The trick to perfect chicken
It's grilling season. Barbecues are popping up in between the downpour and charcoal is being stoked. I'm grilling chicken this month because it is the easiest (and probably cheapest) protein to get your hands on in Korea.
The first, and probably most important, step is brining the chicken. A brine is a salt water solution you place your meat in for several hours before cooking. The brine forces itself into the protein, resulting in a moist, tender chicken. It is a process that is perfect for chicken and pork and is appropriate for most methods of cooking, whether it is roasting, grilling, smoking or frying. It can be a long process, largely unattended, but if you have the time it is worth it.
When you set up the charcoal for your grill, make sure to make several heat-different “zones.” Moving the charcoal to one area will help you regulate the temperature and prevent burning your food.
Apply your sauce to the chicken in the last few minutes of grilling. Any sooner and you risk burning the sugars in the barbecue sauce. I baste the chicken twice: several minutes before the chicken is done and right as it comes off the grill to rest. The first application lets some of the sugars caramelize; the second time around makes sure they are fully sauced and ready to go. A kitchen brush is an important tool to use, letting you get an even coating.
Directions for Brine Solution
Dissolve the salt in warm water, and then add everything to the cold water. Add your protein to the brine and let it sit undisturbed in the fridge. A whole (Korean) chicken is going to take 5-6 hours (it’s best to err on the shorter side), while a quartered chicken will take less, between 2-4. I aimed for 3 hours. When you are ready, remove the chicken from the brine, pat dry and toss the liquid. You are ready to grill.
On a preheated grill, place your room temperature chicken skin side down over direct medium high heat. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side. Move the chicken to a cooler area of the grill and cover. Cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. When the chicken is almost done, baste with the barbeque sauce, letting it cook for 3-4 minutes. When the chicken is fully cooked, remove from the grill to a cutting board to rest for 5-10 minutes. Baste with another layer of sauce and serve.
Directions for BBQ Sauce
In a saucepan, sauté the onions and garlic in the vegetable oil over medium heat until translucent (3-5 minutes). Add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes, coating the onion and garlic. Add the fresh tomatoes. Cook for an additional 5 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes and transfer to a blender. Puree and return back to the saucepan to check for seasoning.