Huli Huli Chicken

I've never been to Hawaii.  So I'd never experienced the delicious Huli Huli Chicken of the tropical state.  Typically they roast the split chickens on huge rotisseries and are continuously turned over hot coals and smoking special Hawaiian wood called kiawe.   While on a recent family trip to Gatlinburg, my cousin Chad (who is fondly known as Choo Choo) made an easier version of Huli Huli Chicken for dinner one night.

I've talked about my family a bit before in other posts, so for those loyal followers out there, you know how much I love them.  We are spread all over the country, and even the world, and we try hard to get as many of us together as often as we can.  We decided over Christmas that we'd plan a summertime family trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

It was amazing.  We rented a chalet (Gatlinburg talk for  a pimped-out log cabin) and decided we would have to check all electronics at the door.  This rule in place because the men-folk, and a few of us women, tend to spend our quality family time in front of a lighted screen.  There were 9 adults (including our teenage son) so we divided up the cooking for each night.  Chad's night was a masterpiece called Huli Huli Chicken.

This chicken is sticky and smoky and flavorful.  The marinade keeps the chicken moist and flavored throughout.  The glaze is sweet and spicy and tangy.  Try it paired with Hawaiian Pasta Salad for a tropical treat.

Keep in mind the photos in this post are of a large amount of Huli Huli Chicken and it's ingredients.  He was feeding a crowd, after all.  He suggests doubling the sauce and adding more garlic, but I've put the original recipe below.  Also, he used chicken parts rather than whole chickens split in half.

Huli Huli Chicken
Serves 4 to 6

2 qts. water
2 c. soy sauce
1 T. vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. grated fresh ginger
8 lbs. chicken, bone-in parts

3 (6-oz.) cans pineapple juice
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. rice vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. grated fresh ginger
2 t. Asian chili-garlic sauce
2 c. Mesquite wood chips

Combine water and soy sauce in large bowl.  Heat oil in large saucepan over med-high heat until oil is shimmering.  Cook garlic and ginger 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and stir into soy sauce mixture.  Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 1-8 hours.

Mix together all glaze ingredients (except the wood chips, of course) in an large empty saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy, which takes about 25 minutes, unless you double the sauce like Chad.  In that case, it'll take a lot longer.

Meanwhile, soak the wood chips in water for 15 minutes and drain.  Place in foil packet or aluminum loaf pan, sealed with foil, and poked with holes.

On your grill, make sure to open the bottom vents to allow for good smoke circulation.  Light coals in chimney and spread over the bottom of the grill when covered with grey ash.  Arrange the wood chips packets directly on the coals.  Put grill plate back in place, cover with vent halfway open, until hot.  After about 5 minutes, the wood chips will begin to smoke.

If you're using a gas grill, put your packet directly on primary burner.  Heat all burners on high, with cover on, until the smoke pours out (about 15 minutes).  Then turn all burners to med-low.

Don't forget to scrape and oil your grill grates!

Remove chicken from the brine and pat dry.  Put chicken on the grill, not directly over the wood chip packets, skin side up.

Grill covered (ignore the foil-wrapped corn cobs above) until chicken is browned on bottom, about 20 to 30 minutes.  Flip chicken over and cover grill again.  The skin will crisp up and brown.  You want the thigh meat to register 170*-175*.

Transfer chicken to a platter and brush on half the glaze.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Serve with remaining glaze.

The brine and glaze can be made ahead of time (up to 3 days).

Recipe adapted from Cook's Country June/July 2009


Amy J. and Tiffanie A. said...

THIS LOOKS PHENOMENAL! I am not a griller but I sure can make the meal and have the BF cook it! Looks awesome thanks for sharing!!

Unknown said...

This looks delicious! Nice flavor combination. I am saving this for future use. Thanks!

chadman808 said...

Although traditionally, Huli Huli chicken is cooked on a rotisserie (huli huli means to turn over), these days it's almost always grilled, almost Jamaican jerk style. Also, we normally cook it over coals and Kiawe wood, but really, any regional hard wood will do. Although your marinade is pretty much spot on, we don't usually give it a heavy sauce, it's meant to be more of a grilled chicken dish rather than a barbecue dish. While your dish strays from the traditional, it looks ono (Hawaiian for delicious) and I'll definitely be trying it out at my next cookout. Just thought I'd share as someone who was born, raised, and still currently lives in Hawaii. Aloha!

Jessica | Cajunlicious said...

This chicken looks amazing! Nice view as well. New follower!
- Jessica @ http://cajunlicious.com

Unknown said...

Nice Blog !
I Like This Very Much.
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Keeping Growing Chicken

Unknown said...

Finally made this last week. We all loved it. I'm making it again tomorrow to post soon! Thanks for the great recipe.