Barbecue Chicken with Barbecue Sauce

It is said that smells can bring back memories and emotions.  The aroma of barbecue chicken takes me back to Easter family celebrations with my maternal grandfather and uncles standing next to coal black barrel  barbecue pits. I can distinctly remember excitedly trying to get one of them to quickly lift the lid to reveal the beautiful chicken leg quarters as they gradually deepened in their flavorful shades of maroon.  I can remember feeling happily anxious for hours playing no pads tackle football with my bruising twin brother and older cousins until it was finally time to eat. For me, it was perfection. It was my foundation for my approach to barbecue ever since- intensely pleasant anticipation with methodical patience and flexible adherence to time honored principles.  

Barbecue chicken is executed by almost every culture I can think of and grilling or smoking chicken with any concoction of spices or sauces would qualify.  In Louisiana, our barbecued chicken generally resembles that of our other deep south neighbors and is grilled or smoked with a savory rub and then coated in a tomato based barbecue sauce.  Most people are satisfied enough to just enjoy the barbecue and may never try to master this art. For those of you who love barbecue chicken but are called to honor this dish with more than simple consumption, read on!


8 chicken quarters

4 tablespoons oil

4 tablespoons yellow mustard


For the rub:

½ cup salt

½ cup black pepper

½ cup garlic powder

3 tablespoons cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons smoked or regular paprika


For the Sauce:

4 cups ketchup

½ cup yellow mustard

½  cup distilled white vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup worcestershire sauce

½ cup diced onions

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

½ tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder


Sauce instructions:

Combine all ingredients in pot and simmer for 30 minutes while stirring often.  Done


Instructions for barbecue chicken:

  1. Rinse chicken quarters well and pat dry
  2. Combine all ingredients for the rub in a bowl and mix well with a fork or whisk
  3. Place all chicken in a large bowl or pan, pour in oil and mustard and toss around until chicken is well coated
  4. While tossing chicken, pour in the rub and coat chicken well.  The rub being applied to the lubricated chicken will start to smell pretty good.
  5. Place chicken on or in a heated barbecue pit or smoker.  Do not add barbecue sauce yet. If you are using a barbecue pit, I recommend cooking with wood or coals.  If your BBQ pit is shallow, do not cook directly over coals but make a pile of coals to one side and cook your chicken on the other side.  If you have a nice deep pit ( with grill at least one foot away from coals, you can cook directly over the coals. Using an offset smoker is the easiest way to avoid burning the chicken.  I recommend cooking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, but the important part is to pull the chicken off when the internal temperature is at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. When the internal chicken reaches 135 degrees, liberally brush on the barbecue sauce or dip the chicken into the sauce and return to the grill or smoker.   If you put the sauce on from the beginning, it will blacken and burn.
  7. Pull chicken when it reaches 165 degrees internally.


Bon Appetit!