Too many recipes for glazed grilled chicken give you meat that’s scorched or sickeningly sweet, or both. We wanted nicely glazed, unimpeachable peachy grilled chicken.
To start, we sprinkled the chicken with salt and pepper and let it sit for at least an hour before cooking to season the chicken and enable it to retain more moisture. Then we faced the main challenge: balancing real peach flavor with the necessity of not incinerating our dinner.
Cooking chicken covered in sweet preserves led to intense scorching on the grill, but just applying a glaze at the end of cooking didn’t yield much flavor. We created a setup that cooked the chicken most of the way through in the sauce without exposing it to open flame by using a disposable aluminum pan.
We started the chicken skin side down to render some fat before flipping the pieces skin side up to dry off and crisp up. We then finished the meat over the coals for perfect browning.
A fresh peach and a jalapeno chile cooked alongside the chicken and incorporated into the sauce added heat and flavor to the finished dish.
PEACH-GLAZED GRILLED CHICKEN
Start to finish: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Chef’s Note: Leave the jalapeno whole for grilling. Note that the salted chicken needs to rest for 1 to 24 hours before grilling. Since the preserves cause the food to brown quickly, move the items around as necessary to manage any hot spots. If you’d like to use wood chunks instead of wood chips when using a charcoal grill, substitute one medium wood chunk, soaked in water for 1 hour, for the wood chip packet.
3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half, drumsticks, and/or thighs), trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 cup wood chips
1 cup peach preserves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (13 by 9-inch) disposable aluminum pan
1 peach, halved and pitted
1 jalapeno chile
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 2 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Just before grilling, soak wood chips in water for 15 minutes, then drain. Using large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap soaked chips in 8 by 4 1/2-inch foil packet. (Make sure chips do not poke holes in sides or bottom of packet.) Cut 2 evenly spaced 2-inch slits in top of packet. Whisk preserves and cayenne together in disposable pan. Place peach halves (cut side up), jalapeno, and chicken (skin side down) in pan.
— For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent halfway. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Place wood chip packet on coals on 1 side of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 5 minutes.
— For a gas grill: Remove cooking grate and place wood chip packet directly on primary burner. Set grate in place, turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium. (Adjust burners as needed to maintain grill temperature between 350 F and 375 F.)
Clean and oil cooking grate. Place disposable pan with chicken over side of grill opposite wood chip packet. Cover grill (position lid vent over chicken if using charcoal) and cook for 10 minutes. Flip chicken, and rotate pan 180 F. (Open top and bottom vents fully for charcoal grill.) Continue to cook, covered, until breasts register 155 F and drumsticks/thighs register 170 F, 10 to 14 minutes.
Flip chicken, peach halves, and jalapeno to coat with preserves, then transfer to grill grate (skin side down for chicken). Leave pan on grill to let preserves thicken and caramelize slightly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes, then remove pan from grill.
Meanwhile, cook chicken, peach halves, and jalapeno until well browned on first side, 2 to 5 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until chicken breasts register 160 F and drumsticks/ thighs register 175 F and peach halves and jalapeno are well browned on second side, 2 to 5 minutes. Return chicken, skin side up, to pan with preserves, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Transfer peach and jalapeno to plate to cool slightly.
Remove any loose skin from peach halves and jalapeno (no need to remove all skin); then chop peach halves, seed and mince jalapeno, and transfer both to bowl. Arrange chicken on serving platter. Pour preserves from pan into bowl with chopped peach halves and jalapeno; stir in vinegar. Season glaze with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon glaze over chicken and serve.
The Associated Press contributed to this article