To Emeril Lagasse, summer is all about firing up the grill and eating with friends and family. But the renowned chef has some words of caution for his fellow pitmasters. First, buy a meat thermometer. “It’s the safest way” to tell if food is done, he tells PEOPLE.
Secondly? Don’t marinade, but sauce. “I think people think that barbecue sauce is like a marinade,” he says. “But it’s really a sauce. People add the barbecue sauce way in advance, then they wonder why it’s torched [on the grill.] The sugar molecules completely caramelize, and it turns into a mess.” Follow his rules while making his chicken dish, below.
Makes 8 servings
• 2 ½ Tbsp. paprika
• 2 Tbsp. each salt and garlic powder
• 1 Tbsp. each black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano and dried thyme
• 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
• ¾ cup chopped yellow onion
• 2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
• 4 cups ketchup
• ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
• 2 Tbsp. cane syrup
• ½ cup apple cider vinegar
• ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
• 3 Tbsp. hot sauce
• 2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
• ½ tsp. crushed red pepper
• 8 chicken leg quarters
• Freshly ground black pepper
1. Whisk together paprika and next 7 dry seasonings; set aside.
2. Cook onion in hot oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat 4 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add next 8 ingredients, and 2 tsp. of paprika mixture, and bring to a boil. Reserve remaining seasoning for another use. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes until sauce thickens. Remove from heat; set aside to cool. Reserve 2 cups barbecue sauce in small bowl. Cover and chill remaining sauce up to 2 weeks.
3. Preheat grill to medium-low (250 to 300 degrees F).
4. Season both sides of chicken quarters with salt and pepper. Grill, skin side down, on oiled rack over indirect heat 15 to 20 minutes. Turn chicken and brush with reserved barbecue sauce. Grill 20 to 30 minutes longer, turning every 10 minutes and basting with sauce, until juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees F.
Recipe adapted from Emeril at the Grill: A Cookbook for All Seasons, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2009, copyright MSLO, Inc., all rights reserved