while in the fridge. Once on the grill, the chicken pieces are cooked indirectly until just cooked through. The finished chicken is intensely moist and tender, nicely flavorful and shockingly easy. Plan a cookout and make it your Weekender soon.

Before you marinate your chicken, here are a few things you should know:

- Don’t be put off by the amount of chile powder in the marinade. Four tablespoons sounds like a lot, but the acid in the buttermilk keeps the heat in check.

- This recipe makes a lot of chicken. If you’re not feeding an army, feel free to cut the recipe by half or more.

- If you don’t have easy grill access, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and roast the chicken in the oven at 400 degrees F.

- The accompanying glaze is a little fussy. I give you permission to skip it and just make the buttermilk chicken.

Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook,Food in Jars: Canning in Small Batches Year Round,  is now available.

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