Flipping through "Bon Appétit" magazine’s grilling issue, I came across some spicy chicken skewers basted with an interesting mix of flavors. I played with those flavors considerably, keeping the Sriracha, hot chili paste, rice vinegar and fish sauce of the original, but tweaking amounts and using apricot preserves instead of brown sugar for the sweetness and adding chopped chives for a wild green note.
And instead of skinless, skewered bites of chicken, I opted for meaty bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks and thighs. Much of the skin’s fat cooks off during grilling, but not without naturally basting the flesh as it does. The end result is moist, tender and juicy.
The recipe that inspired this one involved cooking the basting sauce to reduce it a bit. Other recipes I consulted either included this step or didn’t. I chose not to, even though it was less thick and clingy as a basting sauce. Next time I make it, I might reduce it – or I might not.
Grilled Sriracha apricot chicken
4 each, bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks and thighs
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (see Kitchen Notes)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
5 teaspoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare your grill for both indirect and direct grilling. Remove chicken from fridge about 1/2 hour before you’re ready to cook and trim excess skin and fat. Set aside on counter. If you’re using charcoal, you can do this when you start the coals.
2. Combine preserves, Sriracha, chili sauce, rice vinegar, and fish sauce in a medium bowl, mashing out any lumps in the preserves with the tines of a fork. Stir in the chives.
3. When the grill is ready, pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Brush the grill rack lightly with oil and place chicken skin side up on the side of the grill away from the heat source. Cover the grill and cook chicken for about 5 minutes; this will render some of the fat. Move chicken directly over the coals skin side down, cover grill and cook until skin begins to crisp and brown, about 5 minutes (or longer, if needed).
4. Move chicken away from heat and turn skin side up. Brush with basting sauce, cover grill and cook, turning every few minutes and basting, until chicken is cooked through, another 10 to 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should register 165 degrees F when inserted in the thickest part. Transfer chicken to platter and let it rest for 5 minutes or so, then serve.
How hot? When you sample the basting sauce as you’re mixing it in the bowl, even without the hot chili paste, it will seem fiery. Once it’s applied to the chicken during grilling, it calms down considerably. If you like heat, definitely include the hot chili paste. You might consider pressing it through a mesh strainer, though, to remove the seeds. They’re the source of much of the Asian condiment’s fire.