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 jalapeño chile cooked alongside the chicken and incorporated into the sauce added heat and flavor to the finished dish. Leave the jalapeño whole for 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 one hour, for the wood chip packet.
PEACH-GLAZED GRILLED CHICKEN
Start to finish: 1 hour, 20 minutes
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 jalapeño chile
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and sprinkle with 21/4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Just before grilling, soak the wood chips in water for 15 minutes, then drain. Using a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap soaked chips in an 8-by-41/2-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 together the preserves and cayenne in a disposable pan. Place the peach halves (cut side up), jalapeño and chicken (skin side down) in the pan.
For a charcoal grill: Open the bottom vent halfway. Light a large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Place the wood chip packet on coals on 1 side of grill. Set the 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 the cooking grate, and place the wood chip packet directly on the 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 and 375 degrees.)
Clean and oil the 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 degrees. (Open top and bottom vents fully for charcoal grill.) Continue to cook, covered, until breasts register 155 degrees and drumsticks/thighs register 170 degrees, 10-14 minutes.
Flip the chicken, peach halves and jalapeño 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, 3-5 minutes, then remove pan from grill.
Meanwhile, cook the chicken, peach halves and jalapeño until well-browned on first side, 2-5 minutes. Flip, and continue to cook until chicken breasts register 160 degrees and drumsticks/thighs register 175 degrees and peach halves and jalapeño are well-browned on second side, 2-5 minutes. Return chicken, skin side up, to pan with preserves, tent loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Transfer peach and jalapeño to a plate to cool slightly.
Remove any loose skin from peach halves and jalapeño (no need to remove all skin), then chop peach halves, seed and mince jalapeño, and transfer both to a bowl.
Arrange chicken on a serving platter. Pour preserves from pan into bowl with chopped peach halves and jalapeño; stir in vinegar. Season glaze with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon glaze over chicken, and serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 488 calories; 97 calories from fat; 11 g fat (3 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 167 mg cholesterol; 430 mg sodium; 56 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 51 g sugar; 41 g protein.