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Barbecue-Braised Thai Chicken Legs with Lemongrass Glaze

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Serves six.

Lemongrass adds a wonderful fragrance to this dish. To prepare it, trim off the tops and enough of the bottoms that you no longer see a woody core and then remove the tough outer leaves. Thinly slice the remaining light-green stalks crosswise and then finely chop them.

For the chicken:
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 whole skin-on chicken legs
For the braising liquid and glaze:
  • 2 tsp. peanut oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallions (white and light-green parts only)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped lemongrass (1 to 2 large or 3 medium stalks)
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. Thai green curry paste
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs. Asian fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt
For serving:
  • 1-1/2 cups Thai jasmine rice, cooked
Season

In a small bowl, combine the turmeric, ginger, coriander, cayenne, and 1 tsp. salt. Rub all over the chicken legs. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

Sear

Prepare a gas grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Grill the legs until they begin to brown on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side (watch carefully for flare-ups). Set aside.

Braise

Prepare the grill for indirect grilling. In an 8-quart heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and stir for 1 minute. Add the lemongrass and stir for 1 minute. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the curry paste until the vegetables are evenly coated. Add the broth, fish sauce, and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Nestle the chicken legs into the braising liquid. Set the pot on the grill over the cool zone. Cover the pot, close the grill lid, and cook until the legs are tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a tray.

Pour the braising liquid into a heatproof vessel, such as a Pyrex measuring cup, and let sit until the fat rises to the top. Skim off and discard the fat.

Glaze

Prepare the grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Strain enough of the braising liquid to yield 1 cup and boil over medium heat in a small saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup glaze, about 15 minutes. (Return the strained solids to the remaining cooking liquid).

Brush some of the glaze over one side of each chicken leg and grill glazed side down until the glaze begins to color, 2 to 3 minutes. Brush the other side of the legs with glaze and flip them over—the skin may stick to the grill a bit, so gently pry up any stuck areas before you flip. Grill until browned on the second side, 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, reheat the remaining cooking liquid if necessary and season to taste with salt. Put some rice in each of 6 serving bowls, lean a leg against the rice, and ladle in some of the cooking liquid.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make this dish through the braising step the day before serving. Just cool and wrap the chicken and braising liquid separately. Refrigerate overnight and glaze the next day. To spread out the work even more, you can season the chicken the day before you braise.

Variations

To use a charcoal grill: To sear the chicken, build a medium-heat fire: Ignite about 5 quarts of charcoal (80 to 100 briquettes), using either a chimney starter or an electric starter. When the charcoal is burning well, spread it out over the surface of the charcoal grate and put the cooking grate in place. Let the charcoal burn down until it's coated with gray ash. To test the temperature, hold your hand about two inches above the cooking grate; when you can hold your hand there for 3 to 4 seconds (a medium-heat fire), you're ready to sear the chicken.

After searing, divide the coals evenly, banking them against two sides of the grill (use long-handled tongs to move the coals). Put the cooking grate in place; if your cooking grate has hinged sections, position them over the charcoal. Place an oven thermometer on the grate over the cooler area, close the lid, and let the coals burn until the thermometer reads about 350ºF. When ready, place the pot over the cool zone and braise as directed above. Check the thermometer every 20 minutes, replenishing the charcoal as necessary to keep the temperature between 325ºF and 375ºF. If the coals are still burning well, you can simply add a handful of unlit coals on top. Otherwise, you'll need to add lit coals.

To glaze the chicken, build a second medium-heat fire just as you did in the searing step. Continue with the glazing, as directed in the recipe.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 370; Fat (g): 19; Fat Calories (kcal): 170; Saturated Fat (g): 5; Protein (g): 34; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4.5; Sodium (mg): 970; Cholesterol (mg): 105; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Loved the flavors. Especially loved being able to prepare it ahead and finish on the grill just before serving. AND it was great at room temp, so it is a great dish for easy summer entertaining. I was pressed for time in the initial cooking and after allowing 24 hours between applying the rub and the first heat, rather than firing up the Weber, I seared the legs on my cast iron grill pan and then braised in the oven at 300 degrees for an hour. That was in the morning. In the evening I finished them on the charcoal. It was fabulous and a great hit with all!

This grill-braise recipe is one of the best from the series. The flavors were wonderful, and the grilling really added to the flavor in the end. This one's a keeper! I served with basmati rice with thai basil on the side, it was perfect with the chicken and the sauce.

I am giving this more stars for flavor. But it did not have at least to my family the b-b-que flavor we were looking for (the skin did stick to grill) Also cook this in the oven/stovetop doesnt make sense to cook on the grill. If you are looking for this to taste like grilled chicken it doent but the flavors were good just not b-b-que worthy.

My wife and I made this last weekend. We live in Switzerland, and refilling propane tanks here is a real pain, so we did the braising in the oven at 300 F for a little less than an hour. We served the chicken with long beans sauteed with gralic, and coconut rice (rice made in a rice cooker with about 3:1 water:coconut milk). We thought we made enough to have leftovers, but we were wrong. This is the best chicken dish we have ever made, and we just couldn't stop eating it!

I made this dish this weekend, and my husband and I loved it. The flavors are complex, yet somehow delicate. I did cheat and braised the dish in my oven because my gas grill doesn't allow for indirect cooking. This would be a good dish to serve to guests, because, although there are quite a few steps to this recipe, you can space them out and have little work left to do when your company arrives.

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