Published July 1, 2006.
How do you give cold picnic chicken great flavor without flabby, sticky skin? As with James Bond's martinis, the secret is shaken, not stirred.
Cold barbecued picnic chicken presents numerous challenges: chicken covered with sticky sauce that is messy to eat, flabby skin, and dry meat. And we didn't want to bother with lighting the grill for a dish that would be going straight to the fridge.
We wanted a recipe for chicken that would be easy to pack (and eat) for a picnic, chicken with moist, tender meat flavored with robust spicy and slightly sweet barbecue flavors.
We first threw out the idea of a sticky sauce, substituting a robust dry rub (brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, pepper) that reproduced the flavors of a good barbecue sauce. We started to solve the flabby skin problem by diligently trimming the chicken pieces as well as by slitting the skin before cooking (which allowed the excess fat to render). But the skin was still flabby from the moisture contributed by our traditional brine (we brine most poultry for better flavor and moister meat). We tried eliminating the brine, adding salt to the rub, and applying it the night before. Sure enough, when we oven-roasted the chicken the next day, we found the meat well seasoned throughout and very moist. Best of all, the skin was flavorful, delicate, and definitely not flabby.list of recipes