Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chicken BBQ - No Hickory, No Tomato Sauce, All Yum!

Upstate New York has a phenomenal barbecue tradition that is both delightful and mysterious and fascinating to me.  It's as if the dawn of spring brings out Chicken BBQ signs, like little dandelions, popping up in the most unexpected places.

Church parking lots, high school fundraisers, fire stations, corner lots, even well-established restaurants put up signs touting Chicken BBQ Saturday 10 a.m. until sold out.

If all those signs advertising chicken bbq don't get your mouth drooling, you might not have the same BBQ gene I have.
Cornell University's Professor Baker invented this Cornell BBQ Sauce to help chicken farmers. The chicken with a college background! As a home and public schooling mom, I'm on the side of education.

This account is based on information posted by Wally Day in
"Cornell-style barbecue chicken, sometimes referred to as "State Fair chicken," traces its origins to a Cornell University professor of animal science, Dr. Robert C. Baker. Baker's original purpose was not necessarily to create a culinary delight, but to simply help New York poultry farmers sell more birds.

In the first half of the 20th Century, chickens were raised primarily as a source of eggs, and often they were not slaugthered until they reach a dressed weight of 4 or 5 pounds. Birds of this size were considered "fryers," any bird larger than this was a "roaster." Dr. Baker reasoned that if a market could be developed for a bird with a dressed weight of 2 3/4 to 3 pounds, poultry farmers could send their birds to market sooner, increasing their turnover. Thus the "broiler" with an optimum weight of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds per half.

For Dr. Baker's scheme of sending chickens to slaughter sooner to work, he needed to come up with a use for the smaller birds. The chicken barbecue filled the bill nicely. All that was needed was a tasty barbecue sauce recipe"

Without further delay, try this!

Cornell University Chicken Barbecue aka
New York State Fair Chicken

In a bowl or blender container, mix

2 cups of vinegar, cider or white vinegar or other (not sweet balsamic)
1 cup of a neutral flavored vegetable oil (not extra virgin olive please)
1 egg
1-3 Tablespoons salt (We always use the 3 T, but for salt sensitive, you may use less) Try it first with 3.
1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Saving one cup in a 1/2 pint jar with a lid, I pour the rest of the marinade over split chicken quarters.  For the unfamiliar, these are the thigh/leg combo, or the split breast/wing combo.  It's frugal, because chicken hind quarters, the leg/thigh combo, are currently selling for about .89/lbs or less at Walmart Supercenters.   For best results, let the chicken soak for 24 hours to get that deep to the bone marinated taste. The salt and the vinegar combine to make for one seriously moist chicken piece.  It's finger linking for sure!

BBQ, grill, or bake this chicken slowly, over indirect heat, to avoid flare-ups.  In other words, keep the coals low, and the temperature med. low, or the grill rack raised higher, to avoid the chicken burning before it is cooked through.  It takes me about 35 minutes on my gas grill, turning the chicken every 8 minutes.  You can use large boneless, skinless chicken breasts in this recipe, but be sure to only marinate it for 12 hours.  The marinade will otherwise chemically cook the chicken breast, turning them white, from the enzymes in the vinegar interacting with the protein in the chicken.

Upstate New York Chicken BBQ's are usually accompanied by boiled salt potatoes with melted butter, coleslaw with mayonnaise dressing, and a roll. If you're really lucky, there's fresh corn on the cob too! 

Later - we'll talk Salt Potatoes.  I'm just saying... this may be the way to get your children to eat a vegetable, straight out of the pot, with their fingers, as fast as they can. Even before you add the butter.


Rachel said...


LOVE bbq pretty much any kind but chicken holds a special place in my heart!

Salt potatoes? Do tell!!!

Stacie said...

This sounds different. Going to have to try this out for one of our next BBQ's.

Sherrie said...

This sounds really good! I'll try it out at our next cook-out. Thanks for sharing! Have a great day!!


Melissa said...

That sounds really good, and I appreciate the history and science behind it. Thanks! :)