BBQ Chicken Throwdown: David Chang vs. Martha Stewart

6:33 PM

Is there anything better than BBQ chicken on the grill in the summer? The more napkins the better, right? Gotta love leftover cold chicken for a picnic the next day (or breakfast in some cases - ahem). There's usually a bottle of store-bought BBQ sauce in our house for emergencies. But I recently decided to test two very different BBQ chicken recipes from two of my favorite chefs: David Chang and Martha Stewart.

So join me in my fantasy "East meets West" BBQ Chicken Throwdown between David Chang of Momofuku fame and Martha Stewart, domestic goddess. Who will prevail? Read on to find out.

Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken
Adapted from David Chang, Men's Health

8 skinless chicken thighs
1 Tbsp sriracha hot sauce
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil, plus more for cooking
1/2 cup apple juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp Japanese shiro (white) miso
1 tsp minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped scallions


1. Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. In a medium bowl, mix together the sriracha, oil, apple juice, honey, miso, ginger, garlic, and salt. Add 1 cup of water and mix thoroughly; mix in the onion and scallions.

Pour half the marinade mixture into the plastic bag with the chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to a day. Refrigerate the remaining marinade in a small covered saucepan.

2. When you're ready to eat, remove the chicken from the fridge. Place the saucepan with the reserved marinade on medium heat and simmer until the mixture is thickened and saucelike, about 20 minutes.

3. Brush a grill or grill pan with grapeseed oil and set the heat to medium high. When the grill is ready, cook the thighs until the undersides have charred grill marks and release easily from the grill, about 8 minutes.

4. Flip the thighs and cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle reads 165°F, about 8-10 minutes more. Let them rest for 2 to 3 minutes, and serve with white rice and grilled vegetables like scallions, mushrooms, or bok choy. Makes 4 servings

The Good: Unique combination of flavors - sweet, spicy, earthy, salty - makes this stand out. Easy to whip up.

The Bad: Went light on the sirarcha sauce since I wanted to make sure this was not too spicy for the boys. The end result was good if not a little tame. Will dial up the heat next time.

Grade: A-. This was a big hit at our backyard BBQ. Serve with grilled scallions and this is a knockout dish.

Brown-Sugar BBQ Chicken
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 pounds chicken drumsticks, patted dry
1. Heat grill to medium. In a medium bowl, whisk together ketchup, sugar, Worcestershire, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Set aside for basting.
2.  In a large bowl, toss chicken with vegetable oil; season well with coarse salt and ground pepper.

3. Lightly oil grates; place chicken on grill. Cover grill; cook, turning frequently, until chicken registers 165 degrees (160 degrees for breast) on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Uncover grill; continue cooking, basting frequently with sauce, until chicken is glazed thoroughly, 3 to 4 minutes more. 
The Good: Essentially there are only five ingredients to this dish. So simple yet so delicious.
The Bad: Even with the oiled grates, left such a mess on the grill.
Grade: A. A HUGE hit with all my boys. And even better the next day. Never buying store-bought sauce again.

This was a tough battle. But the win ultimately goes to (drum-roll please...) Martha. Basic ingredients found in any pantry plus ability to please even my protein-adverse 2-year-old makes this a winner.

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