Wine Trail - Cook's Edition

Chicken, BBQ "Style"

What is BBQ?

We've been making this chicken dish for some time now (because we really like it) and we always called it our oven barbecued chicken.  But the only thing barbecue about it is the store bought BBQ sauce we eat it with.

At least one dictionary definition of barbecue requires that the food be roasted or broiled over a source of heat. Clearly that is what your backyard grill can do but purists will immediately point out that grilling is not barbecue.  They will say that a steak on a grill is not barbecue as BBQ requires a lower temperature, a slower cooking time and probably the 'right' cut of meat (something other than steaks or sausages or 'thin' things like that). We won't get into the weeds about it as whatever we say is likely to be disputed by one faction or the other.

In Oven

The one thing we're pretty sure about, however, is that our recipe today is not BBQ, but it is great and we'll probably keep on calling it that. It just works for us. (And between the two of us, we can't even agree on the BBQ sauce.)

Don't Tell Anyone...

But 'dark meat' is the best.

Dark meat is juicier. Dark meat is harder to overcook. Dark meat tends to be cheaper because everybody else is eating chicken breast because it has less fat.

We did some looking around, and please correct us if we're wrong, but here's what we found:

The USDA says that 100 grams of roasted dark meat chicken (including skin) has 184 calories and about 9 grams of fat of which saturated fat amounts to 2.45 grams. The USDA reports the same amount of chicken breast (including skin) has 197 calories and about 8 grams of fat of which 2.19 grams is saturated.

100 grams of
Calories Fat in grams (total) Saturated Fat in grams
Dark Meat Chicken (w/skin) 184 9 2.45
Chicken Breast (w/skin) 197 8 2.19
Drumstick (dark meat, no skin) 148 5.95 1.6
Breast (white meat, no skin) 158 3.24 1.01
Dry roasted Salt Added Almonds (about 83) 667 57.8 4.56

It might be true that the 'type' of fat in almonds might be 'healthier', but we include the almonds here for comparison.

Skinless chicken breast does have the least amount of calories, but it seems to us, if you are prudent in your overall eating habits,  you shouldn't forgo the great taste of dark meat (even with skin) chicken.

Just don't tell anybody.   It will leave more for us.


A simple step can make the wonderful dark meat even better.... At the very least brine is a mixture of salt and water (some also add spices and/or sugar and/or use other liquids such as buttermilk or apple juice/cider). Brined chicken is more flavorful and juicier.  Here's a general guide, and here is a more scientific explanation.

You can also 'dry brine' meat by applying salt (and perhaps spices) directly to the chicken and let it sit for a few days We do that with our roast chicken (both on top of and under the skin). But for this recipe we favor the wet brine which takes about an hour.

The Recipe

NOTE: We usually get chicken quarters for this meal, but you could easily use all thighs. The amount of coating is based on 2 quite large quarters, so adjust recipe accordingly if you have more (or less) chicken. You could also just use thighs.

2 very large chicken quarters, cutting apart leg and thigh (or just use thighs). Skin on or off as you prefer, we took it off.

3 oz. white bread (3 slices depending on quality of the bread)
1/4 cup corn meal
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. pimenton (smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional or more to taste)
Oil Spray (optional)
1 TB (more or less as needed) mayonnaise

TIPS: The mayonnaise can be any type. We use low fat. The idea is to use it as the glue that will make the coating stick. The spice amounts are completely to taste.  We don't even measure them.

Optional, but it can make a huge difference: brine the chicken for 60 minutes in 2 quarts of water to which you have added 1/2 cup regular salt and 3 TB sugar.  Depending on the size of the chicken and the size of the container you might get away with cutting these amounts in half.

Combine all the coating ingredients except for the mayonnaise in a food processor or blender and grind until you have a pretty fine mixture.

Dry the chicken pieces with paper towels then smear the mayonnaise all over them.

You could dredge the chicken pieces in the coating mixture but we like to put them one by one into a plastic bag that contains the coating and shake it around. Start by using 1/2 of of the coating mixture then place the pieces on a rack and let sit for 5 minutes. If using, very lightly sprintz the chicken with the oil spray then repeat the coating process with the remaining coating mixture. You can take any remaining coating and press it down onto the chicken. We like to put the chicken in the fridge on the rack placed over a plate. This helps set the coating but also lets us make it all ahead.

coat 1
coat 2

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. We have a heavy aluminum griddle that came with an oven that self destructed some years back. We put it in the oven during preheat to get it nice and hot.

Put the chicken in the oven. We put it directly on the hot aluminum griddle, but if you don't have one, cook it on a rack placed in a baking pan (so that there is air circulation around the chicken). Reduce heat to 435 degrees.  Cooking time is, of course, highly dependent on your oven and the size of the chicken. In our oven we bake for 8 minutes then carefully remove our very hot baking pan and turn the chicken over and put back in the oven for another 8 minutes.  An instant read thermometer is really a great tool at this point. Cook the chicken until the internal temperature is 175 degrees. (Dark meat should be cooked longer than white meat. This allows the collagen to break down and makes it all the more juicy.) Let it sit for a few minutes then serve.

We have it with fries (made in a convection oven, which works as well if not better than an air fryer), cole slaw and garlic bread. And, don't forget the BBQ sauce!


Convection Fries, you say?

Not like there is any rocket science to this. A friend just obtained an air fryer and has been experimenting. Our first thought was to ask why he neeeed one since he had a really good full-sized convection oven. Though there may be uses for the air fryer, he found, in the end, that the oven was better most of the time. We have a table-top convection oven and it works great.

In essence, cut up potatoes and put them in the convection oven.

Now, here's what we do for two hungry people:

1 lb russet potatoes
olive oil
pimenton (smoked paprika)
garlic powder
onion powder

Preheat convection oven .All ovens are different and you have to figure for youself what works best. We use 425 degrees.

Peel the potatoes and cut into fries. We prefer ones that are on the thinner side, but thick is fine as well. Place in a bowl, add the the oil and spices, and toss together. How much? Whatever you like. We use just a little oil and shake in the spices. You just want enough oil to lightly coat the potatoes. We like hot so we are heavy handed with the cayenne.

Lay the fries on the oven rack. It works best when they are not crowded. If we use two racks we switch them top to bottom half way through cooking.  Cook until browned. It usually takes us about 20-25 minutes.

Salt the fries and eat immediately.

Don't have a convection oven?  The 'fry' shape never worked out well for us in a regular oven. However, potatoes cut crosswise, relatively thin like thick chips, were a decent substitute in a regular oven.

Wine Pairing

Nalle Winery Squirrels
Nalle Winery

Ranch Red

The Nalle's version of an everyday porch sippin’ red to be enjoyed after a satisfying day on the Ranch. A blend of Estate fruit: 60% Zinfandel, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Really good with 'Cue'.


   Get just the recipe in .pdf format here