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Shenandoah Valley-Style Barbecue Chicken

Shenandoah Valley-Style Barbecue Chicken 4.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Smoke Signals Aug 28, 2016

This chicken is typical of those cooked by organizations in the Shenandoah Valley -- such as volunteer fire departments and Ruritan clubs -- for fundraising events. They typically are split in half lengthwise and basted with a tangy vinegar-based sauce over a number of hours.

The basting sauce of vinegar and red peppers can be traced back to early Virginia. Here, the recipe is adapted for easy cooking, deploying the basting sauce as a marinade and using leg and thigh quarters for uniform cooking. In the Shenandoah, some versions add a little tomato juice.

You'll need to soak 1 cup of hickory or oak chips in water for an hour, and you'll need an instant-read thermometer.

Make Ahead: The chicken needs to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil (may substitute canola oil)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic (may use garlic powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 cup tomato juice (optional)
  • 4 chicken leg/thigh quarters, about 3 1/2 pounds total


Combine the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, poultry seasoning blend, granulated garlic and the sweet paprika and tomato juice, if using, in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Add the chicken pieces and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Massage the pieces through the bag; refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.

When ready to grill, remove the bag from the refrigerator and let the chicken, still in the marinade, come to room temperature for about an hour.

Prepare the grill for indirect heat. If using a gas grill, turn the heat to high (450 to 500 degrees). Drain the chips and put them in a smoker box or foil packet poked with a few fork holes to release the smoke; set it between the grate and the briquettes, close to the flame. When you see smoke, reduce the heat to medium (375 to 400 degrees). Turn off the burners on one side.

If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them on one side of the grill. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand 6 inches above the coals for 6 or 7 seconds. Drain the chips and scatter them over the coals. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.

Place the chicken skin side up on the indirect-heat side of the grill; discard the marinade. Close the grill lid and open its vents halfway. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees, turning the chicken as needed. For even crisper skin, move the chicken, skin side down, directly over the coals for the last 3 to 5 minutes before removing it from the grill.

Serve warm.

Recipe Source

From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.

Tested by Andrew Sikkenga .

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Nutritional Facts

Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.

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