Cooking Cornell Chicken
Tips from the Pros
Place the broiler halves—about one pound is a good weight—over a hot, non-flaming fire. Flip and baste the chicken frequently, about every 5 to 10 minutes for an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165º. “If you cook it in less than an hour, you risk burning the chicken or having it be less flavorful,” says Dale Baker, son of Cornell Chicken creator Bob Baker. “So turn and sauce it often.”
The most important time to baste is towards the end. “At the beginning, it doesn’t have a lot of impact on the flavor, it just keeps the meat from burning,” Baker says. “But at the end is when the chicken really takes up the sauce.”
Simple is the way to go. While you can add herbs and spices or marinate the meat in advance, it does not make too much of a difference in the flavor, according to Baker.
Try the BBQ sauce on other types of meat, especially pork. Reenie Sandsted, Baker’s daughter, also recommends brushing it sparingly onto vegetables as you grill them.
Barbecued broilers without sauce are like bread without butter. The barbecue sauce is a basting material. Brush it on the broiler halves every few minutes during cooking.
Enough for 10 halves
1 cup cooking oil
1 pint cider vinegar
3 tablespoons salt*
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning**
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Beat the egg, then add the oil and beat again. Add other ingredients and stir. The recipe can be varied to suit individual tastes.
Leftover sauce can be stored in a glass jar in a refrigerator for several weeks.
*Adjust the quantity or eliminate salt to meet individual health needs and taste. Barbecued chicken basted frequently during cooking will be saltier than chicken that has been lightly basted.
**Here at Edible Finger Lakes we’re big fans of fresh herbs over the dried, ground kind. But the poultry seasoning is a key component to Cornell Chicken and you don’t want to take chances by messing around with it. However, since all our fantastic farmers are selling herbs at the markets during summer, we thought why not make our own poultry seasoning to bring a local and fresh twist on Cornell Chicken? We think even the purists out there will like this substitute over the dried and jarred kind.
This recipe asks you to spend a lot of time with your knife. If you don’t want to do all that chopping, you can use a food processor or a blender to chop up the herbs for you. Just don’t overblend them or you will end up with pesto.
Makes about 3/4 cup
4 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
4 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped
3 tablespoons sage, finely chopped
2 tablespoons marjoram, finely chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated (optional)
Stir together all ingredients in a bowl. Seasoning will keep, refrigerated, for about 3 days.
Interested in the history of Cornell Chicken? Click here to learn more.
This recipe originally appeared in our July/August 2014 issue.